Joanna Bryson joins global initiative as expert on responsible use of AI

The “Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence”, sponsored initially by 15 governments, including Germany and the EU, brings together leading experts from around the world to bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) creates opportunities and fosters innovation. But how can we ensure that these new technologies are applied responsibly? This question is at the heart of the “Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence” (GPAI), a new global initiative of cooperating governments, which Joanna Bryson, Professor of Ethics and Technology at the Hertie School, has joined as one of the experts based in Germany.

“Although there have been a number of previous transnational initiatives to understand how AI best fits into our societies and their governance, I’m thrilled to be involved in this next stage of the process,” Bryson says. “The backing of so many forward-thinking governments makes it likely our efforts will have real impact. And of course I’m flattered to be nominated by Germany only six months after taking up my position at the Hertie School.”

The international and multi-stakeholder initiative aims to foster better cooperation while respecting democratic values and the primacy of human beings. The initiative is grounded in fundamental rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth. Bryson is among nine GPAI experts nominated by Germany, which is one of the founding members of the initiative. Experts are teamed into working groups to address four principle concerns: data governance, the future of work, innovation and commercialization, and finally, responsible and ethical use of AI. In light of the current global health crisis, the GPAI will also examine how AI can be used to develop technological solutions to better respond to pandemics such as COVID-19.

“Being placed in the working group for Responsible AI is somewhat ironic since I have long argued that only humans can be responsible,” Bryson explains. “Responsibility is a role we have invented to sustain our societies so that individuals in them can flourish. AI and digital technology more broadly challenge our current means for maintaining responsibility by changing the costs of communication of both power and knowledge.”

But digital technology, she argues, can also be applied to help us make our systems of both government and commerce more transparent, and therefore make it easier to hold powerful actors to proper account.

“AI makes intelligence and knowledge into a resource. If shared fairly and applied well it will help all of us address important problems, whether these are achieving our individual educational, artistic, or professional goals, or helping our societies achieve peace, justice, and sustainability,” Bryson adds.

The interdisciplinary working groups bring together experts from science, industry and civil society in regular discussions where they will jointly identify issues and areas of focus, initiate projects and advance knowledge in their respective fields. The participating experts work completely independently and will present recommendations to GPAI member states.

Bryson has joined the working group on the responsible and ethical use of AI, alongside fellow German nominee, Matthias Spielkamp, co-founder and Managing Director of non-profit organisation Algorithm Watch.

The first annual GPAI Multi-Stakeholder Experts Group Plenary will be hosted by Canada later this year in December. The inaugural session will provide an opportunity for members to present an annual report, as well as present some initial results and recommendations from their working group discussions to GPAI member states. The aim is to provide knowledge and policy recommendations that can actively shape and steer the digital transformation.

Launched in June, the GPAI is a joint initiative led by the French and Canadian governments which brings together Australia, the European Union, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. GPAI is supported by newly established a Secretariat hosted by the OECD, as well as by two Centres of Expertise – one each in Montréal and Paris.

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