How Switzerland Builds Trust in AI

By: Ayisha Piotti

Artificial Intelligence has been advancing at an exponential rate. However, the transformative power of AI also comes with challenges and concerns. To increase the level of trust in AI and thus support its adoption, Switzerland relies on strong legal fundamentals, and an inclusive, transparent, and business friendly approach.

AI is a force for the good. For businesses, it can increase productivity in areas such as consumer engagement, talent management and supply chain management. It also has the potential to benefit society overall when it comes to healthcare, climate change, or food security.  

At the same time AI raises concerns, especially regarding privacy, cybersecurity, mass surveillance, or manipulation of democracies. As a result, we have seen calls for more transparency and accountability. The question is: How do we build trust in AI?  

In democratic societies, law-making and developing policy frameworks help to find solutions to problems such as the one we are facing with artificial intelligence, and inclusive governance clearly is the right way forward to build trust. 

Having clear rules is also extremely important for businesses. It allows stability and predictability and therefore, secure investments. It reduces complexity and costs, creates a level playing field with competitors, helps to manage reputational risks, and fuels innovation.  

In most well-developed sectors of the economy, rules and regulations already exist. All you need to do is comply with them. However, when you look at AI, regulations are being created and adapted now, and there is a great opportunity to participate in the process. As a business leader, you can ask yourself: What kind of regulatory framework would support my long-term business strategy, and how can I ensure that my vision and input is heard by decision makers?

When it comes to creating new regulations, Switzerland has a slightly different approach compared to the European Union. The Swiss approach is pragmatic, business friendly and tech neutral. There is less emphasis on creating new laws, and more on enforcement and the use of soft law mechanisms such as standards, guidelines and best practices.  Switzerland is also very active in global AI Policy discussions. 

In 2019, the Swiss government looked at different sectors in the economy as well as in the public sector to determine whether there was a need for new regulations in the AI area. The main finding of the report was that there are currently strong legal fundamentals to tackle all challenges of AI. As AI technologies evolve rapidly, whilst the Swiss government isn’t rushing to propose new laws, there is a lot of focus on monitoring, analyzing and discussing with all stakeholders to find solutions and prepare to act swiftly if required.

In Switzerland there are many possibilities for business leaders to get actively involved in strengthening trust and ensuring responsible adoption of AI technologies. One such platform is the RegHorizon and ETH Zurich’s Global AI Policy Summit. The 2023 event is scheduled for November 3 and 4 at ETH Zurich main campus. You can find out more about this global event on the RegHorizon website HERE 


Author: Ayisha Piotti is Managing Partner of Reghorizon and Director of AI Policy, Center for Law & Economics at ETH Zurich