As social media has grown in an ever-growing digital world, the rise of mistrust on the internet has beaten that growth. It is becoming harder to trust what you are being told and who is telling you that. And as the human race continues to push the growth of technology, there is one rising technological advancement that could be a bigger cause for mistrust. Artificial Intelligence. AI has become more and more popular over the past several years but many people and organizations are concerned with how it is being used and the further potential for misuse of the technology. This is why earlier this month, the European Union gathered together to compile and release a set of AI guidelines to hopefully implement ethics into the framework of ever-growing algorithms that are taking over the digital world.

The EU has been working to put trust back into the end users’ heart with the announcement of the GDPR nearly a year ago. Now they are back, but this time it, not a law the EU is publishing, but more of a general set of seven guidelines they will work have to have adapted over time. The seven guidelines are as follows:

  • Human agency and oversight: Users should not be manipulated by AI and humans should have the ability to step in and override any and every decision made by the program.
  • Technical robustness and safety: AI should be reliable, having measures taken to make sure it is secure and accurate without being easily compromised.
  • Privacy and data governance: Personal data collected through the use of AI algorithms and programs should be secure and private.
  • Transparency: AI systems should have their data and algorithms easily accessible and any decision made by the program should be easily explained by the operators.
  • Diversity, non-discrimination, and fairness: Services offered through AI should be available to all persons, regardless of age, sex, race, etc. These systems should also not be biased towards any of these characteristics.
  • Environmental and societal well-being: AI should be ecologically responsible and enhance positive social change.
  • Accountability: AI should have the ability to be audited and have protection against any corporate whistleblowers. Negative impacts made aware and reported in advance.

As you read through these guidelines, you will notice that some of them are a touch abstract and leave room for interpretation. Since they are not legally binding, these guidelines use terminology that suggests there is no legal ramification for not implementing them into existing and future AI programs.

What does all of this mean? Considering Europe is trying to be the leader in digital ethics, these guidelines could be the framework for the future legislation drafted by the EU itself. With users becoming more and more aware of the misuse of information on the internet, these guidelines are set to inject some transparency and trustworthiness back into the end user. But there is a problem some experts are concerned with.

The majority of AI technological advancement has taken place not in Europe, but rather in China and the United States. Both nations are global leaders in the advancement of the technology and the EU is trying to be the global leader in the advancement of the code of ethics for the technology. Eline Chivot, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation said, “We are skeptical of the approach being taken, the idea that by creating a golden standard for ethical AI it will confirm the EU’s place in global AI development. To be a leader in ethical AI you first have to lead in AI itself.”

And this is exactly the problem many people are seeing. Although the EU has laid the groundwork, there is nothing currently binding the United States or China to implementing these guidelines into the framework of AI programs. As the morning blog giant, Morning Brew puts it “Despite these differences, both are aggressively pursuing AI…but both are making high-level ethics an afterthought.”

On the optimistic side, the GDPR took off last year and many companies and brands implemented this on their website so users know that they are being tracked. Even though the guidelines above are just that, we have seen the EU have power when it comes to digital ethics. So, even though experts like Eline Chivot believe these guidelines will remain as guidelines, there is a strong possibility legislature will be becoming down the pipeline soon enough. Especially with the outcry of mistrust on the internet.