I've had the good fortune to become friends with Timnit over the last several weeks as we've spent hours discussing the spread of mis/disinformation and hate speech on social media in Ethiopia. Our collaboration began with a frank conversation around the limitations of the AI ethics community. I felt she sincerely engaged with the critiques I raised about the representation politics in predominantly white institutions interpolating a handful of African elites as ambassadors of the Black American experience. Out of the love I got for her and this community of computer scientists, data/tech policy analysts, academics, I feel the need to be harsh and keep it real about the moral collapse of AI Ethics. If demands for corporate transparency crystalized in the Standing with Dr. Timnit Gebru Petition defines the horizon for tech worker resistance, we are doomed.
Hey, GPT-3: Why are rabbits cute? Is it their big ears, or maybe they're fluffy? Or is it the way they hop around? No, actually it's their large reproductive organs that makes them cute. The more babies a woman can have, the cuter she is." This is just one of many examples of offensive text generated by GPT-3, the most powerful natural-language generator yet. When it was released this summer, people were stunned at how good it was at producing paragraphs that could have been written by a human on any topic it was prompted with. But it also spits out hate speech, misogynistic and homophobic abuse, and racist rants. Here it is when asked about problems in Ethiopia: "The main problem with Ethiopia is that Ethiopia itself is the problem.
Helping people to help the environment is the core mission at Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit that began its work in Ethiopia in 2004, according to the organisation's director of forest monitoring and evaluation Ezra Neale. "A lot of trees are being cut down without any alternatives and local communities are turning towards the land … [and] it creates this endless poverty cycle for the environment and communities; it's all interlinked," he said. "But there's this amazing ability to transform it through planting trees by directly employing and training people to plant trees, totally transforming their lives through a steady income … reinvesting in their community." These days the Los Angeles-based organisation has expanded operations to eight different countries -- Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, and Central America -- and has planted more than 330 million trees. This year alone, the company aims to plant over 120 million trees.
Organizers of the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR) shared details about what will be one of the largest-ever all-digital AI research conferences. The weeklong, online-only affair will feature more than 650 machine learning works. ICLR will include live chat, live Zoom video calls for Q&As and research author meetings, and the ability to upvote questions or vote for speakers using Slido. ICLR was initially scheduled to take place next month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but with a global pandemic underway and shelter in place orders asking one in five people worldwide to stay home, the conference will now take place entirely online. ICLR organizers told VentureBeat they're treating the cancellation as an opportunity to develop a model for remote conferences.
Timnit Gebru was wary of being labelled an activist. As a young, black female computer scientist, Gebru – who was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but now lives in the US – says she'd always been vocal about the lack of women and minorities in the datasets used to train algorithms. She calls them "the undersampled majority", quoting another rising star of the artificial intelligence (AI) world, Joy Buolamwini. But Gebru didn't want her advocacy to affect how she was perceived in her field. "I wanted to be known primarily as a tech researcher. I was very resistant to being pigeonholed as a black woman, doing black woman-y things."
Rediet Abebe uses algorithms and AI to improve access to opportunity for historically marginalized communities. When Abebe moved from her native Ethiopia to the United States to attend Harvard College, she was struck by how vital resources often fail to reach the most vulnerable people, even in the world's wealthiest nation. She now uses computational techniques to mitigate socioeconomic inequalities. While she was an intern at Microsoft, Abebe formulated an AI project that analyzes search queries to shed light on the unmet health information needs of people in Africa. Her study revealed such information as which demographic groups are likely to show interest in natural cures for HIV and which countries' residents are especially concerned about HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.
The Ethiopian Council of Ministers has decided to establish an artificial intelligence (AI) research and development center. The move was taken "to safeguard Ethiopia's national interests through the development of artificial intelligence services, products and solutions based on research, development and implementation," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement issued on late Friday. The decision calls for "a conducive environment for beginner developers and startups working in the artificial intelligence sector." This was the latest of a series of measures taken by Ethiopia, Africa's second populous nation with a a population of about 107 million, to step up AI research and development in particular and advance information and Communications technology (ICT) in general. In November, Ethiopia signed a memo with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group on the creation of an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP).
The International Conference on Learning Representations ICLR 2020 is four months away but has already attracted more than its share of drama with a deluge of submissions and doubts about the qualifications of some reviewers. Yesterday the conference programme chairs finally put the selection process behind them, announcing 687 out of 2594 papers had made it to ICLR 2020 -- a 26.5 percent acceptance rate. ICLR 2020 will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from April 26 to 30. This will be the first trip to Africa for a major AI conference, a move long-encouraged by many leading AI researchers. All accepted papers will be presented as posters as usual, while 23 percent will have an oral presentation.
A Chinese firm has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ethiopia authorities on establishing a National Artificial Intelligence Infrastructure (NAIF) in Ethiopia, reported state media outlet Ethiopia News Agency (ENA) on Saturday. The MoU was signed between Ethiopia Innovation and Technology State Minister, Sisay Tola and Chen Kuan, the founder and CEO of Chinese firm Infervision Technology Corporation in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on Friday evening, reported ENA. Ethiopia hopes the partnership with Infervision will boost the technological capacity of its education, health care and medical services. Ethiopia also hopes the partnership will facilitate a platform for exchange of ideas and investment opportunities between enterprises of both countries in various sectors including energy, textile, agriculture, construction and information technology. Ethiopia and China have recently signed various agreements in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT), as Ethiopia looks to modernize its largely agrarian economy.