Montag, 23.10.2017 04:17 Uhr

Estonia: Legalizing AI

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 27.09.2017, 12:44 Uhr
Nachricht/Bericht: +++ Internet und Technik +++ Bericht 4248x gelesen

Rome [ENA] Estonia was the first country to declare internet access as a human right, the first country to hold a nationwide election online, the first country in Europe to both legalize ride sharing and delivery bots, and the first country to offer e-Residency.And the next industrial revolution will be represented by legalizing AI.Countries around the world now face the challenge of grasping the rise of Artifical Intelligence.

Understanding AI in Estonia started with the self-driving vehicles task force. However, it rapidly became clear that their scope was too limited as working on traffic regulations given the far reaching implications of the technology. Regulating mobility on its own will only lead to more complexity and possible confusions for society. Instead, there is necessity to make more efficient the whole process and legalize AI. To introduce better regulations, society must also play a role in conceiving together the required framework so that the end result is comprehensible for everyone. A task force has suggested four different options concerning how to regulate AI in a user-friendly way.

The Law firm Triniti and a team led by Karmen Turk and Maarja Pild in Tallinn have outlined the options for giving representative rights to AI. Representative rights mean that AI can buy and sell products and services on its owner’s behalf. The owner might be a private individual using SIRI or it might be, for example, a brokerage firm that uses algorithms to buy and sell shares. The legal work is not fully ready yet. The work, started in November 2016, is led by the task force, together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Government Office. Experts from all sectors have been involved in the discussions on how to solve the problem of responsibility in machine and deep-learning algorithms.

These algorithms are very distinct from the average programs because they lack the usual ‘if-then’ type of logic. In the event of an incident, even the creators of the algorithm may know where the mistake exactly occurred, because the decision-making of these systems is intuitive. These ‘black box’ type algorithms possess great potential for value creation in a digital society, but are legally hard to define. The liability question is not difficult technically, it is an ethical dilemma. Technically there are several already existing options to select from: personal, producers, service providers and even governmental liability, where the government covers the cost. But the focus of this question is ethics.

At a time when algorithms are ensuring the safety of the society and are doing it way better than the current sets of rules, one has to emotionally understand that there is not someone to blame in every case — just as in the case of most train accidents today. Train drivers cannot always bear the burden of blame when the laws of physics sometimes make it impossible for them to avoid accidents. Testing self-driving vehicles is legal on all public roads in Estonia since 2nd of March 2017. To outline the range and domain of this process even better, it is important to understand that Estonia is currently working on narrow AI, taking account the possibilities of general AI.

The aim is not to solve the issue of super-intelligence, which is still on the horizon and a more complex issue. Estonia is not working on a ‘Terminator Skynet’ scenario. Rather, the problem to solve is the problem of liability in systems that are by now quite common (e.g. financial bots). The number of these kinds of expert systems is growing and the lack of legal clarity in this domain is a major obstacle in their functioning in the physical world. The easiest examples of this are self-driving vehicles, but one must also consider smart refrigerators, some big data analytics tools, predictive algorithms of various natures etc. In this context, the aim should be to give representative rights to algorithms.

But rights also mean responsibilities. The legalisation of AI will have a deep and far-reaching impact on the everyday lives of the citizens. For the local economy, this means pulling down barriers for the further digitalization of the industries, bringing in new investment, and creating new jobs in ICT, while also abolishing jobs at the same time. Legal clarity is the biggest obstacle for wide scale implementation. Potential investors need to know what will happen when things go sour. Local entrepreneurs and civil society may start to experiment with new technologies and service models, thus actually enabling the next industrial revolution.

For the citizens it means lots of new types of services and products that are easy to use and remove a lot of mundane tasks from their lives. It also means more free time and a rise in their productive time. The choice is how to make the best use of this.The global perspective is different. Estonia as a country with 1.3 million people is a perfect test ground for new and bold ideas, and a place to conduct test with relatively small capital cost. At the same time, being bold and implementing new ideas also means that the local culture is open-minded towards failure. The key is to learn from each failure. Estonia is a sort of pathfinder, constantly moving in uncharted territories.

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