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AI Guidelines in the Supplier Code of Conduct

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Manuela Mackert, Chief Compliance Officer, and Rainer Hoff, SVP Group Supply Services, comment in a short interview on the ethical AI principles, which now also include the suppliers of Deutsche Telekom AG.

What do ethical principles have to do with artificial intelligence (AI)?

Manuela Mackert

Manuela Mackert

Manuela Mackert: Unlike "classic" IT systems, algorithms and AI systems are now being used for purposes that were previously reserved for human activities and often form direct interfaces to the analog world. Telekom was one of the first companies worldwide to issue AI guidelines on "digital ethics". This is how we implement our ethical values and accordingly assume our digital responsibility, of course also when using AI-controlled systems and applications.

AI principles now also apply to our suppliers? 

Manuela Mackert: Yes, indeed. AI cannot be seen separately and we do not want to see it separately. Together with GSUS Procurement, we have now taken the next step and have developed AI principles for suppliers of AI-controlled systems. The goal here is to apply new standards together with our suppliers. Just as an example: AI is used in chatbots for maintenance support or for products like the Connect App or the Smart Speaker. The AI applied here must follow clear ethical rules.

Rainer Hoff

Rainer Hoff

Rainer Hoff: If we want to advance digitization, automation and artificial data processing, the entire supply chain must always be included. In the Supplier Code of Conduct we implement the Group's AI guidelines in the direction of our suppliers, thus also underlining our pioneering role. In addition to general legal compliance, transparency and clearly defined responsibilities in the development and use of AI systems are particularly important. We are pleased that we have been able to get this off the ground in close cooperation with Mrs. Mackert's department and with such good implementation skills.

So what’s the next step here?

Rainer Hoff: The updated Supplier Code of Conduct will serve as the basis for future procurement processes. Compliance with the guidelines is both a prerequisite for the prequalification of new suppliers as well as the subject of regular monitoring of business relationships.

Manuela Mackert: Procurement and Compliance will gladly continue to be responsible for ensuring ethical service and product development in the future.

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