Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to benefit many sectors while it may greatly impact societal structures. For example, it is widely expected that the future of work will be considerably transformed by the ubiquity of AI in this digital era. However, current research remains limited in terms of how AI can positively transform economies and societies, while addressing governance and policy needs, as well as assessing key areas of concern relating to the technology. In order to fill this gap, APRU, United Nations ESCAP and Google have come together to set up a new research network, called, ‘AI for Social Good’, which was officially launched at the start of the Asia-Pacific AI for Social Good Summit in Bangkok on December 13, 2018.
The AI for Social Good network will provide a multi-year platform to enable scholars and experts to collaborate with policymakers to generate evidence and cross-border connections on “AI for Social Good”, while promoting an enabling policy environment at both domestic and international levels.
“ESCAP has a mandate to strengthen the regional technology and innovation agenda through our role as a think tank, policy adviser and convener,” says Armida Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary. “We hope that multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as the ones we are launching here today, will support member States in their efforts to harness technology and innovation in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Although AI’s revolutionary prowess is well known; it is yet to be extensively applied to scale and sustain impact for all in important sectors, such as education and social inclusion. The AI for Social Good collaboration is about supporting policy framework, which ultimately will benefit the population across the Asia Pacific through sharing the best practices and solutions to promote its benefits. This project is a continuation of APRU’s previous Google-collaborated AI research project, namely AI for Everyone: Benefitting from and Building Trust in the Technology.
This project initiative will see scholars across the region developing and publishing a collection of research-based policy recommendation papers to influence the development of policy process to support AI for Social Good. Keio University Vice-President, Jiro Kokuryo, is the academic lead and will be supported by a Steering Committee, bringing together policymakers and experts from across Asia. Policymakers, industry, universities and other stakeholders will convene to utilize the research results to develop partnerships to grow and sustain the use of AI for social good.
“This network will bring together leading academics from around the region to produce research on how to promote the use of AI for social good and how best to manage risks and concerns,” says Kent Walker, Google Senior Vice-President of Global Affairs. “It will also be a forum for these academics to discuss their research with government, civil society and the private sector.”
AI for Social Good project’s first meeting is planned in Tokyo alongside the G20 Summit, while it is planned to hold a second meeting and stakeholder event in Bangkok, Hong Kong or Tokyo, in the winter of 2019-2020. The submitted papers will be collated into a final report to be published in June 2020, and disseminated widely by UNESCAP and Google.