In­tegrity by de­sign

Financial Mail - - DIAMONDS & DOGS - Claudi Mailovich [email protected]­

Imag­ine try­ing on your clothes vir­tu­ally via a mo­bile app be­fore mak­ing the pur­chase.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) will doubt­less soon make this a re­al­ity, al­low­ing you to skip the queues and cut out the has­sle of re­turn­ing stuff, which has be­come syn­ony­mous with on­line shop­ping.

Matthew Drinkwa­ter, di­rec­tor of the Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion’s In­no­va­tion Agency, told a Mi­crosoft con­fer­ence in Paris re­cently that the agency had con­ducted a trial with a lux­ury scarf de­signer in

2016 in which clients were able to try on the scarves vir­tu­ally.

“Are con­sumers ready to vir­tu­ally try prod­ucts on? In this case it didn’t hap­pen that much,” he ad­mit­ted. But what they did do was try on the scarf vir­tu­ally and then go out to the re­tailer to buy one.

“At the mo­ment we can very ac­cu­rately scan the face, and within the next six to 12 months we will be able to do that for the body. What will this mean for fash­ion?” he asks.

And what will it mean for per­sonal data se­cu­rity? What are the pit­falls of this de­vel­op­ment and what is be­ing done to pro­tect con­sumers from the mis­use of AI?

En­ter “ethics and AI” , which was a theme ex­plored on the same day that Drinkwa­ter and mul­ti­ple in­dus­try ex­perts took to the stage of the con­fer­ence at Sta­tion F in Paris, the world’s big­gest busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor cam­pus for start-ups.

The amount of data col­lected through tech­nol­ogy is no small mat­ter, as the con­tro­ver­sies over pri­vacy and the mis­use of per­sonal data by so­cial me­dia gi­ants such as Face­book has shown.

In Europe the is­sue is chiefly gov­erned by the EU Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR), which aims to pro­tect EU cit­i­zens from data breaches. The GDPR cru­cially ex­tends its pow­ers to com­pa­nies pro­cess­ing the data of any per­son liv­ing in Europe.

In SA, data pro­tec­tion is gov­erned by the Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Act, 2013. Popi, as it is known, was signed into law by then pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma on Novem­ber 19 2013, but has yet to come into force. Most of its pro­vi­sions will come into ef­fect only when the in­for­ma­tion reg­u­la­tor is fully op­er­a­tional. The draft reg­u­la­tions were pub­lished for pub­lic com­ment in the sec­ond half of 2017. The fi­nal reg­u­la­tions are yet to be pro­mul­gated.

In terms of data pro­tec­tion in an age of rapid tech­no­log­i­cal growth, the aim is to have “in­tegrity by de­sign”.

Kavitha Babu, di­rec­tor and re­gional at­tor­ney for Mi­crosoft in Europe, says the ques­tion should not be what com­put­ers can do, but rather what they should do. The in­dus­try needs to care­fully con­sider the so­ci­etal is­sues raised by so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy and AI.

“We can­not af­ford to look at it with un­crit­i­cal eyes,” she says, adding that ev­ery eth­i­cal is­sue that hu­man­ity has faced is a po­ten­tial eth­i­cal is­sue for a com­puter.

She out­lines six val­ues that AI has to re­spect as it aug­ments hu­man in­ge­nu­ity — fair­ness, re­li­a­bil­ity and safety, pri­vacy and se­cu­rity, in­clu­sive­ness, trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

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