No innovations have ever had the magnitude of impact on everyday life as those pertaining to information technology and communication. As a result of their sophistication, endless amounts of data are readily available to us today, at any moment. Artificial Intelligence, making full use of this abundant resource, is a new technological tool sweeping through our world, promising to once again revolutionize our everyday lives. For that reason, it is of utmost importance that appropriate rules are adopted early on to foster innovation and trust in Artificial Intelligence, while ensuring respect for human rights and democratic values.
While the term Artificial Intelligence has been around for quite some time, it has only recently sparked real interest in business and industry. One could argue that out of all the recent buzzwords in digital transformation (like blockchain), Artificial Intelligence is the only one that has seen real and ever-growing industry-wide application, with already noticeable and easily envisioned impact on our daily lives. As lawyers we should be glad to note that this revolutionizing new technology has been greeted by both business and industry, and its impact was so profound that, on May 22 of this year, the first ever set of intergovernmental policy guidelines on Artificial Intelligence was adopted by the OECD.
These Artificial Intelligence Principles stipulate that Artificial Intelligence should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development, and well-being. The technology should be programmed so that it respects human rights, the rule of law, democratic values, and diversity, and to ensure that it does so it should include appropriate safeguards such as transparency and responsible disclosure. Moreover, systems should function in a secure and safe way throughout their lifetimes, and potential risks should be continually assessed and managed. Most importantly, organizations and individuals developing, deploying, or operating Artificial Intelligence systems ought to be responsible for their proper functioning.
In a nutshell, the intergovernmental policy guidelines on Artificial Intelligence aim to uphold international standards, which are designed to ensure that Artificial Intelligence systems are robust (from a technical perspective, taking into account its social environment), safe, fair, trustworthy, and respectful towards our ethical values and applicable laws/regulations.
The new world of Artificial Intelligence also represents a big challenge for governments and policy-makers as it is still unexplored. That is why the OECD supports governments by measuring and analyzing the economic and social impacts of Artificial Intelligence and its applications to identify good practices, which eventually can be used as public policy. This approach is showing results, as the OECD has already been able to identify some main points pertaining to national policies and international co-operation for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. The five main points are: to facilitate public and private investment in research and development to spur innovation in trustworthy Artificial Intelligence; to foster accessible Artificial Intelligence ecosystems with digital infrastructure, technologies, and mechanisms to share data and knowledge; to create a policy environment that will open the way to deployment of trustworthy Artificial Intelligence systems; to equip people with the appropriate skills and support workers to ensure a fair transition; and to co-operate across borders and sectors to share information, develop standards, and work towards responsible stewardship of Artificial Intelligence.
These intergovernmental policy guidelines have already been adopted by forty-two countries, including Slovenia, Germany, and France. It is safe to say that these countries have recognized that Artificial Intelligence as a multiple purpose technology has the potential to improve the welfare and well-being of people, to contribute to positive sustainable global economic activity, to increase innovation and productivity, and to help respond to key global challenges. It is deployed in many sectors ranging from production, finance, and transport to healthcare and security. Artificial Intelligence also raises challenges for our societies and economies, notably regarding economic shifts and inequalities, competition, transitions in the labor market, and democracy and human rights.
In this regard Slovenia is one of the first EU member states aiming to develop and establish a national Artificial Intelligence strategy that, in addition to research, is focusing on societal impacts. Recently, the Slovenian government has announced plans, with official backing from UNESCO, to set up Europe’s first international Artificial Intelligence research center, to make sure that Artificial Intelligence is developed through a humanist approach and shall not become autonomous or replace human intelligence.
By Ales Lunder, Partner, and Martina Mahnic, Associate, CMS Ljubljana
This Article was originally published in Issue 6.8 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.