Governance and Ethics in a World of AI

Feb 15 2018

Technologists themselves say the technology needs to align with human values, and that ethical dimensions must be prioritised at every stage of the design, development and deployment of AI systems.

The ISOC report on “Paths to Our Digital Future” released in 2017 brought attention to the fact that there could be extensive ethical concerns due to AI and automation. The speed at which AI and related technologies are being developed and deployed will require significant investment and effort in the short term to avoid unintended consequences for society and humanity. “We will need focused research and effective governance structures to make sure AI technologies create opportunities and not harm”.

The report also address the concern that AI also raises serious considerations related to privacy, transparency, safety, the nature of work and jobs, and the overall economy. For example, technologies such as facial recognition based on AI can improve user experience over a social media platform. But the same technologies can be used to improve surveillance and compromise anonymity. Or, if AI becomes a permanent feature in social media networks and online platforms, where algorithms are used to curate the online experience, questions about free choice and bias will intensify. Concerns about the transparency and accountability of data collection and decision-making will accelerate calls for ethical principles to guide AI design and deployment.

Governments need to have available skills and resources in order to address the larger economic and social impacts of AI. Within governments, AI could bring about a fundamental reshaping of decision-making as policy development is increasingly data driven. By extension, there is a risk that AI could become an unaccountable and non-transparent decision-making tool for future policy choices.

Many foresee a fierce, competitive battle to dominate the commercial AI space in coming years. While this will likely drive innovation and possibly disrupt current market structures, there are also concerns about competition. Forecasters believe that today’s leading technology firms will control the market for AI platforms for the foreseeable future.

Read the full report here.

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