"Norway must be an advocate of ethical usage of artificial intelligence.” That was one of the pieces of advice given to the Minister of Digitalisation Nikolai Astrup for the government's new strategy for artificial intelligence when he visited the University of Agder.
"Norway and the rest of Europe must assume a position of becoming an alternative to the large American companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook on one side and China on the other," Associate Professor Morten Goodwin from CAIR, UiA's priority research centre within artificial intelligence, said.
Minister of Digitalisation Nikolai Astrup recently visited UiA to get input for a national strategy for artificial intelligence. The delegation from the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation met the CAIR researchers, the Director of CeDIT, UiA's centre for digital transformation, and researchers from the Hospital of Southern Norway and Agder Energi. The minister received a presentation of CAIR first, then a presentation of the collaboration between CAIR and the Hospital of Southern Norway, and the strategy advice was given afterwards.
"The government will have a national strategy ready before the end of the year and needs all good input it can get," Astrup said.
Einar Duenger Bøhn is a professor of philosophy at UiA's Faculty of Humanities and Education. He works closely with CAIR and is especially interested in the ethical and moral aspects of artificial intelligence.
"There should be a national council or committee, like the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board. A committee that has artificial intelligence algorithm usage as its field of work. Statistic guidelines are not enough, we need a dynamic council that discusses current issues," Duenger Bøhn said.
The philosophy professor also recommends that professional ethic guidelines for the IT field are made.
"The medical field has the Hippocratic Oath which includes something about the ethical and moral responsibility that medical professionals have. Can we follow their lead and have a Hippocratic Oath for IT workers," Duenger Bøhn asked.
Access to large amounts of data is important for artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is used in the collaboration with the Hospital in Southern Norway (SSHF) to read patients' medical records to find patient allergies pre-op. The results of the project are very good, but it took a year for the researchers to get access. It is still unclear if the work can be continued after the end of the research project due to rules of access for this type of sensitive information.
"We need easier access to data for researchers. That way, we can utilise artificial intelligence better," Goodwin said. CAIR is also suggesting that we as a society must nationalise public data to make them available.
"Data protection must be linked to usage of data and not collection," Duenger Bøhn said.
"I think we can utilise far more data than what we currently do," Astrup responded, and indicated that data access will be included in the new strategy.
Teaching and education
Artificial intelligence affects all of society. Therefore, CAIR suggest that the subject must be taught at all levels in the school system.
"Some need a great amount of expertise and get an education as computer experts. That is what we do here at UiA with our master's and PhD programmes in this field. But everyone should know something about what it is and how it can be used, " Goodwin said, and compared it to using a car.
"Anyone who is going to drive a car needs to be given driving instructions, but only a few need an education as a car mechanic," he said.
Minister Astrup hurried away for a tour of the Mechatronics Innovation Lab and a meeting with the NODE cluster. But senior adviser Christine Hafskjold from the ministry continued the conversation with the experts from UiA, SSHF and Agder Energi. The debate was enthusiastic, and the senior adviser made many notes.
"Should we think about worst-case scenarios and look closer at what negative aspects that artificial intelligence may bring," Leif Skiftenes Flak in CeDIT said, and challenged the optimistic perspective on technology.
"Artificial intelligence is like a knife. It can be used for positive and negative things," Duenger Bøhn said.
"Think of all the wonderful things we can accomplish. We can solve challenges that we never could calculate before," Bernt Viggo Matheussen, CAIR researcher and head of technology and development at Agder Enegi, said
"Getting input from different research environments and collaboration projects on health and energy is very useful. A lot of interesting things are brought up when I hear the professionals here discussing," senior adviser Hafskjold said.