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ICT committee chair calls for an equitable and inclusive data representation in AI

ICT committee chair calls for an equitable and inclusive data representation in AI


Saturday March 30,2024

KNA by Racheal Kilonzo

Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation, John Kiarie has called for affirmative action for an inclusive and equitable data representation in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

Speaking during the just ended 148th Inter-Parliamentary Union General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, the Dagoretti South Member of Parliament noted that AI has a great potential impact on Africa democracy and human rights during the 4th industrial revolution.

“When we are having a conversation about AI, human rights and democracy, you understand why Africa would be walking into this very cautiously. We do not want to walk into this blindly, we want to walk into it vigilantly.

The lessons from the past have taught us that there are developments that can be exploitative to individuals, to communities and even to countries and now that we know that A.I and indeed the 4th industrial revolution will be fueled by data, the question begs what does the data representation look like as we go into this new 4th industrial revolution,” said Kiarie.

He noted that the stationing of data centers in the southern hemisphere is very disenfranchised adding that a close look at history depicts that Africa has passed its indigenous knowledge, their beliefs and cultures from one generation to the other orally.

“It has not been recorded, not in numbers and not in words. Indigenous data that is not in our books, is not in libraries and is not even in the internet from which that A.I systems are scraping data out of,” said Kiarie.

The Chair noted that in the context of AI and democracy and human rights, Parliaments must advocate for affirmative actions that ensure inclusivity and equity in the principle of leaving nobody behind.

“We’ve got to ask ourselves, if this data that is being scraped off the internet is what shall fuel the Artificial intelligence. What are some of the communities contributing into this data, does it mean that some religions, some cultures, some beliefs, some tribes, some languages are going to go extinct in this new age of the industrial revolution that we are calling the forth industrial revolution?” he paused

He noted that Kenya is working to institute 1,450 digital innovation hubs across all wards in the country so that the public can contribute into adding into the data that shall be used in the development of AI and Machine Learning.

He further pointed out that the country has already developed a very robust Kenya Privacy and Data Protection Law and is looking towards working on an A.I policy and pursuing the installation of green data centers where he appealed for partnership with countries in the global South in establishing more data centers.

“We’ve got a lot of wind. We’ve got a lot of solar. We’ve got a lot of geothermal energy that can power data centers that will help in balancing out the data imbalance and inequality we are currently seeing.

Otherwise, we shall see Africa being condemned into digital plantations, a keen to the plantations that were there in the time of coffee, in the time of tea, in the time of cotton and we cannot expect that it will happen automatically.

We have to work affirmatively to ensure that we leave nobody behind,” added Kiarie.

The General Assembly that brought together 186 parliaments from all over the world earning the tag the Parliament of Parliaments took place on 23-27 March 2024.

The General Debate focused on the overall theme “Parliamentary diplomacy: Building bridges for peace and understanding” and provided a platform for delegates to deliberate, exchange views and galvanize parliamentary action in this area.

It will adopt resolutions on the emergency item and on the subject items taken up by the Standing Committee on Peace and International Security entitled Addressing the social and humanitarian impact of autonomous weapon systems and artificial intelligence and by the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development entitled Partnerships for climate action: Promoting access to affordable green energy, and ensuring innovation, responsibility and equity.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union General Assembly is expected to conclude with the adoption of an outcome document on the overall theme of the General Debate.

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