Skip to main content

Perspectives Home / Executive Strategy

AI at the Helm: Executives Talk About Navigating Ethics, Privacy, and Security

Harnessing AI's potential requires more than enthusiasm. It demands sharp vigilance, a solid ethical backbone, and a keen eye to spot shiny opportunities or hidden icebergs.

woman sitting with laptop on lap

Navigating AI is like steering a ship in uncharted waters: you might have advanced equipment, but you're at the mercy of the elements around you. Yes, AI is bursting with possibilities, but harnessing its potential requires more than enthusiasm. It demands sharp vigilance, a solid ethical backbone, and a keen eye to spot shiny opportunities or hidden icebergs.

AI took center stage at .conf24 and .conf+, Splunk’s annual user and executive conference. Given its profound impact on business, discussions were extensive. Industry leaders and tech experts shared the latest breakthroughs, stressing the imperative of ethical AI implementation. Here, we highlight key insights on AI gathered from panel discussions and sessions at the conference.

Sage advice for bringing AI into your technology stack

Promising technologies like AI generate a lot of enthusiasm when they emerge, and some companies are jumping in without a safety net. In our State of Security research, 93% of respondents claimed generative AI is in use across the business, but only 34% have instituted formal AI policies. That’s a pretty big gap. At .conf24, experts encouraged a focus on mission-critical areas where AI can deliver tangible benefits, leveraging it to create real value now.

Panelists also offered advice for integrating AI into existing systems, cautioning against bolting it onto existing technologies. Instead, they suggested finding opportunities to weave AI into the fabric of an organization's operations. With a more intentional integration, AI transforms from an add-on to a core driver of business processes, amplifying efficiency, and unlocking new avenues for growth.

Maintaining data integrity: Strategies for governance and privacy

Data is absolutely essential for AI — it’s what makes AI work. But the law in many regions protects the use of a lot of this data, which is personal and even sensitive (e.g., medical, financial). Rolling out universal AI policies can be tricky because of these varying data privacy laws and regulations. One customer shared that their organization plans to introduce AI to employees only after ensuring compliance with all local standards. This underscores the need for clear, detailed privacy policies and measures that are key to both compliance and earning customer trust.

Privacy policies should cover how data is collected, stored, and processed to ensure compliance with regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and other laws. During .conf24 sessions, experts stressed the importance of transparency in AI operations, acknowledging that users need to know exactly what companies do with their data and how companies keep it safe.

Panel participants and keynote speakers also emphasized the importance of data governance, from ethical and secure handling of data to ensuring individuals only have access to the data necessary to perform their roles — a practice known as the Privilege of Least Principle (PoLP). Embracing governance policies like PoLP strengthens an organization’s AI foundation and posture, ensuring its effectiveness and integrity while safeguarding sensitive information from potential threats.

Create and implement ethical use policies for AI

At Splunk, we adhere to trustworthy principles for digital resilience: transparency, accountability, privacy, and fairness. These principles guide how we develop and deploy AI responsibly, showing our commitment to high ethical standards. 

Another way companies can ensure ethical use of AI, as highlighted by a panelist, is for organizations to appoint a privacy and ethics officer. This role helps navigate the complex regulatory landscape, oversees data governance, manages privacy policies, and ensures compliance with all applicable regulations. 

To truly safeguard against ethical and privacy issues, comprehensive company-wide education and training on ethical AI practices are essential. Real-world examples, like a recent scamming incident in Hong Kong, where an employee paid $25 million after a video call with a deepfake CFO, underscore the need for thorough training. Equipping your team with the necessary knowledge and skills can significantly enhance your organization's ability to handle ethical challenges in AI deployment.

Strengthen defenses against AI threats

In Splunk’s State of Security 2024, 45% of respondents said generative AI would benefit cyber adversaries the most, compared to defenders. They cited concerns it would make existing attacks more effective and less knowledgeable threat actors more dangerous. 

Panelists at .conf24 acknowledged this potential and pointed out the importance of AI-driven defense mechanisms. Companies can achieve a stronger, more resilient security posture by collaborating with partners to build a strong ecosystem for countering AI-related threats and equipping defenses with advanced AI capabilities.

To learn more about how AI impacts organizations today, visit our repository of on-demand content from .conf. Explore ways your organization can stay at the forefront of AI innovation and security.

Related content

JANUARY 5, 2024

Data Privacy in the Era of AI

Read more Perspectives by Splunk

April 8, 2024 • 3 minute read

With Observability and AI, If Data Is the New Oil, What Is Its Pipeline?

As with oil, data is informational energy that must be found, extracted, refined, and transported to the location of consumption. Here's how it's done.

May 21, 2024  •  22 Minute Listen

Is Your Organization in Step with AI? Check on Your Data Tenancy.

Forget the lone-wolf mentality of a single SOC. Today, it’s all about cross-sector collaboration and information sharing.

MAY 15, 2024 • 4 minute read

The Makings of a Successful Organization in 2027 and Beyond

How do organizations future-proof tech against threats, both known and novel? Splunk’s SVP and GM of products and technology weighs in.

Get more perspectives from security, IT and engineering leaders delivered straight to your inbox.