Yoshua Bengio is one of the world’s leading experts in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Also known as the father of deep learning, he says that for the world to change for the better with AI, a global shift in how organizations and governments share their research needs to come. In many countries, private companies, government entities, and academic institutions conduct AI research. These places must foster a global culture of open science. These research places the need to rethink how to encourage the development of impactful artificial intelligence.
“What we have to keep in mind as AI is being deployed around the planet is that it’s a tool. Humans design tools for their own use or what we need to think about is where we should be using those tools and how we make sure that those tools are used for good and not misused”, said Bengio during a keynote at UNESCO’s first ‘AI for the Planet’ conference.
The Need For Global Standards & Co-operation
OCED or The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development also feel the need of global regulations to ensure AI is designed to be robust, safe, and trustworthy. In 2019, they unveiled the first international standard for AI policies. OCED has a total of 37 countries as its members as of 2020. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of the countries have agreed on the standards. Andrew Wyckoff, Director of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Directorate told reporters that these principles will help shape a stable regulatory environment to promote positive uses and eradicate unethical abuses.
“AI is what we would call a ‘general-purpose technology’. It’s going to change the way we do things in nearly every single sector of the economy, that’s part of the reason we give so much importance to its development. Some have termed it as ‘the invention of a method of inventions’ and in fact, we can see it already affecting the process of scientific discovery and science itself”, he said.
When AI is used in industries that are responsible for public health issues or climate change, strong international coordination is a priority. Unlocking the true potential of AI for goodwill requires a novel approach that will encourage companies to use this technology for positive social and environmental impact.
“If you look at how companies normally operate, they would be motivated by the potential of future profit, a reward that comes later if the work has been done well. I think we could have something similar. Just as profits come later after the initial efforts have been made, I think something like this could happen for innovation in general”, says Bengio.
Good For The Planet
At the UNESCO’s for the Planet’ conference, discussions and presentations exploring how AI can be used to help the planet had taken place. Several environment enthusiasts and protectors emphasized the importance of citizen science in generating environmental data for AI to study. According to Anne Bowser, director of innovation at the Woodrow Wilson International Center For Scholars, “One area the citizen science is really helpful is by being that canary in the coalmine that points to certain trends at a very high level. You don’t necessarily need a particularly high-quality level of data, we just need a general assessment of trends.”