Artificial Intelligence for children: Beijing principles released

AI is impacting everyone including children in many different ways. AI scientists are also concerned about the vulnerability issues emerging due to the advancement of AI. A lot of people have recently involved in research related to AI and Ethics but a little attention was being paid to how it will affect children and their rights. This week an historic event took place in Beijing at Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence.

On 14 September, Beijing Zhiyuan Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (“Zhiyuan Institute“), Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of Tsinghua University, Peking University’s Joint Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Tsinghua University, People International Institute of artificial intelligence governance , Chinese Academy of Sciences The Institute of Automation, the Institute of Computing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other universities and institutions, as well as artificial intelligence companies and alliances jointly released China’s first child-oriented artificial intelligence development principle “Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence for Children”.

Dr. Zeng Yi, Director of the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Sustainable Development of Zhiyuan Research Institute, pointed out that under the umbrella of macro principles of ethics of AI, there is plenty of room to explore the implementations of AI ethical principles in different secondary domains and specific groups of emerging technologies. He further mentioned that the AI innovation, promotion and governance are the top priority of China.

The “Consensus” pointed out that the development of artificial intelligence should safeguard children’s dignity, protect and promote children’s independent development and diversified growth, and emphasized that the artificial intelligence products should protect children’s privacy, promote children’s physical and mental health, and control potential risks.

Prof. Zeng Yi explained that in recent years, with the increasing popularity of products such as online courses, games and entertainment, and software, the accessibility of AI for children has increased. Children need special care and attention when it comes to technology. Since Children ability to identify the benefits and risks of AI technology is limited. In addition to this, a number of areas, such as development of technology, use and after-sales service of many artificial intelligence products, the importance of data protection, authorization scope, privacy and security need to be improved.

The care and consideration for technology user groups, especially child users, is insufficient. Exponential technological growth has a certain degree of negative impact. Currently, artificial intelligence ethical principles related to children are not developed anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct ethical research and introduce regulation on artificial intelligence technology products used by children, which are special group, to help relevant companies in avoiding potential risks and to protect minors.

This Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence for Children is China’s first principle guideline for the development of AI for Children. It emphasizes on Child Centeredness, protection of the rights of Children and improvement of policy and regulatory mechanisms. There are four main themes: Children-Centered Values, Protecting Children’s Rights, Taking responsibilities and Multi-Stakeholder Governance. These themes include further 19 detailed principles including dignity, fairness, child first, protection of privacy and inclusion of will of children etc. In order to give a globalized context to these principles, It is mentioned in the document that the definition of “children”, description of values and children’s rights will be used as mentioned in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and as per the provisions of each country or region.

According to Dr. Zeng Yi, the next step of the work plan of the “Artificial Intelligence and Children Working Group”, an artificial intelligence collaboration network for sustainable development, will include (1) Organizing a working group to sort out artificial intelligence cases for children and analyze how artificial intelligence technology can be used to make good use of it, and to avoid misuse and abuse at the same time; (2) Working group will ensure that the Chinese and global artificial intelligence companies are promoting artificial intelligence to protect children’s rights and to help children’s development in a techno-oriented manner; (3) To provide useful references for relevant domestic and global policy mechanisms; (4) Share experiences and achievements with other relevant institutions around the world to promote the healthy growth of children with artificial intelligence on a global scale.

It is to note that, in May 2019, the Beijing AI Principles were also released by Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI). The 15 Principles call for “the construction of a human community with a shared future, and the realization of beneficial AI for humankind and nature.” Unlike AI Principles for Children, these principles were separated into three sections: Research and Development, Use, and Governance. They include focus on benefitting all of humanity and the environment; serving human values such as privacy, dignity, freedom, autonomy, and rights; continuous focus on AI safety and security; inclusivity; openness; supporting international cooperation and avoiding a “malicious AI race”; and long-term planning for more advanced AI systems, among others.

The Beijing Consensus of AI Principles for Children is an important milestone in the development of AI Principles and impressive leaps in the quality of China’s AI research.

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Ammar Younas

Ammar Younas is an ANSO scholar at School of Humanities, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is based at Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He studied Chinese Law as Chinese Government Scholar at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing, China. Ammar also holds degrees in Medicine, Jurisprudence, Finance, Political Marketing, International and Comparative Politics and Human Rights from Kyrgyzstan, Italy, and Lebanon. His research interests include but not limited to Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Regulation of AI & Emerging Technologies, and Central Asian Law.

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