‘Trustworthy Cities: Ethical Urban Artificial Intelligence’ Course Module

Part of the course “AI Ethics: Global perspectives”, this module by researcher Marta Galceran (CIDOB) delves into how cities are increasingly embracing the use of algorithmic tools to address all sorts of urban challenges and improve the provision of public services. It also discusses the ethical implications of the use of artificial intelligence in urban contexts and, building on the research of the Global Observatory of Urban Artificial Intelligence, it provides an overview of some of the initiatives and ethical principles promoted by cities.

SustAIn Magazine: Sustainable AI in Practice

New magazine on how sustainable AI can be put into practice. The environmental, social and economic sustainability costs of AI urgently need to be addressed by academia, industry, civil society and policy makers – based on evidence. First edition.

Barcelona’s AI Strategy

The “Municipal strategy on algorithms and data to ethically drive artificial intelligence”: the government measure laying down the mechanisms for applying artificial intelligence (AI) to municipal management and services while respecting citizens’ digital rights. Barcelona is joining cities’ efforts to construct a human rights-based AI and emerging technology model with a commitment to a democratic digital society. The strategy adopts 7 governing principles that have to be followed in any technological application to ensure correct risk management, respect for digital rights and public responsibility: Human action and supervision; Technical robustness and security; Data privacy and governance; Transparency; Diversity, inclusion and fairness; Social and environmental commitment; and Responsibility, accountability and democratic control.

Urban AI Guide

Many city leaders are confronted with the reality that they lacked the background knowledge to properly engage with and evaluate urban solutions involving emerging technologies such as AI. In some instances, this knowledge gap produces a barrier to project implementation or leads to unintended outcomes. This guide aims at aiding city leaders and urban technologists (academic, public, private, and community-focused) better understand how AI operates in urban contexts.

The guide begins with a literature review, presenting the state of the art in research on urban AI. It then diagrams and describes an “urban AI anatomy,” outlining and explaining the components that make up an urban AI system. Insights from experts in the Urban AI community enrich this section, illuminating considerations involved in each component. Finally, the guide concludes with an in-depth examination of three case studies that highlight the diversity of ways in which AI can be operationalized in urban contexts, as well as the steps and requirements necessary to implement an urban AI project.

Definition of Work Methodologies and Protocols for Implementing Algorithmic Systems – Barcelona City Council

Internal protocol for the ethical implementation of algorithmic systems used by the municipality, including step-by-step mechanisms for each stage of the process (from public tendering and implementation to the dismantling of the AI system). The procedure adapts to the different stages of the AI lifecycle and its level of riskiness (assessed from ‘limited and minimal risk’ to ‘unacceptable risk’ based on the EU Commission’s risk classification). This is a pioneering document in regard to the regulation and governance of algorithmic systems at the local level, as it combines the public procurement process, the lifecycle of an algorithmic system, data protection mechanisms and ethical standards.

Algorithmic Transparency Standard

The Algorithmic Transparency Standard is a set of shared categories of information that European cities can use to help people understand the algorithmic tools they use, why and how they’re using them. This includes providing information on algorithmic tools and algorithm-assisted decisions in a complete, open, understandable, easily-accessible, and free format. It also allows people to compare different algorithms within and across cities. This standard supports documenting decisions and assumptions for both management of artificial intelligence (AI) governance and provide meaningful transparency in a standardized way. In essence, its a common data schema for algorithm registries that is validated, open-source, publicly available, and ready for use in local algorithm registers.

Made by Eurocities’ Digital Forum Lab in collaboration with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Eindhoven, Mannheim, Rotterdam and Sofia.

“AI Localism In Practice: Examining How Cities Govern AI” Report

This report serves as a primer for policymakers, practitioners, AI Experts and the general public to learn about current municipal governance practices of AI. The report features fundamental governance methods that are being deployed by cities, mainly: 

  • Principles and Rights: foundational requirements and constraints of AI and algorithmic use in the public sector;
  • Laws and Policies: regulation to codify the above for public and private sectors;
  • Procurement: mandates around the use of AI in employment and hiring practices; 
  • Engagement: public involvement in AI use and limitations;
  • Accountability and Oversight: requirements for periodic reporting and auditing of AI use;
  • Transparency: consumer awareness about AI and algorithm use; and
  • Literacy: avenues to educate policymakers and the public about AI and data.

Ten lessons and recommendations are then drawn from each of the governance mechanisms: 

  • Principles provide a North Star for governance;
  • Public engagement provides a social license;
  • AI literacy enables meaningful engagement;
  • Tap into local expertise;
  • Innovate in how transparency is provided;
  • Establish new means for accountability and oversight;
  • Signal boundaries through binding laws and policies;
  • Use procurement to shape responsible AI markets;
  • Establish data collaboratives to tackle asymmetries; and
  • Make good governance strategic

‘Trustworthy Cities: Ethics in the AI Era’ Documentary

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.

AI & Cities: Risks, Applications and Governance – UN-Habitat

This report is part of UN-Habitat’s strategy for guiding local authorities in realizing a people-centered digital transformation process in their cities and settlements. Produced in collaboration with Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, the report explores potential applications and discusses risks to assist governments in the appropriate and responsible use of AI in cities. Practical recommendations are also presented as well as areas of action to consider when developing an AI strategy.

EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

On 8 April 2019, the High-Level Expert Group on AI presented Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. This followed the publication of the guidelines’ first draft in December 2018 on which more than 500 comments were received through an open consultation.

The Fairness Handbook (Amsterdam Geemente)

Introduction to algorithmic fairness and bias in data and/or algorithms that provides a “Fairness Pipeline”, a step-by-step plan to evaluate a model for biases and to mitigate these problems.

UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

In November 2021, the 193 Member States at UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, the very first global standard-setting instrument on the subject. It will not only protect but also promote human rights and human dignity, and will be an ethical guiding compass and a global normative bedrock allowing to build strong respect for the rule of law in the digital world.

To do so, UNESCO launched a global consultation, collecting comments from online surveys, regional consultations, and the open, multi-stakeholder, and citizen deliberation process led by Mila and Algora Lab (Université de Montréal). 611 participants of more than 54 countries participated in this inclusive dialogue on ethics in AI.

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