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The global landscape of AI ethics guidelines


In the past five years, private companies, research institutions and public sector organizations have issued principles and guidelines for ethical artificial intelligence (AI). However, despite an apparent agreement that AI should be ‘ethical’, there is debate about both what constitutes ‘ethical AI’ and which ethical requirements, technical standards and best practices are needed for its realization. To investigate whether a global agreement on these questions is emerging, we mapped and analysed the current corpus of principles and guidelines on ethical AI. Our results reveal a global convergence emerging around five ethical principles (transparency, justice and fairness, non-maleficence, responsibility and privacy), with substantive divergence in relation to how these principles are interpreted, why they are deemed important, what issue, domain or actors they pertain to, and how they should be implemented. Our findings highlight the importance of integrating guideline-development efforts with substantive ethical analysis and adequate implementation strategies.

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Fig. 1: PRISMA-based flowchart of retrieval process.
Fig. 2: Geographic distribution of issuers of ethical AI guidelines by number of documents released.

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The authors would like to thank J. Sleigh for her help with creating the colour-coded map.

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E.V. conceived the research; A.J., M.I. and E.V. designed the research; A.J. performed the research; A.J. and M.I. analysed the data; A.J., M.I. and E.V. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Effy Vayena.

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Jobin, A., Ienca, M. & Vayena, E. The global landscape of AI ethics guidelines. Nat Mach Intell 1, 389–399 (2019).

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