On the EU, the EC, AI and Robotics

The European Commission is pouring a lot of money on the development of the so called “AI” (whatever that means) and rumors talk about 1,5 billions if Euros by the end of the 2020.

That’s rather funny, indeed, because the Commission doesn’t seems to have a clear understanding of what the hell this “AI” stuff is actually made of. As neither the Parliament nor the “experts” actually know something about it.

The only (few) people that actually deal with the replica of the brain’s cognitive processes have more doubts that certainty. But clear doubt is not salubrious, while fuzzy certainty does .  Therefore, since “AI” is a buzzword and everybody talks about it, it is of the utmost importance to follow the flow and pose  himself  as if belonging to the “cognoscenti”.

Right now, the 2017 European Parliament Resolution on “Civil Law Rules on Robotics”, the 2018 European Commission Communication on Artificial Intelligence and the Declaration of cooperation on Artificial Intelligence signed by the member states range from high.-level statements to the attempt of turning legal science fiction into actual provisions, and all look like a confession of blatant ignorance (as in “to know nothing about a topic”.)

As  Luigi Einaudi, economist and second President of the Republic of Italy between 1948 and 1955, once wrote:

Prima conoscere, poi discutere, poi deliberare

Know first, then debate, and finally decide, then. But are we sure that the plethora of AI “experts” wandering into the wild “know” first, before debating? And are we sure that the politicians that pushes on the “AI” have a fair grasp at least on the basics of the topic?

I don’t think so.

One thing that supports my opinion is the ubiquitous talks about “ethics” and “robotics” or “AI”.

Ethics is a convenient shortcut for a politician or a legal expert. You don’t need to rely on hard facts, legal framework or figures to talk about ethics, because you’re dealing with “the right thing”. But ethics, especially an ethics of a State,  should not be mixed with politics and legislation. We already have plenty of examples, at every latitude, of what happens when ethics blends with power. And none of them are remotely acceptable in a democratic society, where the only Ruler is the Law.

So, supporting argument number two, talking about legislation, an entity can have right only if he can carry on duties. There is neither a piece of software nor a stack of sensors that is able to fulfill this definition. You don’t need to be a Supreme Court Justice to understand that conclusion.

And finally, support argument number three, behind a machine, a software or an algorithm there is always a man who designed it. And the fact that “experts” and politicians aren’t able to understand how a software works (the classic mantra of AI fanboys) doesn’t mean that others too aren’t  capable to, If you can’t read the Japanese leaflet of your hi-fi learn the language first, before claiming that the machine is not working.

Lack of knowledge is not an excuse for poor policing or uninformed decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *