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Helsinki launches AI register to detail city systems – Cities Today

The City of Helsinki has launched a new Artificial Intelligence Register, which it describes as “a window to the AI systems that the city uses”. It is thought to be one of the first of its kind in the world.

Systems already listed include chatbots that make book recommendations or answer questions about pregnancy, health or parking, as well as an intelligent material management system (IMMS) for the city’s library. The register includes an overview of the AI systems as well as detail on the datasets they use, how data is processed, how inclusion is ensured, risks, and whether the tools have human oversight. The city plans to bring more applications into the register in the coming months.

People can also provide feedback and participate in research related to AI to influence how Helsinki builds AI in the future.

Helsinki says it is committed to “human-centred AI” and the move is part of its objective that AI in public services must operate on the same principles of “responsibility, transparency and security” as other activities of the city.

Trust

Pasi Rautio, a project manager at the City of Helsinki who leads on data, AI and robotic process automation (RPA), said: “The use of artificial intelligence is becoming more common in the world, and its use will also increase in the city’s services in the future, as artificial intelligence becomes more familiar and the city learns more about its applications.

“The wide-ranging utilisation of artificial intelligence is conditional on maintaining trust in the city’s activities. Therefore, the city strives to strengthen this trust with the greatest possible openness. This is why the Artificial Intelligence Register has also been created.”

The Helsinki Artificial Intelligence Register has been implemented in co-operation with the City of Amsterdam, which is launching a corresponding register. Both are being implemented by Saidot, a Finnish company which specialises in transparent, ‘explainable’ AI platforms.

AI registers are expected to become more common elsewhere too. London is developing an Emerging Technologies Charter – a set of criteria that digital innovations should meet if they are deployed in the capital. Earlier this year, New York announced that it would hire its first Algorithms Management and Policy Officer (AMPO) to oversee algorithmic decision-making – a job it believes is unique within urban government.

The University of Helsinki is also launching a new online Ethics of AI course in November for software developers, users of AI applications and decision-makers.

Image: Tifonimages | Dreamstime.com

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