On 3 March, Access Partnership hosted the London chapter event of the International Institute of Communications (IIC) – a lively panel discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) regulation can promote both ethics and innovation.
The discussion covered a wide range of issues, from government to the private sector, and came just a week after the European Commission published its AI white paper. The panellists included Jeremy Godfrey, Commissioner of the Irish communications regulator (ComReg); Katherine Mayes, Programme Manager of Cloud, Data Analytics and AI at techUK; Gary Clemo, Director, Data Innovation at Ofcom; and Tom Nixon, Head of Government Practice, Faculty Science Ltd.
Jeremy Godfrey praised the AI white paper for acknowledging the different uses of AI and suggesting a risk-based approach to regulation, based on sector and intended use. He believes that there is already lots of regulation on human intelligence, which is a good starting point for AI. Regulation should target human behaviour rather than the technology itself. For example, a good employment process should include a diverse set of candidates. In the same way, a good AI recruitment tool should include a diverse set of data. He also suggested that AI should only be used when proven that it will do a better job than humans.
Katherine Mayes highlighted that the paper is not excessively restrictive, as initially feared. It suggests regulatory interventions only for high-risk areas in critical sectors such as finance, healthcare, transport, and infrastructure. She also praised the focus and need for broad debate on risks associated with biometric identification. Low-risk applications, such as algorithms in consumer apps, would be best managed with self-regulation, permitting companies to subject themselves to the appropriate requirements. Mayes also raised concern that the digital sovereignty rhetoric of the paper could stifle innovation. For example, the consideration that systems should be trained only with EU citizen’s data will mean they will not be diverse.
Gary Clemo praised the document’s suggestions for improvements within the existing legislative framework, including addressing the characteristics of AI and new risks that arise from its changing functionality. It proposes to include services in EU safety and liability legislation which currently applies to products. Clemo suggested that there is a greater need for user trust, which can be developed by helping people understand how algorithms work and upskilling workers. To support this, Ofcom has created the Data Innovation Hub, responsible for improving its capability to understand and extract insights from data. It does this by developing innovative tools, delivering its policy and organisational priorities by undertaking targeted projects involving the analysis or visualisation of data, and providing advice to data specialists throughout the organisation.
Representing the voice of the private sector, Tom Nixon welcomed AI regulation, noting that lack of rules could weaken confidence and engagement in the sector. He expressed concern, however, that the EU’s approach is too horizontally focused, as opposed to sector specific. He also advocated for more tools and techniques in measuring notions of AI that is ethical, accountable, trustworthy, and transparent. Instead of adopting umbrella terms, it is useful to consider the applications of AI in the context of different sectors and use cases. This provides a more comprehensive focus when considering the challenges of AI in a particular sector and the actions required to solve them collectively.
We look forward to continuing the debate at ICC’s annual Telecommunications & Media Forum (TMF) from 24 – 25 March in Brussels.
Report written by: Ivan Ivanov, Senior Marketing Manager, Access Partnership
Date: Tuesday, 3rd March 2020
Time: 5pm for a 5.30pm start
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Andrea advises on EU and UK political and policy issues. She has a particular focus on digital and tech, including the current commission proposals on AI. Before joining Flint, Andrea worked for the President of the Republic of Croatia, where she advised on EU and foreign affairs, including on developing the Three Seas Initiative, a platform for digital, transport and energy cooperation between Central and Eastern European EU member states. She also worked on the Croatian President’s election campaign, advising on and implementing the strategic communications plan.
Previously, Andrea worked at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade focusing on the EU–Ukraine free trade agreement and the multilateral trade negotiations in the framework of the WTO Doha round.
Gary Clemo is currently Data Innovation Director at Ofcom, where he is responsible for the creation, operation and evolution of a new function intended to transform the way the organisation obtains, analyses and extracts insights from data. Prior to this he spent eight years delivering a range of technical strategy projects at Ofcom, before becoming project director for Ofcom’s work on mapping the coverage and performance of the UK’s communications networks. Before joining Ofcom, Gary managed a team of wireless and mobile researchers at Toshiba’s Telecommunications Research Laboratory in Bristol. He holds a PhD from the University of Bristol.
Jeremy Godfrey joined the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) as Commissioner in 2013 and was Chairperson of the Commission from February 2015 to February 2017. He was Chair of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) for 2019, and is currently Vice-Chair.
Mr Godfrey has almost thirty years’ experience in the ICT sector, as an industry executive, business consultant and Government official.
Prior to joining ComReg, he was Government Chief Information Officer in Hong Kong. In this role, he had responsibility both for Government IT and for IT-policy issues such as digital inclusion, internet governance and the promotion of inward investment in the IT sector.
Mr Godfrey began his career in the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry, serving as private secretary to the Cabinet Minister as well as in a variety of other roles. He then spent ten years in the Cable & Wireless Group, in Hong Kong and in the UK, mainly in strategy, marketing and regulatory roles – including Director of Strategy and Director of Marketing for Hong Kong Telecom.
Between 1998 and 2008, Mr Godfrey worked for PA Consulting Group where he was a partner in the Hong Kong office, serving clients in the communications, transportation, financial services and government sectors. Projects that he led included major change initiatives, business start-up projects, and due diligence assignments. He worked in around a dozen markets in Asia and the Pacific.
Mr Godfrey has a Master of Arts from Cambridge University, where he studied mathematics.
Katherine Mayes joined techUK in May 2018 as the Programme Manager for Cloud Computing, Data, Analytics and AI. Prior to techUK, Katherine worked as a Policy Advisor at the Government Digital Service (GDS) supporting the digital transformation of UK Government. Whilst working at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Katherine led AMRC’s policy work on patient data, consent and opt-out. Katherine has a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham.
Tom Nixon is Head of Government Practice at Faculty, Europe’s leading independent AI firm. He is responsible for overseeing all of Faculty’s government and public sector project work, including overseeing projects to remove live-streamed terrorism content online using deep learning; using machine learning to improve breast cancer screening scheduling in the NHS; and advising on how AI can be used to support advertising regulation.
Before that Mr Nixon spent 10 years in Government, including as Head of Strategy at the Department for Education and Senior Adviser on Economics Affairs and Technology to PM David Cameron in No10, where he was responsible for reforms including the Apprenticeship Levy and provisions to improve consumer access to broadband and mobile telecommunications.
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