About JTC 1/SC 42 Artificial intelligence

Posted by on May 30, 2018 in News | 0 comments

By W. Diab, Chair JTC 1/SC 42

Why are standards important for Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an enabling horizontal technology. Many industry experts and analysts believe that the rapid growth in AI will enable the next digital transformation. While the field of AI is not new, an international standards committee looking at the entire AI ecosystem is a recent development.

To get a better picture of why standards in this area are important, it is helpful to identify the diverse stakeholders involved that include research, academia, industry, practitioners, policy makers, ethics advocates and more. Moreover, the application areas of AI technology are equally as diverse and numerous. These include consumer, industrial and commercial amongst others. To use the industrial sector as an example, we are seeing IT become more pervasive in the various industry verticals, including manufacturing, healthcare, robotics, and financial. To enable mass deployment and adoption of AI in these fields, standards are required. For example, on the foundational side, having common terminology that can be used by all stakeholders enables clear communication and sound decision making. Gathering use cases, their requirements and best practices for application of the technology will guide technology development. Like other transformational IT technologies, AI will be pervasive, thus addressing issues of trustworthiness from the get-go is needed. Finally, looking at the core of AI, standardization of algorithms and computational techniques will allow a higher level of adoption, use and interoperability.

What is ISO/IEC JTC1’s role in Artificial Intelligence standards? What part is SC 42 playing?

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42 is the first of its kind international standards committee that is looking at the entire AI ecosystem. JTC 1 had the foresight to identify this area as a key field for IT standardization. In the creation of JTC 1/SC 42, JTC 1 scoped SC 42 to be a systems integration entity to work with other ISO, IEC and JTC 1 committees looking at AI applications. This is captured in the second bullet of JTC 1/SC 42’s scope, which reads:

Standardization in the area of Artificial Intelligence

  • Serve as the focus and proponent for JTC 1’s standardization program on Artificial Intelligence
  • Provide guidance to JTC 1, IEC, and ISO committees developing Artificial Intelligence applications

Mr. Wael William Diab was appointed as the Chairperson of the committee and Ms Heather Benko (ANSI) was appointed as the Secretariat.

From SC 42’s perspective, we serve as the focal point for AI standardization within JTC 1 and are embracing our role as a systems integration entity.

What is ahead for SC 42 in the next couple of years?

We have a lot to do. Our stakeholders include research, academia, industry, practitioners, policy makers, ethics advocates and more. AI, and by extension SC 42, is an emerging ICT area that is capturing mindshare around the world. The tremendous interest in AI is reflected by the membership of SC 42. SC 42 brings together 18 p-members and 6 o-members. At its inaugural meeting, held in Beijing, China, about 90 delegates attended from 15 p-members and 2 o-members. To address the anticipated program of work, the committee, during its inaugural meeting, setup the following structure to deal with the diverse work program it is embarking on:

  • foundational standards working group
  • computational approaches and characteristics of artificial intelligence systems study group
  • trustworthiness study group
  • use cases and applications study group

The foundational standards working group (SC 42/WG 1) will take on the two currently approved projects: Artificial Intelligence Concepts and Terminology ISO/IEC AWI 22989, and Framework for Artificial Intelligence Systems Using Machine Learning ISO/IEC AWI 23053. Mr. Paul Cotton (Canada) was appointed as Convenor of SC 42/WG 1.

With such a diverse set of stakeholders for AI, it is essential to have foundational standards that provide for a framework and common set of vocabulary. Not only does this enable stakeholders of different backgrounds and perspectives to talk the same language, it also sets the stage of how the different stakeholders and technology providers/users interact with one another. Progressing these two foundational standards is a priority of SC 42.

The computational approaches and characteristics of the artificial intelligence systems study group (SC 42/SG 1) will

  • Study different technologies (e.g., ML algorithms, reasoning etc.) used by the AI systems including their properties and characteristics.
  • Study existing specialized AI systems (e.g., NLP or computer vision) to understand and identify their underlying computational approaches, architectures, and characteristics.
  • Study industry practices, processes and methods for the application of AI systems.
  • Develop new work item proposals as appropriate and recommend placement.

Dr. Tangli Liu (China) was appointed as the Convenor of SC 42/SG 1.

