Many people are already using, perhaps without knowing it, tools based on artificial intelligence (AI). Almost everyone probably ignores the absence of laws that govern how it works. We are surrounded by absurd regulations (for example, in Alabama it is illegal to drive while blindfolded; in France, you can’t name a pig “Napoleon,” etc.), however, there are no guidelines that regulate the use of software for autonomous driving vehicles nor the algorithms that support decision making to prioritize care for hospital patients or that pre-select which job candidates should be interviewed.
Companies in transformation. Fortunately, it seems that our political systems have finally understood the urgency with which we need to apply legislation to this area. In the U.S., a bi-partisan group of legislators—Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Representatives John K. Delaney (D-Md.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas)— introduced a bill called The Fundamentally Understanding the Usability and Realistic Evolution of Artificial Intelligence Act of 2017, also known as the FUTURE of AI Act. Senator Olson said “Artificial Intelligence has the power to truly transform our society, and as policymakers, we must be forward thinking about its applications.”
AI & Regulation
The new law covers four main areas:
– Social impact and the effects on employment and on retraining workers whose jobs are threatened by AI.
– Privacy protection: This problem has already emerged in the IT sector, but that is magnified because of the exponential growth of the data collected (think of the information stored by Internet of things devices) and aggregated for profiling purposes.
– Protect US AI solutions against competitive technologies that other countries, especially China, are developing at a worrying rate.
– Rules for to prevent algorithms from operating with prejudices and from discriminating against people, situations and contexts.
It won’t be easy to find a comprehensive solution that responds to each of these issues. However, we’re most likely to find one at the changing and conflicting intersection of where technology, profit, national policies, and individual and cultural attitudes. This will be the real challenge, even for the most experienced politicians.