3 things you don't know about policies shaping AI

A CES 2020 panel discusses regulation, workforce retraining, and artificial intelligence investments.

Ping-pong playing robot proves AI-driven machines can sense human emotion At CES 2020, Omron is showcasing new AI technology that supports harmony between machines and people.

Everyone knows the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has started—that's the easy part. The hard part is that there's not much agreement on what exactly industry and government should be doing to start adapting to this change.

Policy is a good place to start to make sure security and fairness and transparency shape the development and implementation. 

A panel at CES 2020 discussed how to shape laws that govern AI, investments to fund the technology, and training programs to make sure the workforce is ready for the revolution.

SEE: CES 2020: The big trends for business (ZDNet)

New guidance from the White House

Lynne Parker, deputy chief technology officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the office just released a list of guidelines for federal agencies to follow when making policy around AI

The principles cover trust, scientific evidence, fairness, transparency and a risk-based approach to making laws that considers "which risks are acceptable, and which risks present the possibility of unacceptable harm or harm that has expected costs greater than expected benefits."

Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of the Internet Association, said that AI regulations should cover government uses of the technology as well as private industry.

"If you look at what the risks are, some of the higher risks are government uses of AI and not private sector use," he said.

Adelina Cooke, North America AI policy lead for Accenture, said AI is an alpha trend and growing faster than other new technologies. She said companies and federal agencies have to make rules and policies with humans in mind. 

"You always have to ask, 'Where's the human in this process?'" she said. "A lot of decisions being made are going to have direct effects on consumers where they live and work."

Parker added that the government shouldn't get in the way of innovation but conceded that AI presents a unique challenge that won't be solved with a patchwork of state and local laws.

"Whose job is it to protect us from black boxes?" she asked. "At some point the federal government needs to step up and create consistency." 

Europe is investing in AI startups

Mattia Fantinati, a member of the Italian Parliament, said that the European Commission is planning to stimulate AI development with $1.5 billion in public investments. The idea is to support more public-private partnerships and to fund early-stage startups working on AI applications.

"European strategy is focused on medium-sized enterprises," he said.

In November 2019, Bloomberg reported that the commission is planning a $3.9BN EU fund to launch in 2021 to support early stage startups working on biotech, health tech and AI.  

AI in Government Act

Svetlana Matt manages technology and communications policy for Rep. Jerry McNerney, (D-Calif.) the only member of Congress with a Ph.D. in math.

During the CES session, she said he wants Congress to do more to prepare the American workforce for AI and automation. Stockton, Calif., is in the congressman's district, a city that is among the top 5 places most likely to lose jobs to automation, according to a Brookings report on automation and AI.

McNerney introduced the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government Act (H.R. 2575), with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), in May 2019. 

The bipartisan act aims to increase AI adoption across the government in a smart and responsible way. Matt said Congressman McNerney believes that the US should take a global leadership role in AI to ensure that American values will be embedded in the technology as it is developed.

"He wants that to be a country that respects civil liberties as opposed to one that is more of a surveillance state," Matt said.

Also see

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These metro areas are most likely to lose jobs to automation, according to "Automation and Artificial Intelligence: How Machines Are Affecting People and Places" by Mark Muro, Robert Maxim, and Jacob Whiton from The Brookings Institute.

Image: The Brookings Institute