At the heart of artificial intelligence are the computational approaches and algorithmic techniques that empower the insights provided by the AI engines.  The advances in ICT, specifically computational power, distributed computing methods and software capability techniques amongst others, allow for what once was science fiction to become science faction. Standardization and best practices in this area are essential to allow for innovation to occur over open standards.

The trustworthiness study group (SC 42/SG 2) will

  • Investigate approaches to establish trust in AI systems through transparency, verifiability, explainability, controllability, etc.
  • Investigate engineering pitfalls and assess typical associated threats and risks to AI systems with their mitigation techniques and methods.
  • Investigate approaches to achieve AI systems’ robustness, resiliency, reliability, accuracy, safety, security, privacy, etc.
  • Investigate types of sources of bias in AI systems with a goal of minimization, including but not limited to statistical bias in AI systems and AI aided decision making.
  • Develop new work item proposals as appropriate and recommend placement.

Dr. David Filip (Ireland) was appointed as Convenor of SC 42/SG 2.

Artificial intelligence is set to join other ICT technologies that have become ubiquitous in our lives. Recognizing this potential for AI, SC 42 took the proactive decision to form a study group to look at trustworthiness and related areas from a system perspective (such as robustness, resiliency, reliability, accuracy, safety, security, privacy) from the get-go. Leading industry experts in this field believe that one of the essential aspects to wide-spread adoption is the need to address such trustworthiness issues with standards and best practices. JTC 1/SC 42/SG 2 will work to develop new work items proposals in this area.

The use cases and applications study group (SC 42/SG 3) will

  • Identify different AI application domains (e.g., social networks and embedded systems) and the different context of their use (e.g., fintech, health care, smart home, and autonomous cars).
  • Collect representative use cases.
  • Describe applications and use cases using the terminology and concepts defined in ISO/IEC AWI 22989 and ISO/IEC AWI 23053 and extend the terms as necessary.
  • Develop new work item proposals as appropriate and recommend placement.

Dr. Fumihiro Maruyama (Japan) was appointed as Convenor of SC 42/SG 3.

Use cases are the currency by which standards development organizations collaborate with each other. As both the focal point of AI’s role as an enabling horizontal technology and in its role as an AI systems integration entity committee tasked with providing guidance to ISO, IEC and JTC 1 committees looking application areas, it is essential for SC 42 to collaborate with other committees and bring in their use cases. By way of example, use cases provided by other committees looking at different vertical application areas can allow for the distillation of technical requirements that the SC 42 committee can take into account as it drafts its standards, technical reports and best practices.

Moreover, while SC 42 will produce standards, technical reports and best practices that are ubiquitous in their nature from a horizontal technology perspective, there may be a need for producing deliverables that relate to the various applications.

In addition, JTC 1/SC 42 reinforced the decision by JTC 1 that the program of work on Big Data (JTC 1/WG 9) be transferred to JTC 1/SC 42. The JTC 1 and SC 42 leadership are in the process of developing a plan for the best and least disruptive way to move these Big Data projects into SC 42.

JTC 1’s program on Big Data, initiated a few years ago, has initiated two foundational multi-part projects around overview and vocabulary as well as a Big Data Reference Architecture (BDRA). These projects have received tremendous interest from the industry. As we look to the arc of future work, the roadmap for big data aligns well with that of SC 42. Moreover, from a data science perspective, expert participation, use cases and applications, future anticipated work on analytics, and the role of systems integration (working with other ISO, IEC and JTC 1 committees on application areas), the program of work of big data and the initial program of work identified for SC 42 line up well together. From an industry practice point of view, it is hard to imagine applications where one technology is present without the other.

As noted above under SC 42/WG 1, SC 42 currently has two approved projects in the foundational standards area that were assigned to SC 42 when it was created by JTC 1. Nonetheless, it is anticipated that the work program will grow significantly along the lines of the study groups highlighted. Moreover, as the work program and stakeholders expand, SC 42 may bring in new areas and evolve its structure accordingly.

Can you tell us about your experience in developing standards, and why you are interested in Artificial Intelligence?

