French and Canadians to launch global panel on ethical AI

By on 22/05/2019
The new panel will work to ensure ethical use of AI in public services, including health care (Image courtesy: National Cancer Institute/Daniel Sone).

A clutch of countries have expressed formal interest in joining an international panel to foster international collaboration on the development of artificial intelligence (AI), which is being set up by the Canadian and French governments.

The two nations this week launched a draft declaration for the new International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI) for discussion, setting out its organisational structure. The declaration consists of a five-point plan, including a pledge to support the responsible development of AI “grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity and innovation”.

Cédric O, secretary of state for digital affairs in the French government, said: “An international platform will be necessary in order to ensure a sustainable development of artificial intelligence and serve humanity as a whole.

“France has been working hard with Canada in order to make concrete progress in that direction and to onboard other countries, especially within the G7.”

Human-centric robots

The declaration was launched following a meeting in Paris attended by G7 ministers responsible for digital issues. Held under the theme of ‘building digital trust together’, the gathering was also attended by a number of non-G7 countries.

During the meeting, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union expressed interest in joining the new panel, according to a communique released afterwards. Discussions on design of the panel will soon take place between the interested participants.

The declaration states that participants will commit to promoting a “human-centric and ethical approach to AI, grounded in human rights”. Members will attempt to stimulate innovation growth and wellbeing through international cooperation on the adoption of AI, and pledge to promote and protect democratic values, processes and institutions of democracy, the rule of law, the free market, freedom of the press and access to information in their deployment of AI technologies.

The declaration also undertakes to close digital divides in policy areas such as skills and benefits, with a particular focus on developing countries and women and girls.

Summer launch planned

According to a statement released jointly by the French and Canadian governments, the IPAI will include a steering committee, a secretariat and working groups focused on individual topics such as the impacts of technological development. Following its formal launch at a summit of the G7 to be held in Biarritz in August, it will also convene an annual conference of international AI experts.

The IPIA has its roots in the Canada-France Statement on Artificial Intelligence announced by the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and French president Emmanuel Macron prior to the 2018 G7 Summit.

It follows a number of recent initiatives on the issues launched by individual governments. In April, the Australian government launched a consultation on an ethical framework to help mitigate the risks accompanying the technologies. And the previous month, a UK watchdog announced an inquiry into the use of AI in public services, with the aim of examining whether existing rules are adequate to uphold high standards of conduct.

About Colin Marrs

Colin Marrs is a journalist specialising in local and national government, as well as architecture and the built environment. Colin previously worked as digital content editor at Campaign, the advertising industry "bible".

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