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How governments are regulating the future of AI

Lance Mercereau
Lance Mercereau
1 November 2019

Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the mood of people on the future of artificial intelligence, from aggressively embracing the benefits of advanced technologies to one of unease and concern.  This change in attitude has been reinforced by a recent survey.

According to the Center for the Governance of AI, 82% Americans believe that AI should be carefully managed, a figure comparable to survey respondents from the European Union. 

The question is who will take the lead in governing the application of artificial intelligence?

I recently attended a Wired Smarter conference, in London, to hear Kay First-Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning at the World Economic Forum, on how her organization is working with the UK government to develop the first-of-kind guidelines to help public sector leaders make responsible purchasing decisions when buying AI-powered solutions.

The rationale is simple:  Artificial intelligence holds the potential to vastly improve government operations and meet the needs of citizens in new ways, ranging from traffic management and healthcare delivery to processing tax forms, but personal data must be used in a manner that doesn’t betray the trust of citizens.

Released in September 2019, the new 10 AI purchasing guidelines urge public sector organizations to explore procurement processes that focus on the challenge at hand rather than a specific solution. In addition, when evaluating suppliers, potential buyers should ensure that they have transparent data governance mechanisms in place from the start of the selection process, including a strategy to address the technical and ethical handing of data.

With artificial intelligence embedded in many technology solutions, the impact of the new guidelines on companies seeking to do business with the UK government will be huge.  Suppliers will be held to higher standards and will require them to change how they engage the public sector. 

At the same time, government organizations will need to review how they deploy AI projects to deliver better digital services to citizens without eroding the public’s confidence in institutions.

The UK is the first government to pilot these procurement guidelines, but they are intended to be rolled out globally so it’s worth staying on top of this important topic in the months to come by registering to receive free alerts from RequirementONE

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