The Top 5 AI Resources for Boards

Last updated: June 2022

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is creating exciting opportunities for large organizations to transform operational efficiencies, improve performance as well as to develop new product and services. As machine learning algorithms make their way invisibly into many facets of the business and making decisions on behalf of humans, the associated risks are also, likewise, significantly heightened. From cybercrime, discrimination and data unreliability, directors are not only faced with a whole new set of risks factors, these new factors are often not transparent, not easily understood and governance best practices are nascent. Corporations are also facing increased stakeholder expectations to deliver ambitious and holistic ESG programs, and AI is becoming a major consideration in this space, both as an enabler to achieve ESG targets but also as a potential threat to society and equality which has to be carefully managed.

To effectively govern and lead increasingly technocentric organizations, Boards and executives must determine how they will monitor and manage the environmental, human, and regulatory implications of machine learning and advanced analytics technologies[1]. Now is the time for all boards to become well-informed consumers of AI technology so that they can make decisions that not only enable the companies that they serve to compete effectively as we head into the fourth industrial revolution but also in a responsible way that benefits humanity and the planet as a whole [2]. This article presents the top five resources that are available for directors to inform, inspire and protect their firms' foray into AI.

While there are many resources available for management on the intricacies of AI planning and implementation, the board needs specialized resources that will enable it to fulfill corporate governance duties of direction and oversight. Specifically, boards need to understand the implications of AI, as they relate to strategy, risk, ethics, compliance, social impact, performance monitoring and public reporting. The questions that the directors need to answer include:

  • How does AI enhance our strategy formulation and execution?
  • What are the risks AI presents, and how are these being managed?[3]
  • How are we ensuring our AI is ethical?
  • How do we know our AI is effective and is delivering positive social benefits?

The following five resources provide the Board education needed to effectively fulfil governance duties and obligations, and at the same time ensure AI delivers more benefits than a burden.

1. AI Toolkit For Board of Directors – The World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is leading the way in understanding the governance, operational and societal issues arising from AI. They also recognize the specialized knowledge that directors need to oversee the strategic and control elements of its use. For this reason, they have developed separate AI toolkits for Boards of Directors and C-Suite Executives. Each is a co-creation of the WEF and members of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including Accenture, IBM, BBVA and Suntory Holdings.

The Toolkit for Boards of Directors includes thirteen separate modules, which are designed to align with distinct governance functions, and   includes a glossary of terms to assist the creation of a shared AI language. These modules cover:

Each module provides an information document ranging from 10 to 20 pages, and which can be downloaded as a pdf. These documents contain valuable practical tools for directors, such as discussion guides, draft agendas, and knowledge assessment surveys. The latter guides directors to ensure they have the required knowledge of AI practices to make informed and effective decisions.

The added advantage of the WEF Toolkit for Boards of Directors is that all of the resources are free. The materials were published in August 2019, and can be accessed at Empowering AI Leadership | World Economic Forum (

2. Model AI Governance Framework – Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) Singapore

The PDPC has taken the comprehensive information prepared by the WEF and used this to develop a Model AI Governance Framework, intended to be a readily implementable guide for building sound governance processes for AI solutions. The Model Framework provides guiding principles and practical recommendations in four critical areas being:

  • Internal governance structures and measures
  • Human involvement in AI-augmented decision-making
  • Operations management
  • Stakeholder interaction and communication.

In addition, an Implementation and Self-Assessment Guide for Organizations (ISAGO) has been prepared, which allows organizations to determine how well their AI governance structures and practices are aligned with The Model Framework. The ISAGO has been developed in collaboration with over 60 organizations representing a wide range of industries.

To enable directors to understand how The Model Framework has been applied, numerous real-world case studies have been compiled and provided in a Compendium of Use Cases. The case studies cover experiences from both local and international organizations across different industry sectors and business models. Examples include Callsign, DBS Bank, HSBC, UCARE.AI, Visa Asia Pacific, City of Darwin (Australia), Google, Microsoft and Taiger.

Like the   WEF Toolkit, the Model AI Governance Framework and associated resources are all free  and downloadable. The second edition of the framework was published in January 2020, and can be accessed at PDPC | Singapore’s Approach to AI Governance.

3. AI Strategy and Governance – Online Course from the University of Pennsylvania (via Coursera)

If you are looking for a more structured learning approach, The University of Pennsylvania offers an AI Strategy and Governance course through Coursera. This course is beginner level and designed and delivered by several professors who specialize in decision making and ethics, including Kartik Hosanagar, author of "A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence".

