IEEE 7010-2020 Launch Prioritizes Human Well-Being and Environmental Sustainability via Technology


John C. Havens, IEEE 7010 Vice-Chair and Executive Director of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems

Laura Musikanski, IEEE 7010 Chair

We are pleased to announce IEEE 7010-2020, Recommended Practice for Assessing the Impact of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems on Human Well-Being has officially published.

This is the first of thirteen IEEE 70xx series standards to be published. The 70xx series was largely inspired by the volunteers who are a part of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (A/IS). Over seven hundred amazing volunteers created Ethically Aligned Design (EAD) over the course of two years. EAD is a comprehensive report endorsed by IEEE’s Board of Directors that combines a conceptual framework addressing universal human values, data agency, and technical dependability with a set of principles to guide A/IS creators and users through a comprehensive set of recommendations. We thank the Chair of the IEEE Global Initiative, Raja Chatila, the Executive Committee, and all the volunteers who created EAD and who are still working on the rest of the 70xx series. It is an honor to be a part of this global community and IEEE’s extensive well-being and technology efforts.

Redefining Well-Being

One of the chapters of Ethically Aligned Design is focused on well-being. This chapter was inspired by an event called Prioritizing Human Well-being in the Age of Artificial Intelligence held by the IEEE Global Initiative at the European Parliament in Brussels. That event focused on the idea that having triple-bottom-line (“people, planet, and profit”) metrics would be a more holistic and beneficial way to measure and validate the design and output of Artificial Intelligence Systems (AIS – a synonym for A/IS used by the IEEE Global Initiative) than with single-bottom line metrics focused on exponential growth, financial metrics alone. Inspired by that event and the well-being chapter in EAD, a PAR (foundational document for a standard) was created and approved that initiated the IEEE 7010 work. We wish to thank the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society for technical sponsorship of this work.

There is understandable confusion around the term, “well-being” where people tend to think the word is synonymous with a synonym for “happiness.”  But as IEEE 7010 points out, the term is more focused on long-term flourishing, which involves a comprehensive view on what brings a person physical and mental health. As with the triple bottom line approach, for IEEE 7010, well-being is defined to include aspects of the environment. This literally means the ecological surroundings as well as access to education or ability to feel safe. IEEE 7010 also includes and focuses on treatment of how well-being is measured. And what you measure matters – the most common metric or “Key Performance Indicator” for societal success is Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but this wasn’t built to measure the environment or aspects of human mental and physical health.

IEEE 7010 was primarily created to best assist the engineers and data scientists we call “A/IS Creators” with a comprehensive list of “wellbeing Indicators.” The well-being indicators provide a broad set of benchmarks on top of and beyond GDP to help ensure all AIS technologies are not only risk-free, but can knowingly and provably increase human wellbeing and environmental sustainability from principles to purpose.

Raising Standards for Technology to Empower Well-Being

With a working group full of talented, dedicated, and brilliant members, the IEEE 7010 standard emerged from a truly collaborative and open process. The sentiment among working group members all along was that of contributing something monumental while at the same time immediately approachable in its simplicity, applicability and usefulness. Hundreds of hours went into drafting the standard and we wish to thank them for their exhaustive and insightful work.

We are excited to contribute to the next stage of the technological revolution by helping towards an intentional transformation of our societies and lives. Humans have made tremendous steps to better their lot, first with the agricultural revolution, then the industrial revolution, and now the technological revolution. With the challenges we face to our well-being – from our health to our ecosystems with climate change and the myriad of other complexities – we believe that IEEE 7010 will help inspire a future where technology is the solution to a good life – a life worth living for every person on this planet.

Learn more about IEEE 7010-2020 or purchase the standard.

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