Artificial Intelligence or AI is something we are hearing about a lot lately. From computers to smartphones to medicines, AI is being used everywhere. The technology is currently believed to be in its infancy and is nowhere near mimicking human intelligence. However, it means this is an important time to pay heed to its development and nudge it in the right direction.
Creating a fair AI and ensuring that it is responsibly used is no easy task and Amsterdam has been doing that for quite a while now. Amsterdam has a growing artificial intelligence sector. To accelerate the AI goals, the City of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have announced a collaboration called The Civic AI Lab (CAIL). This collaboration is aimed to study current AI use cases so that future AI will promote equality and deliver fair opportunities to all while conquering its negative effects.
Amsterdam leading the way to develop unbiased AI
Artificial Intelligence is what we make of it. We’ve all come across the news of an AI making new breakthroughs in drug discovery or finding innovative ways to help humans. However, there are also reports which indicate otherwise.
When an AI was deployed for image recognition systems, it was reportedly inaccurate in recognising people with a darker skin tone. This is being attributed to its training, wherein images of people with lighter skin tone were used. Insurers have also used mathematical models to identify postcodes that pose an increased risk of burglary. However, this is said to have resulted in higher premiums for the residents of these neighbourhoods, which increases inequality in a city.
To learn from such issues and tackle them head-on, the Civic AI Lab will form part of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI) at Amsterdam Science Park. The lab will examine such cases so that it can come up with ways that will help future AI promote equality and deliver fair opportunities, overcoming its negative side effects.
Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani (Digital City) says, “It is the City of Amsterdam’s ambition to be a leader in the application of AI and its ethical implementation. Technology and AI have many benefits, but they can also put basic rights such as privacy, freedom of speech, and legal equality under pressure. The City wants to protect these rights to the best of its ability and the Civic AI Lab should contribute to this.”
Collaborating for the greater good
The Civic AI Lab (CAIL) is the result of a collaboration between the City of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The College will be subsidising €400,000 for the coming four years, while the VU will contribute €900,000 and the UvA €1.5 million. The pooled resources will help ensure that more AI systems of the future are ethical and fair.
Additionally, the lab will host five researchers who will work towards obtaining their Ph.D. while studying the application of AI in the fields of education, welfare, the environment, mobility, and health. The lab is also set to serve as an information point for residents and businesses who have queries regarding new technologies and their ethical and inclusive use. The lab is aimed at helping residents be aware of both the opportunities and risks of AI.
Scientific director Sennay Ghebreab (UvA) says, “Working within these five topics, the lab will develop AI technology that highlights the inequality of opportunity in society and that actively increases the prospect of equality of opportunity.”
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