The AI project pushing local languages to replace French in Mali’s schools

Article by Annie Risemberg and Damilare Dosunmu: “For the past six months,Alou Dembele, a27-year-oldengineer and teacher, has spent his afternoons reading storybooks with children in the courtyard of a community school in Mali’s capital city, Bamako. The books are written in Bambara — Mali’s most widely spoken language — and include colorful pictures and stories based on local culture. Dembele has over 100 Bambara books to pick from — an unimaginable educational resource just a year ago.

From 1960 to 2023, French was Mali’s official language. But in June last year, the military government replaced it in favor of 13 local languages, creating a desperate need for new educational materials.

Artificial intelligence came to the rescue: RobotsMali, a government-backed initiative, used tools like ChatGPT, Google Translate, and free-to-use image-maker Playgroundto create a pool of 107 books in Bambara in less than a year. Volunteer teachers, like Dembele, distribute them through after-school classes. Within a year, the books have reached over 300 elementary school kids, according to RobotsMali’s co-founder, Michael Leventhal. They are not only helping bridge the gap created after French was dropped but could also be effective in helping children learn better, experts told Rest of World…(More)”.

The Importance of Using Proper Research Citations to Encourage Trustworthy News Reporting

Article by Andy Tattersall: “…Understanding the often mysterious processes of how research is picked up and used across different sections of the media is therefore important. To do this we looked at a sample of research that included at least one author from the University of Sheffield that had been cited in either national or local media. We obtained the data from to explore whether the news story included supporting information that linked readers to the research and those behind it. These were links to any of the authors, their institution, the journal or the research funder. We also investigated how much of this research was available via open access.

National news websites were more likely to include a link to the research paper underpinning the news story.

The contrasts between national and local samples were notable. National news websites were more likely to include a link to the research paper underpinning the news story. National research coverage stories were also more organic. They were more likely to be original texts written by journalists who are credited as authors. This is reflected in more idiosyncratic citation practices. Guardian writers, such as Henry Nicholls and George Monbiot, regularly provided a proper academic citation to the research at the end of their articles. This should be standard practice, but it does require those writing press releases to include formatted citations with a link as a basic first step. 

Local news coverage followed a different pattern, which is likely due to their use of news agencies to provide stories. Much local news coverage relies on copying and pasting subscription content provided by the UK’s national news agency, PA News. Anyone who has visited their local news website in recent years will know that they are full of pop-ups and hyperlinks to adverts and commercial websites. As a result of this business model, local news stories contain no or very few links to the research and those behind the work. Whether any of this practice and the lack of information stems from academic institution and publisher press releases is debatable. 

“Much local news coverage relies on copying and pasting subscription content provided by the UK’s national news agency, PA News.

Further, we found that local coverage of research is often syndicated across multiple news sites, belonging to a few publishers. Consequently if a syndication republishes the same information across their news platforms, it replicates bad practice. A solution to this is to include a readily formatted citation with a link, preferably to an open access version, at the foot of the story. This allows local media to continue linking to third party sites whilst providing an option to explore the actual research paper, especially if that paper is open access…(More)”.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Paper by Alice Xiang: “Debates in AI ethics often hinge on comparisons between AI and humans: which is more beneficial, which is more harmful, which is more biased, the human or the machine? These questions, however, are a red herring. They ignore what is most interesting and important about AI ethics: AI is a mirror. If a person standing in front of a mirror asked you, “Who is more beautiful, me or the person in the mirror?” the question would seem ridiculous. Sure, depending on the angle, lighting, and personal preferences of the beholder, the person or their reflection might appear more beautiful, but the question is moot. AI reflects patterns in our society, just and unjust, and the worldviews of its human creators, fair or biased. The question then is not which is fairer, the human or the machine, but what can we learn from this reflection of our society and how can we make AI fairer? This essay discusses the challenges to developing fairer AI, and how they stem from this reflective property…(More)”.

Research Project Management and Leadership

Book by P. Alison Paprica: “The project management approaches, which are used by millions of people internationally, are often too detailed or constraining to be applied to research. In this handbook, project management expert P. Alison Paprica presents guidance specifically developed to help with the planning, management, and leadership of research.

Research Project Management and Leadership provides simplified versions of globally utilized project management tools, such as the work breakdown structure to visualize scope, and offers guidance on processes, including a five-step process to identify and respond to risks. The complementary leadership guidance in the handbook is presented in the form of interview write-ups with 19 Canadian and international research leaders, each of whom describes a situation where leadership skills were important, how they responded, and what they learned. The accessible language and practical guidance in the handbook make it a valuable resource for everyone from principal investigators leading multimillion-dollar projects to graduate students planning their thesis research. The book aims to help readers understand which management and leadership tools, processes, and practices are helpful in different circumstances, and how to implement them in research settings…(More)”.

i.AI Consultation Analyser

New Tool by AI.Gov.UK: “Public consultations are a critical part of the process of making laws, but analysing consultation responses is complex and very time consuming. Working with the No10 data science team (10DS), the Incubator for Artificial Intelligence (i.AI) is developing a tool to make the process of analysing public responses to government consultations faster and fairer.

The Analyser uses AI and data science techniques to automatically extract patterns and themes from the responses, and turns them into dashboards for policy makers.

The goal is for computers to do what they are best at: finding patterns and analysing large amounts of data. That means humans are free to do the work of understanding those patterns.

