Artificial intelligence (AI) governance and auditing promise to bridge the gap between AI ethics principles and the responsible use of AI systems, but they require assessment mechanisms and metrics. Effective AI governance is not only about legal compliance; organizations can strive to go beyond legal requirements by proactively considering the risks inherent in their AI systems. In the past decade, investors have become increasingly active in advancing corporate social responsibility and sustainability practices. Including nonfinancial information related to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in investment analyses has become mainstream practice among investors. However, the AI auditing literature is mostly silent on the role of investors. The current study addresses two research questions: (1) how companies’ responsible use of AI is included in ESG investment analyses and (2) what connections can be found between principles of responsible AI and ESG ranking criteria. We conducted a series of expert interviews and analyzed the data using thematic analysis. Awareness of AI issues, measuring AI impacts, and governing AI processes emerged as the three main themes in the analysis. The findings indicate that AI is still a relatively unknown topic for investors, and taking the responsible use of AI into account in ESG analyses is not an established practice. However, AI is recognized as a potentially material issue for various industries and companies, indicating that its incorporation into ESG evaluations may be justified. There is a need for standardized metrics for AI responsibility, while critical bottlenecks and asymmetrical knowledge relations must be tackled.
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Citation: Minkkinen M., Niukkanen A. and Mäntymäki, M. (2022) What about investors? ESG analyses as tools for ethics-based AI auditing. AI & Society.