Digital technologies hold great promise for the economy and society. But some recent developments, such as face recognition, also present ethical dilemmas. The challenges are immense for Switzerland, which is one of the leading developers of artificial intelligence (AI).
This content was published on December 10, 2020 –
Digitalisation has led to an explosion of new ethical challenges: the loss of jobs due to automation, filter bubbles, data protection, face recognition, deepfake videos, cyber security and most disturbingly, the misuse of AI technologies.
It is hard to imagine what would happen if AI fell into the wrong hands. If you take the issue of “killer robots”, for example, the international community cannot agree on whether to introduce strict rules to control their use. Talks at the United Nations in Geneva on regulating lethal autonomous weapons have so far had limited results.
Such weapons do not yet exist, but campaigners say they could be deployed on the battlefield in just a few years given the rapid advances and spending on AI and other technologies.
Switzerland has made huge strides in the field of AI – software which teaches itself to think and make decisions like a human, and which learns by processing huge amounts of data.
Numerous Swiss start-ups are developing so-called intelligent systems, in the form of robots, apps or digital assistants, intended to make our lives easier. But the companies face the constant ethical dilemma of where to draw the line when it comes to selling their technologies. This predicament is particularly acute for those involved in researching technologies and selling them. Swiss universities, for example, participate in projects funded by the US military – from aerial surveillance cameras to autonomous reconnaissance drones.
Switzerland takes a position
Switzerland strives to be at the forefront of the movement to shape ethical standards for the use of AI. But what does Switzerland have to do to become an AI pioneer? One interesting initiative is the creation of the “Swiss Digital Trust Label” aimed at boosting user confidence in new technologies. The idea is to give users more information on digital services, thereby creating transparency and ensuring respect for ethical values. “We want to help guarantee that ethical and responsible behaviour also becomes a competitive advantage for businesses,” says Niniane Paeffgen, director of Swiss Digital Initiative, the organisation behind the “Swiss Digital Trust Label”.