Local society should have a broader discussion on the use of Artificial Intelligence – Researcher

Local society should have a broader discussion on the advantages of Artificial Intelligence (AI) use but also its dangers to personal privacy, a European researcher told MNA.

Waltraut Ritter, the Director of Knowledge Dialogues, told MNA that while in Hong Kong and in the European Union there has been an ample discussion on how to protect the privacy of residents from surveillance technology powered by AI, such dialogue is lacking in the Macau SAR.

“Surveillance is, of course, a big topic in Macau, because all the casinos have a large use of video analytics, which has been getting better and better as they can recognize gestures and voice. Normally we think of video analytics of something that juts gets the movement but it has become better and better. It’s becoming harder to avoid surveillance in Macau,” Ms. Ritter told MNA.

Ms. Ritter was in Macau to attend the 28th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence IJCAI 2019, speaking also at an event organised by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce.

In June news agency Bloomberg reported in June that gaming operators in the city were testing facial recognition technology to track and study players’ behaviors and help them gain an edge over the players.

Afterwards, local gaming authorities confirmed that some equipment suppliers were testing facial recognition technology devices in casinos from two to three gaming operators, but that such technology could only be used for security purposes

Ms.Ritter stated that concerns surrounding the collection of surveillance data did not just include the clients but also employees, as employers could use it to monitor work behavior – “being on the phone during work hours – and oversee the productivity of its employees.

“The EU has very strict rules for how to use data, its retention and purposes, there are many more restrictions on data collection and data usage. There’s also much more transparency. As an individual can always check what is happening with your data and if you provided consent,” she told MNA.

Local police authorities have also previously announced plans to install 1,620 ‘Eye in the Sky’ cameras until 2020 in four phases, with some to allow facial recognition scans.

The AI expert noted that in Hong Kong there is a Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data who heads the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, with the EU having implemented a General Data Protection Regulation for all its citizens in 2016.

“In Europe we aim to have human-centric AI. Technology permeates so many sectors of our life, from health to public departments, it affects all aspects of our life. That’s why AI needs a much broader discussion,” she noted.

In Macau, the Office for Personal Data Protection is responsible for supervising and coordinating the public implementation of and compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act, enforced in 2005.

Meanwhile, the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) is responsible for approving and supervising the use of surveillance equipment in casinos.

The researcher mentioned a program by the University of Helsinki who last year announced it would be launching a com­pletely free on­line course with the intention of educating one per cent of Finns to understand what AI and identify the opportunities it has brought.

“Everyone needs to have a basic understanding of AI. We can’t just leave it to the experts,” she added.