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World’s AI experts to meet in Dublin to develop international standards

In April the NSAI will host the International standardisation committee's first plenary meeting in Europe

It represents a major opportunity for NSAI and the Adapt Centre to showcase Ireland as an "AI Island"

It represents a major opportunity for NSAI and the Adapt Centre to showcase Ireland as an "AI Island"

 

There is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence (AI) these days, and how the technology will transform our lives.  But what is it really? Will it eliminate many traditional roles, or will it create new jobs and opportunities? The answer is simple, it will do both.

AI comes in many guises, and already features in much of our daily lives. For many it conjures up images of self-driving cars and drones, robots in deep sea and space exploration, software agents and chatbots. These are of course all real examples of AI. However, the technology offers us much more.

The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines AI as: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

AI has real significance in the digital transformation era, which is digitising existing manufacturing processes. It is a disruptive technology which can help facilitate digital transformation change. It is already used in the financial and medical sectors, while in the transportation industry, AI will make autonomous or driverless vehicles an everyday reality.  

The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines AI as: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence"
The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines AI as: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence"

AI is rapidly maturing and is particularly significant to the globalisation ecosystem. It already permeates many of our standard practices: translation memory, concordance searching, terminology management, and QA automation – not to mention machine translation.

It’s also shaping the enterprises we serve. The ways companies create content, campaigns, products, and services are all being influenced by the possibilities of AI. The chatbot for example, has matured to the point of being used to support or even replace human agents. As chatbot practices start to scale globally, will they begin to show flaws and limitations? The answer to these questions and others may largely depend on the underlying standards.

Questions concerning "Trustworthiness in AI" will be the focus of intense debate at a global forum in Dublin in April. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), in collaboration with the Adapt Centre, will host 150 of the world’s leading AI experts at an International Plenary meeting to advance the "world’s first ever standards" in AI.

The NSAI will host the third plenary meeting of the International standardisation committee, which recognises the significant contribution from Ireland in this field. It also represents a major opportunity for NSAI and the Adapt Centre to showcase Ireland as an "AI Island".

Barry Smith from NSAI will provide the secretariat role at the plenary meeting, the first of its kind to take place in Europe. 

It is the first time a plenary meeting has been held in a European city and follows on from earlier sessions in Silicon Valley and China. Dr David Filip from Science Foundation Ireland funded ADAPT centre, has been appointed convenor of the meeting, with Barry Smith from NSAI providing the secretariat role.

Associate director of the Adapt Centre, Prof Dave Lewis of Trinity College, will also play a key role in the five day event which convenes on April 8th. He believes the need for standards in AI is critically important and is essential to its adoption across the world. “As the technologies contributing to AI become more widely accessible, more applications will integrate one or more AI component. The developers of those applications will benefit from open standards for interfacing to, training, monitoring and controlling those components in a way that avoid vendor lock in.”

The working group of Trustworthy AI is addressing the development of standards to help adopters, users and other stakeholders to establish trust in AI systems. They will do this by creating transparency, making it verifiable and easier to explain, while also developing approaches that mitigate pitfalls, threats and risks to AI systems. It is hoped the work undertaken in Dublin will help deliver AI robustness, resiliency, safety, security, privacy and minimise bias.

Prof Lewis says, “government and international bodies around the world are highlighting these as critical factors in building trustworthy AI.” He claims by working to standardise, “we are enabling more reliable, consistent and efficient assessment methods and tools for users, purchasers and future regulators of AI. The vendors of AI systems see the corresponding need for tools and methods that allow them to demonstrate the risk envelope of their product, and so are heavily involved with working group also.”

Does developing standards in AI help protect jobs?

Prof Lewis: "We are enabling more reliable, consistent and efficient assessment methods and tools for users, purchasers and future regulators of AI"

Prof Lewis believes “AI will inevitably lead to some jobs changing and others being lost altogether. Productivity and economic growth will hopefully then follow, so the question arises of how fairly those benefits are distributed across society, particularly to those who are most impacted by AI adoption. Developing AI standards will, however, help assess more accurately for a given AI the full social cost of adoption, eg terms of reliability, bias, risk and accountability. The resulting clarity about the distribution of costs and benefits between stakeholders will help society decide on appropriate and equitable redress as inequalities emerge.”

The Government too are playing their part in encouraging companies to develop strategies in areas such as AI to help them succeed in a digital world. Business Minister Heather Humphreys recently announced a €75 million Disruptive Technology Fund (DTIF) as part of a bid to secure future jobs.

She said the DTIF is about "ensuring that Ireland can stay ahead of the game to secure the jobs of the future." Ms Humphreys said disruptive technologies will significantly change the way people work and live and they need to be embraced. The minister said Ireland is lucky to have "fantastic companies that are doing amazing things in technology".

Experts from some of the world’s leading technology companies including Microsoft, IBM, Google, Huawei, and Fujitsu will be taking part in the upcoming plenary meeting in Dublin.The project to develop international standards will take three years, with the technical report expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Standards are addressing industry concerns up front. With so many stakeholders involved from the application side, to IT, data science and policy, it is hoped the development of international standards will provide a framework or a form of vocabulary so that all stakeholders can talk to each other.

[For more information on this event and other NSAI activities follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/NSAI_Standards]