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EU Commission pushes for ethical AI regulation

Author: Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan, Financial Times, Published on: 26 April 2019

'EU backs AI regulation while China and US favour technology', 25 April 2019

[…] If human-like AI robots were to gain legal standing of their own, companies could look to place the blame on them when things go wrong. […]

Fears incubated in popular culture are not entirely misguided, however: killer robots (officially called lethal autonomous weapon systems) are just one of many risks. A more pedestrian threat comes from automated hiring, where applicants are judged by AI that has learnt from historical data sets. “Discrimination that comes out of systems trained on data from people . . . reflects the behaviour of people [who previously carried out the job],” explains Yoshua Bengio, a professor in the University of Montreal’s department of computer science. In response to these concerns, ethical frameworks for AI are being written around the world. […]

Yet the tension between safeguarding citizens and fostering innovation can pull policymakers in opposite directions. […]

As with data and privacy regulation, the EU is pressing ahead with rulemaking for AI. The guidelines published by the European Commission in April and drawing on high level experts follow the idea of “Trustworthy AI”. They provide clear ethical principles and a checklist to be used when developing AI systems. The principles will now be tested by companies and other stakeholders in a pilot project to start in the summer of 2019.

The EU’s regulatory preparedness contrasts with the countries which are leading in AI research. “The US was on the path to really forward-thinking AI national policy under the Obama administration. Now, we’re not,” says Mark Latonero, a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. [...]

China’s AI strategy has just two passing references to ethics. But the country is not alone: ethics remains a fundamentally international problem. “AI will have the tendency to scale very quickly without really any regards to national borders,” says Mr Latonero. [...]

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