Responsible AI Key to Harnessing its Potential

In the age of rapid technological advancement, Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a transformational force with unparalleled potential to change the future. It is imperative to ensure that AI is used ethically to impact society positively. In efforts to promote responsible AI, initiatives such as Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab have emerged, championing the cause of responsible AI projects that place societal well-being and ethical considerations first.

Dr. Gilles Hacheme, Applied Research Scientist from Microsoft's AI for Good Lab.
Dr. Gilles Hacheme, Applied Research Scientist from Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab.

Speaking during a webinar on Responsible AI – focusing on responsible AI projects, that was   held on Monday, 15th April 2024, the guest speaker, Dr. Gilles Hacheme, an Applied Research Scientist from Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab enlightened the JKUAT ICT faculty and postgraduate students on some of the practices and measures Microsoft has put in place to ensure the promotion of responsible AI practices.

The webinar was organized and facilitated by Dr. Eunice Njeri, Lecturer and PI for the Mozilla Responsible Computer Challenge (RCC) project in JKUAT whose objective is to train responsible computing through a hands-on experience where students collaboratively learn and apply their Responsible Computer Science (RCS) knowledge (e.g., trust, privacy, inclusivity, economic impact) to design and develop robotics applications to solve local problems (education , tutoring, health, agriculture). The RCC program is supported by the Mozilla Foundation.

Delving into the Microsoft AI principles such as fairness, reliability & safety, privacy & Security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability, Dr. Gilles Hacheme emphasized that if not used responsibly, AI can regress efforts supporting responsible AI. “Microsoft partners a lot with research institutions and NGOs to pioneer engineering practices that improve AI systems. This involves the adoption of mature responsible AI tools and frameworks that have evolved to prioritize ethical considerations, transparency, and accountability throughout their development and deployment,” Dr. Gilles elaborated.

Dr. Eunice Njeri, PI of the with students at the Social Robotics Lab in JKUAT as they interact with the Nao robot which is The Nao Robot which is used in teaching responsible computing through designing robot applications at the JKUAT Social robotics lab.
Dr. Eunice Njeri (Far Left), PI for the Mozilla RCC Project with students at the Social Robotics Lab in JKUAT as they interact with the Nao Robot, used in teaching responsible computing through designing robot applications.

Dr. Gilles stated that, Responsible AI is crucial for ensuring that technology serves humanity’s best interests while mitigating potential risks and biases. He added that it is crucial to focus on initiatives that tackle societal issues while adhering to ethical guidelines and principles in sectors such as healthcare, retail, education, and environmental sustainability. “By prioritizing responsibility in AI development, Microsoft is contributing to a more ethical and inclusive future for technology,” Dr. Gilles reiterated.

The discussions veered on to how Microsoft has incorporated public policy on shaping responsible AI regulations in its system. Dr. Giles underscored the significance of collective action from stakeholders across different sectors. He revealed that Microsoft Good Lab has incorporated into its framework and facilitated collaboration with Governments, industry leaders, researchers, and civil society to establish ethical frameworks, regulatory standards, and practices that guide the development and deployment of AI.

JKUAT’s ICT Director, Prof. Stephen Kimani, thanked Dr. Gilles for engaging with the JKUAT faculty and students who were in attendance, “As AI continues to evolve and permeate every aspect of our lives, the importance of responsible AI projects cannot be overstated. As a university, we are glad that JKUAT is pioneering such initiatives with Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab which will serve as a beacon of responsible innovation, demonstrating that technological progress can be synonymous with social responsibility,” said Prof. Kimani.

Prof. Kimani stated that JKUAT is taking steps to ensure that through the adoption of responsible AI principles and the prioritization of human welfare, JKUAT can fully harness the potential of AI as a positive force, enabling the creation of a future that is just, inclusive, and sustainable.

A section of the participants during the webinar

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