“Middleware” and Modalities for the International Governance of AI

Anja Kaspersen, a Carnegie Council Senior Fellow and part of the Artificial Intelligence and Equality Initiative (AIEI), writes about two significant risks in the pursuit of global AI governance, i.e., the potential failure of well-intentioned but overly ambitious efforts, and proposals that limit themselves merely to admirable objectives.

She writes:

It is clear that AI needs a customized international governance framework drawing on the models developed in organizations, like the IPCC to assess the scale and impacts of climate change; the IAEA to enhance the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity while ensuring that it is not used to further any military purpose; and CERN to advance research in fundamental physics. Such an approach, bringing together political and technical functions, would serve as a bridge between technologists and policymakers by balancing promotion and control to address the gaps left by current mechanisms and approaches. Furthermore, such a framework should promote cooperation and dialogue among stakeholders and engage the public in meaningful and informed discussions.

The ultimate objective should be binding global regulations, premised on instruments for monitoring, reporting, verification, and, where necessary, enforcement, ideally supported by a treaty. However, immediate steps towards this framework should be initiated now. These intermediary actions can be likened to “middleware” in computer science, which enhances interoperability among diverse devices and systems. This governance “middleware” can not only connect and align existing efforts but pave the way to more enforceable measures in future.

«Middleware» entities and providers could both be established under the auspices of existing organizations, newly created, or a combination bringing in other initiatives with demonstrated global legitimacy and technical proficiency. The activities proposed below need not all be performed by one entity and the functions can be distributed.

Anja Kaspersen

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Image credit: Image by Freepik.

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