Japan pushes for basic AI rules at G-7 tech meeting

Kyodo

Communications minister Sanae Takaichi on Friday proposed setting up an international set of basic rules for developing artificial intelligence to her peers at the Group of Seven ministerial meeting on information and communication technology in Shikoku.

Speaking after the first day of the ICT meeting, Takaichi said she introduced eight basic principles Tokyo believes important when developing computer science that gives machines human-like intelligence, and that she was generally supported in calling for further discussion.

The eight principles include making AI networks controllable by human beings and respect for human dignity and privacy.

“The development of AI is expected to progress at a tremendous pace of speed, and it should be amazing technology that does not give anxiety to people,” the minister of internal affairs and communications told reporters, noting the need to deepen international discussion about establishing a basic set of rules.

The first G-7 ICT ministerial meeting in nearly two decades comes at a time when cyberattacks have become a global reality and the development of such potentially revolutionary technologies as artificial intelligence and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) — the concept of connecting various products to the Internet — continues apace.

With cyberattacks having become a global reality, participants from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States discussed at the G-7 meeting ways to utilize advances in the field to drive economic growth while ensuring data security.

“We shared a common understanding that the innovation of ICT can help accelerate the expansion of the economic growth and that we should utilize ICT to prop up the currently flagging economy,” Takaichi said.

Fellow Cabinet member Motoo Hayashi, minister of economy, trade and industry, also joined the meeting.

When the two-day meeting wraps up Saturday at the bay side venue in Kagawa, the participants are expected to release a “charter” for midterm and long-term aspirations in a digitally connected world, as well as a joint statement outlining plans for implementing it.

Participants are expected to recognize the need to promote analysis of the social and economic impact of robotics and other cutting-edge technologies on job market and other areas.

To hinder the ability of terrorists to use the Internet for nefarious purposes, the G-7 representatives will also explore collaboration on cybersecurity.

They are also expected to confirm their collective belief that the private sector should be involved in setting rules to ensure an open Internet, a move apparently aimed at pressuring countries like China that exert strict online controls within their borders, sources familiar with the discussion said.

The outcome of the G-7 gathering will be reflected in discussions at the G-7 leaders’ summit to be held on May 26 and 27 in Mie Prefecture.

The ministers are also expected to confirm the need to continuously follow up the G-7 members’ efforts to meet the goals agreed on at the meeting and convene again next year in Italy.

Before chairing the G-7 meeting, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi held separate talks with representatives from the United States, Britain, and the European Union.

Takaichi and Catherine Novelli, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic growth, agreed to step up efforts to narrow the digital divide between countries and regions and increase Internet users by 1.5 billion across the globe by 2020, Japanese officials said.

Edward Vaizey, Britain’s minister of state for culture and the digital economy, agreed with Takaichi to boost cooperation on running IoT network promotion consortiums in their countries, the officials said.

In a meeting with the European Union’s digital chief Andrus Ansip, Japan and the EU agreed to deepen collaboration on developing communication robots to watch over elderly people, acknowledging their effectiveness in coping with aging societies, the officials said.