As in other countries, the use of AI has raised some concerns about ethics and data privacy, particularly AI applications that involve facial recognition and surveillance. However, individuals’ privacy need not be sacrificed if technology is implemented properly and related regulations are put into place (for example, Google and Apple are partnering to help establish ‘privacy-preserving’ contact tracing). Towards this end, last year China introduced its Governance Principles for the New Generation Artificial Intelligence to provide guidelines for legal and ethical use of AI. These Principles are considered further in Danit Gal’s essay. When used for public health and social good, such as analysing CT scans, AI algorithms may not need to consider personal information. In other cases, where facial recognition and surveillance of quarantined individuals is involved, balancing privacy with the pressing needs of the health of a vast population might be challenging. This is particularly so in the dire situation of a pandemic, where potentially hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives are at stake. Achieving a greater good for humanity might be more urgent. For example, countries including China, South Korea, Israel and Iran all track citizens’ smartphones to enforce quarantine and to check the movements of people tested positive for the virus.


Andy Chun

Adjunct professor at City University of Hong Kong and council member and convenor of the AI Specialist Group, Hong Kong Computer Society