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Artificial intelligence: why terminology matters
Date: 2023-12-15    Source:IEC   

As the technologies of artificial intelligence continue to permeate our daily lives, the need for a standardized and unified approach to understanding and discussing AI concepts becomes increasingly crucial. This is where ISO/IEC 22989, the IEC and ISO standard on AI terminology, can play a fundamental role.

ISO/IEC 22989 underlines the critical importance of using the same technical terms to achieve clarity, consistency and accuracy in communication. Using the same technical terms can also facilitate effective regulation, international research and trade, as well as reducing costs and increasing the confidence of citizens in products and services.

The AI landscape has been characterized by a diverse and often inconsistent use of terminology. This has hindered effective communication and collaboration among various stakeholders.

ISO/IEC 22989 addresses this challenge by establishing a comprehensive and standardized vocabulary for AI concepts and descriptions. This standardized framework serves as a common language, enabling clear and unambiguous discussions about AI systems, their applications and the ethical considerations surrounding their development and deployment.

The international standard, which is available for free, can therefore play a crucial role in developing regulations and governance frameworks to ensure the responsible and ethical development and deployment of beneficial AI. It does this by providing a common understanding and vocabulary for discussing AI concepts.

Fostering informed policymaking

In other words, ISO/IEC 22989 enables policymakers to have clear and consistent discussions about AI issues by establishing a standardized terminology. This shared understanding is crucial for developing informed and well-considered regulations that address the potential challenges and opportunities presented by AI.

Without a common language, policymakers will face difficulties in understanding the complexities of AI and formulating regulations that effectively address these challenges.

Promoting transparency and explainability

For example, transparency and explainability (explicability) are essential aspects of responsible AI development and deployment. ISO/IEC 22989 promotes these principles by defining these and other related terms.

This can help policymakers to establish clear requirements for AI systems to be transparent and explainable, ensuring that AI decisions can be understood and justified.

As AI regulations evolve across different jurisdictions, it becomes increasingly important to ensure consistency and harmonization. ISO/IEC 22989 serves as a valuable tool for developing consistent and harmonized AI regulations.

Having a standardized framework for terminology also facilitates the development of regulations that are aligned across different regions and industries.

"There is global concern about the need for a governance framework to ensure the safe and responsible development of beneficial AI systems. It will be impossible to develop without standardized terminology based on the consensus of a broad range of stakeholders," said Wael William Diab, who chairs the IEC and ISO joint technical committee that develops standards for AI.

Guiding ethical discourse

Of course, the far-reaching implications of AI extend beyond advancements in technology. AI raises concerns about potential biases, fairness and societal impact.

ISO/IEC 22989 provides a common framework for discussing and assessing ethical issues in AI development by defining relevant terms such as "bias", "fairness" and "social impact". This can help policymakers to establish clear ethical principles and guidelines for AI systems.

Again, the international standard encourages ethical discussions that are grounded in shared understanding by establishing common terminology agreed through a global, consensus-driven process.

Enhancing clarity and reliability

Furthermore, the consistent use of AI terminology promotes interoperability between different AI systems and applications. This is particularly critical in the context of integrating AI-powered components into broader systems or platforms.

Interoperability facilitates seamless integration and the creation of more robust and adaptable solutions by ensuring that AI systems speak the same language.

ISO/IEC 22989 also contributes to the development of reliable and responsible AI systems by promoting transparency in AI development and decision-making processes. The standard emphasizes the importance of explainability, ensuring that AI systems can provide clear justifications for their actions, as well as fostering trust and accountability.

SC 42 considers the entire AI ecosystem by looking at technology capability and non-technical requirements, such as business and regulatory and policy requirements, application domain needs, as well as ethical and societal concerns.

(Source: IEC)


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