K Group announces ethical principles for utilising AI: the best interests and needs of our customers come first

Shopping today is already very much a digital experience, and the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in shopping will grow going forward in both physical stores and online. K Group’s customers already use many convenient and individually tailored services that utilise artificial intelligence. K Group has now announced its ethical principles for utilising artificial intelligence.

With K Group being the most sustainable trading sector company in the world as well as the biggest trading sector company in Finland, our ethical principles for utilising artificial intelligence naturally guide and support all our practical work and strategic choices when it comes to AI development. 

“We are already utilising artificial intelligence widely at K Group: to tailor personal benefits for our customers and offer them marketing that meets their interests in various contact points. We can also promote the products each customer buys frequently on the front page of our online store. Going forward, we want to offer our customers more services that lend inspiration and convenience to their everyday lives. Artificial intelligence will help us offer the best individual services to our millions of customers,” says Anni Ronkainen, K Group’s Chief Digital Officer.

Sustainability is a strong driver for K Group and we have worked towards it for decades, for example, by auditing our purchasing chains, committing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and investing in solar power and circular economy. Today, the ethical utilisation of artificial intelligence is also an integral part of our sustainability work.

Humans and AI make a good team

K Group customers need to know where and how their data are used. We always ask permission from customers for utilising their data, and protect our customers' data and privacy. Our customers can always choose to prohibit the use of their data.

Our ethical principles for utilising artificial intelligence guide data collection and utilisation and the construction of our AI solutions and algorithms. Products such as alcohol and tobacco are always excluded from data utilised by AI solutions.

“As a company, we want to be worthy of our customers' trust. We want to create AI solutions our customers can benefit from. In order to do so, we need in-depth customer insight based on a variety of data such as data on K-Plussa purchases, customer feedback and product information. To obtain the data we must offer our customers solutions that provide true added value to their everyday lives,” says Minna Vakkilainen, K Group’s VP in charge of customer data and analytics.

In K Group, humans are always responsible for AI solutions, and artificial intelligence works only under human supervision. By having everyone at K Group implement these principles in practice, we can ensure the ethical use of artificial intelligence.

“The ethical principles for utilising AI represent a policy that widely informs our operations, and they offer practical guidelines for our work. All people and partners working with K Group’s AI solutions must commit to following these principles in their work. It's also important to note that due to the rapid pace of change in the world, we are constantly reviewing and updating the principles,” says Vakkilainen.

K Group’s ethical principles for utilising artificial intelligence

1. Responsibility and security 

  • We protect the data and privacy of our customers. We transparently inform our customers of where and how we utilise the data they have provided.  
  • Responsibility and security direct the collection and utilisation of data and the creation of AI solutions and algorithms.

2. Placing the best interests and needs of our customers first 

  • Our objective is to create solutions that are useful for our customers. Data and data-driven insight enable us to provide added value to the everyday lives of our customers. 
  • Our customers decide for themselves what data they provide for our use. We use customer data only for the purposes the customers have given their permission to.   

3. Human touch and quality 

  • We as humans lead and develop the activity of AI solutions and algorithms. 
  • K Group is responsible for its AI solutions and the decisions they make. 

4. Common good for the whole society 

  • We and our partners use AI solutions to build a better society and a better world, be it supporting sustainable everyday consumer choices or improving welfare in the Finnish society.
  • We respect human rights: the utilisation of AI solutions must not lead to discrimination. 

5.   We engage in discussion and continuously develop our principles

  • We understand how fast the world is changing and engage in constant dialogue in an effort to improve our operations.
  • Due to the rapid pace of change, we are constantly reviewing our principles and ways of operating.

Our ethical principles for utilising artificial intelligence are part of our policies and principles.

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