Screenshot showing donut chart for those who agree or disagree, and a bar chart showing popularity of prevalent themes

Government runs 700-800 consultations a year on matters of importance to the public. Some are very small, but a large consultation might attract hundreds of thousands of written responses.

A consultation attracting 30,000 responses requires a team of around 25 analysts for 3 months to analyse the data and write the report. And it’s not unheard of to get double that number

If we can apply automation in a way that is fair, effective and accountable, we could save most of that £80m…(More)”

Blockchain and public service delivery: a lifetime cross-referenced model for e-government

Paper by Maxat Kassen: “The article presents the results of field studies, analysing the perspectives of blockchain developers on decentralised service delivery and elaborating on unique algorithms for lifetime ledgers to reliably and safely record e-government transactions in an intrinsically cross-referenced manner. New interesting technological niches of service delivery and emerging models of related data management in the industry were proposed and further elaborated such as the generation of unique lifetime personal data profiles, blockchain-driven cross-referencing of e-government metadata, parallel maintenance of serviceable ledgers for data identifiers and phenomena of blockchain ‘black holes’ to ensure reliable protection of important public, corporate and civic information…(More)”.

How Mental Health Apps Are Handling Personal Information

Article by Erika Solis: “…Before diving into the privacy policies of mental health apps, it’s necessary to distinguish between “personal information” and “sensitive information,” which are both collected by such apps. Personal information can be defined as information that is “used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity.” Sensitive information, however, can be any data that, if lost, misused, or illegally modified, may negatively affect an individual’s privacy rights. While health information not under HIPAA has previously been treated as general personal information, states like Washington are implementing strong legislation that will cover a wide range of health data as sensitive, and have attendant stricter guidelines.

Legislation addressing the treatment of personal information and sensitive information varies around the world. Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, for example, require all types of personal information to be treated as being of equal importance, with certain special categories, including health data having slightly elevated levels of protection. Meanwhile, U.S. federal laws are limited in addressing applicable protections of information provided to a third party, so mental health app companies based in the United States can approach personal information in all sorts of ways. For instance, Mindspa, an app with chatbots that are only intended to be used when a user is experiencing an emergency, and Elomia, a mental health app that’s meant to be used at any time, don’t make distinctions between these contexts in their privacy policies. They also don’t distinguish between the potentially different levels of sensitivity associated with ordinary and crisis use.

Wysa, on the other hand, clearly indicates how it protects personal information. Making a distinction between personal and sensitive data, its privacy policy notes that all health-based information receives additional protection. Similarly, Limbic labels everything as personal information but notes that data, including health, genetic, and biometric, fall within a “special category” that requires more explicit consent than other personal information collected to be used…(More)”.

Data as a catalyst for philanthropy

Article by Stefaan Verhulst: “…In what follows, we offer five thoughts on how to advance Data Driven Philanthropy. These are operational strategies, specific steps that philanthropic organisations can take in order to harness the potential of data for the public good. At its broadest level, then, this article is about data stewardship in the 21st century. We seek to define how philanthropic organisations can be responsible custodians of data assets, both theirs and those of society at large. Fulfilling this role of data stewardship is a critical mission for the philanthropic sector and one of the most important roles it can play in helping to ensure that our ongoing process of digital transformation is more fair, inclusive, and aligned with the broader public interest…(More)”.

Situating Data Sets: Making Public Data Actionable for Housing Justice

Paper by Anh-Ton Tran et al: “Activists, governments and academics regularly advocate for more open data. But how is data made open, and for whom is it made useful and usable? In this paper, we investigate and describe the work of making eviction data open to tenant organizers. We do this through an ethnographic description of ongoing work with a local housing activist organization. This work combines observation, direct participation in data work, and creating media artifacts, specifically digital maps. Our interpretation is grounded in D’Ignazio and Klein’s Data Feminism, emphasizing standpoint theory. Through our analysis and discussion, we highlight how shifting positionalities from data intermediaries to data accomplices affects the design of data sets and maps. We provide HCI scholars with three design implications when situating data for grassroots organizers: becoming a domain beginner, striving for data actionability, and evaluating our design artifacts by the social relations they sustain rather than just their technical efficacy…(More)”.

Air Canada chatbot promised a discount. Now the airline has to pay it

Article by Kyle Melnick: “After his grandmother died in Ontario a few years ago, British Columbia resident Jake Moffatt visited Air Canada’s website to book a flight for the funeral. He received assistance from a chatbot, which told him the airline offered reduced rates for passengers booking last-minute travel due to tragedies.

Moffatt bought a nearly $600 ticket for a next-day flight after the chatbot said he would get some of his money back under the airline’s bereavement policy as long as he applied within 90 days, according to a recent civil-resolutions tribunal decision.

But when Moffatt later attempted to receive the discount, he learned that the chatbot had been wrong. Air Canada only awarded bereavement fees if the request had been submitted before a flight. The airline later argued the chatbot wasa separate legal entity “responsible for its own actions,” the decision said.

Moffatt filed a claim with the Canadian tribunal, which ruled Wednesday that Air Canada owed Moffatt more than $600 in damages and tribunal fees after failing to provide “reasonable care.”

As companies have added artificial intelligence-powered chatbots to their websites in hopes of providing faster service, the Air Canada dispute sheds light on issues associated with the growing technology and how courts could approach questions of accountability. The Canadian tribunal in this case came down on the side of the customer, ruling that Air Canada did not ensure its chatbot was accurate…(More)”