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AI4IA Final Conference Report

The ICIE is happy to share the final AI4IA conference report, especially on 10 December 2020, which is Human Rights Day. Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year's theme for Human Rights Day is: Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights, and it also relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Similarly, the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI 2020) was also observed under the global theme, “Saving Lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope”.

The UNESCO Information for All Program (IFAP) Working Group on Information Accessibility (WGIA) hosted the Artificial Intelligence for Information Accessibility, 'AI4IA' online conference on 28 September 2020. This event was held under the auspices of UNESCO IFAP, in observance of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). This event was hosted in collaboration with the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies (KIAS) and AI for Society area at the University of Alberta, Canada, as well as the International Centre for Information Ethics (ICIE).

As stated in the report, the wide ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at every level of society has exposed a number of vulnerabilities in many countries. Nations must, in the short term, re-orientate their policies and legislation within various UNESCO areas of expertise. UNESCO and other intergovernmental organisations must also continue to address inequalities, particularly in terms of information and knowledge management, information accessibility and the challenges of illiteracy in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The following recommendations refer:

Making AI accessible is a collaborative effort between the public sector, private sector and communities. Dialogues with civil society in national, regional and international levels are encouraged to ensure the inclusion of all in issues related to ethics of AI;

  • Communities have an important role to play, we should not underestimate them in this fast-changing and ever evolving world;

  • Cultural diversity must be central in design, roll-out and training of AI and tools towards ensuring information accessibility;

  • In addition to the existing Information Ethics (IE) guidelines for schools and training institutions, specific skills for training of learners in coding should be formulated and creators of algorithms should receive intensive training in Information Ethics. Early childhood education must extend to formal, informal, non-formal education as well as life-long learning;

  • Ethics, transparency, human dignity and the rights of children must be promoted and implemented from the start of the development of any AI systems to their effective use; and

  • Creation of special grants for small and developing countries to reduce technological divide between the South and North, and the inequalities within (such as between rural and urban regions).

There is a need to address these issues and be prepared, not only for a repeat of a global pandemic, but the very real permanent transitions taking place globally. The solution will be hybrid: combining regulation, sanctions, education and reputational pressure.

The full report is available here:

Final AI4IA Conference Report
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