The perception of digital innovation is changing. The initial enthusiasm is now being replaced with a more cautious, at times skeptical, approach. If you are familiar with Shoshana Zuboff’s views on Surveillance Capitalism or, more locally, the concerns voiced by Antonello Soro, Chairman of the Italian Data Protection Authority, on the use of data, you may now be starting to question how much actual good will humanity derive from unbridled innovation.
The good news is that the European Union continues to be at the forefront of a human-centric approach to technology so that innovation can be responsible and sustainable. The GDPR, which came into force about a year ago, has brought the focus to the fundamental right to data privacy, reminding all stakeholders that the human being remains at the center of any digital innovation.
Last month the Independent High-Level Expert Group in Artificial Intelligence set up by the European Commission has issued interesting Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. The document clearly indicates that AI should lawful, ethical and robust in order to be trusted, and trustworthy. AI systems must be based on fundamental rights such as respect for human dignity, freedom of the individual, respect for democracy, justice and the rule of law, equality, non-discrimination and solidarity, and citizens’ rights. Ethical principles of respect for human autonomy, prevention of harm, fairness and explicability must be respected and any tensions between them must be duly balanced. Privacy and data governance, transparency, diversity, non-discrimination and fairness are also important requirements of the realization of trustworthy AI systems.
In conclusion, the guidelines state that “AI systems will continue to impact society and citizens in ways that we cannot yet imagine. […] Our goal is to create a culture of “Trustworthy AI for Europe” whereby the benefits of AI can be reaped by all in a manner that ensures respect for our foundation values: fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law.”