OECD Framework for the Classification of AI Systems: a tool for effective AI policies

The framework helps policy-makers, regulators, legislators and others to assess the opportunities and risks that different types of AI systems present.

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This user-friendly framework that will allow policy makers to classify different types of applied AI systems. It helps distinguish AI applications according to their potential impact on individuals, society and the planet.

This report is the product of the work undertaken by the OECD Network of Experts on AI working group on the Classification of AI.

Why we need to classify AI systems

AI is changing how we learn, work, play, interact and live. Policy makers and others need smart tools to differentiate between the types of AI systems and the impact that they can have on people’s lives, whether good or bad. This covers what AI systems can do but also where and how they do it. For example, facial recognition can be very effective for smartphone security but used in other contexts it can infringe upon human rights.

The OECD.AI Network of Experts developed the OECD Framework for Classifying AI Systems as a tool for policy-makers, regulators, legislators and others so that they can assess the opportunities and risks that different types of AI systems present and to inform their national AI strategies.

The Framework links the technical characteristics of AI with the policy implications set out in the OECD AI Principles.

Ways to use the framework

The framework allows users to zoom in on specific risks that are typical of AI, such as bias, explainability and robustness, yet it is generic in nature. It facilitates nuanced and precise policy debate. The framework can also help develop policies and regulations, since AI system characteristics influence the technical and procedural measures they need for implementation. In particular, the framework provides a baseline framework to help support and advance:
• A common understanding of AI, and metrics
• Registries or inventories of AI systems
• Sector-specific frameworks, e.g. in healthcare
• Risk assessment, incident reporting and risk management

The Framework through a public consultation process to get feedback from as many perspectives and stakeholder groups to improve its relevance and user-friendliness.

Some stakeholder groups who participated include: standards & technical bodies; business; legislators; regulator networks; civil society, consumers and others.

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This project is part of the dedicated Programme on AI in Work, Innovation, Productivity and Skills (AI-WIPS), conducted by the OECD with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).

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