The USA will join the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence

The USA will join the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence

31. May 2020 0 By Horst Buchwald

The USA will join the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence

New York, 31.5. 2020

Because they are afraid of China’s authoritarian use of AI, according to US technology chief Michael Kratsios, the US will abandon its negative attitude towards the “Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence” and join the G-7 AI pact. The group includes the G-7 countries – Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, the USA – as well as Australia, New Zealand and Slovenia.

The main tasks that the partners have set themselves include the development of ethical rules and responsibilities for the use of AI. Kratsios wrote in an article for the “Wall Street Journal” that “AI is being twisted by authoritarian regimes to violate rights”, targeting China in particular. Last year, President Trump signed an executive order establishing the American AI Initiative, which redirects federal funds and funding into AI research and retraining.


The history of the partnership :

In December 2018, Canada and France announced plans for a new international panel to study the impact of artificial intelligence on the world’s people and economies.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the international AI panel would be established by the Group of Seven Leading Western Economies and “discuss some of the ethical concerns we will face in this area”. The panel would be modelled on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has helped build consensus on the global climate crisis and recommend possible responses.

Just over a year later, IPAI was renamed the Global Partnership for AI, but it was still waiting for a push. Some proponents of the idea said that it would help governments to push AI developments forward and that it could create an international consensus on limiting certain applications of the technology, such as AI projects to control citizens or to violate human rights. Criticism came from the White House: the panel is unnecessarily bureaucratic and dampens AI development by excessive caution.

When the project became known as the Global Partnership in 2018, Canada held the rotating presidency of the G7. France assumed the presidency in 2019 and continued to drive the project forward. In May it was said that the G7 – with the exception of the US and the EU – as well as India and New Zealand were interested and would discuss the design of the new organisation. In 2020 the G7 presidency will be taken over by the USA.

Cédric O, France’s Minister for Digital Affairs, raised the question of the future of the Global Partnership with the US Chief Technology Officer, Michael Kratsios, in Washington last month. In a later interview with WIRED, O said “there is a common consensus, but only for one country”.

O claimed he understood US concerns that the project could slow down American technology companies, but warned that without international coordination, unsavoury applications of AI could flourish. He gave some examples: how China has used facial recognition and other technologies to strengthen its authoritarian security apparatus, leading to US protests and sanctions against Chinese AI companies. “If you don’t want a Chinese model in Western countries to use AI to control your population, for example, then you need to establish some rules that must be consistent,” O demanded.

Since advice or principles advocated by the Global Partnership would not be legally binding, it is unclear to what extent the body could really restrict the nations’ AI programmes. It would also lack the resources to regulate private companies. Lynne Parker, Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the US, stressed that the US still feared that the group might be too restrictive. “Our concern is that the group may be too clumsy,” she said, “We believe it is unethical to hinder and suppress the development of AI technology to the point where people no longer want to use it.

Parker also said that the Global Partnership is expected to duplicate the work already underway at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a separate group of 36 advanced economies. The OECD has established a network of AI experts to advise its members on policy issues, and it has developed a set of AI principles that are supported by more than 40 countries, including the US, and are not too restrictive.

France and Canada argued that, according to the latest plans for the Global Partnership, it is partly supported by the OECD and should complement the other AI programmes of this organisation. Hans Parmar, a spokesman for the Canadian Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said the six members of the G7, along with the US and several other interested countries, now plan to hold fortnightly meetings and launch the Global Partnership “early 2020”.

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