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Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific

Facebook and HKU Announce the Winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific

Last Update: June 18, 2020 (Thursday)

Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG) at The University of Hong Kong (HKU) today announced the winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific, an initiative to help support thoughtful and groundbreaking academic research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) ethics. The development of AI technologies often brings to light intricate and complex ethical questions that the industry alone cannot solve. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions.

To support AI ethics research in the Asia Pacific region, Facebook partnered with CCSG and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (esteemed co-chair of the Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI of the Global Privacy Assembly) to invite request for proposals (RFP) in December 2019. This RFP aimed to support independent AI ethics research that takes local traditional knowledge and regionally diverse perspectives into account. The RFP was open to academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across Asia Pacific.

"The latest advancements in AI bring transformational changes to society, but at the same time an array of complex ethical questions that must be closely examined. At Facebook, we believe our understanding of AI should be informed by research conducted in open collaboration with the community. That’s why we’re keen to support independent academic research institutions in APAC to pursue interdisciplinary research in AI ethics that will enable ongoing dialogue on these important issues in the application of AI technology that has a lot of potential to benefit society and mankind,”
Raina Yeung
Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC at Facebook
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created substantial potential for the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To fully materialize the potential, AI’s application needs to be ethical, and effectively governed by appropriate rules and mechanisms in multiple arenas. Our Centre is pleased to collaborate with the academia, the AI industry, and the public and business sectors in this initiative to promote research and dialogue on AI ethics in the Asia Pacific region. I look forward to seeing some of the research findings of the winning projects which will inform policy deliberation and action,”
Professor Wai-fung Lam
Director of Centre for Civil Society and Governance, The University of Hong Kong
“AI technologies are increasingly being applied to various industries to enhance business operations, and ethical issues arising from these applications, such as ethical and fair processing of personal data, must be fully addressed. Commercial and public sectors, academia, and regulatory bodies need to work together to promote a strong ethical culture when it comes to the development and application of AI systems. Besides advocating accountability and data ethics for AI, we as the co-chair of the Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI of the Global Privacy Assembly also take the lead in working out practical guidance in addressing ethical and data protection issues in AI systems. We hope the winning projects will facilitate better understanding of ethics and data protection in AI, and foster regional efforts in this field,”
Stephen Kai-yi Wong
Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong

Applicants were asked to submit proposals that look into Ethics/fairness by design; Governance; and AI ethics and diversity.  More than 50 proposals were received from 12 countries and cities across the region, and shortlisted candidates were reviewed by a selection committee. The Committee, chaired by Professor Lam, and comprising professionals from diverse backgrounds, have exerted their best effort in selecting excellent proposals. The grants are awarded to 8 winners from 7 countries and cities to support their research. Researchers will have full control of the research timeline and subsequent publication of their completed research papers.

A number of knowledge exchange events have been planned, including the Responsible AI Forum 2020 to be held in Munich, Germany by The Technical University of Munich and another workshop to be organized by CCSG in Hong Kong in 2021. These events aim to bring together members of interested stakeholders and the winners of this Research Initiative to discuss on the responsible use of AI.

  • AI decisions with dignity: Promoting interactional justice perceptions

      Dr. Sarah Bankins, Assistant Professor Paul Formosa, Professor Deborah Richards (Macquarie University, Australia), Dr. Yannick Griep (Radboud University, Netherlands)

  • The challenges of implementing AI ethics frameworks in the Asia Pacific

      Ms. Ramathi Bandaranayake, Viren Dias, Helani Galpaya, Professor Rohan Samarajiva (LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka)

  • Culturally informed pro-social AI regulation and persuasion framework

      Dr. Junaid Qadir (Information Technology University of the Punjab, Pakistan), Dr. Amana Raquib (Institute of Business Administration – Karachi, Pakistan)

  • Ethical challenges on application of AI for the aged care

      Dr. Bo Yan, Dr. Priscilla Song, Professor Chia-Chin Lin (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

  • Ethical technology assessment on AI and internet of things

      Dr. Melvin Jabar, Dr. Ma. Elena Chiong Javier (De La Salle University, Philippines), Mr. Jun Motomura (Meio University, Okinawa, Japan), Dr. Penchan Sherer (Mahidol University, Thailand)

  • Operationalizing information fiduciaries for AI governance

      Mr. Jia Qing Yap, Ms. Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, Mr. Josh Lee Kok Thong (eTPL.Asia, Singapore), Ong Yuan Zheng, Lenon (eTPL.Asia (LawTech.Asia)), Riyanka Roy Choudhury (eTPL.Asia (Emerging Technologies Policy Forum)), Elizaveta Shesterneva (eTPL.Asia(LawTech.Asia)) (eTPL.Asia, Singapore), Ong Yuan Zheng, Lenon (eTPL.Asia (LawTech.Asia)), Riyanka Roy Choudhury (eTPL.Asia (Emerging Technologies Policy Forum)), Elizaveta Shesterneva (eTPL.Asia(LawTech.Asia))

  • Respect for rights in the era of automation, using AI and robotics

      Ms. Emilie Pradichit (Manushya Foundation, Thailand)

  • The uses and abuses of black box AI in emergency medicine

      Professor Robert Sparrow, Joshua Hatherley, Dr. Mark Howard (Monash University, Australia)

Facebook and CCSG wish to thank all entities who submitted a proposal and congratulate the winners.

