Exploring challenges of the digital era


Inclusion and diversity goes beyond social justice; it's about developing AI systems that are effective and reflect real-world diversity.

Photo credit: Courtesy | Shutterstock

I developed the concept of 'digital polycrisis' to encapsulate the multifaceted challenges in the digital sphere, including rapid technological evolution, cybersecurity threats, regulatory complexities, and ethical issues around data protection. It expands the notion of ‘polycrisis,’ initially conceptualized by Edgar Morin, to specifically address the interconnected challenges of the digital era.

This intricate web of issues necessitates a nuanced approach and a comprehensive strategy, recognizing that these challenges are interconnected and cannot be tackled in isolation. The digital polycrisis profoundly impacts industries, governments, and individuals. In my role as Assistant Commissioner at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Bermuda, I initiated community collaborative approaches like the “Privacy Hour for Students” and “Seniors’ Privacy Tea Party.”

These initiatives exemplify humanizing policy and embracing diversity and inclusion at a regulatory level. They demonstrate the importance of tailored engagement in addressing privacy concerns and enhancing digital literacy, showcasing the effectiveness of grassroots initiatives in mitigating the individual impacts of the digital polycrisis.

In examining Kenya’s digital landscape, the progress in Nairobi’s tech hubs and startups stands out, particularly the involvement of initiatives like Women in AI Africa. While crucial, these initiatives are part of a broader puzzle contributing to holistic AI solutions.

Emphasising inclusion and diversity goes beyond social equity; it's about developing AI systems that are effective and reflective of real-world diversity. This approach ensures technology benefits the entire society while respecting cultural differences and fostering community engagement.

Aligning with global strategies, such as the AI Practitioners Guide from the Fair Forward project and initiatives like the World Bank’s “Kenya Digital Economy Blueprint Project,” highlights the significance of developing digital skills and creating opportunities. These efforts are crucial for cultivating a skilled workforce for Kenya’s digital economy and demonstrate the integration of actions with global standards, resonating with local communities.

Robust data protection and effective regulation across various sectors are essential for trust and safety. In healthcare, data privacy encourages innovation while maintaining confidentiality. In finance, regulations secure online transactions and prevent fraud. In education, protecting student information on e-learning platforms is imperative. Ensuring that AI and digital technologies adhere to ethical standards and societal values is crucial. Recognizing the need for both regional and global cooperation is vital in addressing challenges faced by Kenyan digital firms.

The Nation Digital Summit serves as a platform for uniting diverse voices, ensuring Kenya’s digital journey is inclusive and ethical. At the Nation Digital Summit, I plan to explore the complexities of digital polycrisis and advocate for inclusive, ethical technology development. My participation in the fireside chat and panel discussion will focus on integrating cultural sensitivity, aligning national and global strategies, emphasizing data protection, and fostering collaborative discussions. The summit will also emphasize empowering future generations with the necessary knowledge, skills, and ethical understanding to thrive in the Age of AI. This is essential for advancing a digital era that's fair, sustainable, and beneficial for everyone.

Thank you for engaging with these ideas and concepts. I look forward to seeing you at the Nations Digital Summit and collectively shaping a better digital future.

- Ms Cha'Von is a keynote speaker at the Nation Digital Summit. Join her at the Summit from February 21-23 to interact with her and other speakers and learn more about AI and the digital age.

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