Norway begins important conversations on ethical Artificial Intelligence

This past week was an important one in the conversation about Artificial Intelligence and its potential future impact on the workforce and related ethical considerations in Norway.

Written: May 2019

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Organised by Negotia, Telenor Group and its research division, Telenor Research, the Digital Ethics roundtable on Artificial Intelligence brought together senior policymakers included Digitalisation Minister Nikolai Astrup as well as representatives from the Norwegian Parliament and major Norwegian companies, including Schibsted, DNB, Equinor and others.

The event was a starting point for Norway’s Artificial Intelligence strategy and developing a declaration on the responsible use of AI in the workplace. The event participants examined three broad areas to look into for such a declaration; including ethical guidelines, competence, as well as knowledge about societal and economic effects of AI.

“AI and ethics is very important because AI is penetrating our lives, our jobs, our societies. We have to be aware of our own responsibility for the ways that we are deploying and using these types of systems,” said University of Umeå Professor, Virginia Dignum.

“We are very pleased that Telenor wanted to cooperate with us about this conference. Not least, we are proud of the launch of a statement on responsible use of Artificial Intelligence in working life,” said Negotia leader, Monica A. Paulsen, “AI presents both exciting opportunities and challenges, with ethics and privacy matters not least among them.”

Widely agreed upon at the event is that the development and support of artificial intelligence must be fair, non-discriminatory and transparent. Clear responsibilities must be broken down and assigned to the right stakeholders. From a workplace point of view, Negotia also emphasised that employees’ privacy interests be closely considered and safeguarded throughout the development process.

Important cooperation between the partners

Sigve Brekke, President and CEO, Telenor Group and Cecilie Heuch, Telenor Group EVP and Chief People Officer, who was present at the event, both highlight responsible development when it comes to the use of AI. “Telenor sees that, in the future, an increasing number of decision-making and management processes will be supported by systems with elements of AI. We believe that this development must take place in a responsible manner, taking into account the individual, businesses and society,” Brekke said, supporting Negotia’s initiative to put digital ethics and AI on the agenda.

Heuch emphasized that special attention is to be paid to applications that have a direct impact on human lives, the environment and safety and security. There are many legitimate concerns when it comes to AI, including the system’s autonomy and whether humans are in the loop, as well as transparency and accountability.