The news: Junaid Qadir, a professor at the Information Technology University (ITU), and Amana Raquib, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi received an award for Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific, by Facebook.
Ethics in AI research initiative: As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes a daily part of our lives, many complex and critical issues about ethics arise. In order to gain understanding and find solutions, Facebook collaborated with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong, and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (PCPD) to launch an Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific. The purpose of this initiative is to foster interdisciplinary research and thought-provoking emphasis on the moral principles and uses of artificial intelligence, specifically in the Asia Pacific region. A call for proposals was instigated in December 2019. Recognized academic institutions, think-tanks and research organizations across the Asia Pacific were eligible to apply for this award, as long as they were non-profit or non-governmental organizations.
Partnership with the community: The proposals from various countries in the region were then presented and reviewed by a selection committee. The recipients of the award will reportedly receive a research grant based on their proposal. Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC at Facebook, Raina Yeung said that she believed that the understanding and development of AI should be accompanied by research conducted through a partnership with the community. She said that AI had great potential to benefit humankind and that interdisciplinary research in the ethical application of AI will encourage a dialogue on these important issues.
Pakistani scholars: On June 17, it was announced that Dr. Junaid Qadir and Amana Raquib’s proposal on culturally informed pro-social AI regulation and persuasion framework was among the recipients of the award. Dr. Junaid Qadir is a professor and the chairperson of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Information Technology University (ITU) of Punjab, Lahore. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia while he is also an alumnus of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore. The co-PI of the project, Amana Raquib, concluded her doctorate in Religious Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Queensland, Australia. Before that, her undergraduate degree in Philosophy was from the University of Karachi. She has also authored the book ‘Islamic Ethics of Technology: An Objectives’ (Maqasid) Approach.’
Research project: The Principal Investigator (PI) of the project, Junaid Qadir, said that they are excited to begin the research project. He pointed out that AI can assist in achieving sustainable human development goals, but it can also be used for abuse and exploitation. With their research project, Qadir and Rquib will propose a culturally-informed and pro-social AI framework for Pakistan and the Muslim countries. For this purpose, they will study contemporary AI-related issues in light of work on objectives (Maqāsid) of Islamic law and the rich Islamic legal traditions. The proposed framework will then be compared with other AI ethics frameworks to generate suggestions and insights that can further develop the pre-existing knowledge of AI and Islamic ethical principles.