APRU releases AI for Social Good report in partnership with UN ESCAP and Google: Report calls for AI innovation to aid post-COVID recovery

APRU releases AI for Social Good report in partnership with UN ESCAP and Google: Report calls for AI innovation to aid post-COVID recovery

November 10, 2020

Hong Kong, November 10, 2020 – APRU partners with UN ESCAP and Google to launch the AI for Social Good report. This is the third project exploring AI’s impact on Asia-Pacific societies to offer research-based recommendations to policymakers that focus on how AI can empower work towards the 2030 UN Sustainable Development goals.

With COVID-19’s ongoing social and economic fallout, the role of AI is even more pronounced in aiding recovery. Researchers’ insights underpin the report’s recommendations for developing an environment and governance framework conducive to AI for Social Good – a term encompassing increasingly rapid technological changes occurring amidst inequality, the urgent transition to renewable energy and unexpected international tensions.

Chris Tremewan, Secretary General of APRU commented, “APRU members have incredible research depth in the challenges facing this region, from extreme climate events and the global COVID-19 pandemic to complex cross-border problems. Bringing their expertise and AI innovation together in a collective effort will make a powerful contribution to our societies and the health of the planet.”

Jonathan Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation, United Nations ESCAP said, “We designed the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals with a strong commitment to harness AI in support of inclusive and sustainable development while mitigating its risks. Public policies play a critical role in promoting AI for social good while motivating governments to regulate AI development and applications so that they contribute to aspirations of a sustainable future.”

Dan Altman, AI Public Policy, Google shared, “Google and APRU share the belief that AI innovation can meaningfully improve people’s lives. Google introduced the AI for Social Good program to focus our AI expertise on solving humanitarian and environmental challenges. Google is excited to be working with experts across all sectors to create solutions that make the biggest impact.”

The report’s multidisciplinary studies provide the knowledge and perspectives of researchers from Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, India, and Australia. Combining local understanding with international outlook is essential for policymakers to respond with regulation that enables international tech firms to contribute to the common good.

Here are the key recommendations:

  1. Multi-stakeholder governance must push innovation to realize AI’s full potential
  • In addition to overseeing major players controlling data, governance must take manageable risks and conduct controlled testing before large scale tech implementation.
  1. Establish standardized data formats and interoperability
  • Information asymmetries create inequities, therefore standardized data formats and interoperability between systems is critical.
  1. Address data privacy concerns and protect individual dignity
  • Data needs anonymization, encryption, and distributed approaches. Governments must enforce privacy and individual dignity protection. Incorporating the Asian values of altruism in data governance can also help encourage data sharing for the social good.

November is “AI for Social Good Month” featuring investigative discussions, conversations, and policy briefings with leading AI thinkers and doers from Asia and beyond. Sign-up for the Summit here.

Media contact: jack.ng@apru.org / marisa@plug.agency

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