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IEC and ISO artificial intelligence plenary begins
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The IEC and ISO joint technical committee (SC 42) develops international standards for artificial intelligence. Its unique holistic approach considers the entire AI ecosystem, by looking at technology capability and non-technical requirements, such as business and regulatory and policy requirements, application domain needs, and ethical and societal concerns.

Over 260 participants from committee’s 50 member countries from around the world joined the SC 42 plenary which began on 18 October and opened with keynote presentations from several distinguished guest speakers.

Collaboration for new AI regulation

Stefano Nativi, Big Data Lead Scientist of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, presented the EC’s AI Watch Study – AI standards to support the European AI Act implementation. Nativi noted that a core group of six IEC/ISO standards have emerged as the most relevant working items to focus on for implementing the AI Act, while addressing different stakeholder concerns. One of the key recommendations was to start collaborating with standardization development organizations (SDOs), to improve suitability of standards and address identified gaps.

“To support the operationalization of legal acts dealing with digital technologies, there exists the need to introduce an effective, repeatable, and transparent methodology to monitor standardization development in wide domains, such as AI, and recognize possible gaps”, said Nativi.

Salvatore Scalzo, Policy and Legal Officer in the field of Artificial Intelligence at European Commission - DG CNECT, discussed the development of the EC AI Act, which sets out horizontal rules for the development, commodification and use of AI-driven products, services and systems within the EU and provides core artificial intelligence rules that apply to all industries. Scalzo explained that the Act takes a risk-based approach addressing the health, safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses using such products, as well as considering public interest.

“Standards are expected to play a key role in the implementation of the new rules. The Commission is thus keen to engage actively with the standardization community in the field to ensure that future standards on AI will adequately fulfil market and regulatory expectations”, said Scalzo.

Digital transformation at IEC

Ralph Sporer, Chair of the IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB), presented on the IEC digital transformation strategy. He highlighted the SMART Standards concept, which aims to connect initiatives, provide the means for a common interpretation of digital standards between and across domains, increase understanding of what is meant by machine readable, and develop a way for standards development organizations to successfully evolve while considering technological, legal and business constraints.

“AI standards will support the digital transformation strategy. IEC has a unique opportunity for collaboration between horizontal IT standards like those developed by SC 42 and the application domains of IEC”, said Sporer.

AI standards work programme

As discussed by the keynote speakers, AI remains a key technology for enabling the digital transformation. Moreover, the context of use of the SC 42 technologies are key to the broad and successful adoption while simultaneously addressing emerging non-technical challenges from their anticipated ubiquitous use.

“Our work programme reflects this reality and our approach of looking at the ecosystem continues to be of great interest across verticals and disciplines. This coming year, key initiatives will be to continue identifying gaps in the programme of work, continuing to partner with application committees to leverage the SC 42 work in their application domains and carry on our outreach to ensure that we have a diverse set of stakeholders and disciplines in the development of our work”, said Wael William Diab, Chair of SC 42.

Diab recognized the SC 42 leadership team and Committee Manager’s preparation efforts for the plenary and thanked the guest speakers. He acknowledged the ISO and IEC communications teams who continue to promote SC 42 work, the ISO Technical Programme Manager for SC 42, the IEC JTC 1 Technical Officer and the JTC 1 leadership, who have made themselves readily available when required. He also thanked the Systems Integration Facilitation Convenor and team who have participated in all plenaries to date.

Find out more about SC 42 activities.

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