New Partnership To Boost Use Of AI For People With Disability

In what will be a boost in the use of technology to support people with disability, the partnership will address challenges like data availability and quality

New Partnership To Boost Use Of AI For People With Disability
Philip Thigo the UN High Level Advisory Board Member on AI during a panel discussion at the launch of the Center for A14SDG

Next Step Foundation has partnered with Assistive Technologies for Disability Trust (AT4D) to address key challenges for Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the global south. In what will be a boost in the use of technology to support people with disability, the partnership will address challenges like data availability and quality, capacity &skills gap and ethical and social implications AI.

Speaking at the launch event, Philip Thigo, the UN High Level Advisory Board Member on AI, delved into the potential of AI to drive progress towards Sustainable Development Goals. He lauded steps being undertaken by local startups to alleviate inequality especially among people with disabilities as well as the elderly.

Thigo added that the UN High Level Advisory Board on AI is at the forefront of fostering inclusivity with its interim report, ‘Governing AI for Humanity’, identifying principles that should guide the formation of new global AI governance institutions. These principles include inclusivity, public interest, centrality of data governance, prioritizing universal buy-in by countries and stakeholders.

“I think Kenya is one of the few countries right now that is developing an AI strategy in a very inclusive way which is very laudable. At the UN level we are trying to build strategy from a multi stakeholder approach and ecosystem and we can only do that by looking at the enablers. And what do we need to enable the development of safe, inclusive and trusted AI ecosystem? Part of that is data governance,” Thigo said.

On his part, Christopher Harrison, the Executive Chairman at Next Step Foundation, said that Next Step Foundation is uniquely positioned to facilitate the creation of high-quality, annotated training data and help close the skills gap to unleash the positive power of AI in Africa. This is in consideration that Africa currently lacks the data and the expertise to fully implement ethical AI.

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“As a continent, we need to take advantage of data that is already in our fingertips including data on agriculture, education, geography etc. The first step towards bridging this gap is thus first digitization. Once we have information available it is much easier even for people living with disabilities to utilize the data to make their lives easier and contribute more to society,” Christopher Harrison said.

The event also saw a showcase by Next Step Foundation’s incubated startups such as EZspeech, Seizure Assistant, Knock Knock and Signverse.

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