Watermark's Responsible Use of AI Statement

September 19, 2023 Watermark Insights

Watermark gives higher education institutions the tools they need to maximize their educational impact on their students and communities. Our solutions make it easier for colleges and universities to track, manage, and examine their data, helping them operate more strategically and effectively. Our work is about supporting continuous improvement through the best available technology, allowing institutions to evolve, catalyze change, and bolster student success.  

We believe that every new technological advancement offers the potential to aid in our mission of transforming the work of college and university leaders. Such is the case with artificial intelligence (AI). As we harness the power of AI to make our solutions work better, it is our responsibility to our clients, the higher education community, and the world to bring forth any advancement with principled approaches. 

Thus, in our approach to AI, we have laid out the following principles to guide our use of this promising technology – a technology that demands an ethical and thoughtful approach.

Solve the most pressing challenges.

In alignment with our mission, values, and goals, we endeavor to use AI to solve the most pressing challenges for higher education professionals to help them improve their institutions and further support students. This requires consideration about where AI can be most beneficial based on our clients’ needs, the technology's capabilities, and Watermark’s mission. We must identify the intersections of technology and people. Employing AI where appropriate can increase efficiency and access while protecting process and data integrity. Using AI for time-saving in routine tasks, accelerating data interpretation and synthesis, and infusing new ideas into improvement initiatives will boost productivity and amplify the impact higher education professionals are already making.

Be transparent.

Promoting ethical product evolution and protecting client trust depends on transparency. We are committed to transparency about the technologies, partners, and data we use with AI. Our clients will have a choice of whether or not they would like to participate, and we will disclose what data is involved and when a third-party system is used to improve an existing process or introduce a new feature. We also aim to inform our clients about where we are headed with AI and proactively get feedback on our ideas to ensure we solve the right problems while building trust around the technology.

Promote fairness.

In developing our AI solutions, accessibility and inclusivity remain focal points as we aim to mitigate signs of bias. This includes being thoughtful about the information available to AI, monitoring the results AI produces, and consciously avoiding areas where AI may not be best suited to solve a problem. We will respect the principles, policies, and laws established by institutions and governments that seek to promote fairness and prevent adverse outcomes.

Safeguard privacy and security.

Our company revolves around making sense of data, and we recognize that the data we use is the property of the institution and individuals we serve. We will adhere to our data protection policies when using AI and remain committed to ensuring privacy and security. In addition, we will only partner with AI providers with this same level of commitment to data security. In keeping with our transparent approach, we will always provide a view of what data is being used and with whom it is being shared. 

Ensure reliability and oversight. 

When using AI, we will work to ensure results are reliable and human oversight is always present. Any output, suggestions, or decisions generated from AI will always be disclosed as such, with options to override or modify those outputs as appropriate.  The use of generative AI will require an opt-in with clear language describing the use of AI, and the intended result of that usage. 

Remain dedicated to access.

As our company adopts AI into our solutions, we recognize that these capabilities must be made accessible to our clients at an affordable price. We are dedicated to helping all of higher education move forward, ensuring that each institution and its students are not left behind.

While these principles drive our approach to AI, they are not exhaustive. In keeping with the goal of education, we will learn and develop our approach to AI integration by continuing to research, meet our clients’ needs, and respond to societal implications. 

Given the complexity of this rapidly evolving topic, Watermark reserves the right to modify this statement.

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