A study recently carried out by Pega; an innovative software company, found after surveying over 3,000 senior managers and frontline IT staff that artificial intelligence is a key investment for businesses looking to guard against future disruptions and that 84% of those interviewed said that improving preparedness against any future or similar pandemics is a high priority (Pega 2020). So what does this mean for the future of product innovation? As we become more reliant and involved in the world of technology and artificial intelligence, what regulations are being enforced to future proof our society?
Technology such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack were some of the major systems that businesses were essentially forced into adopting since COVID-19. Since the way we are working and communicating has changed dramatically, technology is becoming an ever-growing priority for organisations around the world. With the growing implementation of artificial intelligence among organisations, it should come as no surprise that the market size of artificial intelligence is set to increase dramatically.
The latest data shows that the market size of artificial intelligence was valued at $27.23 billion in 2019 (Fortune Business Insights, 2020). This figure is projected to reach $266.92 billion by 2027; a nearly tenfold increase in eight years and with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.2 percent. One of the driving forces behind this impressive artificial intelligence growth is expected to come from businesses adopting it to power customer engagement. More and more, companies are relying on AI to provide customers with more personalised services. Coupled with the growing emphasis on customer services, the implementation of AI to serve customers will only increase.
Human-robot collaboration is another important trend in emerging technology. With the ability to work in tandem with humans, modern robotic systems are able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The range of collaborative applications offered by robot manufacturers continues to expand.
In early 2020, a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence from the European Commission was released that provided insight into how governments might change product safety and liability rules to address the issues arising from AI systems. Five years ago, the European Commission (EC) established a key policy agenda designed to deliver significant legal changes to the “Digital Single Market” by 2019. That agenda led to a series of material regulatory changes across the EU. Now, the Commission has established the creation of a “Europe fit for the digital age” as a key political goal and has published a series of documents intended to shape Europe’s digital future.
Two of these documents relate to AI systems: a white paper titled “On Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust” and a report on the safety and liability implications for AI, the Internet of Things, and Robotics. Among other issues, these reports discuss new proposals for changing the regulatory framework on product safety and liability in the EU to address the changes brought by AI systems.
Some of the recommendations include:
- Including software within the scope of product regulation
- Identifying certain AI systems as “high-risk” and making such systems subject to a more stringent regulatory framework
- Requiring products to undergo a risk assessment at different points in the product’s lifecycle
- Requiring developers to disclose the design parameters of algorithms and metadata of datasets in the event of accidents
The Commission also called for a revision of the general product safety directive (GPSD) which covers the safety of non-food products to the extent that they are not regulated by more specific sector rules. The Commission announced that the proposals for formal revision will ‘tackle the safety issues of products brought about by new technologies; address the need for more concrete actions on online selling and update the general legal framework on product safety.’ Similar to GDPR, the intention behind the EU’s AI strategy will be to ‘set the framework for the world.’
In June 2020, the Commission published a combined evaluation roadmap/inception impact assessment on the revision of the General Product Safety Directive, which confirmed it would address product safety linked to new technologies, online sales channels, product recalls, and overly complex market surveillance rules. The Commission has announced that the review will be finalised in the second quarter of 2021.
With great technology comes great responsibility. While artificial intelligence and the adaptation of new technologies have been accelerating rapidly, it is vital that the regulations surrounding these products are also adapting at a fast pace.