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Digital Responsibility in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Ensuring Accountability and Addressing Risks

Summary

In recent years, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) has brought about tremendous opportunities for businesses. However, it has also raised important questions for regulatory bodies and legal professionals about how to ensure that this technology does not become overpowering […]

Digital Responsibility in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Ensuring Accountability and Addressing Risks

In recent years, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) has brought about tremendous opportunities for businesses. However, it has also raised important questions for regulatory bodies and legal professionals about how to ensure that this technology does not become overpowering or have negative consequences, and who will be responsible if that happens. In this article, we will explore the concept of digital responsibility in relation to AI, taking inspiration from ethical principles.

The potential of AI has evolved so rapidly that companies are reconsidering how they build technology, conduct their operations, and utilize their resources to maximize its potential. However, this rapid integration of AI has also sparked significant concerns and increased the urgency surrounding important questions about the level of autonomy these systems can achieve, our ability to control them, and the application of frameworks of civil responsibility if something goes wrong.

On June 14, 2023, the European Parliament approved its version of the EU Artificial Intelligence Act, which, along with other legislative drafts at the EU level, would be the world’s first comprehensive AI law. However, as with any new technology, the challenge lies in striking a balance between the need to mitigate risks without stifling progress. Some argue that the draft does not go far enough, while others claim that it impedes innovation.

A good starting point for thinking about AI and civil responsibility is referencing the ethical principles developed by various institutions, including the French National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL) and UNESCO at a global level. At the core of these principles is the idea that since AI will have a certain level of autonomy and is therefore highly unpredictable, it is crucial for anyone using it to measure and monitor its impact in case of any adverse developments, such as the development of bias, discrimination, or loss of control.

We can see that these ethical principles are reflected in the EU AI Act, which categorizes the use of AI based on the risks they entail and emphasizes the importance of risk mapping and monitoring adverse impacts in “high-risk” cases. An example of applying this principle can be found in a case in France involving high-frequency trading (HFT), where a company lost control over an algorithm, impacting the trading price of a security. Although the user denied responsibility, it was eventually determined that they were liable due to a lack of foreseeing such an event and taking precautions.

This approach also follows a broader trend of compatibility, focusing on predicting and mitigating risks instead of explicitly specifying the measures that must be in place. However, what remains unclear and unresolved in the case of AI is what happens in the event of adverse events. Will simply “shutting down” the AI system and taking control be enough? It’s easy to envision a situation where that might not be possible. For instance, in specialized environments like healthcare, where lives are at stake, what would happen if there aren’t enough qualified human experts to take over control?

For now, as organizations consider the possibility of introducing AI into their operations, ethical principles serve as a wise starting point. This involves thorough risk mapping and impact assessments, as well as planning for what will be done if the AI system fails. It is still early days, but given the speed at which AI technology is advancing, there is little doubt that issues of civil responsibility will begin to take center stage.

FAQ

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation.

What are the ethical principles related to artificial intelligence?

Ethical principles related to AI emphasize fairness, transparency, accountability, and the need to mitigate risks and monitor the impact of AI systems in case of adverse developments, such as bias or loss of control.

What is the EU Artificial Intelligence Act?

The EU Artificial Intelligence Act is a legislative draft approved by the European Parliament that aims to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the use and regulation of artificial intelligence within the European Union.

Why is digital responsibility important in the age of artificial intelligence?

Digital responsibility is crucial in the age of artificial intelligence to ensure that the technology is used ethically and does not cause harm. It involves taking measures to mitigate risks, monitor the impact of AI systems, and establish accountability for any adverse consequences.

Sources:

– [CNIL](https://www.cnil.fr/)

– [UNESCO](https://en.unesco.org/)