My own background reflects a mix of business and technical evangelism as well as a love for innovation.[1] [2] I have always been fascinated by emerging technologies and its ability to change how we work, live and play. My experience in standards has included identifying and incubating new standardization areas; leading and participating in standards efforts; building industry ecosystems around emerging standards including collaborating with other SDOs, open source communities, consortia and government agencies; and participating in educational and research activities around standardization.

About two decades ago, I started attending standards committees where I was intrigued by how stakeholders of different backgrounds come together to not only create technical standards but in the process help grow the pie for everyone. As the application of ICT continues to become more ubiquitous across the different application areas, it is my belief that the best innovation occurs over open standards. A lesson that I learned over the years is the importance of collaboration. In the world of standards this means recognizing that no single committee can do it all. SDOs lend themselves very well to that by providing mechanisms, such as liaisons, that allow for collaboration.

In terms of my interest in AI, I have always been fascinated by the topic. The idea of having machines learn and help us live our lives better is something that is hard not to like. It is also a complex topic that brings together stakeholders of very diverse backgrounds and expertise. It is both an honor and rare opportunity to be able to work on a technology area that is at an inflection point in terms of the next digitization wave and can truly change how we live our lives in the future for generations to come.

Are there other organizations or committees also working in this area? What are their relationships to SC 42?

There are a number of organizations that include national, regional, international and industry consortia / industry alliances working on different aspects of AI. While SC 42 is looking at the AI ecosystem from an ICT perspective, it is key that we work with all these different organizations. Moreover, the application areas that both ISO and IEC oversee, which are looking at AI as an enabler for their space, is unparalleled.

At the its inaugural meeting in Beijing, China, earlier this month, SC 42 initiated the establishment of a significant number of diverse liaison relationships both internal (e.g. with ISO, IEC and JTC 1 committees) as well as external (e.g. IEEE). While SC 42 is the first international standards committee to look at the entire ecosystem, its members have recognized the need to collaborate with other premier industry leading committees working on specific aspects of AI as well as those dealing with the application of AI.

At the Digital Conference SXSW in Austin in March this year Tesla-Chef Musk said “Mark my words. AI is much more dangerous than nukes”.  Do you think he is right on that?

AI can mean different things to different people. I was not at SXSW so I cannot comment on the quote as I do not know the context nor the discussion. There are many examples of where science fiction and faction are converging. In many ways, AI fits that bill, in the sense that we can now do things computationally that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Nonetheless, to better understand AI, it is important to also look at how it is being applied. Examples include:

  • AI expert systems are helping healthcare professionals make better decisions for patients with proper trustworthiness measures designed into the system,
  • AI deployment in the industrial manufacturing sector where it is driving higher efficiencies by allowing robots to work alongside human workers with the proper safety measures designed into the system,
  • AI deployment in the financial ecosystem where it is enabling applications that range from asset management that takes into account factors such as the clients risk to fraud detection that reduces false-positives

The above examples are a very small number of use cases and application areas where AI is already being deployed. Not only are the applications more numerous and diverse (e.g. consumer, retail, digital assistants, expert systems such as smart grid, marketing intelligence tools, enterprise etc.), the demand for AI enabled applications both within these sectors and in new ones continues to rise. Recognizing the importance of understanding how AI is and will be used, SC 42 established a use cases and applications study group. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that by 2019 40% of digital transformation initiatives will use AI services, estimates that by 2021 75% of enterprise applications will use AI and is forecasting that cognitive and AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion in 2021 achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.2% over the 2016-2021 forecast period.[3] Taken as a whole, it is hard not to be optimistic about the benefit and positively impactful potential of AI.

Nevertheless, it is healthy to have skepticism of any new technology as this drives to make our selections better and, in the world of standards, more inclusive of all the concerns. ISO, IEC and JTC 1 provide an excellent venue to bring forth views that not only support the topic but also those that reflect such concerns. In fact, SC 42 established a trustworthiness study group to consider some of those issues and concerns. I would encourage anyone interested in AI, regardless of their view, to engage in our committee via their National Body. This broad participation will enhance the quality of the standards SC 42 develops.

[1] My educational background includes BS and MS degrees from Stanford in EE, a BA from Stanford in Economics and an MBA with honors from Wharton

[2] I have authored over 800 patents of which 300+ have been issued with the balance in examination

[3] Refer to https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS43662418

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *