AI research and development on a global scale

The Forum for Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) has investigated opportunities and obstacles for international cooperation to foster development of responsible artificial intelligence (AI). It has brought together officials from seven governments (Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and United States with experts from industry, academia, and civil society to explore similarities and differences in national policies on AI, avenues of international cooperation, ecosystems of AI research and development (R&D), and AI standards development among other issues. Following a series of roundtables in 2020 and 2021, we issued a progress report in October 2021 that articulated why international cooperation is especially needed on AI, identified significant challenges to such cooperation, and proposed four key areas where international cooperation could deepen: Regulatory alignment, standards development, trade agreements, and joint R&D. The report made 15 recommendations on ways to make progress in these areas.

For joint R&D, recommendation R15 of the progress report called for development of “common criteria and governance arrangements for international large-scale AI R&D projects,” with the Human Genome Project (HGP) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as examples of the scale and ambition needed. The report summarized this recommendation as follows:

“Joint research and development applying to large-scale global problems such as climate change or disease prevention and treatment can have two valuable effects: It can bring additional resources to the solution of pressing global challenges, and the collaboration can help to find common ground in addressing differences in approaches to AI. FCAI will seek to incubate a concrete roadmap on such R&D for adoption by FCAI participants as well as other governments and international organizations. Using collaboration on R&D as a mechanism to work through matters that affect international cooperation on AI policy means that this recommendation should play out in the near term.”

FCAI convened a roundtable on February 10, 2022, to explore specific use cases that may be candidates for joint international research and development and inform selection and design of such projects based on criteria outlined below. Potential areas considered were climate change, public health, privacy-enhancing technologies for sharing data, and improved tracking of economic growth and performance (economic measurement). This working paper distills the discussions and our analysis and research. We recommend that FCAI governments, stakeholders, and other likeminded entities prioritize cooperative R&D efforts on (1) deployment of AI as a tool for climate change monitoring and management and (2) accelerating development and adoption of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs).

Download the full report


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