SDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Please describe Other
2. Project Details
Company or Institution
AI for Peacebuilding
General description of the AI solution
Together with a consortium of private sector and academic partners, the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UN DPPA) has been working on a range of AI-powered digital solutions to advance peace efforts. For instance, DPPA has been pioneering AI-assisted digital dialogues in Yemen and Libya to advance inclusivity in peace processes. In addition, DPPA has been utilizing ML to canvass public opinions concerning ongoing political developments in conflict regions to enhance situational awareness. DPPA is also working on AI-supported geospatial analysis to strengthen early warning capacities.
Excellence and Scientific Quality: Please detail the improvements made by the nominee or the nominees’ team or yourself if your applying for the award, and why they have been a success.
Complementing other efforts to address the challenges of systematically involving public voices in the specifics of peace negotiations, DPPA and Remesh.AI have been using of AI-based applications to support UN mediators in holding large-scale consultations in local dialects and languages, allowing for real-time analyses and segmentation based on demographic interests. Since 2020, for instance, the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen (OSESGY) and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) have conducted a series of first-ever AI-assisted, large-scale virtual consultations with citizens on the opportunities and challenges of the ongoing peace processes.
Details on the methodology and pilot initiatives have been published here: 1) Faster Peace via Inclusivity: An Efficient Paradigm to
Understand Populations in Conflict Zones, NeurIPS, https://aiforsocialgood.github.io/neurips2019/accepted/track1/pdfs/105_aisg_neurips2019.pdf; 2) The United Nations is turning to artificial intelligence in search for peace in war zones, The Washington Post 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/04/23/ai-un-peacekeeping/; 3) Cutting-Edge Tech in the Service of Inclusive Peace in Yemen, Reliefweb 2021, https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/cutting-edge-tech-service-inclusive-peace-yemen
Scaling of impact to SDGs: Please detail how many citizens/communities and/or researchers/businesses this has had or can have a positive impact on, including particular groups where applicable and to what extent.
AI-powered tools now enable conflict mediators to dialogue with and poll the public in real time at scale. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the attendant need for virtual solutions, has created new openings for technology to be put to the service of peacemaking. Giving the public a voice at the negotiating table is no longer an excrescence or a nice-to-have. It is both possible to do and has proven effective. DPPA and its partners have started to use natural language processing and machine learning to dialogue with thousands of individuals in local dialects to identify points of agreement in conflict settings such as Libya and Yemen. These efforts give especially hard-to-reach voices and minorities an opportunity to be heard during peace negotiations. Follow-up engagements are currently under way in support of peace efforts in Bolivia, Sudan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine.
Scaling of AI solution: Please detail what proof of concept or implementations can you show now in terms of its efficacy and how the solution can be scaled to provide a global impact ad how realistic that scaling is.
In our experience, it was possible to run Digital Dialogues with up to 1000 participants each time in Libya and around the World through the Remesh AI system based in New York. This demonstrated the technical success of this approach. AI was effectively used as an outreach tool to increase the engagement of the Libyan population in their peace process. Post-pandemic, we hope to achieve greater public engagement in more conflict contexts with the degree of trust the research team has won through this experience. With that in mind, we hope to apply AI-powered dialogues, with new refinements, wherever peacemakers are willing to reach peace by pursuing multiple paths to inclusivity.
Ethical aspect: Please detail the way the solution addresses any of the main ethical aspects, including trustworthiness, bias, gender issues, etc.
In the future, more work will be needed to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups. The Libyan Dialogues replicated the gender breakdown we often see in the Libyan cybersphere, with no more than 15% self-identified females participating in any of the 5 Dialogues. To generate disaggregated insights on the views of female Libyans and of ethnic minorities, the project team had to pull out and intensively analyse the smaller set of responses from each of those groups (women, youth, the South, ethnic minorities etc.). This underlines the reality that AI is not a panacea that can make longstanding societal issues disappear. Still, as we improve the AI platform, its computational capacity will increase. We expect that the upper limit for participants in each dialogue will increase from 1000 to 10,000 individuals by the year-end. We look forward to being able to create real time quota samples that will greatly increase the efficacy of the platform and its performance outcomes.