August 10, 2020

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Thailand Drafts Ethics Guidelines for AI

Thailand Artificial Intelligence Ethics Guidelines
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Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry has drafted the country’s first artificial intelligence (AI) ethics guidelines.

The ministry worked with the Thailand branch of an American multinational technology company and Mahidol University on the guidelines. Thailand is the first country in Asia-Pacific where the tech company contributed to crafting the guidelines as an adviser.

According to Thai media, the first principle indicates AI technology must cater to the country’s competitiveness and sustainable development.

The technology must also comply with the law and international standards. In addition, AI technology must be developed with accountability and responsibility to ensure security and data protection.

Other tenets are the technology must take into account equality and fairness, and efforts must be made to ensure AI technology is reliable.

The draft is not final and the ministry wants to gather input from public forums and focus groups.

The DES Minister noted that the AI ethics guideline is part of raising competitiveness under the 20-year national strategy plan for 2018-37, which was made by the national strategy committee.

The guidelines will serve as practices to be followed by researchers, developers and service providers engaging in tech development.

AI is expected to be broadly used by targeted industries under the Thailand 4.0 initiative, including for S-curve industries.

These industries include next-generation automation, intelligent electronics, medical tourism, advanced agriculture and biotech, food processing, robotics, comprehensive healthcare, aviation, logistics, biofuel, biochemical and digital industries.

The Minister noted that AI will not only be used in the manufacturing sector, but also in normal daily life, including work and leisure.

The guidelines are needed to prevent misuse of technology, he said, adding that the guidelines and practice should be developed into regulation.  However, the Minister did notes that it is currently too early to say when the guidelines will come into force.

Boosting Security through AI

As the nation moves further along its digital transformation journey, its leaders are realising that AI and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand.

Cybersecurity technology is in high demand following the roll-out of the Cybersecurity Act and Personal Data Protection Act, as well as the national ID scheme. Investment in cybersecurity technology has reached THB1.91 billion.

The emergence of the Internet of Things, new WiFi 6 and 5G are expected to ramp up the possibility of cyber-attacks. Operational technology (OT) systems, connected medical equipment, airports and smart building systems are possible targets of attacks, said the study.

The burgeoning online population and services such as mobile banking, e-commerce and digital government services have led to an increase in the number of cyber-attacks.

A study that surveyed 2,000 respondents from 11 countries in Asia-Pacific, including 151 from Thailand, found that 35 per cent of companies in Thailand saw a financial impact of $1 million or more from their most significant breach, compared with 30 per cent globally.

The top three barriers to the country’s adoption of advanced security technology are lack of knowledge of process and technology, a shortage of trained personnel and compatibility issues with legacy systems.

The complexity that comes as a result of the multi-vendor environment and the increased sophistication of businesses with OT networks and multi-cloud adoption continues to challenge security practitioners in Asia-Pacific.

Hence, businesses can simplify security in three key areas: workforce, workload and workplace. Doing so enables organisations to protect users and their devices against stolen credentials, phishing and other identity-based attacks, manage multi-cloud environments and contain lateral movement across the network.

The new AI ethics guidelines are expected to also contribute to boosting data protection and security in Thailand.

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