In a significant development, the European Parliament has adopted its negotiating position on the AI Act. This paves the way for discussions with EU countries in the Council. Once finalized, the AI Act will be the world's first comprehensive legislation on artificial intelligence. As discussions continue, members of our Generative AI Taskforce are providing valuable insights into the implications and potential of the AI Act.
A common point of public debate is how generative AI will change our workforce. Isabell Welpe, Chair of the Strategy and Organisation at TUM and a member of the TUM Think Tank's Generative AI Taskforce, notes:
As the field advances at an unprecedented pace, regulatory frameworks are trying to keep up. Another member of the Generative AI Taskforce, Christoph Lütge, who holds the Peter Löscher Chair of Business Ethics at TUM and is also the director of the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI, outlines the challenges of regulation:
“The recent adoption of the AI Act by the European Parliament underscores the pressing need to regulate the rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence. The AI Act represents the European Union's ambitious endeavor to establish a regulatory framework for AI. However, the challenge lies in striking a delicate balance between safeguarding fundamental rights, fostering ethical AI development, and avoiding any unintended stifling of innovation."
Christian Djeffal, Assistant Professor of Law, Science and Technology at TUM, shares his perspective on the details of the AI Act in a blog post, after participating in a working meeting organized by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) of Thailand.
He outlines his aspirations for possible improvements to the AI Act:
Dirk Heckmann holds the Chair for Law and Security in Digital Transformation at TUM and als serves as is co-director of the Bavarian Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt). As a member of the taskforce, he appreciates the European legislature's recognition of the urgent need to regulate AI with the world's first comprehensive legal framework for "trustworthy AI", further explaining:
Urs Gasser, Chair for Public Policy, Governance and Innovative Technology at TUM and Dean of the TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology, was invited to write an editorial for “Science” in which he wrote:
An undertaking to which the Generative AI Taskforce has devoted its work to.
On Friday, June 23rd 2023, members of the Generative AI Taskforce participated in a working meeting organized by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) of Thailand. One main focus of the meeting was to learn more about Europe’s approach to AI governance, and in particular to take a close look at the EU AI Act (AIA) and explore how Europe deals with the rise of generative AI. Christian Djeffal, Assistant Professor of Law, Science and Technology and member of our Gen AI Taskforce gave a short input on this issue. In this blog post, he shares his key takeaways.
The AI Act of the European Union could serve as an effective balancing act between risk regulation and innovation promotion. In my view, the recipe for an ideal equilibrium includes:
- Preserving the AI Act's lean, clear approach and avoiding over-regulation of too many topics through this Act. It is worth noting that clear rules can be assets for innovation, minimizing liability risks and enabling even smaller entities to venture into risky areas.
- It is undeniable that regulation imposes costs on developers. However, there are numerous strategies to alleviate these costs. Establishing infrastructures for legal advice and knowledge organization could prove invaluable, especially for start-ups.
- Implementing frameworks like responsible research, human-centered engineering, and integrated research can position legal regulation as an integral part of the innovation journey. This mindset lets developers incorporate legal, ethical, and societal considerations early on, enhancing their products and turning potential challenges into opportunities.
Therefore, the AI Act has potential with its blend of a broad framework and specific sector regulations and enforcement. However, it is the finer details that need refining for it to truly thrive. A key area of focus should be honing the high-risk system's definition. For example, the current outlines in Annex III are so expansive they could include applications that hardly meet the high-risk criteria.
Against this backdrop, AI sandboxes are brimming with potential, serving as a breeding ground for innovation and a practical tool for regulatory learning. Current proposals around the AI Act are mostly about establishing general structures as well as coordination and cooperation among member states. The success of these sandboxes relies heavily on their effective rollout by these states. Interestingly, other European legal developments, like the Data Governance Act—which allows for protected data sharing—might be game-changers, possibly boosting sandboxes to an entirely new level, as they would also allow sharing data under the protection of data protection or intellectual property law.
If I could make a wish concerning the AI Act, I would wish for more participatory elements, particularly in risk management. Engaging users and citizens in identifying and mitigating risks is crucial. Hence, it would be beneficial to incorporate such practices "where appropriate". Analogous provisions already exist in the General Data Protection Regulation and the Digital Services Act. It is a fallacy to believe that only companies, compliance departments, and bodies responsible for algorithmic assessments can fully understand the societal implications of new systems.
Generative AI and its fast developments are baffling experts, policymakers, and the public alike. We have spent the last week at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, attending the "Co-Designing Generative Futures – A Global Conversation About AI" conference. After having talked with experts, decision-makers, and stakeholders from diverse fields and disciplines around the world, we came back with new questions and “mixed feelings” about the impact of generative AI: it is wicked, disruptive, complex, and ambiguous.
As we conclude this conference week, we are sure that capacity building is the answer to the duality between the incredible possibilities generative AI holds and the threats it poses. As we think about governance and implementations, let's dive into six things you can already do - and which we are fostering at TUM Think Tank - to shape the future of generative AI:
1. Implement ethical guidelines: Promote the development and adoption of ethical frameworks that prioritize transparency, fairness, and accountability in the use of generative AI.
2. Collaborate across disciplines: Foster collaboration between technologists, policymakers, ethicists, and diverse stakeholders to collectively address the challenges and risks associated with generative AI.
3. Research and development: Support research initiatives that focus on responsible AI, including bias mitigation, privacy preservation, and effective detection of generated content.
4. Educate and raise awareness: Share knowledge and raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges of generative AI, empowering individuals and organizations to make informed decisions.
5. Champion diversity and inclusion: Encourage diverse representation and inclusivity in the development and deployment of generative AI systems to mitigate biases and ensure equitable outcomes.
6. Boost positive impact on economy and education: Support businesses to pick up the highly innovative possibilities of generative AI. Foster our education system to not only make use of the technology, but support skill development.
The connections made, insights shared, and ideas generated during this week are great examples of collective capacity building. The conference was hosted in collaboration with the Global Network of Internet & Society Research Centers, BI Norwegian Business School, Instituto de Tecnologia e Sociedade (ITS Rio), and the TUM Think Tank.
Stephanie Hare joined us on the evening of 27 February 2023 to present the main topics of her book “Technology is not neutral: A Short Guide to Technology Ethics”. In her book, Stephanie Hare addresses some key questions surrounding modern digital technologies: One focus is how developers of technology but also society at large can seek to maximize the benefits of technologies and applications while minimizing their harms. Read our key takeaways from our discussion here.
Some key take-aways from the discussion
Using a philosophical framework, she utilizes several different fields and approaches to ethics and philosophy to call attention to these issues. For instance, metaphysics points out what the problem needs to be solved, while epistemology helps us to ask about the relevant sources of knowledge to address these questions and problems. Political Philosophy, on the other hand, highlights the question of who holds the power to pursue these solutions, while aesthetics highlights how technologies should be designed and displayed. Ethics, finally, gives us answers to the question of what the inherent values are baked into technology.
Throughout the discussion with Alexander v. Janowski and the audience, we addressed crucial observations on the design of technologies which we can make in our everyday world. Examples included how the size of many smartphones is fitted to larger, typically male hands, similarly to how airbags in vehicles have only been tested on mannequins that resemble the average male body. These observations lent credence to the ethical considerations of who and what entities do and should have control over the design and application of technologies.
Overall, Stephanie Hare hopes that her book “hacks humans and human culture.” by contributing to the effort to inspiring people to see the biases and intentional or unintentional inequalities that technologies will take on from their developers if left unscrutinized.
To learn more about Stephanie Hare, the book, and her other works, visit her website at https://www.harebrain.co.