The AI Strategy and Governance course comprise four modules, each requiring around two to three hours of study time, with an overall completion time of ten hours. The modules cover:

  • The Economics of AI: an overview of the value of data, the emerging competition in AI and its social and economic implications.
  • AI Innovation provides examples of how AI has been implemented across different industries, and how it has been used to drive innovation and digital transformation.
  • Algorithmic Bias and Fairness investigates the inherent bias that can exist within AI algorithms and how to manage the social and legal implications of improper data management and analysis.
  • AI Governance and Explainable AI: reviews the importance of having Explainable AI, and the ethical principles and governance policies that assist in building trust.

Each module concludes with a quiz, and a shareable certificate is available on completion.

This course has received 5-star reviews, noting that at this time, there have only been 13 reviews provided. Regarding cost, Coursera has a seven-day free trial, with subscriptions afterwards charged at $81 per month or $550 per year.   The course can be accessed at AI Strategy and Governance | Coursera

4. EqualAI

EqualAI is a non-profit organization that has been established to assist with one of the key risks of AI, being the incorporation of unconscious bias in algorithms. The EqualAI board and leadership team are comprised of experts and prominent executives from a range of industries. President and CEO, Miriam Vogel is also the Chair of the National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC) in the United States.

EqualAI has partnered with business, technology, and government to develop a range of resources for directors, including:

  • The EqualAI Badge Program. This course is delivered in conjunction with the WEF and focuses on how to develop and maintain responsible AI governance. The last program was held in February 2022, with upcoming dates awaiting release.
  • The EqualAI Checklist. Is a kick starter for boards and executives to determine how to find unconscious bias in AI and prepare strategies to address it. This checklist was published in 2020 and can be downloaded from the EqualAI resource page here Resources (
  • In AI We Trust Podcast. Hosted by Miriam Vogel of EqualAI and Kay Firth-Butterfield of the WEF, this podcast discusses the big questions related to the use of AI and presents best case examples of trustworthy AI solutions. Episodes are published weekly and can be accessed directly through the EqualAI website here Podcast (

5. United Kingdom Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

The ICO recognizes the risks associated with AI, especially to individual rights and freedoms. To support organizations to manage these risks and ensure public trust, it has worked with other regulators to develop a range of resources for both governance officers and executives. Three that are specifically pertinent for boards are:

  • Guidance on AI and Data Protection. This document provides guidance on one of the key risks of AI, being how personal data is used and protected. It was published in May 2020 and presents a set of questions that boards can consider to ensure there are fair and robust AI data protection principles and practices in place.
  • Explaining decisions made with AI. This guidance document (published in July 2020) provides the roles, policies and procedures recommended to ensure individuals are provided with clear explanations for how decisions regarding them are made through AI.
  • AI Toolkit. One of the key roles of the board in AI is the oversight of the inherent risks involved. This toolkit, launched in July 2021, provides a spreadsheet of AI risks (including discrimination, transparency, security, and accuracy), and presents a method to assist in assessing the risk for your business. In addition it also incorporates strategies to consider in managing these risks. While the toolkit focuses on EU legislation, it is still a good guide for boards anywhere to understand the diverse risks they are called to direct.

Bringing Board Confidence to AI

AI is a powerful tool that can advance our businesses and economies, and which can help us all to thrive[4]. It is already used to enhance operations by optimizing maintenance and quality control systems, supporting healthcare through enabling remote diagnostics and telemedicine, and improving essential services such as traffic control, energy utilization and waste management.

However, with every opportunity that AI presents, there is an associated threat. The wealth of data assets AI relies on are attractive for cybercriminals, with companies such as Yahoo, Equifax, eBay, Facebook, and Neiman Marcus already experiencing the downside of increased cyber-security risks. Data breaches can readily disintegrate trust and reputation. AI algorithms could also be embedding bias and discrimination, increasing compliance, regulatory and litigation risks and disintegrating social benefit. There is also the danger of the data used to train such neural network engines being compromised, making the AI at best ineffective, and, at worst, harmful.

Every one of these risks puts the board and each director in a position of vulnerability. If AI goes wrong, and the risks are realized, then not only would companies and directors suffer reputational damage, they may even be held professionally or personally liable. Each of these risks also holds implications for how the organization is able to uphold its reputation in the face of rising pressures for ESG initiatives. Increase in data requires matching processing power which has implications for the corporations carbon footprint. Algorithms can embed discrimination and social inequity, causing harm to the communities they serve. And the continual advancements in regulatory and ethical standards requires boards to keep up to speed to maintain confidence and trust in their governance processes[5].

And yet, directors would not be fulfilling their fiduciary duty if they did not consider and use AI to improve the corporation, its customer outcomes and shareholder returns. The only way forward then is for Board training to get up to speed on responsible AI governance so that AI can be implemented safely and successfully. The five resources covered in this article can be utilized now to provide individual directors, and the board with confidence that their organizations are utilizing AI which provides as substantial ROI and delivers sustainable social benefit.