Overview

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technological developments pose intricate and complex ethical questions that the industry alone cannot answer. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions. The latter are best equipped to pursue interdisciplinary research that will benefit society.

To help support rigorous and groundbreaking academic research in these areas, Facebook is collaborating with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (esteemed co-chair of the ICDPPC Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI) to launch a Research Initiative to advance Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Asia Pacific region that takes into account different disciplinary perspectives. This line of research will also complement Facebook’s efforts that bolster independent research being done in these areas, like the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI and similar Research Awards offered in other countries and regions, such as India and Latin America.

The Research Initiative, through a Request for Proposals (RFP), will result in the production of papers from academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across the Asia Pacific region. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee, and the entities whose proposals are selected will receive a research grant.

Research Themes

  • Policy makers are emphasizing the need for ethics by design (see ICDPPC Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence here). What kinds of policy actions or regimes can foster academia and industry to collaborate for promoting and advancing ethics by design practices and frameworks?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems are explainable, what is the purpose of the latter, and what does it entail?
  • How can academia help companies and governments better understand and operationalize ethics within their own sectors and activities? How can academia both inspire and build on industry best practices for responsible and ethical development of AI?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems and applications are built in a fair and unbiased way? How should social science and humanities questions around fairness and discrimination be embedded into the technical design of AI? What best practices can we advance in this space?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems are transparent to the affected individuals in a meaningful way? (For example: how will a person know whether he or she is being unfairly discriminated against because of an automated decision?)
  • What level of autonomy or control should be provided to the affected individuals concerning the use of AI without compromising the legitimate purposes of AI, and how should the control be provided?

  • How do formal legal instruments, including existing and proposed legislation, and ethical AI governance frameworks (informal) interact and mutually influence each other? Does the former stem or preempt the latter, and are they complementary or competing?
  • What is the role of Ethical Codes in the broader regulatory landscape? How should they relate to laws and regulations (either existing or being debated)?
  • What is the role of academia in 1) promoting research on AI Governance Frameworks; 2) analyzing, anticipating, and identifying gaps in legislation and other governance models related to AI development and use; and 3) articulating best practices to guide ethical and innovative uses of data?

  • How should AI developers and companies foster and apply a multicultural approach to the ethical design of AI?
  • How can we reconcile and strike a balance between the benefits of a global approach to the need to acknowledge important particularities and differences stemming from companies’ regional user base?
  • What would be a sound and scalable methodology for researchers and product developers to recognize and solve ethical challenges, while leveraging different regional perspectives?

To Apply

The Request For Proposals is open to academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational in the Asia Pacific region. The questions and themes under each of the 3 key areas below are just examples of possible research questions. Applicants are encouraged to come up with their own proposals and to leverage, as much as possible, regional context and local examples in their submissions.

 We ask applicants to submit a 2-3-page proposal. The proposal should include:

  • A research question and a clear statement of work that can be completed within 6 months of award. Applicants are encouraged to leverage, as much as possible, regional context and local examples in their submissions.
  • A summary of the project (1-2 pages) explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes (recall that the timeline should not be more than 6 months)
  • A draft budget description (<1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent. Proposals are highly encouraged to focus funding on project personnel, especially PhD students. Proposals from small collaborative teams are also encouraged. The proposed budget should be within USD 30,000 (overhead is typically limited to 5-8%). Please note that in the submission form you will be asked to provide the requested amount in USD.
  • Name(s) of the researcher(s) involved in the proposed work with their CV/resume.
  • Indication of any previous or current connections/collaborations with Facebook (in which case, please provide context and name the Facebook contacts).
  • Successful awardees will be listed on the Facebook Research website and will be encouraged to openly publish any findings/insights from their work. Research findings will also serve as the basis for discussions for a workshop to be held in Hong Kong in September/ October 2020 and in Germany in November 2020.
  • Applications should be submitted by 31 January 2020.
  • Enquiries may be directed to Miss Jass WU (ccsg@hku.hk).

APPLICATION IS NOW CLOSED.

Eligibility

  • Organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code) and should comply with the applicable laws to receive foreign funds in their respective country.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Each applicant may submit one proposal per solicitation.

Timeline and Dates

Steps to submit a proposal: 

Request For Proposals

9 December 2019

Submission deadline

31 January 2020

Selection of proposals

Due to the overwhelming number of applications, the assessment period is now extended to March 2020.

February to March 2020

Fund disbursement

Payment will be made to the applicant's host institution as an unrestricted gift. The process will start in Q2.

2nd Quarter of 2020

Receipt of research papers

1st Quarter of 2022

Terms and conditions

  • By submitting a proposal, you are authorizing Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.

  • You agree that Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright.

  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.

  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook or the Centre for Civil Society and Governance is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.

