Wed, Sep 18, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Legislating an ethical AI approach

By James Cooper

Developed in collaboration with Peking University, Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Automation and Institute of Computing Technology, these principles also include the support of China’s three big tech firms: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) should not be counted out.

From the institution that gave the world the Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises comes the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence. About 42 countries signed on to these policy guidelines so that AI systems are safe, fair and trustworthy.

While not legally binding, OECD principles in other policy areas have proved highly influential in setting international standards and helping governments to design national legislation. This could have good moral authority and provide the groundwork for customary international law in these areas.

It is no surprise that the World Economic Forum wants to develop its own policy guidelines, too.

If sovereign states cannot get the norms and rules right, Big Tech is there at the read to step in and self-regulate. Google’s AI for Social Good initiative is a case in point, but that tech behemoth has lost much credibility after it was fined for illegally tracking the YouTube preferences of minors and earning advertising revenue.

Neither fully transparent nor timely, Google had to shut down Google+ after a security bug dating back to 2015 allowed third-party developers to access user profile data.

Self-regulating organizations, comprised of Big Tech, could fill the vacuum where elected officials and international financial institutions have just entered with policy guidelines rather than legally enforceable standards.

Taiwan has a wonderful opportunity with its “Taiwan AI Action Plan” to not only develop smart technology, but to facilitate an ethical approach to AI development and deployment.

There is a wide-open legislative space between the incentivist and restrictionist models to demonstrate how to best regulate AI.

James Cooper is a professor of law at the California Western School of Law in San Diego and directs its international studies program.

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