Human-in-the-Loop: Mission Critical for AI Usage and Evaluation

An opinion piece by the vice president of advanced analytics at SAS

Udo Sglavo, Vice President of Advanced Analytics, SAS

March 1, 2024

4 Min Read
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In the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), the 'Human in the Loop' (HITL) paradigm has emerged as a pivotal force, spotlighting the essential collaboration between advanced algorithms and human expertise.

The HITL model, in its essence, recognizes and capitalizes on the distinctive strengths inherent in both machine intelligence and human intuition. It serves as a testament to the belief that the synergy between artificial and human intelligence not only elevates the quality of outcomes but also nurtures a profound sense of trust in the capabilities of AI systems.

For organizations launching AI initiatives, instilling the HITL framework will ensure human oversight drives AI usage and lead to better business outcomes.

Being the human in the loop

As businesses navigate the intricate terrain of generative AI, the imperative for trustworthy AI solutions becomes increasingly evident. One of the paramount considerations in the evolving landscape of AI is the heightened acknowledgment of the role of human responsibility and accountability, mainly when human experts are at the helm of consequential decision-making. As generative AI evolves and undertakes more intricate tasks, the human expert serves as a critical overseer, assuring that decisions align with ethical standards and societal values.

Moreover, the collaboration between humans and generative AI allows for a dynamic and adaptive decision-making process. Human experts bring contextual understanding, emotional intelligence, and nuanced judgment—attributes that prove challenging for algorithms to grasp comprehensively. This human-machine collaboration enhances decision outcomes and ensures a more holistic and inclusive approach to problem-solving.

To build the HITL framework within AI, an organization should establish a clear set of data ethics principles at the onset. This first and important step serves as an anchor for the humans running HITL frameworks. This anchor keeps them on course despite the tidal wave of innovation crashing around them. Those involved in AI development should be trained regularly on data ethics principles, as well as risk management techniques and data fluency for the model design process.

In-depth preparation arms those closest to the AI model with the ability to react should ethical challenges arise in model inputs and outputs. These ‘first responders’ to ethics violations can help check the data and results as soon as potential problems occur. Ensuring the AI development professionals are in lockstep with business values and applying human constraint on AI technology allows only trustworthy systems to proliferate.

Applying a human touch to business use cases

As AI and its abilities evolve and advance daily, every industry is focused on how generative AI will shift the way we work and improve business outcomes. And the integration of HITL is poised to redefine the role of human experts across various business sectors.

Digital assistants, powered by generative AI, are on the trajectory to become indispensable partners for professionals in fields from health care to finance and more. These intelligent assistants augment human productivity and catalyze creativity, problem-solving, and nuanced decision-making.

For instance, timely and accurate medical data interpretation is critical in health care. A medical professional collaborating with a generative AI assistant can harness the power of data-driven insights while bringing their clinical expertise to the forefront. Combining AI's analytical capabilities and the human expert's contextual understanding results in a more comprehensive and personalized approach to patient care.

Similarly, in finance, the integration of HITL ensures that algorithmic predictions do not solely drive investment decisions but are enriched by the financial acumen and strategic foresight of human experts. This collaborative synergy minimizes the risks associated with purely automated economic systems while maximizing the potential for sound and ethical financial decision-making.

Preventing bias, anomalies, and skewed data with a human assist

In the broader context of trustworthy AI, core principles such as transparency, accountability, and ethical considerations come to the forefront. These principles are especially critical as businesses entrust generative AI with progressively complex tasks.

Since AI models are only as good as the information they are fed, IT leaders should scrutinize the inputs of their neural networks as part of the HITL framework. Knowing what datasets and information were used to teach models improves the ability to explain results and further validates the reliability of any findings.

Likewise, being able to reverse engineer and understand how insights, data and answers are calculated is a critical role of the HITL framework. And that transparency is not possible with generative AI alone – it needs a human assist.

In essence, the human touch becomes a linchpin, establishing a checks-and-balances system that safeguards against unintended biases, errors, and ethical concerns. This collaborative approach mitigates the risks of autonomous decision-making and creates a fertile ground for responsible AI development, ensuring that technology aligns seamlessly with organizational values.

AI + humans: to infinity and beyond

The collaboration between human experts and generative AI is not merely a mechanism for risk mitigation and avoiding pitfalls, but instead an enabler of innovation and technological advancements.

As organizations navigate the future of AI, embracing the HITL paradigm ushers in an era of responsible and collaborative progress. The intricate interplay between human expertise and generative AI capabilities can reshape the landscape of innovation and decision-making, leading to unprecedented possibilities and advancements across diverse industries.

About the Author(s)

Udo Sglavo

Vice President of Advanced Analytics, SAS

Udo Sglavo is vice president of advanced analytics at SAS.

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