Smart Technology Regulation

Ivana Bartoletti discusses strategies to ensure that advancements in technology work for all.

We live in a new technological and data driven era –one which can still amaze us with news of wonderful creations we can get our hands on today or that are just around the corner. It also amazes us for all the wrong reasons, with its power to harm us too. The scandal of Cambridge Analytica and others was a deafening awakening for many, showing how our digital infrastructure has gone so wild, unfettered and unaccountable. 

Artificial Intelligence is now progressing at rocket speed thanks to the availability of data and increased computing powers. AI has huge potential, in medicine, cybersecurity, and education – and we should leverage them all. But AI carries huge risks too. Automation of inequality, erosion of human agency and personal autonomy, surveillance, and the manipulation of sentiments and ideas – to name a few. 

Now it is the time to ensure that technology works for everyone, and that the digital dividends are distributed fairly. This requires ensuring that people, politics, and ideas are back into the driving seat. 

First, we need to think of our data as our most valuable collective resource. As this pandemic has shown us, there is nothing more valuable to everyone than one’s personal information.

Second, we need a fitness test of current legislation to see whether it is fit for purpose in the AI era. Finally, we need new mechanisms for trusts and transparency, including kitemarks and appropriate redress. 

This is not about hindering progress. The opposite – smart regulation means that we can leverage the full potential of data and tech and do so responsibly as fully-fledged digital citizens. 

Ivana Bartoletti is a privacy and digital ethics expert, and author of An Artificial Revolution: on Power, Politics and AI.

She tweets @IvanaBartoletti

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