With artificial intelligence (AI) poised to become as widespread as the internet, its impact in Asia and the Pacific is expected to grow further. In response to this development the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and APRU, with funding from Google.org, developed the ‘AI for Social Good’ multi-stakeholder network. The network has been supporting policy makers by developing insights on what capabilities and governance frameworks will be most supportive for leveraging AI effectively for social good.
The ‘Strengthening Capabilities and Government Frameworks in Asia and the Pacific’ project is building on these past activities to achieve transformative impact by bringing together government agencies from the Asia-Pacific region and outstanding researchers to:
- continue supporting research and cross-border connections on “AI for Social Good”;
- provide active support in the development of country-specific AI governance frameworks and national capabilities; and
- empower transparent AI ecosystems and develop AI solutions that tackle socio-economic challenges.
In collaboration with the Thai Office of National Higher Education, Science Research and Innovation Policy, scholars in AI related research will be conducting research to support the Thai Government in the development of policies promoting and enabling AI policy frameworks and building AI capabilities for social good in the following focus areas:
Medicine and Healthcare
AI is becoming ubiquitous and is expected to create unprecedented impacts on societies. In Thailand, research work on AI for medical applications has increased exponentially in the past few years. Some Thai companies have already invested in developing AI-based medical products and services and plan to release them to the market in the near future. However, the progress in developing and applying AI from research to market in the area of medicine and healthcare is quite slow due to no clear AI governance framework. In order to support and accelerate the use of AI in medicine and healthcare, analyses are needed to identify crucial bottlenecks and gaps. After that, an AI governance framework should be designed to cope with those challenges.
To alleviate poverty and inequality in Thailand, the Thai government has developed data-driven decision-making systems to improve public access to state welfare programs. These systems include the Thai People Map and Analytics Platform that targets poverty alleviation (https://www.tpmap.in.th/) and the Thai Small and Medium Enterprise for Government Procurement System that supports SME in
accessing government procurement programs (https://www.thaismegp.com/ ). However, due to the highly technical nature of these systems, they are used almost exclusively by local government offices that know how to interpret the data shown in the systems. Improving the human-centred design and public accessibility of these technologies will be crucial to increasing Thai citizens’ sense of ownership towards the use of their own data, thereby promoting general awareness in Thai society and government agencies of the importance of data sharing for poverty alleviation programs.
Prof. Toni Erskine, Australian National University
Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics and has been Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University (ANU) since 2018. She is also Editor of International Theory: A Journal of International Politics, Law, and Philosophy, Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, and one of the Chief Investigators on the ‘Humanising Machine Intelligence’ (HMI) Grand Challenge Research Project at ANU. She was Chair of the 2020 Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS), which was hosted by the Coral Bell School, and serves on the Research Committee of the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) and the Advisory Group for the Google/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) ‘AI for the Social Good’ Research Network.
Dr. Jasper Tromp, National University of Singapore
Research Focus: Fundamental obstacles to accessing medical and health care data
Dr. Tromp am a physician and epidemiologist with a strong interest in machine learning and digital health tools to treat and prevent cardiometabolic diseases. He has degrees in both medicine and international relations. >60 publications accepted/published, including publications in, Lancet Global Health, Circulation, European Heart Journal and Journal of the American College of Cardiology (All IF >20). His research is focused on low- and middle-income countries in Southeast and South Asia, where he uses epidemiological and health system approaches to identify gaps and barriers to high quality care which can inform the development of digital health tools for implementation studies. Dr. Tromp has conducted health system assessments and digital health intervention evaluations in a variety of settings, including in Tunisia, India and Thailand.
Dr. Sarah Logan, Australian National University
Research Focus: Poverty alleviation and inequity with a focus on state welfare programs
Dr Logan is an International Relations academic whose research focuses on the impact of the information age on international politics. Her monograph on counterextremism policy, especially online counterextremism, will be published with Oxford University Press later this year. She is a founding member of the International Studies Association’s section on Science, Technology, Art and International Relations and has conducted innovative research on the expansion of Chinese search engines into South East Asia, on public attitudes to government surveillance in Australia, and on Chinese state disinformation campaigns on Chinese language platforms in Australia. She came to academia from government, where she worked as an analyst on a range of geopolitical issues, including development, organised crime and terrorism. Her work has been funded by the US State Department, the Australian government, a range of industry bodies and the Australian National University.