Alex Moltzau 莫战

Jun 24, 2020

6 min read
Photo by — @soheili

If I Should Write an Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Policy…

How would it be and would it be alright to write it?

Over the course of the year I have come to learn several interesting things about the field of artificial intelligence (AI). One of those is that AI is far more than the technical aspect of researching or developing AI. Even when it comes to the application of AI there is a lot to learn beyond the direct interaction with a user or citizen.

This short piece is, as you might understand from the title, not anything definite.

How could one introduce AI policy?

If I was to write an introduction to AI policy where would I start?

I was talking to a consultant who has been working with the pragmatic workings of policy most of his life, and he had an idea.

We discussed the descriptive and prescriptive parts of a strategy, and that in a pragmatic sense it was questionable how a strategy was . In the operational sense if it is policy or an AI strategy it could be well-written, yet the question remains how — in the operational or governmental — this strategy is to be implemented.

I have seen institutional promises of either funding numbered in PhDs (German national AI strategy) or particular projects such as a regulatory sandbox (Norwegian national AI strategy), so these aspects do play out to some extent. Norway recently announced their regulatory sandbox, and it would be possible to measure, at least to some extent, whether the German state has fulfilled their promise of funding another 100 PhDs.

Anyhow, the consultant thought I should see how many times each strategy had been cited. In this sense it would be possible to get an overview of, at least publicly, how the strategies had been discussed. If one did this one could examine other aspects in relation to the amount of public discussion surrounding an AI strategy. Still, this might be moving more into the details of a particular case, as national AI strategies are only part of the overall picture when it comes to AI policy.

If I was to introduce AI policy there is the chance that I might have to go into a description of AI and then policy.

However, I define myself somewhat as a social anthropologist and not necessarily a political scientist. I could pull on a Wikipedia definition:

This would not be very convincing. Not that it would have to be.

Perhaps, it would be fine to begin with honesty?

One concerned citizen attempting to navigate in the world and developments within artificial intelligence. Seeing what is discussed and thinking about what the overall discussion is lacking.

I could have said diversity, but that has become painfully clear this last year with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘pause button’ on facial recognition by several large technology companies.

Then again this is an issue that remains and is not to any great extent close to being discussed enough in policy. At least not in most contexts, the economy, jobs and industry takes the front seat. I would hate to be a ‘back seat driver’, the person in the back of the car asking the driver to slow down, and yet it seems somewhat responsible.

An introduction to a particular kind of AI policy or a general kind of AI policy?

I wrote a sketch late at night. It was also on the topic of ‘how to write an introduction’.

As such, in my rough notes there is a lot to introduce.

It becomes a mix of technology policy in general that connects with the topic of artificial intelligence, because it cannot be disembedded from the overall technology industry when it comes to particular priorities within society.

Writing an introduction may be for the experts. I thought to myself that since I am new to this field that it would be great to learn from summarising the surface that I have scratched by writing about (or related to) AI for more than a year, steadfast every single day.

If I Should Write an Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Policy…

It would actually be alright to write it.

Write it intended as a sharing experience.

Yes, I think I would want it to be an open project intended for learning.