ETHICS MUST BE at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI) development in order to ensure smart tech benefits rather than derails humanity.
At least that's according to the House of Lords Select Committee, which in a report titled 'AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able?' notes that the UK can spearhead AI development providing it embraces an ethical approach.
The Committee proposed a code of conduct for AI development that enshrines five core principles for building the next wave of smart computer and machines.
The first is that AI should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity; pretty straightforward that one.
The second is that AI should operate on the principles of intelligibility and fairness, which is probably more tricky as everyone has a different take on what's fair in the world.
Third is the idea that AI should not be used to diminish the rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities; we guess someone ought to mention that to Facebook and its work on AI.
The fourth point notes citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to "flourish mentally, emotionally, and economically alongside AIs"; perhaps wishful thinking if you have the type of job that can be replaced by a chirpy robot.
The fifth point is pretty obvious; "the autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in AI"... duh.
If you've been following the debates around AI development and is future then all this could seem pretty obvious. But the Committee did not that the government should plough some money into making people have the skills and training to bypass the effects of losing jobs one the rise of the smart machines comes into effect.
The Committee also wants the Law Commission to look into whether UK law is up to scratch when tackling problems such as when AI systems malfunction and cause harm; think self-driving car crashes.
"AI is not without its risks and the adoption of the principles proposed by the Committee will help to mitigate these. An ethical approach ensures the public trusts this technology and sees the benefits of using it. It will also prepare them to challenge its misuse," said Committee chairman Lord Clement-Jones.
Another part of the report also calls for the government's Competition and Markets Authority to take action against the "monopolisation of data" at the hands of big tech firms; we reckon it could be a little late to the party on that one.
Whether we like it or not, the development of AI systems is well underway. It'll be a long while before we get truly intelligent machines, but that hasn't stopped the fear-mongering from some tech talkers.
Either way, we just hope developers remember to make a fool-proof stop button in their AIs as a just-in-case safeguard against a Terminator situation from arising. µ
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