  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook or the Centre for Civil Society and Governance in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.

Vetting Committee Member

Misinformation Policy Manager, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Jenna is a Product Policy Manager on Facebook’s Misinformation Policy team. She specialises in global health misinformation and misinformation in the Asia-Pacific region, and is based in Singapore.

Product Policy Manager, Inauthentic Behavior, Facebook

Sam Traynor is the Product Policy manager for Inauthentic behavior at Facebook. For almost the last decade he has been working in the integrity space in variety of roles and companies mainly focusing on protecting user voice, the authenticity of conversations, and the integrity of the civic process.

Head of Content Regulation, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Meg Chang is the Content Regulation Policy Lead for Facebook in the APAC region. Prior to this role, she was an Elections Manager and led Facebook’s election integrity efforts across EMEA, including the European Elections, the UK general election, and the Polish parliamentary and presidential elections, among many others. Before Facebook, she was the head of operations and publisher at EUobserver, a Brussels-based EU political and investigative news outlet. She also worked as a management consultant for Global 1000 companies in North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. She studied politics and law at the University of Kent in the UK.

Public Policy Research Manager, Data for Good, Facebook

Alex Pompe is a Research Manager on Facebook’s Data for Good team. This team builds privacy-protecting data sets to aid response work for natural disasters and public health crises (here is a recent example from the COVID19 response: https://research.fb.com/blog/2020/06/protecting-privacy-in-facebook-mobility-data-during-the-covid-19-response/). Previously, Alex led the growth team at a startup scaling the company to 35 countries over 3 years. Prior to this he worked on access to information and Internet programs for 6 years at an international NGO called IREX; first in Ukraine, next in Namibia, and then in Washington DC. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching mathematics in Namibia from 2006 to 2008. Alex holds a BS in physics from the University of Illinois, and an MS from the University of Michigan (where he also taught astrophysics.) He has served as a guest lecturer for the University of Maryland’s School of Information.

Public Policy Manager, Hong Kong, Facebook

Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Asia Pacific, Facebook

Raina is the Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC for Facebook. She is a lawyer by training and is a former regulator, having previously worked at the Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in the position of Assistant Privacy Commissioner (Legal, Policy & Research). Prior to joining the Hong Kong data protection authority, Raina had extensive legal in-house experience and held management positions in both Hong Kong and Shanghai. She served as the Assistant Chief Counsel – Head of Legal at Hong Kong Disneyland and was the Deputy Chief Counsel – Head of Legal at Shanghai Disney Resort during the initial construction stage of the project when she helped set up the legal function at the Shanghai Disney Resort. Raina held a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Assistant Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong

Dr. Chan’s primary research concerns the institutions that shape the consumption and distortion of information in different organizational settings. His current research explores how bureaucrats handle information and the impact of institutions on their choices.

Ongoing projects deal with different aspects of bureaucratic control in authoritarian regimes, such as administrative oversight, juridical intervention, internal reporting, and legislative decision-making.

He holds a PhD Degree in Public Policy from the O’Neill School of Public and Environment Affairs and the Department of Political Science, Indiana University Bloomington.

Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer, Centre for Civil Society and Governance

Dr Winnie Law is the Deputy Director and Principal Lecturer at the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on sustainable development, community planning and environmental management. She also works with a team of researchers and conducts policy research, action research and knowledge exchange projects on rural revitalization, social innovation, community engagement and corporate sustainability. Dr Law has been a director of the Conservancy Association since 2005 and has served on a number of HKSAR Government’s advisory committees including Advisory Council for the Environment. At the regional level, Dr Law was commissioned by the EU and UNDP as a planning and social monitoring expert for their city planning and environmental management programmes in Vietnam. Dr Law was one of the invited speakers for the first TedxTongChongSt’s series on Hacking the Future and delivered a talk on Future of Sustainability in 2019.

Director, Centre for Civil Society and Governance

Wai-Fung (Danny) Lam is Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance (CCSG), and Professor in Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He finished his undergraduate study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and received a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Lam is an expert in common-pool resource management, institutional policy analysis, public governance, and civil society. His research has focused on the design of efficient institutional arrangements for the governance and management of public resources, a core issue in public administration and sustainable development. Professor Lam has served on the editorial committees of Public Administration Review (PAR), International Review of Administrative Sciences (IRAS), Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis (JCPA), Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (NVSQ), and Asian Politics and Policy (APP), and is co-editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Administration (APJPA).

Director of Public Policy, Greater China, Mongolia, and Central Asia, Facebook

George Chen joined Facebook in January 2016 as the company’s first-ever policy representative based in Hong Kong, home for Facebook in the Greater China region. Currently as the Public Policy Director for Greater China, Mongolia, and Central Asia, George serves as Facebook’s “ambassador” to engage with the people and governments across the vast and diverse regions.

Prior to Facebook, George has worked in the media sector for about 15 years. George was a 2014 Yale World Fellow and a 2015 fellow of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. George is a doctoral candidate at the University of Hong Kong where he focuses his research on freedom of expression and misinformation.