What is Ethcis used for

In the realm of the paper tiger - From “ethical AI” and toothless guidelines

A first interim assessment in June 2019 already showed that the majority of the ethical guidelines could not point to any monitoring mechanisms for compliance with them. It also became clear that there is great interest in further monitoring developments in this area. Over the past year, the number of directives has continued to grow. The private sector, government initiatives and civil society are in balance.

Of the more than 160 documents in our database, only ten have practical enforcement mechanisms. Both private and public sector guidelines are mostly voluntary commitments or general recommendations. It is striking that the private sector relies heavily on voluntary commitments, while state actors mainly issue recommendations to administrative bodies. Many guidelines contain phrases that downplay the nature of the document as a guide or suggestion.

Due to the large number of fields of application, objectives and actors, there are many different approaches, mixed forms and combinations. This heterogeneity makes it difficult to classify them into clear categories. The scope of the ethical guidelines in the database ranges from individual pages with briefly outlined principles to detailed publications. The publisher's spectrum ranges from young tech start-ups to international organizations. But even the guidelines of the world's largest professional association of engineers, IEEE, prove to be largely ineffective, as large technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter do not implement them (despite the fact that many of their engineers and developers are IEEE members) .

Most of the guidelines that we have included in our directory come from the wealthy countries of the OECD. Voices from the global south are so far only sparsely represented.

The majority of the guidelines examined are limited to vague language and in most cases there are no enforcement mechanisms at all. Often principles are woven together without a clear idea of ​​how to apply them in practice. As a result, many guidelines are unsuitable as a tool against the potentially harmful use of AI-based technologies and are likely to fail in any attempt to prevent harm. The question arises as to whether guidelines that cannot be applied or enforced are any more harmful than having no ethical guidelines at all. Ethics guidelines should be more than a public relations tool for businesses and governments.

Go to the AI ​​Ethics Guidelines Global Inventory (website in English)