New World Economic Forum initiative aims to advance ethical AI 

By Robert Scammell, deputy editor at Verdict

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched the Global AI Action Alliance (GAIA), a new initiative aiming to advance the responsible development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).

The rapid evolution of AI holds huge potential for business, the economy and society overall, but controversial applications of AI technologies have highlighted the risks posed by unethical or unregulated AI systems.

From facial recognition to automated decision-making, many AI-powered applications can only succeed if they prove trustworthy, meaning users, citizens and governments need reassurance that such systems are being developed and used ethically.

While many organisations have set out their own ethical AI principles, further work is needed to create coherent standards for the development and use of AI, and to provide organisations with the practical tools needed to apply them to their work.

The WEF describes GAIA as a “multi-stakeholder collaborative platform designed to accelerate the development and adoption of such tools globally and across industry sectors”.

“AI holds the potential to deliver enormous benefits to society, but only if it is used responsibly,” said WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab. “We are launching the Global AI Action Alliance along with our partners to shape a positive, human-centred future for AI at this decisive moment in its development.”

The alliance currently has around 100 members spanning industry, academia, government, international organisations and non-profits. They will work together to “identify and implement the most promising tools and practices for ensuring that AI systems are ethical and serve all society members, including groups historically under-represented in the AI ecosystem”, according to the WEF.

In this pivotal year of global transformation, AI can be a powerful enabler of greater equity, justice and prosperity.

GAIA receives guidance from a steering committee co-chaired by IBM CEO and chairman Arvind Krishna and Vilas Dhar, president of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, a global AI and data philanthropy.

“It is an honour to co-lead the Global AI Action Alliance and to contribute IBM's expertise in AI ethics to accelerate the group's work,” said Krishna of his role. “I am confident that together we can make the promise and benefits of responsible AI a reality across our society.”

Dhar added: “In this pivotal year of global transformation, AI can be a powerful enabler of greater equity, justice and prosperity. To align stakeholders in this shared vision, GAIA offers the opportunity to bring together diverse voices, learn from success and failures, and build shared technology that amplifies the very best of humanity.”

Leading non-profits in the AI space, including AI Global, the Institute of AI, AI and You, and EqualAI, will support GAIA in its mission, which will initially focus on the following areas:

  • Educating government and industry leaders on AI risks, opportunities and best practices
  • Fostering international peer learning between legislators focused on AI
  • Driving responsible product design and use within AI-driven organisations
  • Developing a certification mark for responsible AI systems
  • Identifying and reducing bias in AI systems
  • Increasing inclusion in the AI ecosystem and expanding AI’s benefit to underserved groups
  • Unlocking access to justice through the application of AI in judicial systems
  • Leveraging AI to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Preparing citizens for the AI future and empowering them to help shape it

Share this article