Facebook and HKU announce the winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific

Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG) at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) today (June 18) announced the winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific, an initiative to help support thoughtful and groundbreaking academic research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) ethics. The development of AI technologies often brings to light intricate and complex ethical questions that the industry alone cannot solve. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions.

To support AI ethics research in the Asia Pacific region, Facebook partnered with CCSG and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (esteemed co-chair of the Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI of the Global Privacy Assembly)​ to invite request for proposals (RFP) in December 2019. This RFP aimed to support independent AI ethics research that takes local traditional knowledge and regionally diverse perspectives into account. The RFP was open to academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across Asia Pacific.

“The latest advancements in AI bring transformational changes to society, but at the same time an array of complex ethical questions that must be closely examined. At Facebook, we believe our understanding of AI should be informed by research conducted in open collaboration with the community. That’s why we’re keen to support independent academic research institutions in APAC to pursue interdisciplinary research in AI ethics that will enable ongoing dialogue on these important issues in the application of AI technology that has a lot of potential to benefit society and mankind,” said Raina Yeung, Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC at Facebook.

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created substantial potential for the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To fully materialize the potential, AI’s application needs to be ethical, and effectively governed by appropriate rules and mechanisms in multiple arenas. Our Centre is pleased to collaborate with the academia, the AI industry, and the public and business sectors in this initiative to promote research and dialogue on AI ethics in the Asia Pacific region. I look forward to seeing some of the research findings of the winning projects which will inform policy deliberation and action,” said Professor Wai-fung Lam, Director of Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong.

“AI technologies are increasingly being applied to various industries to enhance business operations, and ethical issues arising from these applications, such as ethical and fair processing of personal data, must be fully addressed. Commercial and public sectors, academia, and regulatory bodies need to work together to promote a strong ethical culture when it comes to the development and application of AI systems. Besides advocating accountability and data ethics for AI, we as the co-chair of the Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI of the Global Privacy Assembly also take the lead in working out practical guidance in addressing ethical and data protection issues in AI systems. We hope the winning projects will facilitate better understanding of ethics and data protection in AI, and foster regional efforts in this field,” said Stephen Kai-yi Wong, Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong.

Applicants were asked to submit proposals that look into Ethics/fairness by design; Governance; and AI ethics and diversity. More than 50 proposals were received from 12 countries and cities across the region, and shortlisted candidates were reviewed by a selection committee. The Committee, chaired by Professor Lam, and comprising professionals from diverse backgrounds, have exerted their best effort in selecting excellent proposals. The grants are awarded to 8 winners from 7 countries and cities to support their research. Researchers will have full control of the research timeline and subsequent publication of their completed research papers.

A number of knowledge exchange events have been planned, including the Responsible AI Forum 2020 to be held in Munich, Germany by The Technical University of Munich and another workshop to be organized by CCSG in Hong Kong in 2021. These events aim to bring together members of interested stakeholders and the winners of this Research Initiative to discuss on the responsible use of AI.

Winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific*

  • AI decisions with dignity: Promoting interactional justice perceptions
    Dr. Sarah Bankins (Macquarie University, Australia)
  • The challenges of implementing AI ethics frameworks in the Asia Pacific
    Mr. Manju Lasantha Fernando (LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka)
  • Culturally informed pro-social AI regulation and persuasion framework
    Dr. Junaid Qadir (Information Technology University of the Punjab, Pakistan)
  • Ethical challenges on application of AI for the aged care
    Dr. Bo Yan (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
  • Ethical technology assessment on AI and internet of things
    Dr. Melvin Jabar (De La Salle University, Philippines)
  • Operationalizing information fiduciaries for AI governance
    Mr. Yap Jia Qing (eTPL.Asia, Singapore)
  • Respect for rights in the era of automation, using AI and robotics
    Ms. Emilie Pradichit (Manushya Foundation, Thailand)
  • The uses and abuses of black box AI in emergency medicine
    Professor Robert Sparrow (Monash University, Australia)

*Only the Principal investigators are listed

The full list of winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific is now available at research.fb.com and CCSG website. For more details about the research initiative, please visit the website: https://ccsg.hku.hk/ethics-in-artificial-intelligence-ai-research-initiative-for-the-asia-pacific/ .

Facebook and CCSG wish to thank all entities who submitted a proposal and congratulate the winners.

Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong
Established in December 2002, the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (“the Centre”) was the first research centre in Hong Kong dedicated to enhancing our knowledge of civil society—its nature, constituents, dynamics, roles (in particular its contribution toward governance)—and to contributing to the attainment of a sustainable society through forging community-based, innovative solutions to inform policy deliberation and collective action.

The mission of the Centre is to contribute to the attainment of a sustainable society through forging community-based and innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges. The work of the Centre is knowledge-based, with a focus on research, knowledge dissemination, and social impact. For details, please visit https://ccsg.hku.hk/