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Applying Trustworthy AI for the Grid of the Future

In my last blog, I explored artificial intelligence as it pertains to the energy industry. I want to thank you for your participation in the corresponding poll where we invited you to share whether you think AI is an enabler for the energy transition or something that needs to be approached with caution. Your feedback was not a surprise – 57% see it as an enabler, while 43% think we need to be vigilant. The balanced view of excitement and caution is a sentiment I echo: AI is an enabler, but we need to do it right and we need to do it with care.

How do we apply and use this technology for the greater good?

So, what is trustworthy AI?
A term coined by the European Commission and based on ethics guidelines, “trustworthy AI” is essentially a standardized methodology for how we approach the use of such technology. It outlines three main criteria for what trustworthy AI should be:

  • Lawful: respects all applicable laws and regulations
  • Ethical: respects ethical principles and values
  • Robust: systems need to be resilient, safe, and secure from a technical standpoint while considering the social environment

And these types of protocols are nothing new. We are a highly regulated industry, and every type of offering faces a level of scrutiny, improvement initiatives, and standardization processes. Much like we have regulations in place to provide reliable, equitable, and sustainable power, the three elements pertaining to AI are critical. The technology needs to be lawful, it needs to be human-centric, and it needs to be technically sound as it considers the specific use case of the industry.

How do we do it?
By default, artificial intelligence will not be human-centric if we are not ahead of it. There are critical considerations to take into account. At this point, AI cannot be ignored – it is imminent. The question then turns to: how do we develop it responsibly? There’s no doubt that this is a powerful technology, so we need to get ahead of the game and innovate with equal parts caution and optimism. Because trustworthy AI can enable and propel the energy transition into territory never seen before.

In terms of its development, it’s imperative that we work together and collaborate as an industry, and I deeply respect the international-level initiatives and discussions taking place on the topic. In tandem with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN’s AI for Good is a platform where AI developers and innovators can share their learnings and connect to build solutions that can help advance the SDGs. AI can play a massive role in this respect and have a global impact. Another example is the European Commission’s funding opportunities, encouraging industry participation and engaging in this type of work. Furthermore, I recently participated in an international Power and Energy discussions regarding AI/ML applications for power systems.

But how can we be cautious? When computers and the Internet first revolutionized the world, there was a similar cautionary fear. But technology has immense benefits: it has enabled innovation beyond our wildest dreams, it has afforded enhanced efficiency, and has provided improved safety for what were previously risky jobs, for instance.

Safety first
The truth of the matter is, at GE Vernova and across the industry, we take AI development and implementation very seriously. We are applying rigorous verification processes in place for AI enabled innovations, considering evolving international standards and regulatory guidelines. We collaborate, taking part in various partnerships and consortiums. Our research is driven by more human-centric initiatives at a global level. And simply put, if it doesn’t prove to be trustworthy, we will continue to innovate until it is. We must be ready to learn from the challenges and trials that AI technology will inevitably bring.

There is no room for compromise.

About the Author

Dr. Mital Kanabar is the Senior Director of Innovation at GE Vernova’s Grid Solutions’ Grid Automation business in Toronto, Canada. He has more than 15 years of power industry R&D experience, holds more than 20 international patent applications, and has published more than 50 articles. Mital is also serves as a Chair and Vice-Chair of three Working Groups at the IEEE PES Power System Relaying Committee. Mital focuses on customer-centric innovations and collaboration to accelerate Technology Readiness Levels and validate Cost-Benefit Analysis. He has led R&D efforts in digital substation and software systems, renewables integration algorithms, synchrophasor applications, distributed energy resources, and microgrids. He holds a Ph.D. from Western University and degrees in electrical engineering from Sardar Patel University and the Indian Institute of Technology.

Profile Photo of Mital Kanabar