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Collective voice needed to deliver effective AI standards

Leadership Insights newsletter story

21 March 2024
Caption: Global leaders are calling for international cooperation to develop AI standards. Credit: Shutterstock

A global group of leaders in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have called for international cooperation and jurisdictional interoperability in AI governance to safely reap the benefits of AI systems.

A series of three papers from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) AI Governance Alliance gathered the input of over 250 experts from 200 organisations, concluding that policy success will depend on the coordination and cooperation of multiple stakeholders across government, industry, academia, and impacted communities.

Mirroring the challenge seen in the decarbonisation and green technology space, improving access and inclusion in AI development and including the Global South will require concrete action from stakeholders.

While the adoption of AI within the maritime industry is in its relative infancy, the technology is increasingly being adopted and has the potential to change the face of shipping by enhancing decision support systems and enabling automation from ship design to Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).

As the applications of AI increase, so do the associated risks.

“Approaching from a mindset of safety and risk is vital, alongside the economic opportunity. Strength is likely to come from a unified diversity of stakeholders – ‘a collective voice’ across academia, research and industry,” Tony Boylen, Principal Specialist, Assurance of Autonomy at Lloyd’s Register told ICS Leadership Insights.

“By demonstrating the safety, consistency, reliability and benefits in AI, regulators’ perceptions and decisions may be influenced – providing confidence in the wider ‘best practice’ delivery model, rather than just the performance capability itself.”

By participating in the development of standards, shipping companies and technology providers can also ensure that those standards are aligned with business and can be used in the development of regulations.

The WEF report pointed to multiple governing bodies around the world developing standards for AI governance, including in the UK, US, and European Union. There is a concern that without global cooperation, innovation and the safety, economic, and environmental benefits of AI may be restrained by differing standards.

Global standardisation efforts are already underway at the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Standards Association (IEEE SA). 

China, the US and EU have all said they will make their best efforts to align with global standards, though there remains the threat of a major player in AI going its own way if it feels its interests have been snubbed.

“Creating the capacity and space for broader participation in the standards-making process is thus needed,” said the report.