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APRU releases AI for Social Good Report with United Nations and Google

by Pieter Werner

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 makes a powerful contribution to our societies and our planet’s health.”

Jonathan Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation, United Nations ESCAP said, “The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation called for AI that is trustworthy, human-rights based, safe, sustainable and promotes peace. Public policies play a critical role in promoting AI for social good by directing AI development and applications to contribute to an inclusive and 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 addressing humanitarian and environmental challenges, and empowering other organizations to do the same. Google is excited to be working with experts across many sectors to work on solutions that have real and lasting 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.

Key recommendations:

  1. Multi-stakeholder governance must push innovation to realize AI’s full potential
  • Besides 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
  • Establish adequate data governance structures making benefits of technology available to all and protecting personal dignity of individuals while incorporating Asian values of altruism to encourage data sharing for the social good.


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