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SU’s Prof Kanshukan Rajaratnam to bring an ‘African voice’ to UN’s global summit on AI for Good
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]
Published: 20/05/2024

​Prof Kanshukan Rajaratnam, Director of Stellenbosch University's School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, has been invited to participate in an esteemed panel of international speakers taking part in the AI for Good Summit in Geneva, Switzerland later this month.

Organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations (UN), the Summit is an action-orientated platform intent on promoting AI to advance health, climate, gender, inclusive prosperity, sustainable infrastructure and other global development priorities. The ITU is​ the specialised UN agency for information and communication technology.

This year's focus is on AI's role in advancing many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the 10-year target. According to the Summit website, “The AI community is increasingly focused on harnessing AI to support crucial global objectives including enhancing education quality, alleviating poverty, and combating climate change. Despite these noble intentions, the actual impact of AI for Good initiatives remains modest regarding its potential."

It also notes: “Collaboration among academia, technology corporations, nonprofits, and government entities is crucial for the Public Good. However, these sectors often operate in isolation, driven by divergent goals, leading to AI for Social Good projects that, while commendable, lack integration with the communities they aim to assist, undermining sustainability."

Summit speakers include António Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN; Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI; and Gita Gopinath, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Rajaratnam will bring his knowledge and experience to a workshop that will discuss opportunities and obstacles in AI design for the public good and design incentives for a collaborative approach. The workshop will accelerate the development and implementation of joint impactful, scalable and sustainable AI research for public good projects.

“It is an honour to take part in the AI for Good workshops at the Summit. The theme of the workshop – Acting together where it matters: Breaking the silos for impactful solutions on AI for good – is particularly pertinent to the School. The School's ethos is to break silos between different environments and the workshop, Collective AI for Impact, will provide an opportunity to share ideas and best practices. I hope to bring the African voice to the session in which I will participate," says Rajaratnam.​

Photo: Stefan Els