Three New IEEE Standards for Making Autonomous and Intelligent Systems Safer

They cover fail-safe designs and address the subtle ways that robots can influence human behavior

2 February 2018

A lot of recent discussion has focused on whether technology companies, like Apple, bear the responsibility for harmful effects on society of their handheld and computer products. Similar concerns are now being raised about the unintended consequences of autonomous and intelligent systems such as self-driving cars, intelligent digital assistants, and androids.

To that end, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is working on three new projects. They are the latest additions to the IEEE P7000 standards family, which supports a principal goal of IEEE to prioritize ethical concerns and human well-being in the development of standards that address all aspects of autonomous and intelligent technologies. The standards were inspired by work being done by the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.

The efforts “are of utmost urgency to ensure all stakeholders are afforded the peace of mind to know these systems have been well thought out and incorporate the globally accepted ethical considerations at the heart of these technologies,” Konstantinos Karachalios, managing director of IEEE-SA, said in a news release.

“Numerous IEEE activities are already engaging industry, academia, and other stakeholders to create a broad and open forum for discussion and collaboration on standards and technology advances related to autonomous and intelligent systems,” adds Ljiljana Trajkovic, IEEE Division X delegate-elect/director-elect. “They all agree that we should act now to assure that humans and human well-being are carefully considered.”

Here are the three approved standards projects.

  • IEEE P7008

    The “Standard for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent, and Autonomous Systems” addresses those overt or hidden suggestions known as a robot’s nudges, designed to influence human behavior or emotions—which demand transparency and clarity to ensure systems support consent and well-being versus manipulation. Sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, P7008 delineates the concepts, functions, and benefits necessary to ensure ethically driven methods in accordance with worldwide ethics and moral theories.

  • IEEE P7009

    Sponsored by the IEEE Reliability Society, the “Standard for Fail-Safe Design of Autonomous and Semi-Autonomous Systems” will provide a basis for developers to design robust and transparent fail-safe mechanisms for increased accountability. P7009 also will establish procedures for measuring, testing, and certifying a system’s ability to fail safely, along with instructions for improving system performance.

  • IEEE P7010

    Programmers, engineers, and technologists need to consider how the products and services they create can improve human well-being based on more than economic growth and productivity. Sponsored by the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society, the “Well-being Metrics Standard for Ethical Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems” will establish a baseline for aligning the types of objective and subjective metrics from existing global well-being indices to the data and design methodologies that should be analyzed and incorporated by AI programmers.

Learn more about all 11 standards projects underway by visiting the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems website.

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