3. The Barcelona Declaration

Prompted by the leaders of the B·Debate Luc Steels, ICREA professor at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, and Ramón López de Mantaras, director of the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of Barcelona, those at the event came up with and agreed on the “Barcelona Declaration for proper development and usage of artificial intelligence in Europe”, a manifesto open to new signatories and comments that aims to lay down guidelines for the progress of artificial intelligence. The manifesto reflects the great importance this field will have in the future of the economy and society, as well as concerns about misuse, premature or malicious use of new technology. Based on this foundation, the signatories propose a code of conduct in six points:

  • Prudence: Despite the development of artificial intelligence and its possibilities, many fundamental problems are not yet solved and will require radical breakthroughs and perhaps some issues will never be solved.
  • Reliability: New methods should be verified before they are made available. The new agency for robotics and artificial intelligence created by the European Parliament could potentially take up this task.
  • Accountability: When an artificial intelligence system makes a decision, humans affected by these decisions should be able to get an explanation why the decision has been made. Nevertheless, many techniques that “explain” the internal processes of these systems are still in their infancy.
  • Responsibility: There is growing worry about AI chat-bots and other kinds of automatic messaging systems operating online that are capable of manipulating public opinion. It should be obligatory to state when messages come from an artificial intelligence system.
  • Constrained autonomy: Artificial intelligence systems, when embedded in physical systems like self-driving cars, have the potential to act upon their decisions in the real world. It is necessary to have clear rules constraining their autonomous behavior, as well as clarifying who is responsible for failures.
  • Human role: Enthusiasm for artificial intelligence sometimes gives the impression that human intelligence is no longer needed. This is a very serious mistake. All AI systems depend on human intelligence, so human expertise should continue to be taught, developed and exercised.

Finally, given the growing importance of artificial intelligence in maintaining a competitive economy, the signatories call on European funding agencies and companies to invest in the development of AI at a scale adequate to the challenge, creating the conditions to promote entrepreneurship. Plus, they highlight the importance of developing open resources, available as a common infrastructure on which specific applications are built.