By : Harshita Dangwal
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of human lives – decreasing the complexities and burdens by offering insightful solutions.
AI is in every bit of our daily routine- right from Siri waking us up in the morning in form of an alarm or Alexa playing that favourite song for us, to those online extensions and apps that help us plan and execute our day better to even the online baby names generator! With big data entering the new tech industry, AI has been carved to respond to our needs and is more likely to replace humans in the upcoming futuristic world where we have to put in minimal effort from our side because everything is already being handled by that advanced technological intervention. AI programming focuses on three cognitive skills: learning, reasoning and self-correction – dangerously similar to the very attributes that differentiate humans and machines; this is why there is a need for global regulations and agreements on the ethics of Artificial Intelligence to ensure that AI is developed with common, humanistic values in mind.
A typical AI system ingests a great deal of labelled training data, analyzes it for correlations and patterns, and uses these patterns to make predictions about the future. For instance, an image recognition tool can learn to identify and describe objects in images after reviewing millions of examples of text chats, or a chatbot can learn to produce lifelike exchanges with people. However, history (and Hollywood sci-fi movies) have been a witness and careful observer of how total human dependency on AI can be catastrophic. According to the Gartner report, AI adoption has significantly grown from a mere 4 per cent to a whopping 15 per cent during 2018-19. This is primarily because easy adoption of innovation this advanced has made its entry into the budding world of startups where each competes against another in core operational excellency using data.
Despite the existence of cons, AI is here to stay with its capabilities seeped and deep-rooted in some of the most crucial elements of the nation-building process. Right from predicting natural calamities to some extent, inclusivity of people from all sections of society and working on disaster preparedness, AI has pervaded the possibility of human existence without it. However, with this perversion comes certain challenges and unprecedented dilemmas – for instance, potential threats to privacy, gender bias, lack of transparency and unreliable use of tech due to under-the-table-holdings.
“Decisions impacting millions of people should be fair, transparent and contestable,” says Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences. UNESCO’s recommendation mandate on the ethical use of and defining boundaries of AI has been a matter of discussion worldwide. As a result of a groundbreaking agreement at UNESCO in November 2021, 193 countries have agreed to set the first realistic global normative framework while leaving its application of it to each country’s own discretion. According to the mandate, UNESCO stresses the use of AI in adherence to policy advice, standard setting and capacity building. That being said, it is highly crucial to observe and ban the use of invasive AI systems and replace them with individual and environment-friendly ones. To advance implementation, UNESCO is required to conduct an Ethical Impact Assessment and a Readiness Methodology. As a matter of fact, a global observatory created by UNESCO, in partnership with seven international organizations dealing with various aspects of artificial intelligence, was launched in September 2021.
Globally, the AI market is expected to reach USD 93.5 billion by 2021, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.1% between 2022 and 2030. This puts AI’s share in the Indian market at a mirific USD 7.8 billion in 2021!
Lately, due to the heavy dependence on tech and AI in industries, it was deemed necessary to lay down significant standards on its functioning and procedures worldwide.
Non-governmental stakeholder participation has been channelled into global impact by international standards bodies for a long time. Standardization has ensured global interoperability in almost everything, and such standards can affect everyday life profoundly. In fact, the United Nations has used ISO standards for the development of arms control guidelines. The role of standards-setting bodies and their standards may be as significant for AI as they are for humans.
Having no standards means we have no benchmarks for success, no security for products, no unification of global markets, and certainly no competitive environment. Standards are a recognised method to regulate and supervise the legal functioning of products, with AI being standardised, the emerging global landscape of well-being and sustainable use is shed light upon.
Agreement and Way forward
By standardising and regulating AI use, governments, large corporations, and people (citizens) can maintain a healthy balance of power while reducing inequalities and empowering marginalized segments. Furthermore, standardisation ensures a more secure online environment which protects citizens’ rights and privacy, while limiting access to unauthorized entries and providing efficient redress in case of intrusions. Lastly, one must remember that AI was invented in the first place to assist humans instead of serving as their masters, so in order to ensure human survival, technological augmentation is expected to improve healthcare, agriculture, education, and tackle nature crises with resource-efficient system capabilities.