Decolonising AI: Ethics and the Rule of Law

Source: OBVIA Published 29 March 2022

OBVIA Conference


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


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 to 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. This session explored the relationship between AI ethics and the historical Western ethics that served to justify and sustain colonial rule, through exploring three 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; and the exploitation of post-colonial data resources to enhance the ethical efficacy of AI technologies designed for deployment in the West.