Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become part of our daily lives from curating social media feeds to mediating traffic flow in cities, and from autonomous cars to connected consumer devices like smart assistants, spam filters, voice recognition systems and search engines. AI systems are shaping how we access information, interact with devices, share personal information, and even understand foreign languages. It also transforms how individuals and groups can be tracked and identified, and dramatically alters what kinds of information can be gleaned about people from their data. AI has the potential to revolutionize societies in positive ways. However, as with any scientific or technological advancement, there is a real risk that the use of new tools by states or corporations will have a negative impact on human rights.
Over the past several years, world leaders from Paris to Moscow, Washington to Beijing, have been engaging in a frenetic AI race. According to Russian president Vladimir Putin, the country that leads in AI “will be the ruler of the world”.
In the United States, companies in the Silicon Valley are making massive investments in AI systems, yet the recent data breaches and scandals regarding misuse of data, from Equifax to Facebook, clearly show the dangers of moving forward without a comprehensive data protection and privacy framework. Without the right foundation, there is a tangible risk that AI technology developed in the US will violate the fundamental rights of individuals globally and in countries like Pakistan.
While AI impacts a plethora of rights, Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan is particularly concerned about the impact it will have on the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression and information in developing countries like Pakistan in the South. We at the Observatory are of the opinion that we should not rush through the adoption of AI simply for the sake of innovation and dominating the future of the world. Not every innovation means progress for society, especially if its impacts are not carefully considered, studied and grounded in research.
It is imperative that policy makers, regulators, companies, civil society, and other stakeholders working on the right to privacy and freedom of expression understand the implications, risks and potential of AI.
We at Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan through launching of Artificial Intelligence Pakistan initiative aims to achieve the following:
- Organize a yearly meeting that brings together an inclusive interdisciplinary working group of stakeholders (public and private sectors, academia, civil society) and experts that can interpret disruptive shifts in AI technology.
- Collaborate toward a global agreement on beneficial safeguards, transparency standards, design guidelines and confidence building measures.
- Help world policymakers from all branches of governments and associated stakeholders (corporations and civil society) implement agreed upon rules and regulations at local and international levels.
- Encourage governments to review the adequacy of any legal and policy frameworks, and regulations on AI with regard to the protection of freedom of expression and privacy;
- Ensure accountability and transparency of AI with a multi stakeholder oversight towards working of AI systems and machine learning algorithms.