AI can root the white-collar criminals out of your organisation

But is it the silver bullet needed to eradicate unethical corporate cultures?

Much has been said about the competitive edge organisations can garner by adopting advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whether it be through the automation of labour-intensive industrial processes, or the incorporation of chatbots to boost customer service, business leaders are alive to the limitless potential for growth and profitability that comes with technological advancement. But are they thinking about the ethical consequences of AI in business? 

According to this Forbes AI article, advanced technologies can be used to bolster corporate governance and drive ethical behaviour. Because, when it comes to processing and analysing vast amounts of data, AI can identify patterns and detect anomalies that humans simply can’t. This is evidenced by the fact that only 15 percent of instances of corporate fraud in the Asia-Pacific region were detected by audits, compared to 40 percent that came from whistleblowers, according to a 2018 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Closer to home, the Steinhoff accounting fraud illustrates how ineffective conventional audits can be. But there is technology out there, like MindBridge, which uses machine learning models to seach for inconsistent and suspicious transactions that point to unethical behaviour.

“Each model is trained to look for specific red flags. These can include scenarios such as unusually large transactions, capital flows between unusual participants, or manual system entries close to the end of the year. It highlights the red flags in a report and assigns a risk score, explaining where and why human auditors might want to look further,” reads the Forbes piece. 

In China, there is an anti-corruption system called ‘Zero Trust' that monitors, evaluates and reports on the personal lives of public officials. According to this South China Morning Post article, almost 9000 government employees have been exposed for embezzlement, abuse of power, misuse of funds, nepotism and other forms of misconduct.

As custodians organisational culture, HR leaders and executive teams should be paying close attention to developments in this space. The plethora of allegations and revelations around state capture and corporate governance failures should serve as a stark reminder of the damage that can be caused by unethical employees if they are left unchecked.