Claudia Del Pozo
Director
C Minds Eon Resilience Lab
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Working Toward the Ethical, Responsible Use of AI

By Antonio Gozain | Thu, 04/21/2022 - 13:08

Q: How does C Minds work toward a more inclusive and human-centric public policy while advancing the debate around ethical tech?

A: C Minds is a women-led think tank that collaborates with all sectors to generate public policy recommendations surrounding the responsible development and use of AI, carries out pilot projects to understand the opportunities and risks for society and the environment, and strengthens key actors’ knowledge with regards to frontier technology.

We see ourselves as an innovation agency with very unique projects. C Minds does not create out-of-the-box solutions but we collaborate with players that share common goals. We cover several topics besides AI, such as blockchain, open banking or open finance and the metaverse. It is all about foreseeing the future and proposing solutions.

Our goal is to contribute to guaranteeing that everyone, everywhere, has access to the same opportunities, which we work towards via technology, with a heavy focus on AI. In 2019, C Minds authored Mexico’s National AI Strategy together with the British Embassy in Mexico and Oxford Insights, with input from local experts and existing international best practices. Mexico was among the first 10 countries to create a national AI strategy.

Q: What role does the Eon Resilience Lab play within C Minds’ overall goals?

A: The Eon Resilience Lab aims to future-proof society. While C Minds has been operating since 2012, the lab was formally created during the COVID-19 pandemic after we recognized the increased urgency to respond innovatively to people’s needs amid the acceleration of digitalization. The lab has worked on several projects, such as exploring the potential of AI as a tool for economic recovery.

We are also running a training course to strengthen the knowledge of public officials and policy-makers regarding AI, and are leading an experimental AI governance project together with Meta and the Inter-American Development Bank, with the support of INAI and participation of local AI companies, to design public policy recommendations for more responsible AI. Our latest endeavors, however, have to do with exploring the Metaverse and its potential for Latin America.

Q: What are the main areas of opportunity in the adoption of AI in Latin America?

A: Looking at the AI for impact sphere, AI has been mainly adopted in the health industry. Bringing health services and personalized medicine to rural areas has always been a large challenge. I also see a lot of potential for the education sector, offering many personalized and extracurricular support opportunities, but these elements are less widespread, as they are in an earlier ideation phase.    

While AI comes with many promises, we can only achieve them with an ethical, responsible and human-centric approach. For instance, many companies offer health services in rural communities free of charge, which is a very noble endeavor, but does the business model align? Some of these companies are selling users’ data to third parties without their knowledge or consent for a profit.     

Q: What elements does C Minds take into consideration to collaborate with other players?

A: At C Minds we understand that sustainable, positive change is not something that can be achieved by one sector alone. We look to work with strategic local and international players that align with our vision of tech for good, following our agenda of promoting and guaranteeing the responsible use of AI and other frontier technologies. We see all actors as collaborators and, while we may start working with a company as a contractor through a tender, for instance, it is not rare for these companies to reach out to us once the project closes to work with them on the design of a new innovative project to explore sustainable solutions to solve tech-related problems.

Q: What role does regulation play in the ethical use of AI?

A: Having appropriate normative frameworks is crucial. Our experience has been that it can be difficult to make companies aware of the importance of guaranteeing an ethical use of AI. Companies tend to see this as an extra expense and usually have different priorities, especially during challenging times like these. What they do not always realize is that AI is highly complex and even when trying to use it for improving business processes, external issues can easily arise due to a lack of precaution, which may impact the sustainability of the company by reducing user trust.

Appropriate frameworks are key to ensure the industry is working in a way that will not affect individual rights and freedoms. In turn, this will create more trust from the user and potential user base. Looking at existing proposed regulations, the EU AI Act suggests AI companies take specified precautions based on the level of risk their AI application poses to individuals and society, with the EU Commission defining the risk categories. While an excellent first approach to regulation, this document has received some criticism for two main reasons: the difficulty to anticipate risk and the prohibition of the use of black-box algorithms, as these do not offer any transparency but, in some cases, may offer more accurate results than those of a human being. I believe it is too soon to ban it in all cases and that bans should ideally be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What are C Minds’ plans for the near future?

A: C Minds hopes to continue contributing forefront information to the international and local conversations on the ethical use of technologies and ensuring it is used to generate a positive impact in Latin America.                    

In addition to continuing strengthening Mexico’s responsible AI skills with our trusted partners, we are also endeavoring to keep the region at the forefront of tech development, in this case, by launching a series of dialogues on the Metaverse later this year, including its opportunities and challenges for the region.

 

C Minds is a women-led innovation agency that explores and promotes the responsible use of frontier technologies for good in Latin America

Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst