The development and application of artificial intelligence has continued to progress in recent years. The Federal Council therefore made artificial intelligence a core theme of the Digital Switzerland Strategy in 2018 and set up an interdepartmental working group under SERI guidance. In December 2019, this working group published a report showing that Switzerland is well positioned overall to meet the challenges of artificial intelligence. In 2020, the working group drew up guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence within the Federal Administration.
As a basic technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is a key component of the ongoing digitalisation process. It offers considerable potential for innovation and growth and is already being successfully applied in many different areas. However, the challenges posed by the speed of development and extensive application potential of AI remain daunting and have been recognised by the Federal Administration. The federal agencies responsible for this area have already taken steps to address these challenges, as stated in the ‘Challenges of Artificial Intelligence’ report.
Guidelines for the Federal Administration
In order to ensure the coherence of AI-relevant policy across a wide range of different activities, SERI and the working group drafted a set of seven guidelines on the use of AI within the Federal Administration. The Federal Council adopted these guidelines in November 2020, which provide a general frame of reference for federal agencies and external partners entrusted with governmental tasks. The guidelines must be adhered to in the following specific contexts:
- When developing sectoral AI strategies;
- When introducing or adapting specific, sectoral regulations;
- When developing and using AI systems within the Federal Administration;
- When helping to shape the international regulatory framework on AI.
The guidelines are closely based on the broad discussion at national and international level. With the development of these guidelines, the interdepartmental working group on artificial intelligence has now completed its work. The Federal Council has therefore decided to dissolve the working group.
The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) will work with the federal agencies concerned to conduct a regular evaluation of the application and further development of these guidelines. The Digital Switzerland Strategy and the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy for 2021-2024 will serve as a reference framework.
Education and research competence will continue to play an important role in facing AI-related challenges. SERI will therefore craft ERI policy to ensure that stakeholders in the research, education and KTT spheres will receive the training needed to handle their respective digitalisation activities and responsibilities.