Promoting AI for e-Governance, access to information

Recently, International Day for Universal Access to Information, the Working Group on Information Accessibility (WGIA) of UNESCO’s Information for All Programme (IFAP) hosted its third online AI4IA Conference on Inclusive Artificial Intelligence with topics addressing Information Accessibility.

The conference triggered dynamic discussions on both the benefits and risks of e-Governance and Artificial Intelligence combining panel presentations and interactive conversations among 40 experts.

“With that knowledge we can insist on ethical AI development that focuses on freedom of expression, respects the value of preserving free choice, enables universal access to information, enhances cultural and linguistic diversity, and used in a manner, which respects our right to privacy, while mitigating against disinformation and consumer manipulation,” said Executive Director of the Broadcasting Commission in Jamaica, Cordel Green, who is Chair of the UNESCO-IFAP WGIA.

For Marielza Oliveira, UNESCO Director for Partnerships and Operational Programme Monitoring Communications and Information, IFAP Secretary, “Artificial Intelligence for Information accessibility requires capacities. It is only when citizens are empowered that the full advantage of Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and Access to Information can be harnessed.”

Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office for the Caribbean, Anna Paolini, highlighted that the multistakeholder framework of information access and sharing being elaborated at this conference can help overcome information barriers and could serve as an important addition to the policy toolkit for policymakers in these fields.

UNESCO Regional Adviser for Communication and Information in Southern Africa, Al-Amin Yusuph, on behalf of Lidia Brito, Director for the UNESCO Southern Africa Office, called upon strengthening the capacity of the youth in AI and to promote an active engagement, e-Governance and Access to Information.

Principal, Millwood Hargrave Ltd, Andrea Millwood Hargrave, presented a framework for information access and its main seven initial guiding principles, starting with the conviction that the information ecosystem is transparent, trustworthy and inclusive, and requires the efforts of private and public sector entities as well as the participation of well-informed users.

Monica Desai, Global Head of the Connectivity and Access Policy for Meta, underlined Availability and Affordability of the Internet to be critical as “foundational to access”. Among good practices shared by policy expert, Monica Desai stressed the importance to share technical recommendations for developers to create Accessible applications and to have Accessible settings introduced into new products.

“Organisations representing people with disabilities should be consulted and be a part of the process,” emphasised Monica Desai.

The scope of the discussion touches on various issues including AI localism, ethical digital transformation and the intersection of AI and art, AI Law and AI Ethics.

Participants debated on the challenges and opportunities of accessing information in the digital world, and how to mitigate obstacles to information access and sharing to enable the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in turn, national development strategies. The experts echoed on accessibility and connectivity being key principles to facilitate access to information.

UNESCO-IFAP aims at building inclusive information and knowledge societies by addressing the implications of emerging technologies, which are inherent to technological development such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of things, and algorithmic decision-making.


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