AI ‘must put people first’

24 May 19

A pledge to ensure artificial intelligence is used to benefit people and the planet is at the heart of pioneering policy guidelines that will set the pace for this evolving technology.

The OECD has led efforts to establish the first set of intergovernmental policy guidelines on AI so that it can be used to drive inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being.

The principles for the responsible deployment of AI and recommendations for public policy and international co-operation agreed in Paris represent a global first.

“Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the way we live and work, and offering extraordinary benefits for our societies and economies,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“Yet, it raises new challenges and is also fuelling anxieties and ethical concerns. This puts the onus on governments to ensure that AI systems are designed in a way that respects our values and laws, so people can trust that their safety and privacy will be paramount.

“These principles will be a global reference point for trustworthy AI so that we can harness its opportunities in a way that delivers the best outcomes for all.”

The OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence have been agreed by the OECD’s 36 member countries along with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Romania.

They also have the backing of the European Commission – whose high-level expert group has produced Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI – and will on the agenda at the forthcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit in Japan.

Drawn up under the guidance of experts from governments, academia, business, civil society, international bodies, the tech community and trade unions, the principles aim to guide governments, organisations and individuals in designing and running AI systems.

While not legally binding, OECD principles in other policy areas have proved highly influential in setting standards and helping governments design national legislation.

The AI principles state that AI should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being.

AI systems should be designed in a way that respects the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity, and should include appropriate safeguards, they state.

Organisations and individuals developing, deploying or operating such systems should be held accountable for the way they function, adds the OECD.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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