Many of us imagine artificial intelligence (AI) as sci-fi characters like Terminator or Robocop. However, AI plays a crucial role in the digital transformation of society and is already part of our daily lives. Algorithms select suitable clothes for us, sort our CVs during hiring, or decide what content on social networks is displayed to us. Although we should move forward together with technological progress, we should also be aware of the possible threats that come from the development of artificial intelligence. What do I have in mind? Legislating laws that will prevent possible threats. Why should we care? And what are the developments at the European level?
Good servant, bad master
Technological progress must not be a step backwards from a fundamental rights perspective. Automatic facial recognition and public surveillance, one of the most well-known uses of artificial intelligence, can certainly jeopardize them. Non-democratic China is a leader in the use of this technology. And it is also a leader in its abuse, especially to persecute people for different political attitudes or religions. Unfortunately, it is not the only country that abuses artificial intelligence to suppress civil liberties. Through social networks, Azerbaijan and Bahrain identify opponents of the regime, political opponents, or members of the LGBT community, who they then persecute.
Even in Europe, the use of artificial intelligence is expanding rapidly. But if there are no clear boundaries, it could get out of hand and harm the whole society. Companies will be able to sell new products to authoritarian regimes, e.g. as some Israeli developers have been already doing for some time. Our every step will be watched. In Czechia, facial recognition is currently used by the Václav Havel Airport. Furthermore, the police have been thinking about using it even in places with an increased concentration of people, such as the subway or popular tourist places. In my opinion, snooping people in public with the help of automatic systems is unacceptable. If they fall into the wrong hands, they could very simply restrict the freedom of us all. Widespread surveillance of people is unjustifiable both on the Internet and in the real world.
Equal opportunities for everybody
With the expansion of algorithms, their ability to influence society, politics, institutions, and our behavior has also expanded. Algorithmic bias is found across platforms, including but not limited to search engine results and social media platforms. This can have impacts ranging from inadvertent privacy violations to reinforcing social biases of race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity. Have you come across a video or movie about conspiracy theories? And now “the Internet” does not show you anything else? Artificial intelligence can contribute to such amplification of conspiracy theories. Therefore, more comprehensive regulation is needed, as emerging technologies are becoming more advanced and less transparent.
Change in progress
Encourage innovation while ensuring security and privacy. That is the goal I work on in the European Parliament, namely in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), the Culture and Education Committee (CULT) and in the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age (AIDA).
We should not resist progress. However, the necessary legal framework needs to be adopted to set the rules for the use of artificial intelligence. It is crucial to motivate the responsible party to avoid causing damage, but also to ensure that victims of artificial intelligence abuse are compensated. I believe that by setting rules and boundaries, both individuals and the society will be able to benefit from artificial intelligences.