High-level dialogue: AI readiness check: policy impact, opportunities, and challenges

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Ilona Stadnik

Everything is data and artificial intelligence (AI) is promising to analyse it better than any human, stated Mr Reinhard Scholl (Deputy Director, Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau, ITU) thus starting the dialog on the relevance of AI today.

Mr Houlin Zhao (Secretary-General, ITU) continued with this idea in his opening address, saying that AI can, and should, be a force for good. He said: ‘AI solutions are being used as a tool in the fight against the COVID-19, so to help increase crops, manage natural disasters, reduce road congestion, artificial intelligence has potential to transform areas as diverse and critical as education, healthcare, finance, energy, etc.’ He also mentioned the AI for Good Platform, which was developed by ITU in order to promote inclusive global dialogue necessary for ensuring that AI would prove itself as a force for good.

The priority directions for Chile necessary to become AI ready were discussed by Ms Pamela Gidi (Deputy Minister, Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Chile). Chile set the goal of becoming a digital hub, so the attention was put on infrastructure (especially on fibre-optic cables) on one hand, and on data and talents, on the other. The issue of integrating AI-based innovations in the telecom industry, in order to address the rising challenges for operators to improve network management and customer services, was also discussed. Lastly, Gidi said that, choosing between less accurate but more explanatory AI solution, and the more accurate but less explanatory one, she would prefer choosing the one which is mostly used and operating, in order to get the immediate benefits from it.

Opportunities and challenges of AI readiness were explained by Mr P.D. Vaghela (Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority, India), AI technology started improving lives in many ways, from basic shopping planning to announcing health experiences. AI is poised to redefine how business will be conducted as well. However, AI also introduces unwanted and serious threats, such as privacy violations and discrimination. What followed was the practical question regarding the use of AI algorithms for checking the tax law of India and possible implications of such exercise. ’AI, combined with machine learning, actually can help not only in finding the loopholes in tax fraud, but also fraud in documents and even money laundering’, Vaghela said.

Mr Mishari Al-mishari (CEO, Strategy Management Office, Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, SDAIA) spoke about Saudi Arabia’s strategy on data and AI. SDAIA has both regulatory and operational agencies that allow proceeding with smooth implementation of measures for data use and AI. Also, he described the national strategy on AI as aimed at strengthening the position of Saudi Arabia in AI, skills and talent, legislative maturity, and attracting investments.

‘We have ambitious aim to be one of the top three countries in data and AI in the next 10 years and attract 20 billion dollars’ investments, about 600 patents per year and also to incentivise the ecosystem and entrepreneurship in data and AI, reaching about 300 AI-oriented start-ups by the year of 2030.’

Lastly, Al-mishari spoke on data-related policies, including data classification, open data policy, and data sharing policies: ‘To us, the value of data really lies in the accessibility of data’.

An overview of the Russian state policies for AI readiness was given by Ms Anna Abramova (Head of the Department of Digital Economy and Artificial Intelligence at MGIMO-University). The National Strategy for Information Society indicates the importance of AI. There is also a national strategy on AI, as well as digital sandboxes in which AI is one of the main technologies to be introduced, trained, and tested. Abramova expressed hope to for the federal program for AI to get financial support from the state, along with the focused on education in the field. Currently, the main challenge is to increase society’s trust in AI.

One of the latest initiatives in the soft law in Russia was the discussion on AI ethics and AI clarification. Several Russian universities are already offering courses in AI & ethics. They are open not only to computer science students, but also to liberal arts students, and everybody else interested.

At the end of the discussion, speakers brushed the issue of myths regarding AI and robotics, and their negative perception by society, as well as obstacles in the process of elaborating guidelines of AI use into operational standards.