Artificial Intelligence for good

15 Jun 2017 11:00h - 13:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

Mr Steven Ibaraki (Chair/moderator, opening speaker, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)) began the session with comments about how artificial intelligence (AI) is helping attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs). He added that all stakeholders need to work together to ensure that the benefit of AI reaches all of the humanity. Ibaraki then listed the expectations from AI and its impact on the collective future of humanity. He added that AI has the power to analyse massive amounts of data and solve the great challenges guiding our future. However, he cautioned that also AI impacts economic, cultural, and social aspects of society, with a profound impact on jobs. He noted that AI signifies the extreme convergence of various domains leading to exponential improvement in efficiency. He then invited the participants to take part in the discussion and identify how the international community can make the best use of AI.

Mr Frederic Werner (Senior Communications Officer, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau) pointed out that AI is already at play in many areas of our life, like Facebook’s face recognition, Siri, Cortana, etc. He added that AI is not new, however, it has had an exponential growth in recent years. AI which is now being complemented by other technologies is bringing in huge changes to society. Werner then listed how AI can be used to reach all the SDGs. He noted that the large set of data which the United Nations is in possession of, can be used to address the challenges. He pointed out that the developing world has the most to gain from AI, but that the developing world is lagging behind in AI because of connectivity issues. He also cautioned that AI needs to be developed in an ethical way to ensure that it benefits everyone without creating a digital divide.

Werner then presented the XPRIZE event. He added that XPRIZE is a highly leveraged and incentivised prize that allows entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ideas to tackle emerging challenges. This year, the ITU has partnered with XPRIZE to stimulate innovative ideas on how AI can change the world. The ITU has also partnered with 20 other UN agencies to realise the benefits of AI. He then presented the outcomes from the AI for the Global Good Summit hosted by the ITU earlier this week in Geneva.

Answering a question on how AI is changing media and journalism, Werner added that AI works best for articles based on structured data, particularly on sports and finance. However, other participants were sceptical about AI replacing journalists.

Addressing the issue of fear of technology, Ibaraki added that it is understandable as AI is so pervasive. He recommended a broad range of experts to come together and discuss the implications of AI and called for further discussion on the ethical, legal, and social impact of AI.


by Krishna Kumar Rajamannar