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Legislating a Worldwide Ethical Approach to AI

Prof. James Cooper

While artificial intelligence (AI) is terrific at speeding up processing, it cannot be trusted to be fair, let alone neutral, particularly in the criminal justice context, writes California Western’s Professor James Cooper in a recent op-ed published in the Taipei Times.

That has prompted governments around the world, albeit a little late, to regulate the deployment of this and other technologies that use AI, continues Cooper.

Cooper identifies two different models that various countries have rolled out to try to achieve some sort of regulation.

Authorities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are pursuing an incentivist model as they invest in state owned-enterprises and for-profit technology companies to dominate the industry and gain strategic advantage.

Some municipal governments in the U.S. are pursuing a more restrictionist model, for example which curtail the use of facial recognition technology in police investigations and municipal surveillance programs.

However, most countries are somewhere between these two models.

As Cooper identified earlier, many ethical issues come with such emerging technology. Machines cannot factor in racial or other human rights sensitivities. They could replicate human bias, including racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination.

These issues have produced a plethora of ethical guidelines from countries, cities, and corporations as they navigate how to regulate AI.

Along with the PRC, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and various cities in the U.S. have published their own code on ethics for artificial intelligence. Add to that AI guidelines produced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, to which 42 countries have agreed, and there now appears to be not just competition among the countries who wish to dominate AI, but also among their would-be regulators.

It is not easy to balance data privacy, cybersecurity concerns, and the desire to gain a strategic commercial advantage in new technology industries, concludes Cooper. Today there still exists a wide legislative gap between the incentivist and restrictionist models to determine how best to regulate AI.

Read Professor James Cooper’s complete Taipei Times op-ed here.