As AI in consumer technology becomes ubiquitous, its relationship with society — both positive and negative — deepens. But there’s a scarcity of research into this relationship, especially on the African continent.
Mozilla’s Africa Innovation Mradi is opening up research grants of $5,000 to $10,000 USD to individuals or organizations studying the impact of AI on the communities they work with in Eastern and Southern Africa.
These grants will examine AI's impact on human rights, economic justice, racial justice, community justice, gender justice, disability justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and environmental justice.
For example, a grantee might research how algorithmic news feeds influence voters and elections in Nairobi. Or, a grantee might research how an AI chatbot brings legal services to the underserved in Johannesburg.
Research should answer key questions like: How does the community understand and refer to AI? Is AI shifting power and/or meeting people’s needs? Does data collection and machine learning present more of a local threat or a local opportunity? And, What opportunities are there to engage with technology builders or regulators on these threats and opportunities?
Says Koliwe Majama, Senior Program Officer at Mozilla: “As AI deployment grows in Africa, there’s a pressing need to understand and address how this technology is affecting people on the ground — especially the most marginalized. We are excited to see how this body of work will build on existing research in these regions and the impact it will have to ensure AI serves the needs of diverse African communities.”
_“As AI deployment grows in Africa, there’s a pressing need to understand and address how this technology is affecting people on the ground — especially the most marginalized.” _KOLIWE MAJAMA, MOZILLA
At least six grants will be awarded. Applicants do not need to be experts in technology, internet governance, or digital rights — but should have some experience in sharing research whether through journals, blogs, newspapers, or websites. The Africa Innovation Mradi promotes models of innovation that are grounded in the unique needs of users on the African continent.
The program explores and develops new technology, research, communities, and products in concert with a network of local partners.
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