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How will the EU’s ethical guidelines for AI have an impact?

Sankar Narayanan, Chief Practice Officer, Fractal, discusses the new EU guidelines for AI

Over the last 50 years, the average world GDP growth rate has been around 3%. In order to sustain this, the working population growth and productivity growth must come together. As we know, the population growth rate has dropped to 1%, meaning humanity’s hope is on productivity growth. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already, and will continue to be, the epicentre of productivity growth over the next couple of decades, which is reflected by the robust investment climate around AI led companies.

The economic backdrop in Europe remains a bit more downbeat, partly due to the current political uncertainty as well as a lack of clarity on the approach to and application of innovative productivity drivers, including AI.

The new set of guidelines from The European Commission around trustworthy AI is ground-breaking, and not just for Europe, but the rest of the world. First of all, the document doesn’t just elaborate about what shouldn’t be done, but clearly details what can and should be done through the use of AI.

Discomfort around the use of data and AI has continued to rise thanks to unrealistic expectations, speculative stories and genuine malfunctions. It’s our collective responsibility as AI professionals to help build transparency and offer comfort to businesses and brands as they continue to compete to earn consumer loyalty.

It’s also important to alleviate any anxieties around the technology. There have been several poorly researched articles about the dystopia that may become of the world if we let AI advance at the pace in which it is, for example loss of jobs as the technology becomes smart enough to replace humans.

But AI can in fact have a positive impact, and the guidelines like the recent ones from The European Commission can help to enable this. The new guidelines also present an opportunity for organisations to commit to training and embracing change positively and most importantly, employ a diverse workforce.

The guidelines also offer an opportunity for all parts of the enterprise to be involved in leveraging AI, especially to operationalize trustworthy AI. This will help improve the overall understanding across the business of what AI can and should do, and what it can’t.

While there are still a few grey areas, including handling of convert AI systems, autonomous weapons etc., these guidelines are most definitely a step in the right direction, and at the right time.