Co-creating Ethical AI Solutions With Communities in Johannesburg

Written by Leonora

Posted on February 23, 2024

Over a year ago, the seed of an idea was planted when Eyitemi Popo encouraged Kwanele to participate in the Mozilla Responsible AI Builders mentorship program. With zero background in Artificial intelligence (AI), the notion felt daunting and even ridiculous at first. Fast forward 18 months, and here we are, in the midst of testing ChatGBV in communities around Johannesburg, South Africa.

What Is Ethical AI?

In today’s landscape, terms like AI and Ethical AI are frequently thrown around, but what do they truly mean, especially in the context of co-creating technology at the community level where there’s a significant disparity in tech literacy? Ethical AI involves developing and deploying artificial intelligence systems in a manner that upholds moral values and human rights, particularly when applied within grassroots communities, ensuring transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, and positive societal impact. It’s a challenging endeavor that demands time, humility, and patience. Unfortunately, the funding dynamics of non-profit organizations often hinder the co-creation and ethical development of tools at the community level. Rigorous timelines and inflexible funding structures create an environment where cutting corners becomes tempting, jeopardizing the authenticity and effectiveness of the solutions.

However, the potential for technology, particularly AI, to bring about positive change in grassroots communities is immense. It can help level the playing field in terms of access to information and resources. Yet, without proper attention to ethics and community involvement, it also holds the potential to perpetuate harm.

What Makes ChatGBV Different?

At Kwanele, we’ve always prioritized building technology ethically, with the community at the core of our projects. Nevertheless, this journey is far from easy. Challenges stemming from funding structures, tech literacy, and personal biases are ever-present. Mistakes have been made, and undoubtedly, there will be more on this journey.

What sets us apart, however, and what distinguishes ChatGBV in the realm of AI, is the time and effort we’ve invested in co-creating it ethically within communities. Yet, despite having a functional product, questions about successful deployment persist. What does successful deployment in this context entail?

In corporate settings, quick testing and deployment may suffice to generate revenue. However, in a community where education levels are low and tech literacy even lower, the risks are significantly higher. Extensive and exhaustive testing is imperative to ensure that accurate information is provided without putting vulnerable survivors of GBV at further risk of traumatisation or misinformation.

Why Is Accurate Information Crucial?

Accurate information is crucial because the successful deployment of AI, done right, could revolutionize everyday life, empowering individuals struggling with literacy to write impressive cover letters, enabling children with substandard education to access quality study materials, and providing judgment-free support to survivors of GBV who have been stigmatized.

To achieve this vision, grantmakers must recognize the importance of investing in the development of ethical AI solutions and trust organizations like ours to lead the process. The potential for AI to positively impact lives is immense, but it requires a commitment to ethical development and community involvement every step of the way.

As we navigate the complexities of deploying ChatGBV, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ethical technology development, knowing that the potential for positive impact is vast, but the responsibility to mitigate harm is paramount.


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1 Comment

  1. Carol Sharp

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to
    get the hang of it!


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