IGF 2019 WS #418 Digital colonisation and artificial intelligence

Organizer 1: J. Carlos Lara, Derechos Digitales

Speaker 1: J. Carlos Lara, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Lorena Jaume-Palasi, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Sunil Abraham, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Policy Question(s): 

What kind of difficulties are faced by governments used to purchasing working technologies from industrial countries? What kind of power can affected populations effectively exercise against harmful AI? Is data ownership, data protection, or state-lead economic development the key to compete in a global AI landscape? Can developing countries counter the negative effects of the arrival of AI technologies developed elsewhere? What kind of guidelines should developing countries follow to both foster technology and fundamental rights?

Relevance to Theme: Increasingly, structures of economic power are achieving global scale, while also increasingly relying on personal information. This transnational creation of market power is not necessarily tied to national borders, as international data transfers are a key component of the success of data-intensive industries, mostly based in first world countries or as powerhouses in China. This leaves out billions of people not only at a decision-making stage, but in the fundaments of the global economic system: the information required from each citizen or community.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The internet is the main conduit for data processing at a global scale, with digital inclusion efforts becoming the source of further data generation points and hitherto untapped data markets. To the extent that internet governance bodies can determine the way in which all internet stakeholders conduct their behaviour, both in technical and political terms, and what regulatory measures they will face, this is the right venue for this discussion.


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Description: Artificial intelligence is not only a reality, but a trendy subject of study in much of the world, and a concern for human rights advocates. A large part of the efforts by academics, social scientists and civil society in the last several years has attempted to reach an ideal set of principles to govern AI, including conditions of transparency and accountability. Simultaneously, many stakeholders are trying not to stifle the ongoing development of machine learning and automated decision-making systems, under the notion that they are a key component of the present and future economy in the digital age. But for all of the lecturing and posturing, these same systems, as have many other data processing schemes throughout history, have been sold, implemented and imposed on Global South populations, without any of those concerns for balance taking its place front and centre. Dazzled by the new, impressed by the possibilities of modernity and participation in the digital age, many governments in developing countries are turning to AI "solutions", as clients of big companies that offer such solutions in search of problems; in parallel, scarce resources are given for local development of AI, without the enriching discussion that has taken place in the north. In a global economy dominated by companies amassing and processing large amounts of information, including personal data from billions of people in the Global South, what kind of concerns are valid for Global South economies? And how can we foster a more inclusive global economy, in terms of innovation, competition, and the respect for human rights and the interests of less powerful communities?

Expected Outcomes: The session aims to place some light on the tension between the existing developments in machine learning and automated decision-making systems in industrial economies, and its counterparts in global south countries. Its ideal outcomes include a better understanding of the issues faced outside the industrialised nations when addressing the acquisition or implementation of AI technologies, and its impacts on the population of developing countries.

Onsite Moderator: 

J. Carlos Lara, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator: 

Pablo Viollier, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


J. Carlos Lara, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Discussion Facilitation: 

Each round of comments from the roundtable will be followed by attendant's questions. Moderator will call on a few attendants' for comments if time allows.

Online Participation: 

Online moderator will gather comments or enrich questions.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption