Advancing AI responsibly

Global perspectives on inclusive AI
Introduction by Natasha Crampton, Chief Responsible AI Officer at Microsoft
Conclusion by Brian Finlay, President & CEO of the Stimson Center

Artificial intelligence has the potential to be a powerful equalizing force, helping people, institutions, and nations make strides forward in ways and at speeds previously unimaginable. We are already seeing AI used to make essential government services more accessible, witnessing major breakthroughs in disease detection and prevention, and leveraging AI to identify and prevent the effects of natural disasters and climate change. All this is happening in the early days of AI being more widely available, especially generative AI.  

Yet, as we have witnessed with other major technological breakthroughs, just because AI holds potential to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, that outcome is by no means assured. We know who has a voice in developing and advancing the technology matters, and we know that cultural context and respect for local values are critically important as we seek to deploy AI systems that harness the best of people and AI. If we hope to realize the potential of AI, we must be deliberate in our efforts to bring more voices and perspectives into the dialogue around AI policy and governance, and we must do that now, at the beginning.  

Last year, Microsoft partnered with the Stimson Center to bring a greater diversity of voices to the conversation on responsible AI. The Global Perspectives Responsible AI Fellowship brings together diverse stakeholders from civil society, academia, and the private sector for substantive discussions on AI, its impact on society, and ways that we can all better incorporate the nuanced social, economic, political, and environmental contexts in which these systems are deployed. 

These ideas can help promote AI efforts that are globally inclusive while considering the unique challenges faced by the Global South.
Natasha Crampton
Chief Responsible AI Officer at Microsoft

This is vital work. Earlier in 2023, according to UN estimates, the global population exceeded 8 billion people, the vast majority of whom live in the Global South. We’re all encountering a major technological transformation, and we must make it a wave of transformation that benefits the Global Majority. I’m encouraged by the prospect that thoughtful, context-aware uses of AI might help build more vibrant communities around the world and empower nations to leapfrog traditional steps in conventional models for economic development.  

By working to understand and incorporate the nuanced social, economic, political, and environmental contexts in which AI systems are deployed, developers can be champions for inclusivity and ensure the benefits of these systems are shared widely. This is particularly important for foundation models, where there is an opportunity for global perspectives to inform and ensure the utility of these systems as they are being developed. 

To bring together the necessary perspectives to understand and address these issues, we conducted a comprehensive global search for fellows. We landed with a dynamic class of fellows from a range of countries—Chile, Tajikistan, India, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, Serbia, Mexico, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan. During the program, fellows exchanged ideas that can help promote AI efforts that are inclusive and consider the unique challenges and opportunities faced by the Global South. The stories of these fellows, many of which we will share in this series, illustrate the many ways in which AI is having a transformative impact around the world. 

In this three-part series, we will present the issues at hand, put forward ideas to harness the benefits of AI applications and mitigate their risks. We will also share key insights about the responsible development and use of AI in the Global South.

For Microsoft, I am most excited about learning from these global insights and applying them to our efforts to advance AI responsibly. In 2023, we worked with the fellows to inform our approach to developing the AI Blueprint for India and to showcase responsible AI case studies which we hope will contribute constructively to broader discussions around AI policy.

Paving the way for an inclusive future

There can be little doubt that we are in the midst of a new technological revolution with increasing AI capabilities shaping every aspect of our daily lives. From the medical field to transportation and sustainable development, the combination of computing power and big data is no longer just a technological tool, but a catalyst for global change. As we embrace these advancements, we also need to recognize the challenges and risks, particularly in regions like the Global South where the majority of people live and where the impact of AI is profound yet complex. Hence, the urgency to provide an open space for honest conversations and an opportunity to learn from different perspectives cannot be overstated.

The urgency to provide an open space for honest conversations and an opportunity to learn from different perspectives cannot be overstated.
Brian Finlay
President & CEO, Stimson Center

The partnership between the Stimson Center and Microsoft is doing exactly that: it ignites essential conversations on the remarkable promise of AI, highlights best practices from around the globe, and creates a community centered around the desire to advance technology development responsibly. Throughout this series, we have heard how AI can be a formidable tool for improving governance, enhancing economic opportunities, and empowering vulnerable populations. These stories highlight AI’s potential to drive significant positive change, underscoring the importance of responsible and thoughtful implementation to reap its benefits globally.  

Our commitment at Stimson is to not only highlight these diverse experiences, but also to work towards robust safeguards that ensure AI’s benefits are widely accessible and its deployment is safe and transparent. By fostering a collaborative environment that emphasizes cross-boundary partnerships and inclusive dialogue, we aim to pave the way for a future where AI empowers every community, enhances lives, and promotes sustainable growth worldwide. I am most grateful to my colleague Julian Mueller-Kaler, who has envisioned this partnership with Microsoft and continues to lead the effort at Stimson. 

Looking ahead, the Global Perspectives Responsible AI Fellowship will continue to serve as a forward-thinking initiative aiming to shape the future of ethical AI development. It will bring together even more diverse voices from the private sector, governmental bodies, civil society, and the tech community to cultivate AI innovations that are both responsible and transformative. I am delighted with the continuation of this work stream, as well as the growing partnership between the Stimson Center and Microsoft. As we venture into the next phase, I hope that you also stay engaged. Your participation is critical for the exchange of best practices and for collaborating on developing technologies that are equitable and beneficial for all.