Vodafone Group argued mobile operators could counsel organisations actively looking at the opportunities and risks of AI, pointing to the industry’s long history of bringing disruptive technology to the masses and creating innovative business models.

In a joint blog penned by CTO Scott Petty and chief external affairs officer Joakim Reiter to mark the opening of a UK government AI Safety Summit today (1 November), Vodafone added to calls for a regulatory framework to be implemented to govern and grow AI responsibly, while highlighting ways the telecoms industry can contribute to the effort.

Petty and Reiter believe for the promise of AI can only be kept if systems and their operators are trustworthy and reflect what users want.

“The onus is on all to act responsibility, exercise adequate care and be considerate in the development and application of AI,” they wrote.

Vodafone highlighted it first implemented a corporate AI framework in 2019 and has deployed the technology for several years already, now used in 120 functions across its organisation.

The executives argue the wider technology sector can learn from operators, given the industry has been part of every technology wave in the modern era and created models to allow the “least advantaged” to benefit from the mobile revolution.

For example, Vodafone said it became a wholesaler by creating virtual operators to increase competition, which is today “a delicate platform balancing act that Silicon Valley struggles with today”.

In addition, the pair highlighted the fact networks have become adept at managing computing demands and engineering, with infrastructure once designed for voice calls now carrying great floods of data.

“We learned how to avoid mistakes, to minimise risks and to partner with customers, governments and other stakeholders on how to mitigate potentially negative impacts of novel technologies. A similar approach would be advisable for AI today.”