Facebook Initiative Aims To Demystify AI By Crowdsourcing Ideas

By Women Love Tech
on 4 July 2020

Facebook recently announced its award recipients of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific region. Among them are proposals from two Australian universities who will each receive funds to further their research in AI.

Their success follows a request for proposals submitted by Facebook’s research division last year, which was made open to academic institutions, think tanks and research groups across the Asia Pacific region.

This is part of a wider initiative with Facebook in partnership with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong.

Through this regional outreach, Facebooks aims to simultaneously crowdsource the best local ideas and accountable practices.

As Raina Yeung, Facebook’s Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, in the Asia Pacific region said, “The latest advancements in AI bring transformational changes to society, and at the same time bring an array of complex ethical questions that must be closely examined”.

Facebook initiative

Winning Australian Proposals from The Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific

Monash academic Professor Robert Sparrow’s approved proposal The uses and abuses of black box AI in emergency medicine highlights issues of concern surrounding AI. The issue, for instance, with black box AI is that it has internal rules and parameters which are opaque to their users. In the field of medicine, particularly emergency medicine, this lack of clarity is dangerous and must be correctly addressed. When decisions are made concerning human lives it is paramount for all involved that transparency exists as to how those choices are being made. For those in intensive care the prospect of receiving lesser attention due to the economic or genetic determinations made by a circuitboard is understandably concerning, as is the risk of technical malfunctions affecting one’s diagnosis.

However one perceives the intrusion of AI into intellectual disciplines requiring tact and discretion, such as law or medicine, the process is ongoing and exponential. While such technologies may not currently match human performance, the constant rate of advancements in AI makes it essentially inevitable that they will do so. With this in mind the process of automation can be seen as something of a passing of the torch from humans to our AI counterparts, both in physical and intellectual fields.

The approved proposal of Doctor Sarah Bankins, of Macquarie University, AI decisions with dignity: promoting interactional justice perceptions, further highlights this shift. In this transitional stage particular care is necessary to ensure AI tools are applied in ways that are equitable and socially conscientious, as the knock-on effects of poor implementation will compound over time. 

AI that can think and act for themselves, often referred to as General Intelligences, the holy grail for AI developers, are still a distant prospect. In the meantime AI researchers have vaulted smaller hurdles. Advances in machine learning, the ability of computer programs to improve autonomously without human input, have paved the way for bleeding edge technologies such as artificial language processing and driverless vehicles. These new tools boast impressive gains to productivity and, as they improve, have the potential to save human lives.

However, despite these advancing capacities such tools can not yet think or act independently, and it remains the role of conscientious human participants to dictate how and where they’re applied. By acting as custodians of our future selves and taking early steps to safeguard the infrastructure of AI against systematic inequity we can work to ensure a brighter future for all, as is Facebook’s stated aim in foregrounding diverse, regional voices in the conversations of ethical practice around AI.

Full List of Facebook’s Research Award Winners

AI decisions with dignity: Promoting interactional justice perceptions
Dr. Sarah Bankins, Prof. Deborah Richards, A/Prof. Paul Formosa, (Macquarie University), Dr. Yannick Griep (Radboud University)

The challenges of implementing AI ethics frameworks in the Asia Pacific
Manju Lasantha Fernando, Ramathi Bandaranayake, Viren Dias, Helani Galpaya, Rohan Samarajiva (LIRNEasia)

Culturally informed pro-social AI regulation and persuasion framework
Dr. Junaid Qadir (Information Technology University of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan), Dr. Amana Raquib (Institute of Business Administration – Karachi, Pakistan)

Ethical challenges on application of AI for the aged care
Dr. Bo Yan, Dr. Priscilla Song, Dr. Chia-Chin Lin (University of Hong Kong)

Ethical technology assessment on AI and internet of things
Dr. Melvin Jabar, Dr. Ma. Elena Chiong Javier (De La Salle University), Mr. Jun Motomura (Meio University), Dr. Penchan Sherer (Mahidol University)

Operationalizing information fiduciaries for AI governance
Yap Jia Qing, Ong Yuan Zheng Lenon, Elizaveta Shesterneva, Riyanka Roy Choudhury, Rocco Hu (eTPL.Asia)

Respect for rights in the era of automation, using AI and robotics
Emilie Pradichit, Ananya Ramani, Evie van Uden (Manushya Foundation), Henning Glasser, Dr. Duc Quang Ly, Venus Phuangkom (German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance)

The uses and abuses of black box AI in emergency medicine
Prof. Robert Sparrow, Joshua Hatherley, Mark Howard (Monash University)

Women Love Tech would like to thank Nick Ouzas for his story.

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