Remarks by Angel Gurría
22 May 2019, OECD, Paris
(As prepared for delivery)
Prime Minister, Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I can’t think of a better way to begin our discussions than with the launch of the new OECD Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence (AI). This Recommendation represents the first set of intergovernmental principles on AI!
AI is dynamising economies, helping people make better predictions and decisions, be they a shop-floor manager or a doctor in the operating room. It is facilitating our everyday lives – your smartphone can use AI to detect your fatigue levels while driving or provide you with personal health data.
At the same time, AI technologies are still in their infancy. Much potential remains to be realised. And while AI is driving optimism, it is also fuelling anxieties and ethical concerns. There are questions around the trustworthiness and robustness of AI systems, including the dangers of codifying and reinforcing existing biases – such as those related to gender and race – or of infringing on human rights and important values such as privacy.
These issues are global. It is estimated that in the first half of 2018 AI start-ups attracted over 12% of all worldwide private equity investments. The United States and China are leading on investments , but many other countries are accelerating their efforts to catch up.
The technology is raising questions around human determination; security and safety; accountability; the impact of AI on competition and market power; and the divides in AI capabilities across countries. Many countries are developing national policy initiatives on AI but it’s clear we must work towards common solutions to such concerns.
The OECD’s Recommendation on AI is a global multi stakeholder response to the challenge of achieving transparent and accountable AI systems. It leverages the knowledge of an AI expert group – numbering over 50 people from different countries, sectors and disciplines – as well as guidance from our Committee on Digital Economy Policy and others.
It benefits from contributions of the EU, UNESCO, ITU and other IOs, as well as MIT, IEEE and others. Standing here today with a collective vision establishing ground rules to facilitate innovation, adoption of and trust in AI, is testament to the effectiveness of OECD processes and the drive of our members. I would like to specifically thank for their tireless efforts the Vice Minister of Science and ICT of Korea Mr Wonki Min and Anne Carblanc in the OECD.
The Recommendation places the interests of people at its heart. It defines five principles for responsible stewardship of trustworthy AI – calling for i) inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being; ii) human-centred values and fairness; iii) transparency and explainability; iv) robustness, security and safety; and v) accountability.
It sets out four key actions for governments, including i) investment in AI research and development; ii) fostering a digital ecosystem for AI; iii) providing an enabling policy environment for AI; and iv) building human capacity and preparing for labour market transformation.
Crucially, the Recommendation calls for international co operation. It recognises that we must progress together on AI-related technical, ethical and legal issues, to foster alignment of standards and inter-operability.
The global relevance of the Recommendation is reflected in its adherents. Beyond OECD members, we welcome Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Romania and Peru as adherents today, and hope there will be many others in the future.
In this regard, I call on OECD members to support Japan’s proposal of G20-OECD principles for AI, as elaborated by the OECD Recommendation, as a key channel to diffuse these important standards.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The OECD’s Recommendation on AI is a critical step in helping countries realise the potential of this promising technology. The OECD will continue to bring its expertise and offer a participatory hub for dialogue, especially through our OECD AI Policy Observatory to be established this year. We will put our energy into implementing this Recommendation – indeed, we are already working on practical guidance for countries.
As Alan Turing, the great mathematician and computer scientist said, “We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done”.