Shannen

Six Strategies to Develop Good AI Policy

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abstract cover photo of A.I. mainframe with a person kneeling in front

If you don’t start using AI, you’ll be replaced by someone who is.

Have you been inundated with these headlines? Seems like every day there’s a new version of the same poke in the eye, not to mention all the “top 10 Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools” lists. Some of the tools coming out do look pretty interesting and the race to the top will surely remain competitive as technology evolves.

This brings up an interesting question – one that policymakers are no doubt already wrestling with – will AI truly replace millions of jobs? And if they do, how should government policymakers respond without stifling innovation?

In this article, I write about why policymakers must embrace #AI and identify six strategies they can use to foster a harmonious partnership between the two.

Introduction

Last year, Wendy’s restaurant started piloting AI drive-thru ordering at a location in Columbus, OH with plans for future expansion at more locations. Surely other fast-food restaurants either have something in the works or are watching closely. According to Statista Research Dept, there are about 5.1m employees in the U.S. fast food restaurant industry. If 10% of them work the drive-thru ordering window, that 501,000 people suddenly looking elsewhere for work.

In April 2023, Italy banned and then unbanned #chatGPT, pointing to improvements in the company’s data security practices. Other countries – Russia, China, Iran – have kept their bans in place (definitely no correlation among those countries).

These examples point to the crucial role public policy plays in shaping the two-way relationship between AI and society. Rather than resisting its presence, policymakers must instead find effective ways to harness its power for good and limit or alleviate its negative impacts on society.

Here are six strategies policymakers can use to enable a society that’s strengthened by AI’s possibilities.

 

1. Recognize A.I. is here to stay

AI has been around for a long time (remember Alan Turing?) so it has already permeated sectors, transformed industries and reshaped societal dynamics. Policymakers, and the economies they oversee, must use to their society’s advantage the inevitability of this new wave of A.I. Taking a careful, open-minded approach to developing economic public policy requires significant foresight into both the benefits (e.g. productivity) and challenges (e.g. safety) AI brings.

2. Understand AI’s capabilities and limitations

It goes without saying that policymakers must have a decent understanding of AI’s capabilities and limitations. This means they should meet with and learn from experts in the field, academics and researchers as well as keep up-to-date on the latest breakthroughs and innovations. In 2019, Canada established the Advisory Council on AI to do exactly that – advise the federal government on building global AI leadership, advancing economic growth, and ensuring AI is reflecting Canadian values. Policymakers can then use their insights to make informed decisions and craft appropriate policies.

3. Make Regulatory Frameworks Flexible

Traditional, slow-moving regulatory frameworks will struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of AI development. Rather than imposing rigid rules, policymakers would be better off establishing values-based principles and guidelines that allow for flexibility and innovation under a risk-based approach. Regular review and updates, in consultation with the advisory committee, can ensure frameworks remain relevant and effective in governing AI systems.

4. Collaborate on International Standards

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (#oecd) is calling on governments to actively cooperate with international partners to develop shared standards and advance trustworthy A.I. Given the global nature of the digital economy, policymakers should actively engage in international forums, fostering dialogue and sharing best practices. Collaboration in areas such as ethical guidelines, data governance, and safety regulations can promote responsible AI development at home and abroad.

5. Promote Ethical and Responsible AI Development

Policymakers have a responsibility to ensure AI is developed and utilized ethically – in a manner that respects human values, promotes fairness, and avoids harm. Policymakers should establish values-based ethical guidelines, require human oversight, encourage transparency and accountability in AI algorithms, and promote the use of unbiased and representative data. By setting and regularly reviewing the standards for responsible AI development, policymakers can shape a more trustworthy AI ecosystem.

6. Invest in AI Education and Research

To effectively collaborate with AI, policymakers need to invest in education and research opportunities. Policymakers should support initiatives that enhance AI literacy, provide opportunities for job reskilling in the workforce and advance AI breakthroughs. This includes funding AI-related research projects, promoting educational programs, and supporting AI advancement collaborations. By empowering society with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the AI landscape, societies will be better able to reap positive benefits while protecting against potential job losses.

 

Conclusion

AI is here to stay and policymakers must embrace it as a transformative force in society. By implementing the six strategies above, policymakers can foster a more productive and beneficial relationship with AI. Embracing it as a tool and ally, policymakers can harness AI’s potential to ultimately address societal challenges, drive innovation, and shape a future where humans and AI systems coexist harmoniously.

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