AI's rapid growth raises pressing need for ethics, regulations around it: UN expert

The growing use of AI raises concerns – from security to human rights abuse, says UN expert.

While digital solutions like Artificial Intelligence (AI) are transforming lives, these also raises concerns, ranging from security to human rights abuses, says an expert.

According to Eleonore Pauwels, Research Fellow on Emerging Cyber technologies at United Nations University (UNU), AI is transforming our lives, from reshaping our intimate and networked interactions to monitoring our bodies, moods and emotions, both, in visible, and invisible ways.

"The all-encompassing capture and optimisation of our personal information -- the quirks that help define who we are and trace the shape of our lives – will increasingly be used for various purposes without our direct knowledge or consent," Pauwels was quoted as saying to the UN News.

Thus, how to protect independent human thought in an increasingly algorithm-driven world goes beyond the philosophical and is now an urgent and pressing dilemma, she stressed. Importantly, the evolution of AI is happening in parallel with technical advances in other fields, such as genomics, epidemiology and neuroscience.

Representational image. Image courtesy: HealthX

Representational image. Image courtesy: HealthX

"That means that not only is your coffee maker sending information to cloud computers, but so are wearable sensors like Fitbits; intelligent implants inside and outside our bodies; brain-computer interfaces, and even portable DNA sequencers," Pauwels said.

As a result, while the AI revolution presents great promise, on the other hand, there is also a great peril, especially when it comes to ownership and control of our most intimate data. It is because besides analysing our shopping patterns and dating preferences, computer codes can also read our genes, cells and vital signs.

The digital representation of our characteristic data could help create the world's largest precision medicine dataset or it could render everyone more vulnerable to exploitation and intrusions than ever before, Pauwels said.

"These reflections exhibit an entanglement of ethical and policy challenges that need to be mapped, unveiled, and analysed to nurture an inclusive foresight discussion on the global governance of AI," Pauwels said.

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