Handbook for AI Policy Maker Capacity Building
The German Development Cooperation initiative 'FAIR Forward – Artificial Intelligence for All' and the HSRC have compiled a handbook for AI policy maker capacity building.
Strengthening AI Policy Making in the Global South
FAIR Forward strives for a more open, inclusive and sustainable approach to AI on an international level. To achieve this, FAIR Forward is working with seven partner countries in the Global South, pursuing three main goals: Improving access to training data and AI technologies for local innovation, strengthening local technical know-how on AI, and developing policy frameworks for ethical AI, data protection and privacy. FAIR Forward is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The handbook is a key output of a recent capacity building programme and new Africa-Asia AI Policy Maker Network supported by FAIR Forward and the HSRC. It is an open-access resource that can assist with the design and implementation of training programmes on responsible and ethical use of AI.
While a range of digital policy resources have been developed over the years, the handbook is the first to offer a consolidated curriculum that not only covers the foundations of AI and implications for policymakers, but also contains a series of interactive activities and exercises that facilitate peer-learning and advances adult learning about AI.
Despite the increased integration of AI-driven technologies across a range of different sectors - including healthcare, education, agriculture, environment, as well as safety and security - and a growing number of AI leaders and policy experts from the Global South, many of whom are members of the Policy Maker Network, AI remains a relatively untouched area of governance in many countries
Given the ubiquitous nature of emerging technologies in everyday life, including for people who live in the Global South, there is a need to strengthen local knowledge of what AI is, how it works, and what it is used for, and to increase access to training tools and open access resources in order to demystify AI and demonstrate its relevance to developmental goals and agendas. Further, it is important to design programmes that hone the existing capacities of government to develop laws and policies in order to leverage the benefits of AI while also mitigating potential harms, and ultimately ensuring that the interests of people remain at the forefront of all decision-making processes.
Peer-learning for capacity building
Implementing a capacity building programme is one way to do this, but the way a programme is facilitated is just as important as the content being presented. This is especially true when an anticipated outcome of the programme is for policymakers to identify, cultivate and support locally appropriate and sustainable measures relating to AI.
The consolidated curriculum provided in the handbook covers a range of topics that can be modified or adapted to suit the needs of a particular audience or context. The course content includes a series of presentations and learning templates that cover the following areas:
- Module 1: Introduction to AI - overview of AI and considerations for the Global South
- Module 2: Fundamentals of Tech Policy - AI policy enablers and the importance of sectoral approaches
- Module 3: Governance as an Enabler - data governance and sharing, ethics & human rights
- Module 4: Getting Practical - co-production and design, conducting social impact assessments
- Module 5: Institutional Readiness - capacities for building responsible AI ecosystems
The facilitation methodology used in the handbook is ADIDS, an approach which maintains that adults learn best when they are invited to self-direct their learning experience, rather than being asked to passively digest the information being presented to them. Each letter of the ADIDS acronym refers to five main stages of how each session is structured:
- Activity: interactive activity that introduces the topic
- Discussion: plenary discussion where participants share their relationship (professionally and/or personally) to the topic and share initial thoughts/ideas/experiences with it
- Input: expert provides input on topic using different formats and methods (presentation, videos, quizzes, discussions, etc.)
- Deepening: group exercise where participants apply content of input in a practical way
- Synthesis: plenary discussion that integrates knowledge gained throughout session
In this way, ADIDS is a highly interactive methodology that encourages peer-learning by asking participants to offer their insights on a particular topic. Participants are then presented with new information in a series of stages using different methods and formats before engaging in an exercise that involves applying their knowledge and reflecting on its value and relevance to their work, and synthesising new insights that can advance everyone’s learning experience.
First capacity building programme in Africa and Asia
It is worth noting that both the content and methodology featured in the handbook has already been piloted with policymakers from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, and Telangana State in India, many of whom are inaugural members of the Policy Maker Network and who participated in the first (virtual) iteration of the capacity building programme from September to December 2021. Further, the handbook seeks to support gender equality throughout the course and promotes use of inclusive practices to mitigate the risk of discrimination against females and gender minorities due to a lack of gender representation.
In this regard, the handbook not only integrates the content but also incorporates the reflections on what made the first iteration of the capacity building programme successful by providing practical tips on how challenges were managed and mitigated throughout the programme, as well as the target competencies of each member of the facilitation team.
Of equal importance, however, was the contribution made by participants, who provided a constant stream of feedback on what topics were most relevant to their work and which exercises were most useful for their skills development and application. In addition to their feedback, participants brought their knowledge and experiences related to digital, data and AI policy development, and shared critical insights on their institutional environments which not only strengthened the level of peer-learning, but also ensured the programme remained relevant, practical and meaningful to their own work.
The handbook was developed in partnership with the HSRC in South Africa, with input from a range of experts from the Global South with specialisation in AI and facilitation approaches and methodologies. Although written with a virtual course in mind, it is easy to adapt the content and facilitation methodologies to an in-person environment, which makes the handbook widely versatile and adaptable.
Anyone is free to download and reuse the handbook for non-commercial purposes, as long as the source is acknowledged. There is also a self-paced e-learning version of the course available on the learning platform Atingi.
This post was written by Dr Kelly Stone, lead facilitator on the first capacity building programme.