NZ’s AI Forum offers guide to building public trust in AI

The use of AI has become a contentious topic in New Zealand in recent years

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The AI Forum of New Zealand — representing organisations from across New Zealand's artificial intelligence ecosystem — has published a set of principles designed to help build public trust in the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) in New Zealand.

The use of AI has become a contentious topic in New Zealand in recent years. In April 2018 the University of Otago called for government use of AI analytics to be regulated. Then, in May 2019 the New Zealand Law Foundation warned against the unregulated user of artificial intelligence algorithms by government. In response, in November 2019, the Government announced it would examine regulation of AI with the World Economic Forum.

AI Forum executive director Emma Naji said the principles provided overarching high-level guidance for anyone involved in designing or developing AI to get them thinking about how to work towards ethical development of AI.

“We want to raise awareness that ethical and legal issues need to be identified and addressed as early as possible,” she said. “AI does not exist in a legal void. Existing laws and regulations such as privacy, human rights and liability all apply, but people tend to forget that in the face of AI. The fundamental purpose of publishing these principles is … a succinct, useful reference point that can help lay some groundwork in building and informing good practice.”

The Trustworthy AI in Aotearoa AI Principles document (Aotearoa is the indigenous Māori name for New Zealand) sets out five principles covering:

  • fairness and justice
  • reliability, security and privacy
  • transparency
  • human oversight and accountability
  • well-being

The authors say they have drawn on common themes emerging from the growing body of published AI ethical principles. “We believe AI stakeholders that design, develop and use AI systems in accordance with these principles will be better able to manage many of the identified risks and unintended consequences of AI. As a result, the public will be more likely to trust AI, ultimately enhancing the ability of all New Zealanders to enjoy the benefits of AI.”

This New Zealand initiative follows the launch by the global Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on 27 February of the OECD AI Policy Observatory designed to “help countries enable, nurture and monitor the responsible development of trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) systems for the benefit of society.”

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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