Police-Focused Tech Specialist Establishes AI Ethics Board

“The establishment of such an advisory board suggests a more than token engagement between the stakeholders of new AI-driven policing technologies and the civil and privacy rights advocates who are skeptical of them.”

Police-Focused Tech Specialist Establishes AI Ethics Board

Axon, a tech company specializing in connected solutions for law enforcement, has established an AI Ethics Board to help guide its development of solutions driven by artificial intelligence. The company says its AI Ethics Board will convene twice a year, and will publish one or two annual reports based on the Board’s work.

In announcing the AI Ethics Board, the company explained that its mission is to technological solutions that will ultimately allow police officers to entirely do away with paperwork, with CEO Rick Smith pointing to AI-driven solutions that “will empower police officers to connect with their communities versus being stuck in front of a computer screen doing data entry.” But, Smith says, “We also believe AI research and technology for use in law enforcement must be done ethically and with the public in mind.”

Hence the AI Ethics Board, which features advisors from a range of fields. Members include Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann, NYU School of Law Policing Project Director Barry Friedman, privacy and civil liberties technologist Jeremy Gillula, and incoming President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives Vera Bumpers, among others.

The establishment of such an advisory board suggests a more than token engagement between the stakeholders of new AI-driven policing technologies and the civil and privacy rights advocates who are skeptical of them. Even government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection have held meetings with privacy advocates, in that case over the CBP’s intensifying use of facial recognition for border control; and Axon’s show of good faith in this area suggests there could be a growing awareness in the government-focused tech industry of the need to ensure cutting-edge solutions are not perceived as a serious public threat. Commenting further on the effort, Axon AI and Machine Learning Director Moji Solgi explained, “We take privacy very seriously and address privacy concerns of law enforcement officers and citizens before releasing a product,” adding, “We intend to be transparent with our customers and the general public about these principles and our efforts to adhere to them.”

Axon’s AI Ethics Board held its first meeting on Thursday, and the company says its first report will outline AI development guidelines established in the meeting.