Ensuring the ethical development and use of AI in local governance


The rapid development and use of digital technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), have a significant impact on society in general, but specifically also on the public sector. In this data driven digital era the use of AI in government has become a crucial tool to help shape the future of public governance. Automated decision-making or algorithmic decision-making enables more informed and evidence-based decision-making in government. The variety of applications of AI is growing rapidly and spans all functional areas of government. AI based technologies create opportunities to transform the way in which local governments deliver municipal services. Also, in other spheres of government it enhances efficiency, and proactive and responsive decision-making to the benefit of citizens. It has huge potential and offers many benefits, but also includes many risks. This requires a responsible approach that will include mechanisms for safeguarding fundamental rights, inclusivity and a process of constant participation with citizens, and ensuring that the performance of AI systems is proportionate, supervised and reasoned. Responsible AI based on a set of key principles such as accountability, explainability and respect for privacy and other human rights should be the foundation for the use of AI in public governance. Various policy and legislative initiatives around the world aim to create clear, workable frameworks for the development and use of responsible AI. An example is the AI Act in the European Union which was approved by the European Parliament in June 2023, and which follows a risk-based approach that acknowledges the protection of human rights in the development and use of AI. Various local and regional policy and legal developments to support responsible AI at sub-national level are also in process. How can AI be used to improve public governance? What safeguards should be put in place to ensure ethical and responsible AI and the protection of human rights? How can AI be used to co-create public services? In presenting the paper, these critical questions will be considered. This paper explores the development of responsible and ethical AI policies and initiatives in public governance, with a specific focus on AI in cities. It discusses key initiatives such as the establishment of an algorithmic register in Amsterdam and Barcelona, as well as specific AI applications that enhances service delivery. It will conclude with some recommendations for building blocks in ensuring responsible AI in public governance in local government.

Brand D. J. (2023) "Ensuring the ethical development and use of AI in local governance " Journal of Ethics and Legal Technologies, 5(2), 95-110. DOI: 10.14658/pupj-JELT-2023-2-6  
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