Conference: Decolonising AI: Ethics and the Rule of Law

Calls to decolonise AI have risen from across the world, echoing a growing global consciousness to attend to the debris left by the European empires of modernity and, too, respond to increasing instances of injustice and discrimination arising within the AI industry, discipline and practice which bear the mark of racial inequality and settler dispossession. AI ethics has arisen as the dominant discourse for anticipating the harms of these emerging technological systems. In this session, I explore the relationship between AI ethics and the historical Western ethics that served to justify and sustain colonial rule, through exploring 3 conceits of AI ethics:

  • ethics-dumping and the trial of high-risk technologies in post-colonial places
  • the evasion of ethical standards by big tech in places from Myanmar to Nigeria and Palestine
  • the exploitation of post-colonial data resources to enhance the ethical efficacy of AI technologies designed for deployment in the West


Rachel Adams
Principal Researcher, Research ICT Africa
Principal Investigator, Global Index on Responsible AI
Director, Africa Just AI Policy Centre
Associate Fellow, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge
Associate Researcher, Information Law and Policy Centre, University of London

Dr Rachel Adams is the Principal Researcher at Research ICT Africa, where she Directs the AI4D Africa Just AI Centre, is the Project Lead of the African Observatory on Responsible AI(AI4D) and is the Principal Investigator of the Global Index on Responsible AI. Rachel is a member of the UNESCO Expert Committee for the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, an Associate Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, a Research Associate with the Information Law and Policy Centre at the University of London, and a Research Associate of the Tayarisha: African Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Rachel has published widely in areas such as AI and society, gender and AI, transparency, open data, and data protection. Rachel is the author of Transparency: New Trajectories in Law (Routledge, 2020), and the lead author of Human Rights and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa (HSRC Press, 2021).


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