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Promoting AI ethics research in Latin America and the Caribbean

Norberto Andrade is the Global Policy Lead for Digital and AI Ethics.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to imagine a world without AI. As a general-purpose, ubiquitous technology, AI is becoming further embedded into our daily lives, making and supporting decisions that directly affect all of us. From helping us get through traffic to determining whether we get a loan or the opportunity to interview for a job, AI is everywhere and makes an impact on everyone.

As we increasingly delegate to machines those tasks and decisions that used to be done and made by humans, we’re passing on to them the values and norms behind them. The challenges derived from the technical and moral agency that machines are being called to exercise have sparked an explosive interest in AI ethics and governance.

Nonetheless, and despite AI being everywhere and affecting everyone, proposals on how to ethically govern this technology are predominantly coming from a handful of countries and regions in the world. In a recent study that looked at the geographic distribution of institutions that released ethical AI guidelines, the overwhelming majority of such proposals came from the United States and the European Union.

When we look at the scientific research being done to advance the field of AI, the picture is very similar. Most research publications and academic-corporate collaborations in the field of AI are from Europe, North America, and the East Asia and Pacific region. Moreover, such research is predominantly technical in nature — in other words, it is generally detached from social science disciplines.

While the impact of AI is global, its debate has been dominated by a very restricted set of actors. And while the effects and implications of AI are diverse, its study and research are increasingly focused on technical aspects.

Introducing GuIA.ai

To promote novel and different perspectives on AI, expanding its debate to other regions and topics, Facebook joined forces with the Centro de Estudios en Tecnología y Sociedad (CETyS) and the Inter-American Development Bank to support independent research on AI ethics, which culminated in the launch of GuIA.ai.

This project, which gathered 19 researchers and academic experts from Latin America and the Caribbean, resulted in the publication of eight articles and a handbook that guides readers through the issues of ethics, regulation, and the public policy environment for the development and adoption of AI. The academic papers — which touch upon topics as diversified as the impact of AI in the public sector; AI fairness and its legal ramifications; AI national strategies in the region; and country-specific perspectives on social justice and human rights, among others — can be found here.

As opposed to applying values, concepts, and perspectives from other regions without taking into account regional perspectives and particularities, this project advances the study of AI ethics by leveraging and adapting it to the local context and knowledge of underrepresented regions, namely in Latin America and the Caribbean. GuIA.ai plugged into the talent of researchers from the region and provided them with a platform to raise their voice and add their input to this debate.

GuIA.ai brings a fresh and different perspective to the forefront of AI ethics, incorporating and disseminating new AI governance approaches, AI ethical toolkits, and localized takes on issues of fairness and inequality from various regional cultures and traditions. Moreover, this project has paved the way for the launch of similar AI ethics research initiatives from Facebook in India, the Asia Pacific region, and Africa.

It is our hope that this network of researchers continues to expand, enrich, and diversify the study of AI ethics while contributing to comparative projects among researchers from these different regions.

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