The COVID-19 pandemic presents both good and bad news for governments when it comes to adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). The good news is that the pandemic is forcing governments to move much faster in considering and adopting more widespread use of these very promising technologies. The bad news is that AI/ML are extremely powerful, and we may not have the time to thoroughly consider how best to manage and govern them - which could result in compromising legal rights and liberties we did not intend.
So, in short, we need to start having the public conversation now. We need to educate ourselves and the public on what the technologies enable (and it's much more than just AI/ML - those are just some of the most showy). And, once enabled, we need to start considering and talking about how we can weave them into our current frameworks for legal protection, rights, and privacy.
Why do we need to do this? These technologies do not just do what humans do only faster - they work fundamentally differently and we are not always able to discern exactly how they got from one set of facts to an important conclusion. And, they move FAST. If we take advantage of their capabilities without considering their impact fully, we will find ourselves down the road wondering how we gave up so much of our liberties and privacy and we will start to regret it.
This article seems to me a decent primer of topics to start this conversation. Please use it to outline with your legal staff and elected officials what sorts of policies and topics we need to start dealing with, so that government can realize the advantages of all these tech tools to help citizens, without asking them to give up the rights and protections we all cherish.
. . . the technical aspects of AI/ML tools are only half the story, the other half being how we – the people – build, use and govern them. And this is where the current COVID-19 crisis presents both a key opportunity and a key challenge: by rushing the adoption of AI for the long term, it also rushes the need for government and corporate leadership to pay attention to how we design and manage powerful, early-stage technologies.