The importance of upholding AI ethics in the world of real estate is essential to maintaining integrity in the industry as AI systems are incorporated in its processes.
Earlier this month we explored the importance of AI ethics in the real estate industry in ensuring its ability to function within regulation, while being of benefit to buyers, sellers, the industry and society in general. Artificial intelligence has the ability to revolutionize the real estate industry, however, as with anything else, measures have to be put in place to ensure that this functions ethically, in order to be of true benefit. In this article, we seek to explore the ethical principles that should be applied in the real estate industry to ensure that AI is truly of benefit to the society at large, not just a small number of individuals.
With real estate being the second least digitised industry in the world, difficulties are clearly present in how best to incorporate artificial intelligence in this industry. There are many factors to be considered in approaching the use of AI in the world of real estate and construction. With the many categorisations of data that describe any property, there is a need to ensure that coding for any AI system to be applied to real estate is extremely thorough. There is also a need for extreme transparency in the process to ensure that these AI systems function within regulation, and avoid discrimination as far as possible.
Technical robustness and safety is AI system development.
Machine learning is currently the dominant approach to developing AI systems and contributes to all sorts of technologies including those used in the real estate sector. While this approach has been successful it can sometimes fail in unintuitive ways. If we are to use machine learning effectively and ethically, it is important to consider the possibility of erroneous processing, and work to limit its impact on the use of these systems. We must understand the strengths and limitations of this technology to ensure that it is being used to the best of its ability within reason and within policy.
The development of AI systems should consider environmental, social and societal impact.
When it comes to choosing the perfect home or the right home for oneself, there are several factors that come into play. Home specifications, neighborhood demographics, and several other factors are paramount to making a buying decision. The opportunity arises here, to develop AI which can differentiate and seek out properties which are best suited to a buyer based not only on price or location, but perhaps building materials or even proximity to certain essential services.
It is important to ensure AI systems are avoiding discrimination as far as possible.
In using AI systems in the real estate market, it is important to ensure that buyers are not being “algorithmically blackballed” based on factors like nationality, race or generally just not fitting in with the current demographic of a neighbourhood. It is likely that historic biases can be inadvertently built into algorithms and cause them to reflect human prejudices. While it is unlikely that an AI software would be intentionally developed to discriminate against certain demographics, it is possible that these systems discriminate based on the original data inputs, which may show biases based on human prejudices. Real estate companies using AI should test the algorithms often to ensure that any algorithmically biased processes are curtailed.
AI systems used in real estate must be developed, and function within regulation.
The data of both buyers and sellers needs to be protected throughout the process of the sale and beyond. All AI systems’ processes should be governed by the GDPR to ensure that this is the case. It can be argued that the GDPR poses significant challenges to AI development because AI startups rely on data to train machine learning algorithms. However, if AI systems are to function ethically, they must be used within regulation, including during the development phases. Running a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) and legitimate interest assessment are likely to be a must.
One of the aims of the GDPR is to ensure that people have the power to decide which of the information is used by third parties. This begins with the right to knowledge. In this regard transparency is key, as people have the right to information regarding how much of their data is being used and how. While it may be difficult to ensure full transparency with data subjects, data controllers need to ensure that they are compliant with the GDPR. Finding GDPR-friendly methods of AI development will benefit not just service providers but also data subjects, if done correctly.