THE DECLARATION

READING THE DECLARATION
A DECLARATION FOR WHAT PURPOSE?

The Montreal Declaration for responsible AI development has three main objectives:

1. Develop an ethical framework for the development and deployment of AI;

2. Guide the digital transition so everyone benefits from this technological revolution;


3. Open a national and international forum for discussion to collectively achieve equitable, inclusive, and ecologically sustainable AI development.

A DECLARATION OF WHAT?
PRINCIPLES

The Declaration’s first objective consists of identifying the ethical principles and values that promote the fundamental interests of people and groups. These principles applied to the digital and artificial intelligence field remain general and
abstract. To read them correctly, it is important to keep the following points in mind:

  • Although they are presented as a list, there is no hierarchy. The last principle is not less important
    than the first. However, it is possible, depending on the circumstances, to lend more weight to
    one principle than another, or to consider one principle more relevant than another.

  • Although they are diverse, they must be interpreted consistently to prevent any conflict that could prevent them from being applied. As a general rule, the limits of one principle’s application are defined by another principle’s field of application.

  • Although they reflect the moral and political culture of the society in which they were developed, they provide the basis for an intercultural and international dialogue.

  • Although they can be interpreted in different ways, they cannot be interpreted in just any way. It is imperative that the interpretation be coherent.

  • Although these are ethical principles, they can be translated into political language and interpreted in legal fashion.

 

Recommendations were made based on these principles to establish guidelines for the digital transition within the Declaration’s ethical framework. It aims at covering a few key cross-sectorial themes to reflect on the transition towards a society in which AI helps promote the common good: algorithmic governance, digital literacy, digital inclusion of diversity and ecological sustainability.

A DECLARATION FOR WHOM?

The Montreal Declaration is addressed to any person, organization and company that wishes to take part in the responsible development of artificial intelligence, whether it’s to contribute scientifically or technologically, to develop social projects, to elaborate rules (regulations, codes) that apply to it, to be able to contest bad or unwise approaches, or to be able to alert public opinion when necessary. 


It is also addressed to political representatives, whether elected or named, whose citizens expect them to take stock of developing social changes, quickly establish a framework allowing a digital transition that serves the greater good, and anticipate the serious risks presented by AI development.

A DECLARATION ACCORDING TO WHAT METHOD?

The Declaration was born from an inclusive deliberation process that initiates a dialogue between citizens, experts, public officials, industry stakeholders, civil organizations and professional associations. The advantages of this approach are threefold:


1. Collectively mediate AI’s social and ethical controversies;
2. Improve the quality of reflection on responsible AI;
3. Strengthen the legitimacy of the proposals for responsible AI.

The elaboration of principles and recommendations is a co-construction work that involved a variety of participants in public spaces, in the boardrooms of professional organizations, around international expert round tables, in research offices, classrooms or online, always with the same rigor.

AFTER THE DECLARATION?

Because the Declaration concerns a technology which has been steadily progressing since the 1950s, and whose pace of major innovations increases in exponential fashion, it is essential to perceive the Declaration as an open guidance document, to be revised and adapted according to the evolution of knowledge and techniques, as well as user feedback on AI use in society. At the end of the Declaration’s elaboration process, we have reached the starting point for an open and inclusive conversation surrounding the future of humanity being served by artificial intelligence technologies.

 

I wish to sign the Montreal Declaration

for a responsible development of artificial intelligence

 
PREAMBLE

For the first time in human history, it is possible to create autonomous systems capable of performing complex tasks of which natural intelligence alone was thought capable: processing large quantities of information, calculating and predicting, learning and adapting responses to changing situations, and recognizing and classifying objects. Given the immaterial nature of these tasks, and by analogy with human intelligence, we designate these wide-ranging systems under the general name of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence constitutes a major form of scientific and technological progress, which can generate considerable social benefits by improving living conditions and health, facilitating justice, creating wealth, bolstering public safety, and mitigating the impact of human activities on the environment and the climate. Intelligent machines are not limited to performing better calculations than human beings; they can also interact with sentient beings, keep them company and take care of them.

However, the development of artificial intelligence does pose major ethical challenges and social risks. Indeed, intelligent machines can restrict the choices of individuals and groups, lower living standards, disrupt the organization of labor and the job market, influence politics, clash with fundamental rights, exacerbate social and economic inequalities, and affect ecosystems, the climate and the environment. Although scientific progress, and living in a society, always carry a risk, it is up to the citizens to determine the moral and political ends that give meaning to the risks encountered in an uncertain world.

