Code of Ethics

Updated 2020-04-02

How PocketConfidant AI sees and handles ethics

PocketConfidant AI’s founders started their journey with the vision of a world where people are placed at the center, listened to, respected, supported, free to speak their truth and express their personality, are empowered and able to achieve their potential. While part of the PocketConfidant AI founding team has professional coaching training and certifications, the founding team surrounded itself by coaching professionals and bodies to ensure strong supervision of its undertakings. Additionally, one of PocketConfidant AI’s founding members became an active creator of a community initiative for Ethics in AI. (see the below links on Ethics and AI)

In its technological innovation, PocketConfidant AI develops the concept of self-coaching, where technology is used not as a refplacement for a human professional, but as a self-coaching tool to enable individuals to support their personal journey with learning, breakthroughs, and change, as a supplement and support of existing supporting or learning and development initiatives.

Philosophy and key elements of the approach

PocketConfidant AI chooses to focus on the foundational principles and techniques of coaching that are:
  • Every individual can be creative, resourceful and whole.
  • Questioning is a technique to empower people that doesn’t require advice or opinion and is safe as it leaves the individual to choose his or her own path of action and decision making.
  • Self-coaching is the concept in which individuals aren’t replacing humans with a machine but are practicing and developing their mindset with a tool that makes  a type of practice that is difficult to achieve alone accessible in an easy way.

Principles & Commitments

  1. Intentions and bias: technology should be built and supervised in a manner to ensure constant awareness of existing and evolving human bias that may exist in the group of those working on and building the technology.
  2. Respect, care, and limits: technology shall behave positively to respect a user’s decision and ensure to not cause needless injury or harm to users, as well as act in ways that promote the welfare of other people.
  3. Reputation: technology shall act positively and in a manner that increases the public’s understanding and acceptance of coaching
  4. Continuous Competence Enhancement: the technology’s developers and supervisors shall continuously enhance and review their coaching practice or their coaching advisory board to maintain the best level of understanding and mastery of the practice.
  5. User-Centered: Every use is creative, resourceful and whole and the technology’s role is to keep the development of that user central to his/her work, ensuring all services provided are appropriate to the client’s needs.
  6. Confidentiality and Standards: The technology and its developers and supervisors shall be aware of, and in the application of, the latest regulations, such as GDPR in Europe.
  7. Boundary Management: the founder team and the developers of the technology will recognize their own limitations of competence and the need to exercise boundary management. The user shall keep the right to terminate a coaching process at all times, as will the need to acknowledge different approaches to coaching which may be more effective for the client than their own. Every endeavor will be taken to ensure the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
  8. Management Pledge: The company or the managing team commits to complement the principles, codes of ethics and conduct.

Technology

PocketConfidant is a single-purpose technology aiming to help people develop their mindset for success by delivering coaching conversational experiences. The core approach lies in the idea of questioning individuals to help them observe their situations and become aware of the contexts in which they operate. The process of questioning is achieved within the coaching protocol in which users communicate and reflect together with the coaching robot.

How does it work?

PocketConfidant is accessible through a real-time chat and asynchronously, via emails. We are working to launch on all of your preferred communication platforms. We built an intelligent language engine system so that during your conversations it can help you take a step back from a challenging situation, and find a more useful or objective way to think about it. You will then be able to identify what is important for you and how to create a solution that fits with your desired outcome. You can stop the conversation whenever you want, and PocketConfidant self-coaching tool can follow-up with you later on based on your input and outcomes. A resource box is also available to help you access further coaching resources.

What PocketConfidant does not provide?

PocketConfidant does not provide therapy, counseling or advice, solutions, and tips. PocketConfidant doesn’t provide coaching as “mentoring,” or “counseling,” or “advising,” which are based on a narrow subject-matter expertise, but provides you experience to figure things out on your own and train yourself to become proactive, more focused, confident, creative, and efficient.

Human involvement

When you are accessing PocketConfidant via real-time chat, you are talking to a machine, there are no humans engaging in your conversations. When you use our solution for asynchronous coaching via email, in addition to algorithmic processing, the email messages may be supervised by human coaching experts from the PocketConfidant team in accordance with our Code of Ethics to improve the quality of the coaching conversations.

Although PocketConfidant is an autonomous coaching agent, or a robot (meaning there is no human in the conversation), we do, however, also enable individuals to get in touch with professional coaches when they want to. Users can augment their experience with human coaching by booking a session.

Privacy

Coaching conversations respect an ethical and professional code of privacy and confidentiality. No personal information from your conversation with PocketConfidant will be shared. Hence, any conversation that you have with PocketConfidant is completely private and confidential in order for you to be able to talk freely. You can learn more on our Trust page.

What kind of personal information is required?

PocketConfidant only requires an email address for the registration process. There is no requirement to provide further information. This keeps our space private, confidential, and with no means of identification.

Ethics of artificial intelligence

PocketConfidant uses the approach proposed by the Open Ethics initiative when it comes to self-disclosure for AI-powered applications. On the Level 1 of Open Ethics Maturity Model, the solution is described by the following label consisting from these three core factors: Training Data, Source Code, and the Decision Space (as proposed on https://openethics.ai/label/)

Training Data

PocketConfidant does not collect data from external sources. The conversational data that is used for algorithm training purposes is considered of a proprietary source. The risk of introducing bias in the labeling of the data exist due to human involvement in the labeling processes. This risk is mitigated using cross-labeling procedures where labels are being validated by coaching experts before being used for training.

Source Code

PocketConfidant uses opensource and proprietary solutions for utterance classification. Models don’t use rule-based approaches to bias the output based on the profile of the user.

