What do we learn from Machine Learning?

Blog by Giovanni Buttarelli: “…There are few authorities monitoring the impact of new technologies on fundamental rights so closely and intensively as data protection and privacy commissioners. At the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, the 40th ICDPPC (which the EDPS had the honour to host), they continued the discussion on AI which began in Marrakesh two years ago with a reflection paper prepared by EDPS experts. In the meantime, many national data protection authorities have invested considerable efforts and provided important contributions to the discussion. To name only a few, the data protection authorities from NorwayFrance, the UK and Schleswig-Holstein have published research and reflections on AI, ethics and fundamental rights. We all see that some applications of AI raise immediate concerns about data protection and privacy; but it also seems generally accepted that there are far wider-reaching ethical implications, as a group of AI researchers also recently concluded. Data protection and privacy commissioners have now made a forceful intervention by adopting a declaration on ethics and data protection in artificial intelligence which spells out six principles for the future development and use of AI – fairness, accountability, transparency, privacy by design, empowerment and non-discrimination – and demands concerted international efforts  to implement such governance principles. Conference members will contribute to these efforts, including through a new permanent working group on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence.

The ICDPPC was also chosen by an alliance of NGOs and individuals, The Public Voice, as the moment to launch its own Universal Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence (UGAI). The twelve principles laid down in these guidelines extend and complement those of the ICDPPC declaration.

We are only at the beginning of this debate. More voices will be heard: think tanks such as CIPL are coming forward with their suggestions, and so will many other organisations.

At international level, the Council of Europe has invested efforts in assessing the impact of AI, and has announced a report and guidelines to be published soon. The European Commission has appointed an expert group which will, among other tasks, give recommendations on future-related policy development and on ethical, legal and societal issues related to AI, including socio-economic challenges.

As I already pointed out in an earlier blogpost, it is our responsibility to ensure that the technologies which will determine the way we and future generations communicate, work and live together, are developed in such a way that the respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law are supported and not undermined….(More)”.