The lower the risks of its deployment, the greater the benefits of artificial intelligence will be. The first danger of artificial intelligence development consists in giving the illusion that we can master the future through calculations. Reducing society to a series of numbers and ruling it through algorithmic procedures is an old pipe dream that still drives human ambitions. But when it comes to human affairs, tomorrow rarely resembles today, and numbers cannot determine what has moral value, nor what is socially desirable.  

The principles of the current declaration are like points on a moral compass that will help guide the development of artificial intelligence toward morally and socially desirable ends. They also offer an ethical framework that promotes internationally recognized human rights in the fields affected by the rollout of artificial intelligence. Taken as a whole, the principles articulated lay the foundation for cultivating social trust toward artificially intelligent systems.

The principles of the current declaration rest on the common belief that human beings seek to grow as social beings endowed with sensations, thoughts and feelings, and strive to fulfill their potential by freely exercising their emotional, moral and intellectual capacities. It is incumbent on the various public and private stakeholders and policymakers at the local, national and international level to ensure that the development and deployment of artificial intelligence are compatible with the protection of fundamental human capacities and goals, and contribute toward their fuller realization. With this goal in mind, one must interpret the proposed principles in a coherent manner, while taking into account the specific social, cultural, political and legal contexts of their application.

 
1- WELL-BEING PRINCIPLE

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





 
2- RESPECT FOR AUTONOMY PRINCIPLE

AIS must be developed and used while respecting people’s autonomy, and with the goal of increasing people’s control over their lives and their surroundings.


1) AIS must allow individuals to fulfill their own moral objectives and their conception of a life worth living. 2) AIS must not be developed or used to impose a particular lifestyle on individuals, whether directly or indirectly, by implementing oppressive surveillance and evaluation or incentive mechanisms. 3) Public institutions must not use AIS to promote or discredit a particular conception of the good life. 4) It is crucial to empower citizens regarding digital technologies by ensuring access to the relevant forms of knowledge, promoting the learning of fundamental skills (digital and media literacy), and fostering the development of critical thinking. 5) AIS must not be developed to spread untrustworthy information, lies, or propaganda, and should be designed with a view to containing their dissemination. 6) The development of AIS must avoid creating dependencies through attention-capturing techniques or the imitation of human characteristics (appearance, voice, etc.) in ways that could cause confusion between AIS and humans.





 
3- PROTECTION OF PRIVACY AND INTIMACY PRINCIPLE

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





4- SOLIDARITY PRINCIPLE
 

The development and use of AIS must contribute to the creation of a just and equitable society.


1) AIS must be designed and trained so as not to create, reinforce, or reproduce discrimination based on — among other things — social, sexual, ethnic, cultural, or religious differences. 2) AIS development must help eliminate relationships of domination between groups and people based on differences of power, wealth, or knowledge. 3) AIS development must produce social and economic benefits for all by reducing social inequalities and vulnerabilities. 4) Industrial AIS development must be compatible with acceptable working conditions at every step of their life cycle, from natural resources extraction to recycling, and including data processing. 5) The digital activity of users of AIS and digital services should be recognized as labor that contributes to the functioning of algorithms and creates value. 6) Access to fundamental resources, knowledge and digital tools must be guaranteed for all. 7) We should support the development of commons algorithms — and of open data needed to train them — and expand their use, as a socially equitable objective.





 
5- DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION PRINCIPLE

AIS must meet intelligibility, justifiability, and accessibility criteria, and must be subjected to democratic scrutiny, debate, and control.


1) AIS processes that make decisions affecting a person’s life, quality of life, or reputation must be intelligible to their creators. 2) The decisions made by AIS affecting a person’s life, quality of life, or reputation should always be justifiable in a language that is understood by the people who use them or who are subjected to the consequences of their use. Justification consists in making transparent the most important factors and parameters shaping the decision, and should take the same form as the justification we would demand of a human making the same kind of decision. 3) The code for algorithms, whether public or private, must always be accessible to the relevant public authorities and stakeholders for verification and control purposes. 4) The discovery of AIS operating errors, unexpected or undesirable effects, security breaches, and data leaks must imperatively be reported to the relevant public authorities, stakeholders, and those affected by the situation. 5) In accordance with the transparency requirement for public decisions, the code for decision-making algorithms used by public authorities must be accessible to all, with the exception of algorithms that present a high risk of serious danger if misused. 6) For public AIS that has a significant impact on the life of citizens, citizens should have the opportunity and skills to deliberate on the social parameters of these AIS, their objectives, and the limits of their use. 7) We must at all times be able to verify that AIS are doing what they were programed for and what they are used for. 8) Any person using a service should know if a decision concerning them or affecting them was made by an AIS. 9) Any user of a service employing chatbots should be able to easily identify whether they are interacting with an AIS or a real person. 10) Artificial intelligence research should remain open and accessible to all.





