Organized as a side event of the Smart City Expo World Congress, this session premiers the documentary “Trustworthy Cities: Ethics in the AI Era”, followed by a roundtable addressing the challenges and opportunities of public-private collaboration to promote an ethical use and development of artificial intelligence in urban contexts.
Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become a key component of urban digital transition processes. Today AI solutions are widely deployed to optimize city management and improve the provision of public services. Nevertheless, the use of AI can also lead to negative externalities such as generating new inequalities, producing unaccountable decisions, or jeopardizing fundamental rights. Hence, there is an increasingly pressing need to reflect on whether the use of algorithmic tools is making cities more open and participatory, facilitating exchange between local administrations and citizens, and supporting the exercise of democracy; or, on the contrary, is generating dilemmas that threaten integration, inclusion, and endeavours to foster social justice. Both are actually true. What separates one reality from the other are efforts to govern AI democratically and adequately regulate it with ethical standards linked to digital rights.
In this context, some frontrunner cities and networks, such as the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights (CC4DR), are promoting concrete initiatives to develop AI governance frameworks and foster an ethical use of AI. The development of public algorithms registries or specific procurement clauses for public-private collaborations are some examples of these efforts. Along these same lines, in July 2021, CIDOB, together with the cities of Barcelona, Amsterdam, and London, in collaboration with UN-Habitat and within the framework of the CC4DR, established the Global Observatory of Urban Artificial Intelligence (GOUAI). The observatory’s goal is to promote actionable research on ethical urban artificial intelligence and contribute to the development of standards through the monitoring of AI projects and solutions deployed in urban settings. Ultimately, it seeks to promote ethical artificial intelligence systems in cities and ensure that algorithmic tools are sustainable, fair, aligned to democratic values, accountable, transparent, cybersecure, and that they safeguard people’s digital rights.
To fulfill this mission, the observatory regularly produces reports, policy papers and guidelines addressed to policy-makers. This work is complemented with other more innovative initaitives such as a first of its kind online Atlas of Urban AI or the documentary “Trustworthy Cities: Ethics in the AI Era”. Premiered on 15th November 2022, at the Smart City Expo World Congress, the documentary addresses the main challenges associated with the ethical governance of artificial intelligence in urban settings.
Agustí Fernádez de Losada, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)
Michael Donaldson, Commissioner for Digital Innovation, Electronic Administration and Good Governance, Barcelona City Council
Marta Galceran, Research Fellow, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)
Roser Aguilar, Scriptwriter and Director of the documentary
How can we move from the definition to operationalising AI ethics principles in urban contexts? To what extent has the public and private sectors have the same understanding of what “ethical AI” means? What should the role and limits for the private sector be in developing AI for local governments? How can governments work with the private sector and with civil society to ensure that AI solutions allow for auditability and traceability?
Paula Boet, Project and Communication Manager, Barcelona City Council and Cities Coalition for Digital Rights
Simona Levi, Founder, Xnet – Institute for Democratic Digitalisation
Greg Wilson, World Wide Public Sector Chief Technology Officer (Government), Microsoft
Chair: Marta Galceran, Research Fellow, Global Cities Programme, CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs)