Ori Freiman, Ph.D.

Responsible Implementation of Emerging Technology  -  Policy, Research & Strategy


Trust and Technology | Central Bank Digital Currency| | Responsible AI, Policy & Ethics | Conversational AIs

I am a Post-Doctoral Fellow at McMaster University's Digital Society Lab and at
the Centre for International Governance Innovation's Digital Policy Hub. 

My formal academic background is in Analytic Philosophy, Library & Information Science, and Science & Technology Studies. Until September 22', I was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Ethics of AI Lab, at the University of Toronto's Centre for Ethics. I research at the intersection of technology, democracy, and social change. 

I am deeply committed to using my expertise to promote democratic values and a more just and fair society. Additionally, if you are working with an NGO and interested in organizing a presentation and discussion (free, of course) - please do not hesitate to reach out.

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January 2023:

More details: I argued that while the Bank of Israel is doing an excellent job regarding international collaboration, researching economic models, experimenting with technologies, and so forth - they have no ability or authority to research and deal with the potential democratic consequences of implementing Retail CBDC. So far, the Bank of Israel has been a pioneer and has led this project alone. It is crucial that others will now join. If the Digital Shekel project goes on, and we wish to implement it responsibly, we must:

➜fully acknowledge that it is not only a technological issue but also a political one;

➜re-think existing checks and balances throughout all state systems, and mitigate structural risks to democracy;

➜draw clear red lines of what will be possible, by who, and what not;

➜ensure the central bank's independence is kept in this new terrain;

➜constantly involve democratic values, such as maintaining financial privacy and serving the prosperity of all, in all design and implementation stages;

➜be more inclusive by going beyond the banking and tech sectors - to civil society organizations, academia, mainstream media, and especially citizens.

My presentation is available here


December 2022:

More details: In late October, the Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology published the document "Principles of Policy, Regulation and Ethics in the Field of AI" for public comments. Here's the TL;DR of our response:

➜soft regulation, self-regulation and ethical principles are far from enough; 

➜we have to design enforceable laws that clearly define red lines, warning Israel to become 'the backyard' of AI-related experiments;

➜Israeli regulation should be more in line with international efforts, especially those of the European Union; and

➜we advocate for a hybrid approach that maintains the human rights *and* risk-based frameworks; and argue that proper regulation must combine horizontal *and* sector-specific regulations.


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June 2022:

Following the publication of numerous ethical principles and guidelines, the concept of 'Trustworthy AI' has become widely used. However, several trust scholars and AI ethicists argue against using this concept. It has been labelled as a "misnomer", "conceptual misunderstanding", and "conceptual nonsense". Instead, they often suggest shifting our paradigm from 'Trustworthy AI' to 'Reliable AI'. I explain exactly why and review existing criticisms about using the concept of 'Trustworthy AI'. Ultimately, ignoring the criticisms will likely lead to mistrusting non-moral agents. By doing so, AI designers, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders risk attributing responsibilities to agents who cannot be held responsible, and consequently, deteriorate social structures which regard accountability and liability. I argue that, realistically, the concept of 'Trustworthy AI' has already been widely adopted by the AI community - industry, civil society, policymakers, and academic researchers. Therefore, it is not likely that the paradigm will be shifted. If we wish to be practical, we should adopt a view of the field of AI Ethics as focusing on power, social justice, and scholarly activism. I suggest that community-driven and social justice-oriented ethicists of AI and trust scholars draw attention to critical social aspects highlighted by phenomena of distrust and focus on democratic aspects of trust formation. This way, it will be possible to further reveal shifts in power relations, challenge unfair status quos, and suggest meaningful ways to keep the interests of citizens in the era of the conceptual nonsense 'Trustworthy AI'.

 

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I present what central bank digital currency (CBDC) is and how this new currency is different from the digital digits we see in credit card statements and bank accounts. First, I discuss the significant benefits of implementing CBDC and share some of the open technical decisions that designers of the system face. Afterwards, I focus on its development and implementation motivations - innovation from the fintech sector, and risk and competition from decentralized cryptocurrencies, centralized stablecoins, and currencies of other nations. Finally, I identify six categories of ethical concerns related to CBDC. My main argument is that using data from such a system leaves the door open for authorities to influence social norms through surveilling and controlling financial activities. Therefore, even in liberal democracies, giving up on financial privacy - the ability to trade without any third party involved - not only leads to the loss of anonymity but also to a constant risk of losing freedom.


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