AI for Sustainable Development – can digital technologies serve community-based innovations?

Every year the International Symposium “Perspectives on ICT4D”, held at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, aims to gather a broad community of researchers and practitioners to discuss and reflect on new paradigms of knowledge sharing and knowledge generation, to the benefit of unconnected communities, living in low resource environments of the world.

This year’s theme is “Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies at the Service of Local Innovation“. We are witnessing digitization and datafication rapidly changing many aspects of daily life. There are risks of digital exclusion of disadvantaged groups; risks related to the use of data and privacy, data ownership, more and closer gated communities on the Web, risk of increasing surveillance. New technologies and big data, as they are being currently applied, are raising serious concerns.

Is it possible to reverse the negative trends? Can smart technologies be used in a positive way, serving people at the grassroots, for example linking smart technologies to local, community-based innovations for a greener and more sustainable world?

Can digital technologies and artificial intelligence help achieve sustainable development? Can we ensure community initiatives, regreening, local innovation, (indigenous) knowledge sharing through new innovation and truly collaborative knowledge networks? At this year’s symposium we will discuss these questions.

We will discuss how to make the newest advances in AI and other disruptive innovations work for the good life. We will do this, as usual, from different perspectives and contexts: technology, society, environment, local and global scales. We will discuss the latest developments in digital technology “for good”, but aware of the ethical and societal issues at stake. We want to facilitate a reflective debate that includes the people at the “other” side of the digital divide, whose voices are all too often ignored.

The Symposium is an open event. It is part of the ICT4D master course for students computer science, information science and artificial intelligence. It will take place at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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