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AI for the public. How public interest theory shifts the discourse on AI

Author: Züger, T., & Asghari, H.
Published in: AI & Society
Year: 2022
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1007/s00146-022-01480-5

AI for social good is a thriving research topic and a frequently declared goal of AI strategies and regulation. This article investigates the requirements necessary in order for AI to actually serve a public interest, and hence be socially good. The authors propose shifting the focus of the discourse towards democratic governance processes when developing and deploying AI systems. The article draws from the rich history of public interest theory in political philosophy and law, and develops a framework for ‘public interest AI’. The framework consists of (1) public justification for the AI system, (2) an emphasis on equality, (3) deliberation/ co-design process, (4) technical safeguards, and (5) openness to validation. This framework is then applied to two case studies, namely SyRI, the Dutch welfare fraud detection project, and UNICEF’s Project Connect, that maps schools worldwide. Through the analysis of these cases, the authors conclude that public interest is a helpful and practical guide for the development and governance of AI for the people.

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Connected HIIG researchers

Hadi Asghari, Dr.

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter: AI & Society Lab

Theresa Züger, Dr.

Forschungsgruppenleiterin Public Interest AI | AI & Society Lab


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Du siehst Eisenbahnschienen. Die vielen verschiedenen Abzweigungen symbolisieren die Entscheidungsmöglichkeiten von Künstlicher Intelligenz in der Gesellschaft. Manche gehen nach oben, unten, rechts. Manche enden auch in Sackgassen. Englisch: You see railway tracks. The many different branches symbolise the decision-making possibilities of artificial intelligence and society. Some go up, down, to the right. Some also end in dead ends.

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