Code of Ethics

Updated 2019-06-07

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 replacement 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 chat interfaces. 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 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

You are not talking to a human when talking with the coaching robot. PocketConfidant is a machine, there are no humans engaging in your conversations. This is important to enable and foster confidentiality and eliminate potential bias that is present with a human factor. Although PocketConfidant is a virtual agent, or a robot (meaning there is no human in the conversation), we do, however, also enable individuals to connect to resources they might need such as to get in touch with professional coaches when individuals want or access learning content.

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 virtual coach are considered to have a restricted decision space. The nature of the output that the bot is providing are open questions and not advises.

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.
  • Bot/chatbot/robot/machine: the computer program that is animating and making possible the real-time conversations, between the users and the coaching technology.
  • Coaching technology: the interfaces and technologies that are used together to enable a coaching conversation experience between a user and a machine, or a computer system.
  • 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 technology for their needs, whether they have purchased it themselves or not.
  • Context: the context in which a user interacts with the coaching technology such as at work, during a 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 the machine and a human.
  • Customers: the entity, or person, who purchases the coaching technology, 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.
  • Supervisors: those people ensuring the design, development, maintenance, review, and enhancement of the technology.
  • User: any individual interacting with the coaching technology fulfills an individual need for various purposes, such as for instance coaching, mentoring, support, learning, training, education, performance, etc.

Links

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