5G industry news Telecommunication

5G: Checking the AI box

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Elizabeth Coyne on 27 Nov 2020
  • Last modified 27 Nov 2020
As the proliferation of 5G increases, AI is becoming more important for communications service providers (CSPs) especially when it comes to IoT and the edge. However, CSPs face a myriad of challenges when it comes to managing best practices for the safe and effective deployment of AI systems at scale.

To help CSPs on their journey, TM Forum has rolled out new AI Checklist Cards that offer guidance throughout the software lifecycle from AI procurement, development, deployment and end-of-life management.

Developed under a collaboration project by TM Forum members A1 Telekom Austria Group, Amdocs, Axiata, Comarch, Ericsson, Ernst & Young, IBM, Microsoft, Netcracker, Orange, PCCW, Prodapt, STC, Tecnotree, Vodafone and Zenath, these checklist cards are simple and easy to use.

One of the project team members, Rob Claxton, Chief Researcher, BT, said CSPs have a huge appetite for AI and want to know how to exploit it, but they lack the best practices and standards to avoid common traps and pitfalls. As a result, the team drew inspiration from checklists used by airline pilots and doctors to create a simple answer to a complex problem with the free, downloadable AI Checklist Cards.

AI is new for CSPs. There are lots of traps that need to be avoided, and the processes and best practices don’t yet exist,” said Claxton. “These new cards will help them implement AI in a way that is both safe and effective."

Learning from AI best practices

Another member of the project team, Michael Hind, Distinguished Research Staff Member, IBM Research AI, said best practices are especially important when it comes to AI. He said:

There are a lot of things we can learn from AI best practices. Data scientists, model validators and people who deploy AI can focus on their expertise and use tools like checklists and model cards to monitor governance."

As networks and operations become automated and rely on AI to manage services like customer experience management, predictive analytics, personalization and more, CSPs need to ensure the AI is properly managed and governed. The checklists will play a critical role because an AI-enabled architecture will need strong governance.

In addition, the AI Checklist Cards will provide a useful guide for CSPs who need to ensure that critical items, such as ethical assessments, training and data validation, are addressed at all stages of the lifecycle in order to increase trust and reduce risk within an organization, according to Aaron Boasman-Patel, Vice President of AI and Customer Experience, TM Forum. “Helping CSPs avoid missing out on critical steps that might otherwise lead to some harm is central to our creation of the checklists,” he said.

Checking the AI box

“Checklists are essential in the airline and medical industries because they ensure standards and best practices. Checklists, in spite of their apparent simplicity, have driven profound improvements,” added Boasman-Patel. “As CSPs start to deploy AI, they need to ensure they are doing it safely and that they can manage it at scale.”

There is also an AI Checklist Poster that summarizes the steps included in the AI Checklist Cards. The poster and the cards work hand-in-hand with TM Forum’s AI Readiness Check, an online tool that allows AI practitioners to identify gaps between current and target capabilities across six dimensions of a CSP’s business. In December, TM Forum will offer AI Model Data Sheets to accompany the checklists and readiness check.

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