23 Nov 2017
Legal professionals have urged parliamentarians to set up a body to further determine the framework and suitability of algorithm regulation.
The lawyers, who were giving evidence at the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on decision making of algorithms, detailed some of the challenges presented by relying on machines over humans in decision making in various areas, including finance, justice and law enforcement.
The experts agreed for the need to set up a body now to come up with recommendations for government to implement, and that there was some urgency to do so.
“An advisory body is exactly what is needed, but it has to be equipped with the proper resources, the proper expertise and the proper authority, and it has to be multidisciplinary,” said Dr Sandra Wachter, lawyer and researcher in Data Ethics, AI, and Robotics, Oxford Internet Institute.
Key decisions are being made by machines about individuals’ lives and it may not be clear why those decisions were taken at different levels, said Dr Pavel Klimov, chair of the Law Society’s Technology and the Law Group.
“We are essentially dealing with a situation where humans may no longer be in control of what decision is taken and may not even know or understand why a wrong decision has been taken because we are losing sight of the transparency of the process from the beginning to the end,” he explained.
The practice is “incredibly widespread” and every decision that can be done by a human can now be done by an algorithm across various sectors including finance and law, said Watcher.
The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in the work place is spreading fast and covering a broad range of services.
A recent study conducted by the Financial Stability Board said while it does have some benefits, it could lead to firms such as banks becoming reliant on unsupervised third-parties or other companies.
Various forms of AI are used across banks, including in compliance.
Silkie Carlo, senior advocacy officer at Liberty, expressed concern about concern about the potential human rights impact of the use of algorithms in decision-making.
“There is a lack of transparency around use of algorithms by the intelligence agencies, but knowing that they are in the business of collecting bulk data and in the practice of bulk surveillance is a real issue for us and we think there ought to be some transparency of the algorithms that are used by the security and intelligence agencies.”
– By Irene Madongo
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