New Documentary Explores AI Concerns and Innovations in Ghana

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Published on March 12, 2024 by

A new investigative documentary has been launched looking at artificial intelligence in Ghana, after a major worldwide poll uncovered concerns from the country’s population over its risks.

The documentary ‘AI: Saving Lives and Languages in Ghana’, by award-winning reporter Sophia Smith Galer, looks at the attitudes and experiences behind Ghanaians’ negative perceptions of AI. It delves into findings from the World Risk Poll, a global study of risks to people’s safety by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which highlighted that many Ghanaians felt AI would do more harm than good over the next 20 years.

The poll, which surveyed 125,000 people across 121 countries on multiple topics, found that 47% of respondents in Ghana felt AI was potentially harmful compared to 28% who viewed it as helpful. Given the country’s pioneering role in developing new AI systems – it is the home of Google’s first Africa Artificial Intelligence lab, which opened in 2019 – these results were investigated further in Sophia’s new documentary.

“The Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll data around AI demonstrated a clear trend in which nations at the forefront of AI development were more confident in it and late adopters less so,” explains Sophia. “With that in mind, the findings from Ghana really stood out to me. With an AI-positive government and a strong developer community, you would perhaps expect a similarly positive view from Ghanaians overall, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

“I wanted to find out why this was, as AI is a topic that greatly interests me and there are many positive examples of AI being developed and used in the country to empower people. I therefore suggested to Lloyd’s Register Foundation that I explore these findings further and was thrilled when they approved my proposal. Thanks to their commission, I was able to spend two weeks in Ghana looking into different AI projects and investigating why this scepticism exists.”

Sophia’s documentary is the result of Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s invitation to creative content creators and journalists to tell the human stories behind the World Risk Poll. It examines the use of AI and machine learning in various applications, including bridging the gap in translation apps and services that have previously neglected the diversity of Ghanaian languages. This includes Sophia looking into the work behind Khaya, the first translation app for Ghanaian languages, and Wikimedia’s efforts to expand the presence of the West African Dagbani language online.

Alongside this, Sophia visits the Accra-based biotechnology company MinoHealth AI Labs to find out more about the application of AI in healthcare to make screening and diagnoses quicker. Filming also takes place at a press day at Google’s Africa Artificial Intelligence lab to look at how AI is improving data on critical infrastructure and severe weather event prediction in the region.

Ed Morrow, Senior Campaigns Manager at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “As Sophia’s new documentary makes clear, AI-powered innovation is occurring rapidly across Ghana. However, to make full use of the possibilities and benefits AI can offer, the misgivings of the general population must be understood and addressed.

“’AI: Saving Lives and Languages in Ghana’ was commissioned to discuss these issues more closely with Ghanaians, and the finished documentary has provided valuable insights. People’s concerns, including how AI may threaten employment, and whether it will be used ethically and responsibly, require careful consideration. But there is also a need for clearer communication about AI’s fantastic potential to improve save and lives, as well as its limitations. We hope that this new documentary helps further inform the debate and encourage anyone interested in AI and its applications to watch it and find out more.”

To watch and find out more about AI: Saving Lives and Languages in Ghana, click here.

For more information about the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, visit https://wrp.lrfoundation.org.uk/.

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