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Remaking the World: A Social Contract for the AI Age

Professor Thomas Patterson, Harvard Kennedy School, President of AIWS University wrote one of the many chapters in the book “Remaking the World – the Age of Global Enlightenment”. Here are some sections from his writing:

“Such concerns lead us to conclude that there is a need for a new social contract, one fitted to the AI age and that seeks to maximize the benefits of AI and minimize its exploitation. Without such guidelines, AI entails significant risks to the wellbeing of individuals and nations.

By definition, a social contract is based on the rights and interests of individuals, and what governments and other entities must do and are prohibited from doing to safeguard those rights and interests. Social contract theory begins with the assumption that the power arrangement that individuals would willingly accept is one where they do not know in advance their position in society, whether they will be among its advantaged or disadvantaged members. Reasoning from that assumption, John Locke, one of the first social contract theorists, posited a society that protected life, liberty, and property through lawful restraints on those in power.”

“There should also be an independent organization that would create a system for monitoring governments and firms for their compliance with an AI International Accord (AIIA). Freedom House and other such organizations exist to monitor policies and behaviors in other spheres. These organizations lack formal authority but have the standing to call out noncompliant actors and to identify areas where progress is being made, and where additional progress is most needed. In the case of AIIA, any such organization would have to be structured, staffed, and funded in ways that confer authority and legitimacy on its assessments and judgments. Support for and endorsement of its mission by like-minded nations would also be critical to its success.”