6- EQUITY PRINCIPLE
 

AIS must meet intelligibility, justifiability, and accessibility criteria, and must be subjected to democratic scrutiny, debate, and control.


1) AIS processes that make decisions affecting a person’s life, quality of life, or reputation must be intelligible to their creators. 2) The decisions made by AIS affecting a person’s life, quality of life, or reputation should always be justifiable in a language that is understood by the people who use them or who are subjected to the consequences of their use. Justification consists in making transparent the most important factors and parameters shaping the decision, and should take the same form as the justification we would demand of a human making the same kind of decision. 3) The code for algorithms, whether public or private, must always be accessible to the relevant public authorities and stakeholders for verification and control purposes. 4) The discovery of AIS operating errors, unexpected or undesirable effects, security breaches, and data leaks must imperatively be reported to the relevant public authorities, stakeholders, and those affected by the situation. 5) In accordance with the transparency requirement for public decisions, the code for decision-making algorithms used by public authorities must be accessible to all, with the exception of algorithms that present a high risk of serious danger if misused. 6) For public AIS that has a significant impact on the life of citizens, citizens should have the opportunity and skills to deliberate on the social parameters of these AIS, their objectives, and the limits of their use. 7) We must at all times be able to verify that AIS are doing what they were programed for and what they are used for. 8) Any person using a service should know if a decision concerning them or affecting them was made by an AIS. 9) Any user of a service employing chatbots should be able to easily identify whether they are interacting with an AIS or a real person. 10) Artificial intelligence research should remain open and accessible to all.





7- DIVERSITY INCLUSION PRINCIPLE
 

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





8- PRUDENCE PRINCIPLE
 

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





9- RESPONSIBILITY PRINCIPLE
 

AIS must be developed and used while respecting people’s autonomy, and with the goal of increasing people’s control over their lives and their surroundings.


1) AIS must allow individuals to fulfill their own moral objectives and their conception of a life worth living. 2) AIS must not be developed or used to impose a particular lifestyle on individuals, whether directly or indirectly, by implementing oppressive surveillance and evaluation or incentive mechanisms. 3) Public institutions must not use AIS to promote or discredit a particular conception of the good life. 4) It is crucial to empower citizens regarding digital technologies by ensuring access to the relevant forms of knowledge, promoting the learning of fundamental skills (digital and media literacy), and fostering the development of critical thinking. 5) AIS must not be developed to spread untrustworthy information, lies, or propaganda, and should be designed with a view to containing their dissemination. 6) The development of AIS must avoid creating dependencies through attention-capturing techniques or the imitation of human characteristics (appearance, voice, etc.) in ways that could cause confusion between AIS and humans.





 
10- SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLE

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





GLOSSARY
 

The development and use of AIS must be carried out so as to ensure a strong environmental sustainability of the planet.


1) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies such as data centers, must aim for the greatest energy efficiency and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions over its entire life cycle. 2) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must aim to generate the least amount of electric and electronic waste and to provide for maintenance, repair, and recycling procedures according to the principles of circular economy. 3) AIS hardware, its digital infrastructure and the relevant objects on which it relies, must minimize our impact on ecosystems and biodiversity at every stage of its life cycle, notably with respect to the extraction of resources and the ultimate disposal of the equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. 4) Public and private actors must support the environmentally responsible development of AIS in order to combat the waste of natural resources and produced goods, build sustainable supply chains and trade, and reduce global pollution.





 
CREDITS

AIS must be developed and used while respecting people’s autonomy, and with the goal of increasing people’s control over their lives and their surroundings.


1) AIS must allow individuals to fulfill their own moral objectives and their conception of a life worth living. 2) AIS must not be developed or used to impose a particular lifestyle on individuals, whether directly or indirectly, by implementing oppressive surveillance and evaluation or incentive mechanisms. 3) Public institutions must not use AIS to promote or discredit a particular conception of the good life. 4) It is crucial to empower citizens regarding digital technologies by ensuring access to the relevant forms of knowledge, promoting the learning of fundamental skills (digital and media literacy), and fostering the development of critical thinking. 5) AIS must not be developed to spread untrustworthy information, lies, or propaganda, and should be designed with a view to containing their dissemination. 6) The development of AIS must avoid creating dependencies through attention-capturing techniques or the imitation of human characteristics (appearance, voice, etc.) in ways that could cause confusion between AIS and humans.





© 2017 Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of AI

Université de Montréal

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