NZ test bed for artificial intelligence systems – working with World Economic Forum

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By Dave Kelly

A report published by The World Economic Forum called ‘Reimagining regulation for the age of AI: New Zealand pilot project‘, says government officials “throughout the world are…urged to act as AI’s influence over society increases at a fast pace”.

The report (p3) states: “To this end, the World Economic Forum is spearheading a multistakeholder, evidence- based policy project in partnership with the Government of New Zealand.

“The project aims at co-designing actionable governance frameworks for AI regulation. It is structured around three focus areas:

  1. Obtaining of a social licence for the use of AI through an inclusive national conversation
  2. The development of in-house understanding of AI to produce well-informed policies
  3. The effective mitigation of risks associated with AI systems to maximize their benefits

The report says New Zealand is the sponsor government for the project and that the project is seen as an opportunity to work with leading experts in AI to help New Zealand shape its domestic position on emerging technologies.

“New Zealand has expressed interest in working with the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution on this topic, given the need for a global, multistakeholder perspective on the complex question of regulating AI,” states the report.

“New Zealand has been keen to work with the Centre to identify tools and approaches that would promote innovation, protect society and build trust in AI use.

“Its view is that ethical frameworks need to underpin technology development, and New Zealand’s bicultural foundation and multicultural make-up means it is committed to working with communities to build and maintain social licence for the use of technologies.”

Also worth reading: Global technology Governance

The report (p5) adds: “As an example, within New Zealand, nationwide discussions will have to involve New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Māori, and their worldview that everything living and non-living is interconnected.

“People act as kaitiaki (guardians) to preserve the land and everything on it, including intangible items such as data. Building trust and gaining social licence within a New Zealand context must recognize this Te Ao Māori worldview and have Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles at its heart.

“Having different voices and viewpoints in conversations and decisions is vital to stop the risk of creating new digital divides.

“It will also be important to prioritize people’s well-being, in line with the government’s commitment to improving the well-being of all New Zealanders. This work is focused on promoting higher living standards and greater intergenerational well-being for New Zealanders, making sure the four capitals of human, social, natural and financial/ physical are strong and working well together.

The project schedule is as follows:

  • Scoping (September to December 2019): Build core project community of key stakeholders and identify primary issues and knowledge base
  • Co-designing (January to June 2020): Work with the project community to frame the conversation on AI regulation, identify focus areas, draft governance frameworks and select pilot projects
  • Testing (July to December 2020): Pilot new approaches and tools for AI regulation and capture lessons and share findings
  • Scaling (January 2021 onward): Encourage broad adoption of the designed governance frameworks and tools based on lessons learned from pilot implementations

The report states: “The Ministry for Social Development of New Zealand has taken a leading role in the effort to ensure that risks that the government could be impinging on people’s privacy, human rights, or ethics when designing a new service using personal information are identified early on.

Using people’s data is central to its work…

“Using people’s data is central to its work, and it has made a commitment to respect individual privacy and to be clear about how it uses and shares information. To this end, the ministry worked with an independent university ethicist in 2017 to develop a tool that would improve its approach to responsibly using and safeguarding personal information. This tool is named the Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics framework (PHRaE).

“(p21) During the pilot phase, the aim is to partner with governments that are yet to develop their frameworks, or which are in the process of testing their existing frameworks, starting with New Zealand and their PHRaE framework.”

The 30-page white paper concludes that the contributors have produced frameworks and guidelines that, once combined, contribute to the development of an appropriate regulatory environment for AI.

“In the next phase of this project, we will test these frameworks and guidelines, assess their relevance and review them based on the observed results.

“We will start in New Zealand and across various jurisdictions by leveraging our network government partners. Then, we will share the lessons learned.

“Considering our open and experimental approach, we encourage government officials, industry players, civil society representatives and academics to join us on this journey to strengthen our frameworks and ensure their greater impact.”

The reports’ New Zealand contributors are:

  • Colin Gavaghan, director, New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies
  • James Maclaurin, Associate Professor, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Emma Naji, Executive Director, AI Forum, New Zealand
  • Alistair Knott, Associate Professor, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Joy Liddicoat, Assistant Research Fellow, Artificial Intelligence, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Olivia Erdelyi, Lecturer, Researcher on AI Governance, Canterbury University, New Zealand
  • Sara Cole Stratton, Ngati Hine, Ngati Kahu, New Zealand
  • Kelly Pendergrast, Founder and Co-Director Antistatic, New Zealand
  • Anna Pendergrast, Co-Lead, Antistatic, New Zealand

Source PDF here.

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