PETALING JAYA: With the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the medical, engineering and financial sectors among others, National Association of Educational Institutions secretary-general Dr Teh Choon Jin has called for its technology development and deployment to be regulated.
Teh, who is also senior director and registrar of the Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, said the rapid advancement of AI has brought transformative changes to numerous industries.
He said this necessitates a delicate balance between innovation and ethical considerations.
“AI’s ability to make independent decisions raises concerns about the fairness and transparency of algorithms.
“Hence, government regulations should require transparency in the decision-making process and demand accountability throughout AI development.”
Teh added that privacy and safety standards are paramount, which is why the government must lead in implementing legislation that safeguards individual privacy rights while still facilitating technological progress.
“This calls for comprehensive regulations that strike a balance between fostering innovation and protecting privacy.”
Teh also said developing effective AI in Malaysia is a multifaceted task.
One key challenge is the need to align regulatory frameworks with the rapidly evolving AI landscape.
“Malaysia faces the task of ensuring that its regulations remain up to date with the fast paced developments in AI, such as the implementation of guidelines for digital investment management companies by the Securities Commission to address algorithm understanding, risk profiles and data security.”
He said the lack of global uniformity in AI regulations presents a significant hurdle as well, adding that Malaysia must navigate through the differences in regulatory approaches among countries.
“Data privacy and security is another critical aspect that necessitates robust regulation.”
Teh said with increasing reliance on data for AI applications, Malaysia faces the challenge of balancing the need for data-driven AI innovation with the protection of individual privacy rights, as demonstrated by the implementation of the Personal Data Protection Act.
He added that the foundation of AI regulations is expected to be established by next year, which will include the formulation of a code of ethics and governance.
He said the effort aligns with the National Artificial Intelligence Roadmap 2021-2025, which encompasses the seven principles of responsible AI.
“These serve as guidelines for the development of trustworthy and responsible AI, prioritising the protection of individual rights and privacy.”
Teh said it is also important to recognise that standards and legislation should complement each other.
He said the Home Ministry launched the National Integrated Immigration System project, replacing the existing system with a more sophisticated one equipped with AI technology.
Additionally, the Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy 2020-2024, initiated by the National Cyber Security Agency, is a comprehensive plan to enhance cybersecurity, including AI-related security measures.
“This reflects the government’s commitment to securing cyberspace while fostering economic prosperity.”
However, Malaysian Employers Federation president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said AI usage should not be overregulated as that could stifle its adoption by businesses and society, and negatively impact the growth and competitiveness of businesses.
He said stringent AI regulations could pose challenges for businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).
“Compliance is costly and time-consuming, with larger companies better equipped to bear the financial burden.
“This puts MSME at a disadvantage, hindering their ability to compete.”
Syed Hussain added that the government must balance consumer interests with the need to support MSME, ensuring regulations promote growth and competitiveness without imposing excessive burdens.
“In Malaysia, 62% (of the population) fear AI will replace their jobs, significantly higher than the global average of 36%,” he said.
He advised the people to focus on upskilling and reskilling to keep their skills in tune with their employers’ needs, ensuring job security.