Context: The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Society Bill, 2023 has sparked controversy among Information Technology (IT) experts. During a session before the National Assembly’s Communication, Information, and Innovation committee, concerns were raised regarding the potential negative impact of the bill if enacted in its current form.
- Lack of Stakeholder Consultation: IT experts argue that stakeholders in the AI and Robotics space were not consulted during the formulation of the bill. This lack of consultation raises doubts about the bill’s comprehensiveness and effectiveness in addressing industry needs.
- Poor Drafting and Legal Framework: The bill is criticized for its poor drafting and lack of a comprehensive legal framework to govern AI and robotics. Experts highlight the absence of policies and clarity on critical issues such as the role of women in AI, integration into academic curricula, and the revision of university programs.
- Ambiguity in Addressing AI Issues: Despite its title, the bill primarily focuses on regulating the robotics sector rather than addressing key issues related to artificial intelligence. Experts express concerns about the bill’s failure to provide adequate provisions for the development and regulation of AI technologies.
- Lack of Infrastructure and Data: Kenya is noted to lack publicly available datasets for AI development and a legal framework to govern emerging technologies. The absence of necessary infrastructure and regulations poses significant challenges to the effective implementation of AI initiatives.
Response from Parliament:
The concerns raised by IT experts will be considered during public participation in the bill. The committee emphasizes the need for an overarching law that balances innovation with risk mitigation in the AI and Robotics sectors.
The debate surrounding the Robotics and AI Society Bill underscores the importance of thorough stakeholder consultation and the development of comprehensive legal frameworks to govern emerging technologies. Addressing the concerns raised by IT experts is crucial to ensuring the effective regulation and promotion of innovation in the AI and robotics industry.