April 15, the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) will be holding its second annual Forum on AI & Human rights at Concordia University, where the organization was founded 30 years ago, and is still based.
Over the years, as technology has evolved, MIGS had evolved with it. As a result today they are more of a research based think tank, looking at a number of serious issues around the world. These include the spread of online hate speech, genocide in Myanmar, ISIS recruiting tactics and even state surveillance and oppression of citizens in China.
“Even experts are often still not fully conscious of the impact that the technology can have” said Marie Lamensch, Project Coordinator at MIGS. “Montreal is an important AI hub, especially on ethics. We believe this is the right place to have these discussions. Last year first time we brought together AI & technology influencers and policy makers too.”
Lamensch tells MTLinTechnology that MIGS has become an important player for bringing together different stakeholder groups in this field, such as governments, tech giants, researchers and concerned citizens around the world. The participation of UNESCO, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Element AI, Lt-General Romeo Dallaire and Microsoft is proof positive that she is right. She invites the general public and above all anyone working in the tech sector to participate in this year’s Forum, who’s objective is in part to raise awareness on facial recognition and surveillance tactics and social media abuse. Both subjects many Canadians are concerned about.
AI is often used by companies like Facebook to detect (and remove) hate speech on its platforms. However in some cases it can backfire. MIGS points to one example of videos being taken offline by AI that proved atrocities in Myanmar against the Rohingya. Other such videos were recently used as evidence at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
One of the companies participating for a second time in this Forum is Montreal’s own Nexalogy. After last year’s event they collaborated with MIGS on providing government employees with training regarding social media and diplomacy. As part of those efforts there has been a lot of fruitful research done regarding the role of AI in social media research and the larger impact of automation on Human Rights and security, particularly from the perspective of NATO exercises and foreign malign involvement in Canadian elections.
Zachary Devereaux, Nexalogy’s Director of Public Sector Services tells MTLinTechnology the company believes in the fundamental importance of the project and works with MIGS year-round. “Nexalogy is continuing to collaborate with MIGS to train and brief government employees about Human Rights and AI, especially in the case of social media such as Twitter. We work together sourcing data and research around federal and international issues such as the Saudi – Canada diplomatic rift, Energy East debates, SNC Lavalin and the role of disinformation in the 2019 Federal Election. Nexalogy plans to participate in this year’s Forum in support of MIGS and this may include data science based presentations of past research or participating in panels. At the minimum Nexalogy will be there as a participant to learn from the event and share expertise.”
Those interested in learning more or attending the Forum on AI & Human Rights can get more information or buy tickets here.