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Montag, 18.06.2018
eGovernment Forschung | eGovernment Research 2001 - 2018

The UK Government Office for Science has published a report entitled “Artificial intelligence: opportunities and implications for the future of decision making”.

The report focuses on several significant areas: What benefits will AI bring for society and government? What are the effects of AI on the labour market? How do we manage ethical and legal challenges from the use of AI?

“Artificial intelligence is not a distinct technology. It depends for its power on a number of prerequisites: computing power, bandwidth, and large-scale data sets, all of which are elements of ‘big data’, the potential of which will only be realised using artificial intelligence. If data is the fuel, artificial intelligence is the engine of the digital revolution,” said Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, in the report.

Here are some highlights from the report:

AI for innovation and productivity

AI can help organizations and people in various ways:

  1. Use resources more efficiently: Firms like Ocado and Amazon are using AI to optimize delivery routes and warehouse capacity.

  2. Enable new business models and solutions: Health data from smart phones and fitness trackers analyzed using new machine learning techniques can improve management of chronic conditions as well as predict and prevent illness.

  3. Increase productivity: Routine administrative and operational jobs can be learned by software agents (bots).

  4. Reduce the burden of searching large sets of data: Organizations in the legal sector are using AI to sift court documents and legal records for case-relevant information.

The use of AI by government

In the UK government, the use of data science techniques such as machine learning is growing.

These techniques are providing insights into a range of data, from feedback on digital service delivery to agricultural land use through the analysis of satellite images.

Future potential use cases may include:

  1. Make existing services (such as health, social care, emergency services) more efficient by anticipating demand and tailoring services more exactly, enabling resources to be deployed to greatest effect.

  2. Make it easier for officials to use more data to inform decisions through quickly accessing relevant information, and to reduce fraud and error.

  3. Make decisions more transparent, perhaps through capturing digital records of the process behind them, or by visualizing the data that underpins a decision.

  4. Help departments better understand the groups they serve, in order to be sure that the right support and opportunity is offered to everyone.

AI’s role as advisor

AI has a clear advisory role to play, supporting decision-making through assembling relevant data. However, it is likely that many types of government decisions will be deemed unsuitable to be handed over to AI systems entirely. There will always be a ‘human in the loop’.

This person's role, however, is not straightforward. If they never question the advice of the machine, the decision has de facto become automatic and they offer no oversight. If they question the advice they receive, however, they may be thought reckless, more so if events show their decision to be poor.

Effects on labour markets

The precise impact on labour markets of big data and robotic and autonomous systems is the subject of much debate and there is little consensus.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Centre, experts are divided about the net impact of robotics and AI: 48% think that it will displace more jobs than it creates leading to a decline in employment, 52% believe that it will create more jobs and lead to an increase in employment.

Evidence suggests increased automation will threaten both routine manual jobs, and routine cognitive roles. The increased complexity, knowledge and technological intensity of the economy is likely to lead to an increase in demand for high-skilled labour.

There is significant evidence that STEM and digital skills will be increasingly in demand.

Privacy and accountability challenges

Governments need to consider two broad areas:

  1. Privacy: AI techniques make it possible to infer some kinds of private information from public data, going beyond what an individual may have originally consented to reveal. As more powerful AI techniques are developed, what was a ‘remote’ chance of re-identification from anonymized data may become more likely.

  2. Accountability: Despite current uncertainty over the nature of responsibility for choices informed by AI, there will need to be clear lines of accountability. It may be thought necessary for a chief executive or senior stakeholder to be held ultimately accountable for the decisions made by algorithms. Without a measure of this sort it is unlikely that trust in the use of AI could be maintained. Doing this may encourage or indeed require the development of new forms of liability insurance as a necessary condition of using AI – at least in sensitive domains.

Public dialogue on AI

Public trust is a vital condition for AI to be used productively. The public debate will need to explore, among other issues:

  • How to treat different mistakes made through the use of AI
  • How best to understand probabilistic decision-making
  • The extent to which we should trust decisions made without AI, or against the advice of AI systems.

In the end, public trust will be maintained through demonstrating that the technology is beneficial and that safeguards work. This will require, at a minimum:

  • Correctly identifying any harmful impacts of AI
  • Formal structures and processes that enable citizen recourse to function as intended
  • Appropriate means of redress
  • Clear accountability
  • Clearly communicating the substantial benefits for society offered by AI


Quelle/Source: Enterprise Innovation, 04.01.2017

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