Artificial intelligence and open data

Fecha de la noticia: 29-04-2019


In the policies promoted by the European Union, an intimate connection between artificial intelligence and open data has been considered. In this regard, as we highlighted, open data is essential for the proper functioning of artificial intelligence, since the algorithms must be fed by data whose quality and availability is essential for its continuous improvement, as well as to audit its correct operation.

Artificial intelligence entails an increase in the sophistication of data processing, since it requires greater precision, updating and quality, which, on the other hand, must be obtained from very diverse sources to increase the quality of the algorithms results. Likewise, an added difficulty is the fact that processing is carried out in an automated way and must offer precise answers immediately to face changing circumstances. Therefore, a dynamic perspective that justifies the need for data -not only to be offered in open and machine-readable format, but also with the highest levels of precision and disaggregation- is needed.

This requirement acquires a special importance as regards the accessibility of the data generated by the public sector, undoubtedly one of the main sources for algorithms due to both the large number of available data sets and the special interest of the subjects, especially public services. In this regard, apart from the need to overcome the inadequacies of the current legal framework regarding the limited scope of the obligations imposed on public entities, it is convenient to assess what extent the legal conditions in which data are offered serve to streamline the development of applications based on artificial intelligence.

Thus, in the first place, article 5.3 of the Law states categorically that "public sector administrations and organizations may not be required to maintain the production and storage of a certain type of document focused on its reuse". Taking into account this legal forecast, the aforementioned entities can rely on the absence of an obligation to guarantee the supply of data indefinitely. Also in the limitation of liability contemplated by some provisions when stating that the use of the data will be carried out under the responsibility and risk of the users or reuser agents or, even, the exoneration for any error or omission that is determined by the incorrectness of the data itself. However, it is an interpretation whose effective scope in each specific case has to be contrasted with the demanding European regulation related to the scope of the obligations and the protection channels, in particular after the reform that took place in the year 2013.

Beyond an approach based on strict regulatory compliance from a restrictive interpretation, the truth is that the need to offer open data policies for the public sector to meet the unique demands of artificial intelligence requires a proactive approach. In this sense, the interaction between public and private subjects in contexts of systematic data measurements and collection, continuously updated from generalized connections - as is the case of smart city initiatives - places us in front of a technological scenario where active contractual management policies acquire a special importance in order to overcome the barriers and legal difficulties for its opening. In fact, municipal public services are often provided by private parties that are outside the reuse regulations and, in addition, data are not always obtained from services or objects managed by public entities; even in spite of the general interest underlying in areas such as electricity supply, the provision of telephony and electronic communications services, or even financial services.

For this reason, the initiative launched by the European Union in 2017 acquires a singular importance from the perspective of artificial intelligence, since it aims to overcome a large part of the legal restrictions currently in place for data opening. In the same sense, the Spanish Strategy of R & D in Artificial Intelligence, recently presented by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, considers as one of its priorities the development of a digital data ecosystem whose measures include the need to guarantee an optimal use of open data, as well as the creation of a National Data Institute in charge of the governance of the data coming from the different levels of the Public Administration. Likewise, in line with the European initiative previously referred, among other measures, there is a need to expand the sharing obligations of up to certain private entities and scientific data, which would undoubtedly have a relevant impact on the better functioning of the algorithms.

The technological singularity that Artificial Intelligence poses requires, without a doubt, an adequate ethical and legal framework that allows facing the challenges that it entails. The new Directive on open data and reuse of public sector information recently approved by the European Parliament will be a strong impulse for artificial intelligence, as this initiative will expand both the obligated parties and the type of data that will have to be available. Undoubtedly a certainly relevant measure, which will be followed by many others within the framework of the European Union's strategy on Artificial Intelligence, one of whose main premises is to ensure an adequate regulatory framework to facilitate technological innovation based on respect for fundamental rights and the ethical principles.

Content prepared by Julián Valero, professor at the University of Murcia and Coordinator of the Research Group "Innovation, Law and Technology" (iDerTec).

Contents and points of view expressed in this publication are the exclusive responsibility of its author.