Generation AI

The Challenge:

AI is increasingly embedded in children’s toys, tools, and classrooms, creating sophisticated new approached to education and child development tailored to the specific needs of each user. However, special precautions must be taken to protect society’s most vulnerable demographic. Germany has banned AI-enabled children’s toys because they are considered to be spying upon the child, while regulators around the world are just starting to grapple with who should own the child’s data, how long it can be stored,whether it should be monitized. Will people suffer consequences for data collected about them as children?

Issues of privacy are compounded by questions about the impact of AI-enabled toys on cognitive development. Is it necessary to protect traditional creative play? Or is early exposure to AI useful for children who will grow up engaging with AI in the workplace? AI enabled devices are increasingly able to manipulate and addict users, to which children are more susceptible. This is particularly salient given the prevalence of bias in AI, to which children are less attuned than adults.

In absence of clear guidelines, parents and caregivers are left to make decisions about products with incomplete information and complex implications on their children’s health and privacy. As these devices come onto the market, stakeholders need to consider the correct mechanisms to protect children whilst enabling the benefits of “precision education”.

The Opportunity:

Comprised of key stakeholders from business, academia, government and civil society, the Generation AI community is committed to designing best practice guidelines and policy measures for the protection of children. These guidelines will encourage the use of AI technology for the benefit of children whilst also protecting their privacy and their lives from the use of AI across that data.

The project will include papers, articles, policy frameworks and work plans that expand on the initial framework and provide a comprehensive vision of how to uphold child rights in the AI age. This project is in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Latest Update:

On 6-7 May 2019, the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its partners UNICEF and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) hosted a workshop in San Francisco on the joint “Generation AI” initiative. This workshop identified deliverables in two key areas: 1) public policy guidelines that direct countries on creating new laws focused on children and 2) a corporate governance charter that guides companies leveraging AI to design their products and services with children in mind.

You can find the report that was generated from the workshop here:

2019 Generation AI Workshop Report

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