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OECD to prepare recommendation on AI for South Korea Ministry of Science and ICT

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has announced that it will establish recommendations for artificial intelligence (AI) development, according to a press release by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT

The announcement follows the conclusion of the 76th Regular Session of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy held in Paris between 16 to 18 May ; South Korea’s Minister for Science and ICT You Young-Min was in attendance, and had introduced the country’s I-Korea 4.0 policy as well as emphasised the growth potential of AI in South Korea.

Formerly known as the Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy, the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy is tasked with “developing evidence-based policies through multi-stakeholder processes” that foster a secure, open and inclusive digital economy and tap on the potential of ICT, with the Internet in particular. The 76th Regular Session evaluated the progress of the OECD’s Going Digital Project, as well as called for new reports on the socio-economic impact of current technological trends such as e-commerce and AI.

South Korea’s I-Korea 4.0 policy refers to the national strategy for transforming the country in light of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and consists of 4 aspects: intelligence, innovation, inclusiveness and interaction. In its bid to drive technological innovation and new tech ecosystems, the South Korean government has not only provided large amounts of public funding for companies operating in relevant fields, but also created platforms for fostering stronger public-private partnerships to drive technological transfer and further innovation.

According to the press release by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT, the OECD recommendations for AI development provide a code of conduct for AI development to deliver positive impact on society, the economy and the environment. The recommendations are not legally binding, but should be fulfilled as “a matter of social responsibility”. 

According to the Ministry of Science and ICT, the establishment of the OECD’s recommendations on AI development will provide “an international principle that serves as a major standard for regulating investment and development of AI”.

The preparation of the recommendations will be overseen by an Expert Group on AI Recommendations, which is headed by the current Chairman of OECD Digital Economic Policy Committee Dr Min Won-Ki. By actively participating in the committee’s efforts to draft new global standards governing the development of AI, South Korea expects to play an important role in formulating the upcoming recommendations, as well as form future international norms related to AI.

The establishment of AI development recommendations also comes in light of recent controversy regarding the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) partnership with South Korean arms manufacturer Hanwha Systems in developing AI-controlled weaponry. The partnership saw the opening of a new AI-defence research facility called the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defence and Artificial Intelligence, which will spearhead the country’s development of autonomous military systems and weapons. The OECD’s recommendations will bolster current international efforts to better regulate the global development of AI, particularly on the sensitive topic of autonomous weapons systems.

In 2017 and 2018, the OECD, as part of its Going Digital Project, will evaluate how aspects of digital transformation will affect policymaking across a wide scope of policy fields such as consumer, digital economy, tech and innovation policy. Since 2005, the OECD has hosted the Technology Foresight Forum to “ help identify opportunities and challenges for the Internet economy posed by technical developments”. In October 2017, the OECD hosted the conference “AI: Intelligent Machines, Smart Policies” in Paris, which saw policymakers, civil society representatives and experts on AI gather to evaluate the role of policy and international cooperation in light of opportunities and challenges posed by AI. In evaluating the challenges of digital transformation, the OECD seeks to create stronger and more inclusive growth by supporting the creation of coherent and inclusive policy approaches.

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