Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


Another approach to AI

Progressively, there are more and more risks associated with computer intelligence, and as a transparent software company we have the responsibility to intervene and protect our users. Recently, Microsoft laid off its entire ethics and society team, the team that taught employees how to make AI tools responsibly. Nextcloud on the other hand, embraces the ethics and challenges that make up today’s AI and aims to take them head on.

The field of AI is moving fast, and many of the new capabilities face ethical and even legal challenges.

For example, there are problems with:

  • Privacy and security of user data
  • Discrimination and biases
  • Energy usage

In particular with neural networks based AI technologies, the mere availability of open source code is no longer enough to be able to say you are in control over your data or that the software is safe or ethical. The set of data and the software used in the training, as well as the availability of the final model are all factors that determine the amount of freedom and control a user has.

Until Hub 3, we succeeded in offering features like related resources, recommended files, our priority inbox and even face and object recognition without reliance on proprietary blobs or third party servers.

Yet, while there is a large community developing ethical, safe and privacy-respecting technologies, there are many other relevant technologies users might want to use. We want to provide users these cutting-edge technologies – but also be transparent. For some use cases, ChatGPT might be a reasonable solution, while for other data, it is paramount to have a local, on-prem, open solution. To differentiate these, we developed an Ethical AI Rating.

Our Ethical AI Rating is designed to give a quick insight into the ethical implications of a particular integration of AI in Nextcloud. We of course still encourage users to look more deeply into the specific solution they use, but hope that this way we simplify the choice for the majority of our users and customers.

I will describe how our Ethical AI rating works, and give a bunch of examples. And, as a bonus, show how it is integrated in Nextcloud and how it can help you get work done - without leaking your data!

I look forward to any feedback you wonderful folks in the audience have.


Photo of Jos Poortvliet Jos Poortvliet