Saudi Arabia has established an International Center for AI Research and Ethics to push for ethical practice in AI and shape policy in the Gulf region.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture, Prince Badr Bin Farhan, announced the launch of the center in Riyadh during UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference in Paris on Nov. 11.
In June this year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the initiative, dedicated to promoting AI ethics as well as the development of sectoral policies in the region. This followed submitting a proposal for the center to UNESCO in March this year, which garnered support from Oman and Kuwait.
The center seeks to propel AI competencies in an ethical manner, together with a legislative framework to govern the development and deployment of the technology.
According to Metaverse Post, the initiative is meant to enhance the legal framework governing the AI sector and other technologies. The center is expected to operate with legal, administrative, and financial autonomy with the aim of fostering the development of advanced technologies in Saudi Arabia.
The development comes as AI is expected to add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, according to PwC projections. It is estimated to add $136 billion to Saudi Arabia within the same time frame.
Objectives of the initiative
While AI has been identified as an enabler for enhanced growth, efficiency, and effectiveness in businesses, the same technology has also attracted global attention because of its potential harm.
World leaders are seized with debates around regulating the sector in a way that promotes innovation but in an ethical manner, ensuring both privacy and security for users.
According to the Metaverse Post, the center’s objectives include the development of AI ethics and technical upskilling. Additionally, the center aims to increase AI awareness by formulating policy and recommendations as well as supporting initiatives related to AI and emerging technologies.
The center will also advance AI ethics in line with the values and principles of the UNESCO recommendations on AI ethics.
Ethics taking center stage
Stakeholders in AI have expressed concerns over the ethical uses of AI. This comes as unscrupulous individuals and organizations have misused the technology to spread deepfakes and misinformation.
Cloning in audios and videos, together with child sexual abuse, are among the types of AI misuses that have raised ethical concerns.
AI ethics have also been a focus area for Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence (SDAIA) published some guidelines, the “AI Ethics Principles,” in order to support the country’s initiatives and efforts to achieve its national strategy on AI adoption.
This AI ethics framework is premised on seven pillars: fairness, privacy and security, humanity, social and environmental benefits, reliability and safety, transparency and explainability, as well as accountability and responsibility.
These are meant to build and establish AI ethics, safeguard privacy, oversee data, and use AI models to alleviate the negative impacts of AI systems.
The framework also seeks to assist entities in adhering to standards and ethics while innovating and developing AI-based solutions.