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15 July 2020

HSRC and Facebook to identify research areas that support understandings of Artificial Intelligence in the African region

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Wednesday 15 July 2020 – The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought the fore the importance of digital solutions to contemporary ways of living and service delivery, both in the corporate and public sectors.  While this trend had been evident for some time, the global lockdowns and their implications for business, education, food production, job creation and other necessary services has elevated the value of employing digital solutions, including amongst others, artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

AI technological developments pose new and complex questions regarding ethics and social impact which require both industry and researchers to collaborate, to enable understanding, and most importantly appropriate and relevant ways to navigate this complexity.  Such an approach will also ensure the protection of citizens, their data and their privacy.

Against this backdrop, and to support rigorous and ground-breaking academic research in these areas, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Facebook have launched a project to support interdisciplinary independent academic research across Africa in the field of AI, ethics and human rights.

This research initiative complements Facebook’s existing efforts to bolster independent research being undertaken in these areas, such as on-going AI and Ethics research support in Asia Pacific, India and Latin America and the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI.

It is also appropriate for the HSRC to lead this initiative in South Africa and Africa since it is the premier science council charged with understanding the social implications of change and development.

This initiative invites requests for proposals (RFP) for research on ethics, human rights and AI in Africa by research organisations registered and operational across the African region, to be coordinated by the HSRC. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee, and the entities whose proposals are selected will receive a research grant.

For more information, including the criteria and requirements for proposals, please visit the HSRC’s website

Applications will close on 30 July 2020 at 17h00 CAT and successful applicants will be informed by October 2020.

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