ISO/IEC 42001 – A Milestone in Responsible AI Management


In December 2023, a groundbreaking development emerged in the constantly changing landscape of artificial intelligence (AI). The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) introduced ISO/IEC 42001:2023, a pioneering standard that lays the foundation for Artificial Intelligence Management Systems (AIMS) within organisations. This standard is designed to guide entities engaged in providing or utilising AI-based products and services, fostering responsible development and deployment of AI systems.

Understanding AI Management Systems
At its core, an AI management system, as outlined in ISO/IEC 42001, is a collection of interconnected elements within an organisation. Its purpose is to establish policies, objectives, and processes that ensure the responsible development, provision, or use of AI systems. ISO/IEC 42001 provides specific requirements and guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an AI management system tailored to the unique context of an organisation.

Objectives of ISO/IEC 42001
The ISO/IEC 42001 standard serves as a comprehensive guide for organisations navigating the dynamic realm of AI. It addresses the diverse aspects of artificial intelligence and the myriad applications that organisations may encounter. From risk assessment to effective risk management, the standard offers an integrated approach to overseeing AI projects.

Applicability and Reach
One notable aspect of ISO/IEC 42001 is its broad applicability. Organisations of any size, involved in developing, providing, or using AI-based products or services, can benefit from its guidelines. Whether in the private or public sector, across various industries, or encompassing companies, non-profits, or government agencies, the standard provides a framework applicable to diverse organisational structures.

Benefits of ISO/IEC 42001
The International Organisation for Standardisation highlights several benefits associated with ISO/IEC 42001:

  1. Responsible AI: Ensures ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence.
  2. Reputation Management: Enhances trust in AI applications.
  3. AI Governance: Supports compliance with legal and regulatory standards.
  4. Practical Guidance: Manages AI-specific risks effectively.
  5. Identifying Opportunities: Encourages innovation within a structured framework.

Importance of ISO/IEC 42001
ISO/IEC 42001 stands as the world’s inaugural AI management system standard, offering invaluable guidance in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. It tackles the unique challenges posed by AI, including ethical considerations, transparency, and continuous learning. For organisations, the standard provides a structured approach to balancing innovation with governance, managing risks, and seizing opportunities associated with AI.

The Standard’s Impact
ISO/IEC 42001 has a far-reaching impact, allowing organisations to reassure stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, regulators, and other interested parties. By demonstrating compliance with effective AIMS, organisations signal their commitment to using, developing, and deploying AI responsibly.

Looking Ahead
So what does the future hold for AI standards, NormCyber’s Head of Legal Services, Robert Wassall, comments “Compliance with standards like ISO27000 has become commonplace, organisations may soon find themselves facing similar expectations related to ISO/IEC 42001. This new standard marks a pivotal moment in the responsible evolution of AI management, guiding organisations towards a future where innovation and governance coexist harmoniously.”

Robert wassall

Written by Robert Wassall
Robert Wassall is a solicitor, expert in data protection law and practice and a Data Protection Officer. As Head of Legal Services at NormCyber Robert heads up its Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS) solution and advises organisations across a variety of industries. Robert and his team support them in all matters relating to data protection and its role in fostering trusted, sustainable relationships with their clients, partners and stakeholders.