Presentation of the report on the ethics of AI in politics during the Smar City Expo 2021.
BCN Ciutat Digital

The Global Observatory of Urban Artificial Intelligence’s new report on AI Ethics

During the Smart City Expo World Congress 2021, the Global Observatory of Urban AI (GOUAI) presented its newly published report “AI Ethics in policy and action: city governance of algorithmic-decision systems”. Andrea G. Rodríguez, project manager and researcher at the CIDOB-Barcelona Centre for International Affairs and head researcher for the Global Observatory of Urban AI, presented the main findings of the report, which aims to set an ethical framework to guide cities’ applications of algorithmic decision systems.

The Global Observatory of Urban Artificial Intelligence (GOUAI) is a joint initiative launched by the CC4DR member cities of Barcelona, Amsterdam and London together with CIDOB-Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.

Lack of consensus among stakeholders

During the presentation, Rodríguez pointed out that "what the industry and public stakeholders think about ethics is not aligned, as multiple research documents discuss a different number of ethical principles”. There is no clear consensus on what principles constitute AI Ethics, and that might make it difficult for cities who want to procure or develop algorithmic decision systems. However, according to the researcher, "some of the principles are discussed more, and therefore these can provide inputs”.

Defining minimal ethical standards for AI

To address this heterogeneity and build on the principles discussed the most across the documents reviewed during the research, the GOUAI’s report proposes a framework based on minimal ethical standards that cities wishing to develop an ethical governance of AI may comply with:

  • Fairness and non-discrimination
  • Transparency and openness
  • Safety and cybersecurity
  • Privacy protection
  • Sustainability and common good
  • Accountability

The report also offers a practical self-assessment guide of compliance with the principles of the framework in the form of actionable questions that may also serve as a directory for capacity building. In addition, it concludes that the lack of consensus and regulation on AI is an opportunity for cities to discuss and adopt basic guidelines and incorporate them into their strategies, creating an alternative model of governance for AI systems.

This report just published by the GOUAI is the first of the documents presented by this cities-led initiative of the CC4DR and CIDOB. It will be followed in the coming months by an atlas of good AI practice in cities and a report on the use of facial recognition in public spaces.

Read the full report on the CIDOB’s website.


The newsletter The newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with Barcelona Digital City's new developments