Researchers at Oxford University engaged in a conversation with the team at Humans.ai, the creators of the Romanian AI initiative, to explore the potential of AI in enhancing governance
The ION AI robot, the first AI government adviser in the world employed by the Romanian Government to represent the voice of its citizens, has been invited at Oxford University by the Oxford AI Society for a special session of discussions entitled ‘Advancing Governance with AI. Exploring Romania's ION project’, in which the developers of the project presented the technical aspects of the complex solution and the ethical implications of using AI technology to represent citizens’ needs.
ION is an independent research initiative, developed pro bono by the AI and research community in Romania, to collect and represent the wishes and problems of Romanian citizens in front of the government, supporting them to promptly come up with solutions for the most pressing topics. ION leverages state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, natural language processing and complex computer vision techniques to promptly and accurately capture the opinions of Romanian citizens. From a technical perspective, ION leverages AI algorithms and unsupervised learning methods, as well as deep neural networks, which automatically identify topics of interest to the public administration, prioritizing discussion on social media based on their impact on the public sector, and provide decision-makers and lawmakers with a bird’s eye view on the expectations of citizens. ION’s mission is to represent the modern version of the ancient Agora, a link between citizens and decision-makers, where everyone’s voice matters.
“I am delighted for the distinct privilege to present "ION ", the world's first AI counselor to a government to the esteemed members of the Oxford AI Society.”, said Vali Malinoiu, Chief Technology Officer at Humans.ai, the Romanian AI company that initiated development of the ION project.
“In a blend of technology, psychology and artificial intelligence we highlighted the technical aspects of implementing ION, allowing us to showcase the algorithms behind that empower ION to understand emotions, biases, topics and opinions in order to generate meaningful questions as well as different techniques to generate insightful answers from the opinions collected.”, explained Malinoiu. “Additionally we underscored the ethical considerations taken into account in ION's execution and design with a focus on confidentiality informed consent, and non-malfeasance that embodies development efforts of AI researchers, engineers and volunteers that allows ION not only to be technically sound but also ethically considerate.”, Malinoiu added.
ION's output is to disseminate conclusive reports by having the AI process all the messages received through the ion.gov.ro website and through social media. All messages are gathered and reported on anonymously, to ensure the ethical use of the platform and to protect citizens' interests. In addition to the software reporting of the ION web app, the project also has a physical component represented by a robot-type installation, which is able to interact with Romanians at various public events, taking data both from the online environment and through physical interactions with the population.
‘Having the ION project presented to the OxAI community at Oxford was an enriching experience. This Romanian AI initiative spurred engaging discussions among our students and underscored the impact of AI on governance. We explored the potential of the ION project and our participants couldn't get enough of it. We're all excited to see what's next for this game-changing tech!’, said Jessie Jiang, president of the Oxford AI Society.
"Witnessing the ION in action was an absolute delight. Its interactions were seamless, and learning more about the technology behind it was truly eye-opening for me and our society members. I genuinely look forward to following its progress and the profound impact it will have on advancing AI governance worldwide. It's exciting to think about the changes it will bring to our global community.", added Nishen Menerapitiya, member of the Events and Media Team at Oxford AI Society.
THe ION physical prototype was also present to be tested at the Oxford University event, with the support of the Romanian National Post Company, which helped transport the 2m tall robot to the Oxford campuses.
“We are the first postal company to deliver artificial intelligence. And, if we managed to deliver something this important, we can deliver anything. It is a real pride for the Romanian Post Company to be part of the modern history of the achievements of the Romanian state, being directly involved in this constant process of growth and technological development", said Valentin Stefan, the general director of the Romanian National Post Company.