Royal Society and The British Academy, Data Management and Use Governance in the 21st Century, AI
Image: Dun & Bradstreet.

On Thursday, The Royal Society and The British Academy released a joint report called Data Management and Use: Governance in the 21st Century. In the document, they propose creating a new stewardship body that governs data and intelligent systems with human flourishing as an overarching principle.

The report aims at describing the state of the age of information and providing solutions to rising paradigms based on research, experience, and forward-looking analyses from data experts and technology invested parties.

British experts are concerned with the way in which technology and society have evolved side by side with data, and no one is thinking about regulation or best practices. As this fast-paced process continues, they seek to answer though questions that rise with AI, self-driving systems, smart infrastructure, and more.

These are the challenges of the data era

Researchers from The British Academy and The Royal Society have detected three main challenges society faces in the information age. Industries and organizations must come together to overcome them head-on in this ever-changing landscape.

First of all, there is the issue from which the main proposal of the report stems: there is no data governance framework that meets current and future necessities. Existing policies and laws do not satisfy the needs of digital citizens, particularly when more and more elements enter to play a role online.

Second, the same ever-changing qualities of the internet bring with them unexpected situations that are difficult to foresee, according to the experts. People have to come up with sensitive yet comprehensive governance that enables them to deal with uncertainties.

Finally, courses of action must be traced to resolve data-related controversies, i.e. scandals involving public leaks of information, political or high-profile exposure, and other instances of open-air schemes in which people’s reputation, livelihood, and lives themselves are at risk.

Human flourishing must be above everything else

British data analysts suggest the governance body proposed by their investigation should be guided by a set of high-level principles that permeate its functions of anticipating, monitoring, evaluating, building practices, setting standards, and clarifying, enforcing, and remedying data-driven issues.

The data governance body should hold human flourishing as its overarching principle, condensing the three laws of robotics proposed by Isaac Asimov into a single yet concrete statement.

Artificial intelligence technologies pose one of the biggest threats, and if we are to live beside them shortly, then guidelines and regulation must be set in motion to ensure machines coexist with humans and that we remain in control.

Further characteristics of this proposed regulatory framework include independence, of course, yet a deep connection to diverse communities with a focus on decision taking. The durable and visible body must be made up by experts in many disciplines, and have a global perspective when considering data issues.

In the meantime, British researchers recommend enhancing existing governance, protect rights and interests of both individuals and collectives, enforce transparency, inclusivity, and accountability, and opening up to the right practices and learning from our mistakes.

Source: The Royal Society