EU starts first ever attempt to regulate AI

Major report issued with top Israeli experts involved; ‘Israel is now number three in the world for AI solutions’ states report.

Artificial intelligence (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Artificial intelligence
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
One of the most significant global reports on regulating artificial intelligence (AI) to date was issued last week by the Council of Europe.
Analyzing the issue both worldwide as well as zoning in-depth on the cases of Israel, Japan and Mexico, the goal of the report is to help countries keep up with the impact of AI on society in order to maximize benefits, while limiting potential harms to democracy.
The report says that, “AI systems are increasingly being used in almost every kind of human activity... In the context of the fight against COVID-19, numerous applications have been deployed to accelerate research, improve case detection and measure the pandemic.”
“However, the development of this technology raises public concern and it is the responsibility of States to ensure that... human rights, democracy and the rule of law continue to be fully protected,” says the report.
The Council of Europe’s 47 member states and connections with human rights groups, civil society, academia and the private sector make it a leader for protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
According to the report, the organization has already “produced pioneering global legally-binding standards involving complex technological issues, such as the protection of personal data, bioethics and cybercrime, reconciling innovation and human rights protection.”
The Council’s Ad hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) took the lead on the report which came out of broad multi-stakeholder consultations, taking into account feasibility.
The report informs readers about CAHAI’s progress and presents several studies on the impact of AI systems on human rights, the rule of law and democracy, as well as on existing international legally-binding instruments and ethical guidelines on AI.
This includes a survey of both formal legal limitations and more soft-law style and ethical standards being informally encouraged.
As part of the survey, CAHAI wants to monitor this ever-evolving spectrum of non-mandatory governance instruments.
It also wants to prospectively assess the impact of AI on ethical principles, human rights, the rule of law and democracy especially in concrete national contexts.
This can help contribute to the drafting of more effective future AI regulations, which may even emerge to become an international convention someday.
Regarding Israel, the report starts by citing statistics that “Israel is now number three in the world for AI solutions. With only 8.5 million citizens, Israel has a market share of 11% and is equal to China. Israel has 40x more AI companies per capita than the market leader USA, and that makes Israel the clear hidden champion of Artificial Intelligence.”
The report notes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the National Initiative for Secured Intelligent Systems in 2018, appointing two of the authors of the Council report, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel and Prof. Dr. Eviatar Matania, to colead the initiative.
According to the report, Israel’s approach was to consult hundreds of Israeli experts in various domains, including the academic, industrial and governmental sectors. No less than 15 working groups were established.
In the medical sector, the Israel Center for Disease Control applies an AI algorithm to review patients’ diagnostic forms and to verify cancer diagnosis, the report says.
Further, the report explains that this saves time by automating the process of reviewing over 100,000 forms a year. Audits are still conducted to avoid false negatives.
Another field of study is the use of AI to analyze medical images (MRI, CT.)
To date, algorithms have been able to detect cases that were missed by doctors.
According to the report, the intent is not to supplant the doctors’ decision-making, but rather to streamline the process and assist them in analyzing the images.
Finally, the Ministry of Health has deployed AI algorithms to assist with its efforts in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Often, the epidemiological study based on discussions with an infected individual are incomplete, and algorithms have been used in a variety of ways to fill in the gaps, notes the report.
In addition, Israel’s National Initiative Report recommends that the government launch, in cooperation with the industrial and the academic sectors, four more national projects in the fields of healthcare, transportation, security and agriculture.
A major challenge in global regulations of new technologies, as in the cyber arena, has been that non-democratic countries and rival countries, often do not want to sign onto these initiatives.
The Council’s efforts are aimed at expanding global support for regulating AI, despite those obstacles.