Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming societies around the world, bringing both immense benefits and potential risks. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, it is crucial to develop effective regulatory frameworks to ensure that AI is used safely, responsibly, and ethically. While there is no consensus on the best approach to AI regulation, the United States has taken a significant step forward with its recent Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (Executive Order). This article examines the key provisions of the Executive Order and draws lessons for Nigeria, which is still in the early stages of developing its AI regulatory framework.
2. Overview of AI Technology and its Global Relevance
There are several growing technologies in the constantly changing digital world. Leading the chart is AI, a digital dance of algorithms that lets robots think like humans. Interestingly, AI is seen by experts as a factor of production that has the power to bring forth new growth opportunities and transform how work is done across industries. For example, according to a PWC report, AI might boost the world economy by $15.7 trillion by 2035. With roughly 70% of the worldwide impact from the upcoming AI boom going to China and the US, these two countries are best positioned to profit from it.
As regards its implementation mechanism, to put it simply, AI systems combine sophisticated, iterative processing algorithms with big data sets. It relies on machine learning and deep learning. For machine learning, this is achieved through algorithms that are used to extract patterns and insights from the data they encounter to do this. On the other hand, AI now imitates the neural network of a human brain thanks to a subset of machine learning called deep learning which is capable of deciphering patterns, noise, and sources of uncertainty in the data.
3. AI in Nigeria and the Need for Regulations
The rise of AI in Nigeria underscores the importance of implementing regulation to ensure ethical use, protect privacy, address issues of copyright infringement, address potential societal impacts, and concerns about AI-assisted consumer profiling for targeted advertising. A detailed explanation of theseissues is stated below:
With AI transforming creativity, experts are grappling with how to protect and preserve AI-generated works while building an economy that leverages AI’s potential. The traditional frameworks of copyright and intellectual property law are experiencing unprecedented challenges as the convergence of artistic creation and technical growth grows more complex.Thus, the current legal regime in Nigeria may not have anticipated the emergence of this technology.
No doubt, the vast amount of data that AI systems handle raises questions about data ownership, permission, and security protocols. These questions center around the topic of data privacy. Data consuming companies must determine if they fall under the category of “controller” or “processor” under the Nigerian Data Protection Act 2023 (the NDPA 2023), whether their operations involve “processing of personal data,” and whether they have put in place mechanisms to guarantee compliance with the regulations. This entails a careful assessment of their function, data processing operations, and compliance with legal mandates. The European Union has an opt-in model for data privacy with reference to the Right to Consent. This suggests that only with the clear consent of the data subject can controllers process personal data. Since AI is a programmed system, there are concerns as to whether the data itconsumes can be subject to privacy. In Nigeria for instance, only the data of natural persons are usually protected as defined under the NDPA 2023.
There is a solid reason why advertisers jumped on the AI bandwagon quickly. Campaign success can be significantly impacted by AI as technology develops. Over the past few years, major media companies such as Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft have been gradually incorporating AI capabilities into their platforms. They now prioritize it above all else. Internet marketers may now easily integrate AI into their Pay-Per-Click advancements.
Regardless, using AI for targeted advertising can lead to misleading or deceptive advertisements which results in legal disputes. If legal issues come up, it might be difficult for Nigerian law to determine who bears liability because of lack of consent.
4. A Cursory Look at the Executive Order Regulating AI in the US
While the issues emerging from AI are becoming pronounced around the globe, the United States President on the 30th of October 2023 signed an Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. The executive order regulating AI in the US is a landmark step in managing the risks of compromising the Privacy of Americans who utilize AI. This Order requires that companies report to the federal government about the risks that their systems could aid countries or terrorists to make weapons of mass destruction. The order also seeks to lessen the dangers of “deep fakes” that could swing elections or swindle consumers. The Executive order sets a standard for AI safety and security and the protection of privacy rights for all Americans all over the world.
Furthermore, a highlight of the key provisions of the Executive Order is pertinent. The Executive Order seeks to achieve the following actions:
Notably, with these necessary safeguards put in place, AI can be effectively used to ensure a decline in further infringement on the private data of Americans. The use of AI can, through these measures, be used to develop certain industries in the US such asthe health sector where AI can be used in surgeries and keeping records.
5. Lessons for Nigeria.
Even with the Privacy laws in the United States and Europe, there has been a recurrent call to have a separate framework to regulate AI in certain circumstances. Clearly, Nigeria is still far behind in the global trend of maximizing the use of AI to develop strategic sectors in the country and enacting laws to curb the abuse and misuse of AI for deceptive purposes. There is currently no specific legislation on AI regulation and control in Nigeria.
We encourage Nigeria to take some steps to develop a robust AI regulatory framework such as establishing a dedicated AI regulatory department, for instance, in the National Information Technology Development Agency, conducting a comprehensive AI risk assessment, developing clear guidelines for AI development and deployment, and very importantly, raisingpublic awareness of AI that would help to ensure that the public understands the potential benefits and risks of AI and canparticipate in the development of AI regulations.
The transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) necessitates vigilant regulation to balance its benefits and risks. Examining the US Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy AI provides valuable insights for Nigeria. With issues like copyright infringement, data protection, and AI-assisted consumer profiling looming, Nigeria must urgently formulate a comprehensive regulatory framework. Establishing an AI regulatory agency, conducting risk assessments, and fostering public awareness are vital steps for Nigeria to harness AI’s potential responsibly and ethically.