FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the major growth markets. According to estimates, this market is going to contribute 15.7 trillion U.S. dollar to the global economy by 2030, which is equal to 75% of the yearly gross domestic product of the United States. In the near future, states that miss the boat when it comes to utilizing this new technology are going to have a hard time keeping up with global economic development too. The projected increase in efficiency resulting from deploying AI in various sectors like agriculture, energy, education and health is just too high. The expected growth is exponential and AI is considered a pivotal building block of the fourth industrial revolution: In agriculture, it can be used to automatically diagnose diseases specific to plants. It can enable up-and-coming local businesses in the field of IT and digital innovation to develop cutting-edge products and maintain competitiveness on a global scale. Therefore, the project “Articial Intelligence for All – FAIR Forward” is dedicated to the open and sustainable development and application of artificial intelligence and particularly supports partnering countries in Africa and Asia on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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AI is everywhere around us in our everyday lives already: It guides traffic and optimizes deliveries all around the globe. Algorithms in smartphones and on the internet tweak our “user experience”, they decide what kind of information users get displayed and what kind of advertising users are going to be presented with. Steadily evolving voice assistants called “Siri” or “Alexa” are ready to react to any question and are already a fixture in many households.

African and Asian languages are not part of the repertoire of these popular everyday helpers. That is why many people only profit very little from this technological advancement or the do not profit at all from it yet. On the national levels, the regulatory frameworks are inadequate too. For example, only relatively few states in Africa have data privacy acts in place that are essential to protection of the citizens' privacy when it comes to AI applications. However, several states have started initiatives in the field of artificial intelligence in order to develop their own strategies, with Mauritius being the first state to present a full-fledged strategy.

Steps towards a thriving, ethical and sustainable AI-Industry

FAIR Forward is already active in five partnering countries. Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India currently pursue three major objectives in cooperation with the initiative:

  • building, expanding and transferring knowledge to AI
  • improving the access to training data and AI technology
  • developing political frameworks for ethical AI and improved data protection

In practice, FAIR Forward, the entrepreneurship initiative Make-IT and experts from the Ghana Tech Lab and IBM run the Africa AI Accelerator in order to support young start-ups that push innovation in the fields of AI and machine learning. The project additionally supports an effort by the pan-African digitization initiative Smart Africa that works on developing policy suggestions. Simultaneously, FAIR Forward aids UN Global Pulse (a project by the United Nations that promotes the application of artificial intelligence for sustainable development) in developing a political framework in Ghana.

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Language Courses for AI

In cooperation with the Rwandan start-up Umuganda and the web browser developer Mozilla, FAIR Forward contributes to the development of open AI training data sets in the language Kinyarwanda. So far, over 1.200 hours of voice recordings have been gathered. The collection of open language data strengthens the local ecosystem for the development of digital applications and products like voice assistants. FAIR Forward pursues the goal to create more training data for additional African and Asian languages like Luganda in Uganda and to make it openly available to local AI businesses in the future.

Sector: Sustainable Development
Region: Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, India
Technology: Artificial intelligence
Projekt status: Ongoing