Институт развития информационного общества

IIS leading experts participated in the discussion of big data ethics

On March 31, the Committee on Industrial and Innovation Policy of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) together with the National Center for Digital Economy (NCDE) of Moscow State University held a webinar on the ethics of using big data. The event was attended by representatives of Sber, Skoltech, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, the World Bank, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Information Society (IIS), etc.

The moderator of the first part of the webinar was Mikhail Kogan, Chairman of the MCCI Committee on Industrial and Innovation Policy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PJSC “Kalibr”, moderator of the panel discussion was Yuri Hohlov, Chairman of IIS Board of directors, Head of the Subcommittee “Data” of the Technical Committee “Artificial Intelligence “(TC 164), head of the project of the NTI Competence Center on Big Data Storage and Analytics Technologies at the Lomonosov Moscow State University).

According to the MCCI vice president Suren Vardanyan, the discussed topic is “painful for many people, especially for the younger generation, which is increasingly asking the question:“ Where is my personal life? Where is that very personal space of mine, which is not subject to general disclosure?”.

Andrey Neznamov, managing director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) regulation of Sber, spoke about the development of AI in Russia and its regulation in his report. The speaker recalled that in 2020 the federal project “Artificial Intelligence” was adopted: Sber is the center of competence in this area.

“One of the key challenges in the field of data is to develop regulation so as, on the one hand, to guarantee the rights of our citizens at the highest level. On the other hand, not to put any unreasonable obstacles to the development of artificial intelligence technologies,” Andrei Neznamov is sure.

According to him, the normative regulation of AI in Russia is actively developing, while the Russian side should be actively involved in the work of the relevant international bodies. It is very important to develop regulation for depersonalization and anonymization of personal data, as well as for cloud computing. At the same time, it should not complicate data regulation for national AI developers. The development of legislation for unmanned vehicles and healthcare requires special attention. It is also important to synchronize legislative initiatives with the industry community and conduct joint events.

Maxim Fedorov, vice president for AI and Mathematical Modeling at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), made a presentation on Russian experience in shaping the ethical principles of using AI technologies and big data on international platforms. The expert, in particular, represented Russia in a special expert group of UNESCO on the preparation of Recommendations in the field of AI ethics.

Describing the trends in the development of AI, the speaker noted that there is a risk of violation of human rights through the uncontrolled influence of AI systems on them. Another trend is the need to formulate global norms for the use of AI technologies. The consequences of the adopted rules will be comprehensive.

Universal international standards in the field of ethics for the implementation and use of AI are being developed at UNESCO, ISO/IEC and many other international platforms. Among the priorities for the development of such norms:

1) transparency and explainability;
2) stability, reliability and safety;
3) human-centered approach.

At the same time, discussions raise questions about the subjectivity or objectivity of AI, global mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating regulation, data protection and the “digital sovereignty” of countries.

Assessing international activities in the field of AI ethics, the speaker drew attention to the following: “There is a politicization of issues, a large number of distortions in international cooperation, which requires consolidation of opinion within the country on our position on the ethics of using artificial intelligence, on the regulation of cross-border issues related to data transfer, and much more … It is also important to get a consolidated position from the business.”

Ivan Begtin, Director of ANO “Information Culture”, on the example of various countries and companies highlighted the topic of ethical aspects of data use.

The speaker listed the concerns of citizens in the field of big data ethics: growing digital divide (more data gives more opportunities to those who have more money and knowledge of how to use data); “Re-identification” (repeated identification of a citizen by indirect data, reproduction of his personal data); privacy violations, new forms of discrimination and new types of data crimes.

The existing problems, according to Ivan Begin, cannot be solved with the help of codes of ethics: “When we talk about various kinds of ethical restrictions, codes of ethics, it is important to remember that, firstly, of course, states often follow the non-regulation model, but using the same technologies that are used by large commercial businesses (that is, using the same practices with the same consequences). Secondly, all the initiatives that come from business are attempts to smooth the future state regulation, which is now more limited by the qualifications of the training of rule-makers than by social demand, because there is actually a social demand for this.”

This was followed by a panel discussion. The main questions for discussion were voiced by Yuri Hohlov:

1) If theoretical principles of self-regulation in working with big data are developed, how likely is it that these principles will be followed?
2) Is it necessary to introduce into the regulatory framework the requirements for developers of technologies, algorithms, services for working with big data to implement these principles in solutions?
3) To what extent is it possible to formalize these ethical principles within the framework of certain big data processing technologies?

Vera Adaeva, director of the digital development center of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, shared Ivan Begtin’s point of view, according to which the problems of using big data will not be solved thanks to codes of ethics.

“Today, our main limitation in terms of regulatory regulation is the issue of lack of competencies in the technological sphere, because some people are involved in the regulation, technologies are developed by completely different people. The issue of suppressing these two communities is probably one of the most important tasks,” believes Vera Adaeva.

Yaroslav Eferin, World Bank digital transformation consultant, mentioned: “It may be appropriate to talk about the establishment of certain rules of conduct for each Internet resource, for each technology company that releases its products and services that affect such sensitive issues related to personal data, ethical / unethical online behavior. By visiting, users already, in fact, agree or disagree with the company’s policy … As for the role of the state, it may not establish specific ethical norms, standards of conduct, but rather recommend the participants of the entire digital ecosystem to develop their own rules of conduct on their sites.”

“The sooner we come to at least a consensus on definitions, classifications, principles, the easier it will be for debates and discussions to turn into some kind of real action. It is obvious that ethics is important for all groups (for the government, for business, for citizens, for science), it should be openly discussed so that we really come to understand how to go,” Yaroslav Eferin emphasized.

Alexander Raikov, head of NCDE department of cognitive technologies, leading researcher at the V.A. Trapeznikov Institute of Control Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of IIS Supervisory board, believes that the issue of compliance with ethical principles requires consideration of individual examples: “The perception of ethical principles largely depends on personalities, from nationalities, from types of activities …”

The expert also touched upon the topic of the possible emergence of a strong AI, the power of which will be several orders of magnitude greater compared to modern AI: “At the moment the advent of strong artificial intelligence is not dangerous, I think. It is constrained by the binary (or digital) basis of all our computing technology, which is unlikely to change in the coming years, and the inclusion of human collaborations in the decision-making process.”

Continuing this thought, Yuri Hohlov added: “While we are in this hybrid situation, ethical principles will largely come from people, but it seems to me that some of these principles may well be implemented and fixed in the form of certain restrictions in algorithms in order to remove this routine too, not to leave a person before an ethical choice of what to do in a given situation, when there are a huge number of such options. Further, the issues of formation / standardization of requirements for data sets that will be collected by federal executive authorities can be considered.”

At the end of the webinar, Mikhail Kogan expressed his readiness to continue a series of events on artificial intelligence and big data technologies.

Tatiana Ershova, IIS general director, took part in the event as a listener.

Source: Site of the NTI Competence Center on Big Data Storage and Analysis Technologies