OECD policies will tackle AI ‘anxieties’

The 36 member countries aim to enable, nurture and monitor the responsible development of trustworthy AI systems.
3 March 2020

OECD interior at headquarters in Paris. Source: Shutterstock

In 1961, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was formed with a mission to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

While there’s no doubt that the intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries has achieved great things in those six decades, the OECD has a chance to play a significant role in shaping our future.

The body has just launched a new OECD AI Policy Observatory to help enable, nurture, and monitor the responsible development of trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) systems for the benefit of society.

“AI is revolutionizing the way we live and work, and offering extraordinary benefits for our societies and economies. Yet, it raises new challenges and is also fuelling anxieties and ethical concerns,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

“This puts the onus on governments to ensure that AI systems are designed in a way that respects our values and laws, so people can trust that their safety and privacy will be paramount”

The new Observatory builds on the OECD’s recommendation to council members — dubbed the AI Principles — issued in May last year.

The document is a set of 10 principles split into two groups: Principles for responsible stewardship of trustworthy AI and national policies and international cooperation for trustworthy AI.

“These Principles will be a global reference point for trustworthy AI so that we can harness its opportunities in a way that delivers the best outcomes for all,” explained Gurría.

Since launch, not only have member nations committed to adopting the principles but also six other nations, taking the total to 42.

OECD Directorate for Science, Technology, and Innovation Director Andrew Wyckoff recently made a presentation where he pointed out that the OECD AI Observatory has been set up with the intention to help implement the (AI) principles put forward by the body.

Wyckoff also highlighted that the Observatory will be showcasing live data from partners, the latest research from members, and a host of data about AI-related jobs and skills.

Although the new platform has just been established, Germany has decided to lead the charge on the Observatory’s program on AI Work, Innovation, Productivity, and Skills (AI-WIPS), analyzing the impact of AI on the labor market, skills, and social policy.

According to the official announcement, the AI-WIPS will focus on four central themes:

  • Identifying and classifying AI Systems
  • AI and Skills
  • AI, Business and Workplace
  • AI in Society

In Germany, research for AI-WIPS will be carried out within the Digital, Work, and Society Policy Lab which is an agile think tank within the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).

At the OECD AI Policy Observatory, Germany intends to help develop guidelines and recommendations for the use of AI in workplaces, enable social, people-centric, and participatory technology design, and support the establishment and networking of AI observatories at the European and international levels.

Ultimately, as a result of this new body, OECD and other collaborating nations will have an edge when it comes to accelerating the deployment of AI-based solutions in the workplace and in society — both systemically and ethically.