IGF 2019 OF #17 Formulating Policy Options for Big Data and AI Development


Organizer: UNESCO

09:30-10:30. Wednesday 27 November 2019, Convention Hall I - D Sonnenallee 225, 12057, Berlin, Germany


UNESCO takes the occasion of the IGF to launch and present the findings of its new publication, ‘Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies: A ROAM Perspective’. The Internet Governance Forum provides a platform for policy discussions on questions around human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multistakeholder participation in the development and deployment of AI and other advanced ICTs. 

The open forum is being organised within the context of promoting global digital cooperation in line with the recommendations of the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that recognises UNESCO’s ROAM framework for its human rights focussed approach to guiding AI development. The discussion contributes towards two objectives concerning i) the development of human capital and social capabilities; and ii) policy, law and human rights of the UN system-wide strategic approach and roadmap for supporting capacity development on artificial intelligence.

A panel discussion involving high-level multistakeholder representatives from a variety of regions, sectors, and areas of expertise serves as an opportunity for representatives to discuss central concepts of the publication. Representatives will come from the governmental and intergovernmental organisations, civil society, the private sector and the technical community and can discuss the ways in which they intend to utilise the publication to form and inform respective policy in a conductive manner to enhance human rights and inclusive knowledge societies, and in accord with UNESCO’s Internet Universality ROAM principles.

The process would be supported by the UNESCO secretariat with the objective of putting into practice a multistakeholder process for addressing issues concerning the development of AI and advanced ICTs in line with the rights, openness and access dimensions.

Expected Results

  1. Advocate for a human centred approach in the development and use of AI and other advanced ICTs
  2. Facilitate Multistakeholder discussion around issues concerning human Rights, Openness and Accessibility in the context of AI and other advanced ICTs
  3. Advance the use of the policy options proposed in the ‘Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies: A ROAM Perspective’ to address the challenges presented by the development of AI by different actors, including governments, civil society, private sector, academia, technical community and international organisations.



Key questions:

In steering the development of AI in a manner that protects the ROAM-X principles, the following concerns and key questions arise:

  1. What are the core human rights in relation to big data and AI?
  2. How to address specific concerns regarding freedom of expression and access to information, and privacy?
  3. How to ensure that data used by algorithms for decision-making is representative? How to develop built-in mechanisms for monitoring discrimination based on data and algorithms?
  4. How to mitigate and prevent the digital divide from widening further in relation to big data and AI development?
  5. How should a multi-stakeholder approach be put in place at national and international levels, to formulate inclusive policy options for harnessing AI and big data?
  6. How to strengthen access to data to reduce entry barriers for new startups? (Private sector dimension)

Background document: Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies: A ROAM Perspective


Link to forum event: https://igf2019.sched.com/event/SU3C/of17-formulating-policy-options-for-big-data-and-ai-development

Report link to previous forum event: IGF 2018 OF5 Measuring a free, open, rights-based and inclusive Internet.




  • Ms. Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Senior Director of Global Internet Policy and International Organizations at The Internet Society (ISOC)
  • Mr. Alex Comninos, ICT Policy Researcher at Research ICT Africa
  • Ms. Jai Vipra, Tech Policy Researcher at IT for Change
  • Mr. Robert Krimmer, Managing Director and Founder at E-Voting.CC
  • Ms. Izzy Ferrandez, Co-founder & CTO of GreenFeast, Teens in AI Ambassador

Presenter and Moderator: Ms. Xianhong Hu and Mr. Guilherme Canela, UNESCO

Online Moderator

Mr. Prateek Sibal, UNESCO


GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Many indicated that there should be more efforts and more thoughts on how to develop better transparency and accountability mechanism for AI policy. It was noted that it is not new that policy runs behind technology and that a human rights-based approach and an ethical framework was needed. It was a consensus that there is a gap between technology and policy, with surveillance being a key concern. The global digital divide was also highlighted, particularly with concerns on data sovereignty and network sovereignty which is especially important for African economies where there is no national capacity to hold data or to regulate. Many raised the issue of the concerns for the relationship between technology and elections and the urgency to develop policy to protect democratic elections.