AI among the most prominent topics at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Artificial intelligence (AI) was among the most prominent topics discussed at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting held in Davos, between 22 and 25 January 2019. One of the highlights was the WEF announcing the creation of a high-level ‘AI Council’ to work on addressing issues such as ethics and AI, data protection, and the future of work. Singapore used the Forum as an opportunity to release a model governance framework for AI, built on two principles: AI-based decisions are explainable, transparent and fair; and AI solutions and human-centric. German Chancellor Angela Merkel mentioned that, when it comes to addressing AI challenges, global cooperation and engagement through a collective architecture are needed. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred to a need to integrate new technologies such as AI in the laws of war, noting that the second commission of the UN General Assembly could play a role here. Philanthropist George Soros spoke about a ‘mortal danger facing open societies from the instruments of control that machine learning and artificial intelligence can put in the hands of repressive regimes’, and expressed concerns about the AI-based ‘credit score system’ developed in China. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff drew attention to the risks of a new type of digital divide, between those who can benefit from the opportunities offered by AI, and those who do not have access to such technology. According to Benioff, AI is becoming a ‘new human right’ that everyone should have access to.