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NRF releases guidelines for artificial intelligence in retail

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The NRF is releasing principles for retailers using AI.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is establishing four high-level principles to help ensure appropriate and effective retailer use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Developed through the NRF’s Center for Digital Risk & Innovation, what the NRF is officially calling the “Principles for the Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Retail Sector” fall into four high-level categories:

1. Governance and Risk Management: The NRF says retailers should develop strong internal governance of AI tools and capabilities as a foundational basis for managing risks and ensuring that AI delivers expected benefits.

2. Customer Engagement and Trust: The NRF urges retailers to be transparent about their uses of AI that have a legal or significant effect on a customer, establish safeguards to prevent unlawful discrimination against protected classes of individuals, and align their governance of consumer-facing AI applications with existing internal privacy, cybersecurity and other data governance policies.

3. Workforce Applications and Use: Retailers should engage in ongoing oversight and review of AI applications that may directly impact employees or that are used by the workforce to support business needs, according to the NRF.

4. Business Partner Accountability: Retailers should establish clear guidelines and expectations for business partners that are providing AI tools, data sets and services, the NRF advises.

“Retailers use AI to better serve their customers, improve the shopping experience and increase the efficiency of their operations,” NRF VP of retail technology & cybersecurity and executive director of the NRF Center for Digital Risk & Innovation Christian Beckner said. “As retailers of all sizes continue to expand their AI capabilities, these general principles for the use of AI are increasingly critical to the industry.”

Walmart, Biden release AI initiatives

The NRF is not the only entity introducing guidelines for ethical and safe AI usage that affect retailers. In October 2023, Walmart issued a new public guarantee that it will only develop and deploy artificial intelligence (AI) technology in a safe and ethical manner.

The Walmart Responsible AI Pledge is centered around six commitments that the discounter says highlight how customers, members and associates can expect us to use AI responsibly, and throughout all phases of AI technology.

And in July 2023, chief Walmart rival Amazon joined six other high-tech companies in a Biden administration-supported initiative committing to the safe, secure and transparent development of AI. The other initially participating companies were Google, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, Anthropic and Inflection.

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