It’s Just Common Sense, We Need To Protect Our Kids Online

I attended an informal presentation last week from Jim Steyer, founder, and CEO of Common Sense Media. I joined the advisory council for the Arizona affiliate a few months ago, and this was a chance to hear an update on what the organization has been doing nationwide and right here at home.

Common Sense is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing trustworthy information and education on all things digital. Recognizing that most online platforms were not built with kids in mind, Common Sense’s mission is to make the digital world better for kids and families.

Earlier this year, two surveys explored voters and young people’s current concerns, their hopes for the future, and the solutions that they believe can make real change. The main takeaway was that the online space needs to be safer — primarily for kids.

For more than 20 years, Common Sense has been helping parents, educators, policymakers, industry leaders, and others, understand just how important it is to put kids and families first when it comes to building a safer, healthier digital landscape. The results of the surveys support that perspective — voters across the country agree we need more policies in place that improve the lives of kids and families.

One issue that is top-of-mind is the availability of AI. According to Steyer, “Time and again, tech companies have put profits before the well-being of families and our fundamental democratic norms. We have seen this before, with the emergence of social media and the subsequent failure to regulate those platforms. Quite simply, we must not make the same mistakes with AI, which will have even greater consequences for our children and broader society.”

The framework for Common Sense Media’s AI ratings and reviews was created with input from some of the world’s leading experts in the field of artificial intelligence, with the goal of creating a “nutrition” label for each AI product. The ratings system will evaluate products according to the context in which they are used and will illuminate areas of both opportunity and harm against a set of “Common Sense AI Principles.”

These principles include:

  1. Put People First: Does the product respect human rights and children’s rights, as well as identity, integrity, and human dignity? Does it support human agency with human-in-the-loop and adults (parents, guardians, educators)-in-the-loop models?
  2. Promote Learning: Is the product centered on the needs of individual students (including linguistically diverse students and students with disabilities)? Is it aligned with content standards? Does it foster a love of learning?
  3. Prioritize Fairness: Does the product prioritize equitable sharing of the benefits of artificial intelligence, with a goal of eliminating unfair bias in development and use of AI systems?
  4. Help People Connect: Does the product foster meaningful human contact and interpersonal connection? It should not incite hatred against an individual or group, dehumanize individuals or groups, or employ racial, religious, misogynist, or other slurs and stereotypes that incite or promote hatred.
  5. Be Trustworthy: Does the product perpetuate misinformation or disinformation? Does it avoid contradicting well-established expert consensus and the promotion of theories that are demonstrably false or outdated?
  6. Defend Privacy: Does the product protect data? Does it comply with best practices related to data and privacy, and does it provide appropriate transparency and control over the use of data?
  7. Keep Kids and Teens Safe: Does the product protect children’s safety, health, and well-being, regardless of whether the product is intended to be used by them?
  8. Be Transparent and Accountable: Does the product provide mechanisms for feedback, moderation tools for adults, or notification tools that flag potentially harmful content?

There is a tremendous opportunity to do better with AI than what happened/is happening with other technology platforms. It just makes sense, right?

Photo Credit: Ilana Lowery

Written by
at Mar 14, 2024

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