Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab Postdoctoral Fellow Georgina Curto chaired the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) AI for Good Symposium in Southern Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 5 and 6, 2023. The symposium was the first of a series that will generate bidirectional lines of collaboration between the international AI research community and the vibrant AI for Good research ecosystem in the Global South, including a grassroots movement of young computer scientists focusing on impactful solutions for their local communities.
This first symposium gathered the representation of critical stakeholders in the African AI research ecosystem and specialists in informal settlements, sustainability, and climate change, with whom joint follow-up actions have been defined. The Johannesburg Recommendations for Applied AI and Social Good are to follow. Topics discussed during the symposium included the consultation of local communities in the definition of the goals and design of AI projects, the role of the African culture towards new ways of understanding fundamental AI research, and the need for alternative education models in computer science that can offer accreditation to the fast-growing young African population.
The panels included speakers such as Sibusisiwe Makhanya (Senior Research Manager, IBM Research Africa), Girmaw Abebe Tadesse (Principal Research Scientist and Manager, Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab), Vukosi Marivate (ABSA UP Chair of DATA Science, University of Pretoria), Avishkar Bhoopchand (Senior Research Engineer, DeepMind and Executive Boar and co-General Chair, 2023 Deep Learning Indaba) and Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem (Professor of Philosophy, University of Pretoria; Chair, UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology; Ethics of AI Lead, Center for AI Research; and member of the Advisory Board on AI to the UN Secretary-General).
“Africa is not a topic on the table regarding AI research. Africa is sitting at the discussion table and can lead the movement of applied AI research for social good internationally," said Georgina Curto.