From smart homes to innovative medical solutions, the possibilities seem endless. But packaged with this promise is a myriad of risks. To responsibly harness AI’s potential, it is crucial to address these challenges and bring all relevant stakeholders to the table.
An interim report on the governance of artificial intelligence by the UK government’s Science, Innovation and Technology Committee sets out findings from the Committee’s inquiry so far. and the twelve essential challenges that AI governance must meet if public safety and confidence in AI are to be secured.
These challenges cover a range of areas, including privacy, bias, misrepresentation such as with deepfakes, liability for harm, and the development of international governance frameworks. Other issues relate to the accessibility of technology and the digital divide, intellectual property, copyright and content ownership, the impact of AI on employment, and concerns raised by some over how AI poses a major threat to human life.
This is a crucial moment to define our relationship with technology and AI – and a time when politics and international institutions must demonstrate that they can innovate faster than the great speed at which AI advances. With this in mind, the Alliance for Universal Digital Rights (AUDRi) was co-founded by Equality Now and Women Leading in AI to promote global regulation of the digital space, particularly with the aim of protecting those who are vulnerable to marginalization and abuse.
AUDRi commends the efforts of the Select Committee in listening to others and undertaking work to help improve the governance and regulation of AI. Their diligent analysis and the consequent outline of the risks have an integral role to play in understanding the comprehensive landscape of AI. It isn’t just about innovation; it’s about doing so responsibly, ethically, and inclusively.
While acknowledging risks is a good first step, it is equally essential to be proactive in addressing these concerns. AI, after all, is a reflection of our society – a blend of data, people, and the guiding parameters we have chosen to embed in the technology. If we aren’t careful, we risk encoding our current societal biases, disparities, and issues into algorithms that then dictate the future.
An inclusive AI summit
The report urges greater international cooperation to address the twelve governance challenges highlighted, and it welcomes the UK Government’s plan to host the AI Safety Summit, which is due to take place in November at Bletchley Park and is billed as the world’s first summit on artificial intelligence safety. The Committee calls on the Government to invite “as wide a range of countries as possible” to “advance a shared international understanding of the challenges of AI as well as its opportunities.”
As we look towards the summit this autumn, there lies an unprecedented opportunity to shape the future of AI in Britain. However, this opportunity may easily be squandered if we don’t ensure that the discussion table is representative of all groups at risk of the identified potential harms.
The UK Government has rightly identified bias, privacy, and misrepresentation as paramount challenges in AI. Addressing these effectively requires that organizations like AUDRi and others which lie at the intersection of technology and human rights be there to have their say alongside tech giants and policymakers. Their unique insights and experiences can provide invaluable guidance on ensuring AI serves humanity in a way that respects human rights, freedoms, and dignity.
Regulation as a positive catalyst
Contrary to popular belief, regulation is not a stifling force. On the contrary, as the Select Committee rightly noted, it can be the catalyst for growth. Regulatory frameworks, when thoughtfully crafted, can foster trust in AI systems and motivate wider adoption. They assure the public and businesses alike that AI is being used ethically and responsibly.
To enable this, we are also asking the UK Government to embrace its findings, equip regulators with the resources they need, and enact regulations that enable existing regulators to further their action and create a specific and independent cross-sector AI agency bringing together regulators, civic society, and academia.
The promise of AI is tantalising, but realising its full potential responsibly requires collective action. The upcoming AI Summit is a chance for Britain to lead the way in defining the trajectory of AI. But to harness AI’s potential truly, those most vulnerable to its pitfalls, and those equipped with the expertise to address these challenges, must be integral parts of the conversation.
By Emma Gibson, Global Coordinator for the Alliance for Universal Digital Rights (AUDRi) and Chief Executive of Women Leading in AI, and Ivana Bartoletti, co-founder of AUDRi, and founder and Director of Women Leading in AI