The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and its core members in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development hosted a meeting and a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.
The Deep Learning Indaba 2023 featured a dynamic workshop titled “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs.” The workshop aimed to foster collaboration among AI researchers and practitioners to address the challenges posed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Held at the Indaba, this workshop brought together Indaba attendees from diverse backgrounds to discuss, share insights, and develop strategies for harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to advance the SDGs.
Key workshop Themes and Discussions:
- The Role of AI in SDGs: The workshop began with an exploration of the fundamental role AI can play in achieving the SDGs. Participants discussed how AI can be applied to areas such as healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, and climate change mitigation. The consensus was that AI has immense potential to drive progress in these critical areas.
- Challenges and Ethical Considerations: A substantial part of the workshop focused on the challenges and ethical considerations associated with AI in SDG-related projects. Concerns related to bias in AI algorithms, data privacy, and transparency were addressed. Participants stressed the importance of adhering to ethical AI principles to avoid exacerbating existing inequalities.
- Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: The workshop emphasized the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration. It highlighted that addressing the complex challenges of the SDGs requires expertise from various fields, including computer science, social sciences, and policy-making. Building a global network of researchers from these diverse backgrounds was recognized as essential.
- Data Sharing and Accessibility: Ensuring access to high-quality data emerged as a critical issue. Participants discussed the importance of open data sharing initiatives and the development of AI models that can work with limited data resources, especially in underserved regions.
- Policy and Advocacy: Policymaking and advocacy for AI in SDG implementation were also key topics. Participants discussed the importance of influencing policy frameworks to ensure AI is used responsibly to advance the SDGs. Advocacy efforts and partnerships with governments and international organizations were encouraged.
The “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” workshop at Deep Learning Indaba 2023 provided a platform for robust discussions and concrete actions. It underscored the importance of AI in addressing the SDGs and the need for interdisciplinary collaboration, ethical considerations, and responsible policymaking. The outcomes of the workshop pave the way for a more coordinated and impactful approach to utilizing AI for sustainable development globally.