Decision Space

The outputs of the autonomous coaching solution are considered to have a restricted decision space. The nature of the output that the technology is providing are open questions and not advises. In addition, our solution may provide insights, enabling a user to better understand the user experience of the solution and the coaching techniques embedded in it.

Ethics of coaching

Common Practices

Brennan and Wildflower’s review of codes of ethics across various professional bodies in 2014, revealed common traits in several different professional practices that are:

  1. Do no harm: Do not cause needless injury or harm to others.
  2. Duty of care: Act in ways that promote the welfare of other people.
  3. Know your limits: Practice within your scope of competence.
  4. Respect the interests of the client.
  5. Respect the law.

Shared code of conduct

In 2011 ICF (International Coach Federation) and EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) joined forces with the European Union (EU) in an attempt to produce a shared code of conduct as a benchmark for ethical practice in coaching and mentoring. A few years earlier, a group of these bodies (the ICF, AC, APECS, and EMCC) commenced a process of agreeing on the First UK Statement of Shared Professional Values (Association for Coaching, 2008):

  1. Reputation: every coach act positively and in a manner that increases the public’s understanding and acceptance of coaching.
  2. Continuous Competence Enhancement: Every coach accepts the need to enhance their experience, knowledge, capability, and competence on a continuous basis.
  3. Client-Centered: Every client is creative, resourceful and whole and the coach’s role is to keep the development of that client central to his/her work, ensuring all services provided are appropriate to the client’s needs.
  4. Confidentiality and Standards: Every coach has a professional responsibility (beyond the terms of the contract with the client) to apply high standards in their service provision and behavior. He/she needs to be open and frank about methods and techniques used in the coaching process, maintain only appropriate records and to respect the confidentiality a) of the work with their clients and b) or their representative body’s members’ information.
  5. Law and Diversity: Every coach will act within the laws of the jurisdictions within which they practice and will also acknowledge and promote diversity at all times.
  6. Boundary Management: Every coach will recognize their own limitations of competence and the need to exercise boundary management. The client’s right to terminate the coaching process will be respected at all times, as will the need to acknowledge different approaches to coaching which may be more effective for the client than their own. Every endeavor will be taken to ensure the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
  7. Personal Pledge: Every coach will undertake to abide by the above principles that will complement the principles, codes of ethics and conduct set out by their own representative body to which they adhere and by the breach of which they would be required to undergo due process.

Terminology & Definitions

  • Coaching: the activity, or service, that is provided to users to help them figure things out on their own. While we have a long definition of coaching in this article, we like to use John Whitmore’s words – “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance…helping them to learn rather than teaching them” – as well as we like to reuse David Drake’s words to define coaching “Coaching is about helping people to identify, scaffold, and leverage the learning that is just beyond their current capabilities yet within their reach and necessary for the next step forward”. Additionally, we can be adding the following definition “a human development process that involves structured, focused interaction and the use of appropriate strategies, tools, and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders” (Bachkirova, Cox, & Clutterbuck, 2014, p. 1).

    From a technology perspective with PocketConfidant AI, coaching can be defined as a dialogue process, started within a neutral space and based on a benevolent and trusted relationship, between an individual (coachee) and any other coaching system (a human coach or a coaching system). The coaching dialogue needs to be established on and sustain the ethical principles of coaching (that are explicit in our Code of Ethics). The dialogue process is a set of interactions that trigger cognitive and emotional human responses with the goal of facilitatingthe coachee’s reflection and empowering his or her choices. The coaching dialogue process and its interactions are not meant to guide coachees through advice and pre-built solutions but rather to understand and use their own perceptions, judgment, experiences, feelings, ideas and beliefs to step-back, analyze, learn and make the choices that best align with their goals, values and needs. In this way, we see coaching as an enabler, a practice that develops human skills and that is not reliant on humans; this means that technology and human coaches can combine their benefits to create positive outcomes.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): a system that makes it possible for a computer to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform tasks commonly associated with human intelligence. Today AI is properly known as “narrow AI” (or “weak AI”), as it is designed to perform a narrow task (e.g. conduct coaching conversations).
  • Bot/chatbot/robot/machine: the autonomous computer program that allows the real-time conversations, between the users and the coaching technology.
  • Coaching technology/Coaching AI: a combination of a rule-based, machine learning, and natural language processing technologies which are used to enable analysis, generation and improvement of coaching conversations in accordance with the coaching protocols.
  • Coaching solution: the system delivering access to the coaching technology, either via real-time chatbot, via email, or through a different type of communicational interface.
  • Coach: a coaching professional that may introduce and use the coaching technology in its practice, or in its session with a client (here for us the client is intended as a user).
  • Clients: the people using the coaching solution for their needs, whether they have purchased it themselves or not.
  • Context: the context in which a user interacts with the coaching solution such as at work, during training or a transition, for learning, for personal reflection, at school, during assessments, alone or in a group.
  • Conversation: the interactive process of dialogue between a human and the coaching solution.
  • Customers: the entity, or person, who purchases the access to the coaching solution, whether it is for itself or for others.
  • Goal: the terms “goal” and “outcome” and define what a person formulates for achievement.
  • Resources: the beliefs, tools, behaviors, skills, people, personality traits, internal and external elements that can be used by a person to achieve a goal/outcome.
  • Skills: the set of skills that can be activated and trained in a coaching conversation framework.
  • Supervision: a process where the outputs of the coaching technology are supervised by human subject matter experts in the coaching domain to ensure the quality of the coaching conversations.
  • User: any individual interacting with the coaching solution who fulfills an individual need for purposes, such as coaching, psychological support, accelerated learning, training, education, performance improvement, etc.

Links

Links on Ethics and AI from PocketConfidant AI, and its founders.