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A panel of five responds to Ansaf Salleb-Aouissi’s keynote speech on the history of AI and building a more inclusive society from a technical perspective.

Charting a Roadmap to Ensure Artificial Intelligence (AI) Benefits All

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Carlos Affonso, director of ITS Rio, addresses attendees from the stage.

AI History and Challenges

The symposium spanned three days: Day One centered around building a shared understanding of the complex concepts of both AI and inclusion and points of intersection; Day Two built on the conceptual foundation laid during the first day’s conversations by identifying specific opportunities, challenges, or solutions; Day Three’s emphasis was on translating the previous two days of discussion into the beginning of an action plan. The symposium also facilitated small-group discussions on more specific topics such as law and governance, design, data and infrastructure, and business models. While most of the event was geared to the attendees from around the world and conducted in English, the symposium also included a public session attended by nearly 400 people, during which different topics (e.g. reimagining a tomorrow, principles of AI, AI and creativity, challenges and opportunities related to AI, youth and the live of tomorrow) were discussed in English and Portuguese.

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Participants Chinmayi Arun, Rehema Baguma, Jennie Bernstein, Nnenna Nwakanma, and Kyung-Sin Park speak on advancing equality in the Global South.
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Mimi Onuoha, artist and researcher at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center moderates a discussion on the design of inclusive algorithms.

Theoretical Framing and Key Questions

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Keynote speaker Nishant Shah, Dean of Research at ArtEZ University of the Arts speaks on inclusion in the age of AI.
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ITS director Ronaldo Lemos addresses the 350 attendees present at the public event held at the end of Day 2.

Top 10 Things to be Talking About Surrounding AI & Inclusive Economic Development

Presented by Felipe Estefan (Omidyar Network)

  1. The economic impact of the data and AI revolutions is not equally distributed by default. We must work to address these inequalities.
  2. The greatest economic opportunities of tomorrow require not just enhancing yesterday but redefining it. AI isn’t solely about optimizing what we did in the past but thinking of what else we can do in the future.
  3. If we pit the drivers of AI against those who would most benefit from it, we will do so at the broader detriment of society. How can we change incentives to avoid this issue?
  4. The current data governance structures benefit those in power. It is those with the resources and ability to leverage AI and data who are most likely to benefit as a result of the increasing pervasiveness of these innovations. How can we introduce greater ethical considerations and better governance into AI and algorithms in other to root out negative consequences and bias?
  5. The future of work needs to look brighter and more inclusive than it does today. As long as a large portion of the population feels like the opportunities and technologies of tomorrow are beyond their reach, we will have failed to fully realize the positive potential of these innovations.
  6. If AI exacerbates, rather than minimizes, the inequities existing in society today, the results could be catastrophic. How can we take a proactive approach to ensuring that AI functions for the public good?
  7. We live in a time in which the failures of unpopular and ineffective political leaders are causing people to question the broader processes and institutions that protect values of good governance and equality. How can AI be applied ethically in a manner in which it can help rebuild the trust between citizens and democratic institutions?
  8. A future in which AI is applied ethically requires collaboration across sectors and stakeholder groups. As such, how can we proactively design collaborative strategies for the application of AI in the pursuit of broader societal benefits?
  9. If we want to ensure that AI does not exacerbate existing power imbalances, it must be made more accessible. How can we redefine the story of AI? How can we de-mystify AI in order to restructure the asymmetry of power?

Research and Action Ideas

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Marc Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, presents a case study on the need to build data commons, data coops, and a large-scale AI & Inclusion social movement.
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ITS director Ronaldo Lemos speaks at the public event on possible future trajectories of Artificial Intelligence.
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The Education & Learning breakout group convenes in the courtyard of the Museum of Tomorrow.

Building the Developer Community and Addressing the Funding Gap

The problem isn’t only AI technology or access to such technology. Participants also discussed the need to improve education in several ways in order to provide fresh ranks of AI developers who are diverse, technically savvy, and mindful of local needs. For example, Kathleen Siminyu, a data scientist at Africa’s Talking, a Kenyan company that provides web APIs that developers can use to access telecommunications functions, explained that girls in Kenya are frequently told to pursue higher education in languages rather than engineering, and often go through high school without ever taking physics or other prerequisites for college engineering degrees.

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Chinmayi Arun, research director at the Center for Communication Governance and assistant professor of law at National Law University in Delhi, moderates the deep dive plenary session on advancing equality in the Global South on Day 1 of the symposium.

Next Steps

As the symposium drew to a close, participants were encouraged to identify actionable next steps. Cluster groups — consisting of about 10 participants each who met each day for small group discussions — highlighted the need to start mapping conferences and key players related to AI and inclusion, particularly those coming from the Global South. The symposium provided a rich set of research questions and action items that could expand existing networks and inspire new collaborations. Urs Gasser, who as executive director of the Berkman Klein Center co-led the international team that organized the conference , called attention to four key questions: (1) How do we incorporate the perspectives of those who cannot participate in AI development and dialogue? (2) What are appropriate oversight mechanisms and how can they be implemented to empower people around the world? (3) To what extent should we be looking for technical solutions for social problems? (4) When it comes to inclusion, do we prioritize an individual or ecosystem-driven approach? Gasser has previously written on the role of law in AI.

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Colin Maclay, Executive Director for the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, moderates the “report back” session where small group moderators shared 2–3 key findings from their sessions.
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The ITS Rio and Berkman Klein Center organizers join together on stage during the final remarks to close out a successful event.

Berkman Klein Center Collection

Insights from the Berkman Klein community about how…

Berkman Klein Center

Written by

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University was founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development.

Berkman Klein Center Collection

Insights from the Berkman Klein community about how technology affects our lives (Opinions expressed reflect the beliefs of individual authors and not the Berkman Klein Center as an institution.)

Berkman Klein Center

Written by

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University was founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development.

Berkman Klein Center Collection

Insights from the Berkman Klein community about how technology affects our lives (Opinions expressed reflect the beliefs of individual authors and not the Berkman Klein Center as an institution.)

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