Dr. Galit Wellner, advisor to the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology’s Forum on Regulation and Artificial Intelligence, is amazed by the capabilities of AI, but also worries that she crosses the red lines. In a candid conversation with Calcalist, she explains exactly what we should be afraid of and where the role of the regulator comes into play.
“Today the dominant discourse in the State of Israel is that we must take care of startups, because we are a nation of startups and we must not disturb them too much. I think the responsibility of the state is to protect its citizens, and therefore we must grant them first and remedy them through regulation, because today we have practically no tools – certainly not in advance, but even a posteriori – to prove the damages. It is difficult to prove, for example, whether a system based on artificial intelligence discriminates against us, we can only suspect and fear that this is the case. For example, I have no idea or any way to know if the bank gave me a high interest rate simply because I am a woman. I have no legal tools to deal with this and I think that in this place the legislator should protect me.
Where else can we be discriminated against or influenced on a daily basis without us knowing it?
“We saw the effects of this during the election campaigns in the United States in 2016 and Brexit in Britain. In Israel, on October 31 there will be elections for municipal authorities. There will also be elections for the Knesset and government in the future. , so we need to make sure that election systems are run according to our democratic rules. Today the rules are set by companies that reside in California. It is difficult for me to sue them , even in Israel. And this is where I lack tools. This is what scares me so much, and this is why I think our legislator must act, and act quickly.”
How can we begin to legislate and regulate this vast area?
“My dream is to have general legislation in the areas of technology. Look, for example, what happened with the European Union: they changed the definition of what artificial intelligence is. “It’s a question that people make entire academic careers about. “I think we need to refer to digital systems in general by law. I don’t care if they call them artificial intelligence, or a few years ago we called them big data. It doesn’t matter if you call it machine learning or deep learning “I want general legislation that concerns all digital technologies. We want three principles to be included in each of them: fairness, accountability and transparency. This are very fundamental principles that should apply to all systems – from banks and insurance companies, to all Internet commerce – everything should include these principles. Let’s take for example the topic of buying plane tickets . After all, every time I go to the site to buy tickets, the search engines change the price, always upwards, and why? Because there are so many cookies (a technological tool used to track and store user information on the websites) and so many of them follow me, so the price is tailor-made for me personally. The consumer has no way of suing or knowing how these things are determined , he can only suspect and be skeptical, but there are no legal tools and I want to fix that. As soon as there is a general law, it will be possible to adopt specific legislation for artificial intelligence in medicine, in autonomous vehicles, perhaps in more security applications such as police cameras for security and facial recognition. But all of this will constitute specific legislation within global law, which will regulate technologies and their place in our world and give us, as citizens, the right to protect ourselves and ensure that we actually get what we deserve. »
How to think about regulation in this area?
“The best picture I have right now is of vehicle regulations. When the car was invented at the end of the 19th century, there were no regulations. Children as young as 10 could ride in the car and start driving. There were no traffic signs and they could drive and do whatever they wanted – that’s the greatest freedom there is. Then, after accidents happened, the regulations started. So first of all, they said you need a driver’s license to use this technology. Not every kid can drive it. At the same time, regulation of the roads themselves, of the infrastructure, also been developed, which says that there are traffic lights and road signs, there are traffic lanes. where I want and how I want. And now there are also regulations on the technology itself- even, on vehicles, I need a driving license. And just like there is a Ministry of Transport, perhaps there should be a Ministry of Digital Technologies, which will regulate all the elements.”
Who should we take as an example for legislation in this area?
“The example would be a sort of collage. It would be a collection of examples. The European Union of course. They do an incredible job, but it’s not perfect. I would even take a little from the Chinese who demand already this artificial intelligence. The systems are given some sort of standard and pre-certification. You have to take components and examples from many places around the world.
Do you think the State of Israel can promote such legislation? Our privacy legislation is very outdated and has not yet received a significant update for the information revolution.
“I want us to be a light to the nations, and I think we can do it. We received a fascinating example from the Italians, who decided a few months ago to ban the activity of the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT for privacy reasons. And people were wondering: “Who are the Italians to tell them what to do? But it is a fact that some things have changed in the system itself to respond to the problems raised by the Italians, such as increased transparency in how the bot processes user data and adding powers to users to disable the possibility that conversations will be used to train the algorithm and after corrections they approved its operation.
“I think in the same way we can also lead the way and I think if there are companies that are fair, they will appreciate it. We are talking about a kind of ecosystem, a global system in which there are different stakeholders and users who need to be heard. There are regulators who are responsible for regulating the market and of course there is also room for companies and startups. world should talk to each other and come to ideas and understandings about how we want to live and lead”
What part would you like businesses to take in the development of legislation? Because they are known to be very involved, OpenAI’s Sam Altman has really made a show of influencing legislation.
“We must respect the end users, their voice is not heard. We can hear the companies perfectly, they speak very well and employ an army of professionals. Today, there are organizations that volunteer to give a voice to the users, but this It is difficult for them to compete with large companies. At the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Justice, there is this openness and we talk about it, but we must be prudent and include not only businesses but also users.”
What do you think of the call to stop development in the areas of artificial intelligence? Among other things because of the idea that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to the future of humanity?
“Many technologies have been said to pose a danger to the future of humanity. The same has also been said about the atomic bomb. Dystopia is not new. The future is scary, yes, but it can also be inspiring and it is in our hands – what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. I am a naturally optimistic person. That is why I do not tend to believe pessimists. I think that “We actually have a good chance of getting a good result, but we have to take care of a few things along the way.”