Standard for Artificial Intelligence (AI)Ethics

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    In Context 

    UNESCO’s global agreement on the ethics of AI can guide governments and companies alike.

    What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

    • It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 
      • The historical evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) dates back to the year 1996 when Deep Blue AI defeated the then world chess champion.
    • It is a machine which mimics the human brain for learning and accomplishes different tasks that would have historically required human intelligence.
      • Different technologies like machine learning, pattern recognition, big data, neural networks, self algorithms etc are included in it.
    • It assists machines in completing complicated and sophisticated jobs. 
      • Machine learning is frequently used as the AI’s primary method.

    Applications

    • Derives meaningful information : AI technology enables computers and systems to derive meaningful information from digital images, videos and other visual inputs, and based on those inputs, it can take action. 
    • Automated stock trading: Designed to optimise stock portfolios, AI-driven high-frequency trading platforms make thousands or even millions of trades per day without human intervention.
    • Online shopping and advertising: It is widely used to provide personalised recommendations to people, based for example on their previous searches and purchases or other online behaviour. 
    • Cybersecurity: AI systems can help recognise and fight cyberattacks and other cyber threats based on the continuous input of data, recognising patterns and backtracking the attacks.
    • Fighting disinformation: Certain AI applications can detect fake news and disinformation by mining social media information, looking for words that are sensational or alarming and identifying which online sources are deemed authoritative.
    • Transport: AI could improve the safety, speed and efficiency of rail traffic by minimising wheel friction, maximising speed and enabling autonomous driving. Tesla Cars use AI.
    • Agriculture: AI applications in agriculture have developed applications and tools which help farmers inaccurate and controlled farming by providing them proper guidance to farmers about water management, crop rotation, timely harvesting, type of crop to be grown, optimum planting, pest control etc. use of drone to analyse the captured images and provide a detailed report containing the current health of the farm.
    • Health: It can be used for diagnostic purposes for various diseases, including COVID-19, and could prove very effective in remote areas where adequate health facilities are not available.
      • AI algorithms can also be partially credited for the rapidity with which vaccines were developed to tackle COVID-19.

    Challenges

    • Creating New Inequalities: Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities.
      • Widens Gap between the developing and the developed countries
    • Privacy Issues: AI uses digital footprints and feeds them in their algorithm to exploit commercially without our consent.
    • Displacement and loss of jobs of lower strata: Robotics and AI companies are building intelligent machines that perform tasks typically carried out by low-income workers: self-service kiosks to replace cashiers, fruit-picking robots to replace field workers, etc.
    • There are problems emerging in facial recognition technologies, which are used to access our phones, bank accounts and apartments, and are increasingly employed by law-enforcement authorities, in identifying women and darker-skinned people. 
    • Environmental Impact of Coolants used in Data Centres: The environmental impact caused by data centres doesn’t stop at electrical consumption

    India’s Efforts 

    • The National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence released by NITI Aayog in 2018 highlights the massive potential of AI in solving complex social challenges faced by Indian citizens across areas such as agriculture, health, and education, in addition to the significant economic returns that AI-related technologies are already creating.
      • India has made great strides in the development of responsible and ethical AI governance, starting with NITI Aayog’s #AIForAll campaign to the many corporate strategies that have been adopted to ensure that AI is developed with common, humanistic values at its core.
    • US India Artificial Intelligence (USIAI) initiative 
      • It has been launched to scale up the science and technology relationship between India and the United States.

    UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

    • In November 2021 ,193 countries reached a groundbreaking agreement at UNESCO on how AI should be designed and used by governments and tech companies. 
    • UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence aims to fundamentally shift the balance of power between people, and the businesses and governments developing AI.
    • Countries which are members of UNESCO have agreed to implement this recommendation by enacting actions to regulate the entire AI system life cycle, ranging from research, design and development to deployment and use. 
    • It establishes the need to keep control over data in the hands of users, allowing them to access and delete information as needed. 
    • It also calls on member states to ensure that appropriate safeguards schemes are devised for the processing of sensitive data and effective accountability, and redress mechanisms are provided in the event of harm. 
    • Additionally, the broader socio-cultural impacts of AI-related technologies are also addressed, with the Recommendation taking a strong stance that AI systems should not be used for social scoring or mass surveillance purposes; that particular attention must be paid to the psychological and cognitive impact that these systems can have on children and young people; and that member states should invest in and promote not only digital, media and information literacy skills, but also socio-emotional and AI ethics skills to strengthen critical thinking and competencies in the digital era. 
    • In a number of countries, the principles of the Recommendation are already being used in AI regulation and policy, demonstrating their practical viability. Finland provides an example of good practice in this regard, with its 2017 AI Strategy. 
      • This was the first of its kind in any European country and demonstrated how governments can effectively promote ethical AI use without compromising the desire to be on the cutting edge of new technologies.

    Way Forward

    • There is an urgent need to tackle the moral and ethical issues related to AI through an universal code of ethics which emcompasses all.
      • The right incentives for ethical AI governance need to be established in national and sub-national policy. 
    • If AI is not regulated properly, it is bound to have unmanageable implications.
      • All countries, including India, need to be legally prepared to face any challenges arising from the AI .
    •  Protecting personally identifiable information is critical to ensure privacy and eliminate unconscious bias.