The vast majority (86%) of Australian business and IT decision makers believe data bias will become a bigger concern as Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning use increases (higher than the 78% respondents globally), yet over one-third (34%) have not looked at technology and tools to help in tackling data bias, according to a new survey from application development and infrastructure software provider, Progress.

The survey, ‘Data Bias: The Hidden Risk of AI’, conducted by independent research firm, Insight Avenue, was based on interviews with business and IT professionals, director level and above, who use data to make decisions and are using or plan to use AI and ML to support their decision making. 

Biases are often inherited by cultural and personal experiences. When data is collected and used in the training of machine learning models, the models inherit the bias of the people building them, producing unexpected and potentially harmful outcomes.

Yet, despite the potential legal and financial pitfalls associated with data bias, there is a lack of understanding around the training, processes and technology needed to tackle data bias successfully. 

The Progress survey indicated thatthe biggest barriers they see arelack of awareness of potential biases, understanding how to identify bias as well as the lack of available expert resources, such as having access to data scientists. 

Among the top five causes that Australian respondents consider being the main barriers to addressing potential data bias in their organisation are lack of awareness and understanding of potential biases (62%), lack of understanding of how to best identify data bias (50%), lack of understanding of how to best avoid or address data bias (48%), lack of ownership/responsibility (42%) and lack of tools for identifying and mitigating data bias (34%).

The survey findings also show more than six in 10 (62%) of Australian organisations anticipate becoming more reliant on AI/ML decision making, in the coming years, and two-thirds (66%) believe there is currently data bias in their organisation. 84% believe they need to be doing more to understand and address data bias in their organisation – higher than any other country surveyed.

“Every day, bias can negatively impact business operations and decision making – from governance and lost customer trust to financial implications and potential legal and ethical exposure. We put our customers at the centre of everything we do and as we explore all that AI/ML can do, we want to ensure our customers are armed with the right information to make the best decisions to drive their business forward,” Progress executive vice president and general manager of application and data platform, John Ainsworth said.