Not ‘Can we?,’ but ‘Should we?’: Baylor grad’s company aims to center ethics in technology
Improvements in technology are awesome. They make it possible for a car to drive itself. Robots can answer complex questions in a flash. They can even save lives. However, as tech evolves, it’s easy for human connections to get left behind. To combat this, Baylor grad Olivia Gambelin (BA ’17) hatched an idea.
Gambelin grew up in Silicon Valley, which instilled her with a strong technical literacy and aspirations to start her own company. But this upbringing also came with frustrations.
“The older I got, the more I felt like the tech industry was only providing (and pushing) useless, lifeless gadgets,” says Gambelin. “I felt there was strength in human values that, when applied to artificial intelligence (AI), could lead to robust solutions we can trust.”
So, she created a company to do just that. After graduating from Baylor with her degree in philosophy and entrepreneurship, Gambelin earned her master’s from the University of Edinburgh, then founded Ethical Intelligence (EI) in 2019. EI is a service that partners with AI and data-driven technology companies to help them incorporate ethics into their decision-making processes.
“AI is an extremely powerful tool, but at the end of the day, it’s still only a tool,” says Gambelin. “At EI, we are advocates for the use of responsible AI. We believe that AI development is not a matter of asking, ‘Can we do it?’, but instead asking, ‘Should we?'”
In her research, Gambelin has found many of today’s consumers seek out morally-sound brands, adding an extra incentive for companies.
“If your consumer doesn’t trust your technology, you’ll have a product that no one uses,” she says.
Since its establishment, EI has assisted companies in fields ranging from pharmaceutical and medical technology to finance and housing markets. While it has partnered with large corporations and organizations, the company now specializes in working with start-ups and SMEs so they can have as much impact (ethical and otherwise) as the big players.
“I believe that there is something inherently beautiful about being human, and that’s why EI’s motto is ‘Bringing the Human Back into the Equation,'” says Gambelin. “Our goal is to bring ethical analysis into tech development and create human-centric innovation. In a world that grows more and more technologically advanced with every second, we must preserve our humanity.”
When looking back on the path that brought here, Gameblin is extremely grateful for Baylor. “From the classes I took to the internships I held, everyone I met was supportive of my end goal — to be an AI ethicist,” she says. “Baylor gave me all the skills I needed to achieve my dreams and, hopefully, to change the world.”
Sic ’em, Olivia!
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