ASEAN Releases First Guide on Governing AI

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( – On Friday, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations published the first framework of an artificial intelligence, or AI, governance guide. However, there are concerns with it.

Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information said, “The guide seeks to establish common principles for trustworthy AI and suggest best practices for how to implement trustworthy AI in ASEAN.”

Some are worried that because nations are all at different stages of technology and digital development, it could potentially be a problem when implementing this guide. Kristina Fong, who is the lead researcher for economic affairs at ASEAN Studies Centre, said that the nations vary “not only in terms of digital capabilities, but also in terms of the level of maturity of regulatory authorities, institutional capacities as well as the rule of law.”

The guide includes governance and ethics on both the regional level and the national level, which include guidelines on how they can design, develop, and deploy AI systems in a responsible way. However, the concerns of each country or region may differ based on the digital development stage that they are at.

The guidelines for national-level AI governance include working on AI talent, upscaling workforces, and investing in the research and development of AI. At the regional level, it consists of compiling use cases and setting up a working group. Looking into already established AI governances for companies and private sectors can show how these guidelines can help.

“Even looking at a few of the fundamental building blocks of regulations needed to effectively manage these AI risks, such as those for cybersecurity and personal data protection, countries are not on the same page in terms of stages of implementation or regulatory effectiveness,” Fong said.

Officials say that this guideline is a great first step but that the potential of AI evolving quickly means that the guidelines change with the technology and adapt to the current times of how AI is used, developed, and designed.

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