Over the past year or more there was been a significant increase in publications, guidelines, regulations/laws and various other intentions relating to these. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been attracting a lot of attention. Most of this attention has been focused on how to put controls on how AI is used across a wide range of use cases. We have heard and read lots and lots of stories of how AI has been used in questionable and ethical scenarios. These have, to a certain extent, given the use of AI a bit of a bad label. While some of this is justified, some is not, but some allows us to question the ethical use of these technologies. But not all AI, and the underpinning technologies, are bad. Most have been developed for good purposes and as these technologies mature they sometimes get used in scenarios that are less good.
We constantly need to develop new technologies and deploy these in real use scenarios. Ireland has a long history as a leader in the IT industry, with many of the top 100+ IT companies in the world having research and development operations in Ireland, as well as many service suppliers. The Irish government recently released the National AI Strategy (2021).
“The National AI Strategy will serve as a roadmap to an ethical, trustworthy and human-centric design, development, deployment and governance of AI to ensure Ireland can unleash the potential that AI can provide”. “Underpinning our Strategy are three core principles to best embrace the opportunities of AI – adopting a human-centric approach to the application of AI; staying open and adaptable to innovations; and ensuring good governance to build trust and confidence for innovation to flourish, because ultimately if AI is to be truly inclusive and have a positive impact on all of us, we need to be clear on its role in our society and ensure that trust is the ultimate marker of success.” Robert Troy, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation.
The eight different strands are identified and each sets out how Ireland can be an international leader in using AI to benefit the economy and society.
- Building public trust in AI
- Strand 1: AI and society
- Strand 2: A governance ecosystem that promotes trustworthy AI
- Leveraging AI for economic and societal benefit
- Strand 3: Driving adoption of AI in Irish enterprise
- Strand 4: AI serving the public
- Enablers for AI
- Strand 5: A strong AI innovation ecosystem
- Strand 6: AI education, skills and talent
- Strand 7: A supportive and secure infrastructure for AI
- Strand 8: Implementing the Strategy
Each strand has a clear list of objectives and strategic actions for achieving each strand, at national, EU and at a Global level.
Check out the full document here.
Over the past few months we have seen a growing level of communication, guidelines, regulations and legislation for the use of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Where Artificial Intelligence is a superset containing all possible machine or computer generated or apply intelligence consisting of any logic that makes a decision or calculation.
Although the EU has been leading the charge in this area, other countries have been following suit with similar guidelines and legislation.
There has been several examples of this in the USA over the past couple of years. Some of this has been prefaced by the debates and issues around the use of facial recognition. Some States in USA have introduced laws to control what can and cannot be done, but, at time of writing, where is no federal law governing the whole of USA.
In April 2021, the US Federal Trade Commission published and article on titled ‘Aiming for truth, fairness, and equity in Company’s use of AI‘.
They provide guidelines on how to build AI applications while avoiding potential issues such as bias and unfair outcomes, and at the same time incorporating transparency. In addition to the recommendations in the report, they point to three laws (which have been around for some time) which are important for developers of AI applications. These include:
- Section 5 of the FTC Act: The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive practices. That would include the sale or use of – for example – racially biased algorithms.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act: The FCRA comes into play in certain circumstances where an algorithm is used to deny people employment, housing, credit, insurance, or other benefits.
- Equal Credit Opportunity Act: The ECOA makes it illegal for a company to use a biased algorithm that results in credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because a person receives public assistance.
These guidelines aims for truthfully, fairly and equitably. With these covering the technical and non-technical side of AI applications. The guidelines include:
- Start with the right direction: Get your data set right, what is missing, is it balanced, what’s missing, etc. Look at how to improve the data set and address any shortcomings, and this may limit you use model
- Watch out of discriminatory outcomes: Are the outcomes biased? If it works for you data set and scenario, will it work in others eg. Applying the model in a different hospital? Regular and detail testing is needed to ensure no discrimination gets included
- Embrace transparency and independence: Think about how to incorporate transparency from the beginning of the AI project. Use international best practice and standards, have independent audits and publish results, by opening the data and source code to outside inspection.
- Don’t exaggerate what you algorithm can do or whether it can deliver fair or unbiased results: That kind of says it all really. Under the FTC Act, your statements to business customers and consumers must be truthful, no-deceptive and backed up by evidence. Typically with the rush to introduce new technologies and products there can be a tendency to over exaggerate what it can do. Don’t do this
- Tell the truth about how you use data: Be careful about what data you used and how you got this data. For example, Facebook using facial recognition software on pictures default, when they asked for your permission but ignored what you said. Misrepresentation of what the customer/consumer was told.
- Do more good than harm: A practice is unfair if it causes more harm than good. Making decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, etc. If the model causes more harm than good, if it causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers that I not reasonably avoidable by consumers and not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition, their model is unfair.
- Hold yourself accountable: If you use AI, in any form, you will be held accountable for the algorithm’s performance.
Some of these guidelines build upon does from April 2020, on Using Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms, where there is a focus on fair use of data, transparency of data usage, algorithms and models, ability to clearly explain how a decision was made, and ensure all decisions made are fair and unbiased
Working with AI products and applications can be challenging in many different ways. Most of the focus, information and examples is about building these. But that can be the easy part. With the growing number of legal aspects from different regions around the world the task of managing AI products and applications is becoming more and more complicated.
The EU AI Regulations supports the role of person to oversee these different aspects, and this is something we will see job adverts for very very soon, no matter what country or region you live in. The people in these roles will help steer and support companies through this difficult and evolving area, to ensure compliance with local as well and global compliance and legal requirements.