Getting to grips with AI black boxes

Technology circles are awash with talk about AI risks, ethics, responsibility, and trust. Principles and frameworks abound. But these are proving awkward in practice, partly because the purpose, nature and inner workings of AI and algorithmic systems can easily be shielded from view.

As a result, users, auditors, regulators, legislators, and others often have little or no idea how these systems work or what their impact is until they backfire or are publicly exposed by researchers, employee leaks or backlashes, white-hat hackers, malicious data breaches, FOI requests, public inquiries, or litigation.

An independent, nonpartisan, non-profit initiative, AIAAIC examines and makes the case for meaningful AI, algorithmic and automation transparency and openness.

Specifically, AIAAIC believes that everyone should know when they are using or being assessed, nudged, instructed, or coerced by an AI or algorithmic system, understand how the system works, appreciate its impact, and be in a position to make informed decisions based on clear, accurate, concise and timely information.

AIAAIC repository

One way AIAAIC does this is by collecting examples of incidents and controversies driven by and relating to AI, algorithms and automation.

A free, open library detailing 700+ negative events since 2012, the AIAAIC repository is used by researchers, academics, NGOs, policymakers, regulators, lawyers, as well as several household name multinationals.

It is used to conduct qualitative and quantitative research; inform analysis and commentary; develop case studies; devise training and education programmes; and develop risk-based products and services, including incident response and crisis plans.

CIPR members are welcome to use, copy, redistribute and adapt the repository, subject to the terms of its Creative Commons attribution license.

AIAAIC also welcomes volunteers passionate about advancing the cause of AI and algorithmic transparency and openness. Opportunities include contributing to the AIAAIC repository, researching technology transparency trends and best practices, and making the case to opinion-formers and decision-makers.

Visit http://aiaaic.org for further information.

Photo by fabio on Unsplash

Charlie Pownall is an independent reputation and communications adviser, trainer, educator and author. He brings broad deep experience in reputation management, crisis communications, incident response, communications planning and strategy, and digital and social media communications Prior to his current job, Charlie had been Regional Managing Director (Asia-Pacific) at Burson-Marsteller (now BCW), and Group Communications Manager at WPP plc. He started his career as a speechwriter and press officer at the European Commission, followed by a stint as a journalist at Reuters London News Radio (now LBC). He is author of Managing Online Reputation: How to Protect Your Company on Social Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

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