IBM Announces Policy Lab To Help Ensure ‘Trustworthy’ Tech

IBM's new Policy Lab will set up ambitious goals.

With the new IBM Policy Lab, IBM is looking to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) development in a way that is safe, but does not infringe upon the creation of new technology, reports said. The lab, soft-launched in November, will allow IBM the space and time to craft a vision for AI moving forward. The company wants to take a two-pronged approach: harnessing innovation while ensuring that people can trust what is going on.

The think tank will gather leaders in several fields — from public policy, academia, civil society and technology. Ryan Hagemann, former senior policy fellow at the International Center for Law and Economics, will co-direct the forum with Jean-Marc Leclerc, currently the vice chairman for the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union’s Digital Economy Committee. Leclerc is also chairman of the Software Alliance’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Policy Committee.

The Policy Lab will be busy. It will publish studies on new innovations, offer policy positions that it said are bold and will help shape the future of the world, and advocate for the development of AI ethics, which would entail looking at risk management in terms of the harm a product could do. IBM said risk assessments should be conducted, and kept on file for certain periods of time.

Another goal of the IBM Policy Lab is to improve the public trust regarding AI technology, which will involve transparency, IBM said. Any AI on the market involved in making decisions should be able to provide context and explain those decisions, most notably when the decisions could impact people.

The company wants to work with governments, and put in place a set of frameworks and benchmarks. It also wants to make sure that no discrimination happens with functions like facial recognition, which has received criticism for its potential to misidentify people and become a tool for more nefarious means.

IBM isn’t alone in considering how to regulate AI. The European Union is doing the same on the international stage, as it wrestles with how to navigate diplomatic relations.