Artificial Intelligence and inclusion

18 Dec 2017 11:45h - 13:15h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 12th Internet Governance Forum]

This session focused on presenting the takeaways from a three-day workshop, which took place in November 2017, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Artificial Intelligence and Inclusion (AI), and opened the conversation to further study on the issues.

The conversation was moderated by Mr Carlos Affonso, (Director of the Rio Institute for Technology and Society (ITS), who briefly introduced the event, as a jointly organised round-table by the ITS and Harvard Berkman Klein Center, through the Network of Internet and Society Centers, and argued for this conversation to continue pushing ideas forward, through diverse and interdisciplinary co-operation.

Ms Malavika Jayaram , Executive Director of the Digital Asia Hub, presented on the two keynotes from the event, and how the different disciplines of the speakers provided diverse perspectives on the idea of algorithms, the mutually reinforcing issues of AI and inclusion, and minimising and preventing discrimination, by moving towards agency and choice. Further, Jayaram pointed at the changing mentality of not just non-technical people learning code to debate AI, but also engineers learning ethics to internalise issues of discrimination.

Ms Chinmayi Arun, Research Director at the Centre for Communication Governance,  expounded on the research questions that arose from the round-table workshop, primarily addressing the concerns of how the Global South is not part of the creation of the architecture under-girding AI, as that brings in a competing perspective to the Global North. Arun emphasised the value of having such conversations and the importance of engaging with the Global South from the beginning.

Mr Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, focused on the solutions emanating from the workshop, highlighting four takeaways. The first is that the perspective adopted is key to what the issues are, from the ecosystem level, down to the individual level. The second takeaway is interdisciplinarity, while the third is that there are technical solutions to social problems and vice versa. Finally, Gasser’s fourth takeaway relates to timing and speed, the urgency behind ‘not missing the window of opportunity’.

Mr Kyung-Sin Park, Executive Director of Open Net Korea, explained how the conversation can move forward by not simply following the same tropes and using AI for the benefit of society. Instead of deepening bias, AI can be used to find discriminatory tendencies in humans. Further, Park argued that as humans, we are not bonded by the result of the algorithms, if it does not suit equitable goals.

Ms Sandra Cortesi, Director of Youth and Media, expanded on the emphasis on youth by offering other areas, outside of education and well-being, such as the future of work, that are important as we look towards the future. Cortesi included skills such as privacy and safety as other tools important to bettering the effect on youth by AI, as well as studying how AI-based technology can enable creativity.

A significant portion of the panel was dedicated to audience interactions, which dealt with varied topics, from law enforcement and participatory design, to the mostly market-based framework of the discussions and regulations and power dynamics. A conversation on the various previous AI and inclusion events showed the progress being made on the topics, while it also noted that AI is now ubiquitous and inconspicuous.

The panellists and audience shared their desire to continue having such conversations, and more events such as the November round-table workshop in Rio, as they can lead to real change.

By David Morar