New Working Paper Discusses the Relevance of Smart Mix of Measure in AI Governance and Regulation

1 October 2021

Our new Working Paper The Relevance of the Smart Mix of Measures for Artificial Intelligence – Assessing the Role of Regulation and the Need for Stronger Policy Coherence discusses how current initiatives on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies should incorporate the protection and respect for human rights.

Aimed at policy-makers, the technology sector and all those working on the regulation of AI, it notably focuses on the United Nations Principles on Business and Human Rights’ (UNGPs) call on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector.

Written by Dr Ana Beduschi – former Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Exeter – and Dr Isabel Ebert – Adviser to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights B-Tech Project –, the Working Paper discusses the relevance of such a smart mix of measures to regulate AI technologies and calls for increased policy coherence in order to overcome siloed agendas and strengthen AI governance.

The Need for Robust Regulatory Bodies

While voluntary initiatives on AI ethics proliferated, many stakeholders have highlighted the need for stronger mandatory regulation of these technologies. As a result, some States and international organizations have started implementing regulatory and policy frameworks on AI.

For instance, China has developed policy guidelines for AI, the European Commission has proposed a new legislative proposal on AI regulation, and the Council of Europe established the Ad Hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence working on a legislative proposal as well.

‘The sole adoption of mandatory regulation on AI may not suffice to foster a rights-respecting culture of conduct in the technology sector. Without robust regulatory bodies with sufficient capacity and resources to oversee the implementation of the measures and monitor compliance with the legal instruments, efforts to regulate AI may lack effectiveness’ explains Dr Ana Beduschi, Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

A robot types on a computer

The Importance of Voluntary Measures to Complement Regulatory Processes

The Working Paper underlines that voluntary measures may also be crucial to adjust the smart mix of measures and encourage responsible behaviour in the AI technology sector.

For instance, the adoption of codes of conduct and benchmarking exercises may support different stakeholders in finding a common understanding of human rights application to the AI sector. Additionally, they can help identify appropriate practices and red lines concerning AI design and development. Voluntary measures can thus complement and feed into regulatory processes.

Research on Disruptive Technologies and Rights-Based Resilience

This publication forms part of our research project on disruptive technologies and rights-based resilience – funded by the Geneva Science-Policy Interface – that aims at supporting the development of regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

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