By Constance de Leusse & Paul Fehlinger
Following a series of productive consultations in Latin America, Project Liberty’s Institute together with Aspen Digital carried on its initiative to the African continent. This transcontinental initiative aims to shape an ethical framework for technology governance through inclusive and comprehensive discussions.
The African consultations, comprising three iterative rounds, were hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, in the context of the African Law Tech Festival on July 11-12.
This assembly of key stakeholders encompassed representatives from governments, international organizations, industries, technologists, civil society, and academia. The purpose was to engage in profound deliberations on ethics and technology, striving for a collective understanding that could guide responsible technological progress.
Inclusive Collaboration to Develop a Cohesive Governance Framework for Technology
Facilitated by Project Liberty’s Institute and Aspen Digital, the dynamic discussions spanned a diverse spectrum of subjects. The participants, hailing from various sectors including child development, digital rights, law, and technology, offered a rich tapestry of perspectives. A recurring theme was the imperative of tailoring policies to specific cultural contexts and ensuring inclusivity. The tenets of the Kenyan constitution, which emphasize human agency and advocate for data protection and child rights, underscored the need for all-encompassing and culturally attuned policies.
The conversation unveiled a gap in the form of the absence of a universally applied "do no harm" clause among platforms, which prompted discussions on acceptable levels of potential harm.
Ethical Principles and Actions for a Better Digital Future
The synthesis of these diverse discussions converged upon a set of guiding principles for ethical technology development. In an increasingly interconnected world, participants advocated for an all-encompassing approach, fostering collaboration among stakeholders with varying viewpoints. The conversations underlined the necessity of a cohesive and multi-faceted governance framework that reflects cultural diversity and upholds universal values.
Looking Ahead: North American, Asian and European Consultations
The success of these consultations in both Latin America and Africa, spearheaded by the Aspen Institute and Project Liberty Institute, signifies a significant step towards forging an ethical foundation for the digital age. As this initiative gathers momentum, the consultations will extend to Europe in September, Asia in October, and conclude with the North American leg in November 2023. The culmination of these endeavors will manifest in the public release of the draft principles and recommendations in January 2024.
In this era of rapid technological advancement, these transcontinental conversations serve as a beacon guiding the path toward a more ethical, inclusive, and responsible digital society.