IGF 2021 Day 0 Event #26 Ensuring Diversity in the AI World

Monday, 6th December, 2021 (16:15 UTC) - Monday, 6th December, 2021 (17:30 UTC)
Conference Room 7

Dafna Feinholz, Chief of Section, Bioethics and Ethics of Science Section, Social and Human Sciences Sector, UNESCO


Ms. Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director General for the Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO 

Mr. Deepak Balgobin, Minister of Information Technology, Innovation and Communication Mauritius

Ms. Sumaya Al-Hajri, Head of the Governance and Data Department at the UAE Ministry of AI

Ms. Alice Xiang, Head of AI Ethics for Sony group

Ms. Constanza Gomez-Mont, Founder and CEO of C Minds

Onsite Moderator
will be identified at a later stage from the UNESCO team
Online Moderator

will be identified at a later stage from the UNESCO team


will be identified at a later stage from the UNESCO team


Panel discussion with audience Q&A

Duration (minutes)



This session aims to address the significant lack of diversity in the field of AI and propose solutions for tackling it. Currently, the teams developing AI technologies are predominantly males, and much of AI technologies is produced by a few companies concentrated geographically in a limited number of countries. This has led to well-recorded gender and ethnic/cultural biases in these technologies, which negatively affect their accuracy and reliability and often result in harmful consequences that are disproportionately borne by minority groups in society. For example, AI technologies perform worse at detecting fake news and hate speech in languages other than English, and major commercial facial recognition algorithms have been found to falsely identify African American and Asian faces 10-to-100 times more than Caucasian faces. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). However, at the same time, this threatens to leave those without access to such technologies even further behind. 46% of the global population do not have access to the Internet, much less digital technologies such as AI, and the majority of them live in the least developed countries. The Global South is once again lagging behind: countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as South and Central Asia are among the least ready globally to develop or adapt AI for the benefit of their citizens. Therefore, it is clear that we need to promote diversity in the AI world and ensure that all AI actors from all countries can participate equally throughout the AI system life cycle. Such efforts require a multi-stakeholder approach and therefore, this session brings together representatives from governments, international organizations, private sector and academia, to dis-cuss how diversity and inclusiveness can be ensured in the AI world. Among others, the session will also discuss UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, and its capability to bridge these gaps and serve as a global instrument for promoting diversity in AI. This session is linked to the IGF2021 issue areas: Economic and social inclusion and human rights, and Inclusive Internet governance ecosystems and digital cooperation. It addresses the following policy questions: • Social inequality and the pandemic: What can be learned from the COVID-19 pan-demic context about the relationship between digital inequality and social and economic inequality? Similarly, what lessons can be drawn with respect to the pandemic and Inter-net-related human rights? What does this suggest about policy approaches for digitalisation and digital inclusion? • Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner? • Promoting equitable development and preventing harm: How can we make use of digital technologies to promote more equitable and peaceful societies that are inclusive, resilient and sustainable? How can we make sure that digital technologies are not developed and used for harmful purposes? What values and norms should guide the development and use of technologies to enable this? UNESCO draft text of the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000376713

It is likely that all speakers and organizers of this session will be online. To promote interactions between speakers and participants, the session will include a Q&A segment with participants. Both online and on-site participants can submit their questions through the Official Online Participation Platform, as well as upvote questions submitted by other participants. The moderator will select the highest voted questions for discussion by speakers.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Ensuring #diversityinAI is key step for the since gender is a key priority for UNESCO, it also receives special attention in the Recommendation, with a dedicated policy area on gender. In this regard, Member States are asked to dedicate special funds from their public budget, linked to financing gender responsive schemes and ensure that national digital policies include a gender action plan. implementation of any AI governance policy.

Ensuring #DiversityinAI will benefit all stakeholders, governments, the private sector, the users of the technology and more.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Multi-stakeholder engagement is needed in order to achieve diversity in all aspects of AI, including gender, linguistic and geographical diversity.

stakeholder must work with all communities, including margenalized communities in order to achieve true diversity in AI