We need to figure out how to bring people together from all over the world to solve problems and create the right solutions globally, says Kriti Sharma, founder of AI for Good UK, whose vision for the future is that AI is utilised equally and fairly to make decisions that are ethical, just and for the benefit of all humanity.

AI is a big responsibility for people who work in the sector – we need to evolve in terms of ethics as a profession.

“The technology industry has a diversity problem at the moment and needs to figure out how to be more inclusive globally – it’s all about bringing people together and building the right teams with the right people, with right skills, working for social justice,” she told delegates at TechSmart 2019.

“There is a growing sentiment in the industry which recognises that mistakes have been made which now we need to fix. Human biases have been injected into the digital world by data that has been fed into the machines. However, the good news is that we can fix it!”

AI should level the playing field, says Kriti, “we have to make sure it is applied to solve the right problems, that it is developed for the common good and benefit of humanity, not just to provide a company’s advertisements with more clicks.”

Digital technology in action

Recent projects that AI for Good UK has been involved with, where a digital solution has been employed to help vulnerable people, include rAInbow, an AI chatbot that helps victims of domestic abuse in South Africa find help and support, especially when traditional agencies are not available out of normal working hours. In 10 months there have been more than 300,000 consultations.

“For many women, this is a very lonely journey with no support and a complete lack of belief in any system that might help them. There is often a lot of stigma and shame associated with domestic violence. We wanted to create a digital tool to give them the help when they needed it, where women could speak freely and privately,” says Kriti.

She has also been collaborating with younger people around the world and recently spearheaded the launch of the Sage Future Makers Lab, a forum that hopes to equip young people with skills to enter a career in artificial intelligence.

“I have worked with some AI technologists recently, aged 12-17, and the way that they have been using technology has given me hope – they want to be creative and empathic in their use of technology. They are interested in projects that assist people or tackle climate change. My impression generally is that they are lacking role models.”

AI: The key issues

  • AI has to reflect diversity
  • AI should be held accountable
  • Reward AI for showing transparency
  • Self-regulation is not the answer
  • People are the key not just the technology

The biggest challenge will be user trust: building ethics by design will be crucial for success