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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Friday, September 15 • 10:00am - 12:00pm
[VIRTUAL] Pitfalls of AI (151005)

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AI is becoming indispensable as users of various AI technologies become aware of the advantages of using it. AI can perform frequent, high volume and automated tasks without fatigue, can process big data, and gives out accurate predictions in shorter time frames than humans are capable of. This reduces human errors and provides actionable information quicker than manual processes. The predictive ability of Large Language Models (LMM) has become phenomenal, making it possible for AI to learn human language and conventions with increasing accuracy and give satisfactory responses to human queries. However, the shortcomings of chatbots like ChatGPT which are based on LMMs are becoming evident – their performance is based on what they find on the internet and everything in the outputs is fabricated, as the AI’s purpose is to combine what is available on the internet in a plausible form.
It is concerning that there are no firmly universally established ethical codes or standards yet, and the adaptation of legislation to protect users and society from AI’s ‘mistakes’ is proceeding much too slowly. There is a limited number of (highly skilled) people who can program the machines, and few people are required to operate them, thus creating insufficient employment in any economy. There is also the long-held fear that robots may someday render humans useless and/or dominate them. The emergence and public release of chatbots based on LLMs have brought this spectre closer to reality.
This panel session aims to touch on these debates in society and follow up on the two-day NSTF discussion forum held in May 2023.
We aim to answer the question: How do we prevent AI technologies from taking away human agency, and mitigate the possible harmful impact of these technologies?
We aim to formulate recommendations flowing from the discussion forum in May 2023 and this panel discussion at the UNGA78 Science Summit:
• On how to promote the responsible use of AI technologies
• On responsible education and skills training in the context of AI
• On legislation, regulations and codes of conduct relating to the use of AI
• On the implications for leadership in business, research and society

Speaker/ Organisation
16:00 - 16:05
Welcome to participants and introductions; programme, outputs, and intended outcomes
Ms Jansie Niehaus, Executive Director: NSTF

16:05- 16:25
What are the implications of the development of AI for leadership in government, business, research, and society?
Prof Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, Chief Executive Officer: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa @nrf_news

16:25 - 16:45
Human centred AI Systems for scientific knowledge discovery and sustainable development in South Africa
Prof Deshen Moodley, Associate Professor: Department of Computer Science, University of Cape Town, South Africa; and Co-Director: South African National Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research
Unit (CAIR) @UCT_research

16:45 - 17:05
In the context of AI generated academic outputs, what is the purpose of the university?
Prof Sioux McKenna, Director: Centre of Postgraduate Studies, Rhodes University (RU), South Africa @rhodes_uni

17:05 - 17:25
Establishment of the AI Institute of South Africa (AIISA) and its role in building AI capacity in South Africa
Prof Anish Kurien, Node Director: French South African Institute of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), South Africa @official_TUT

17:25 - 18:00
Panel discussion

avatar for Deshen Moodley

Deshen Moodley

Prof Deshen Moodley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the co-director and co-founder of South Africa’s national Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR). He joined the UCT in July 2016 after serving... Read More →
avatar for Sioux McKenna

Sioux McKenna

Prof Sioux McKenna is the director of the Centre for Postgraduate Studies at Rhodes University, South Africa, and Visiting Research Professor in the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College, USA. Her research focuses on the purpose of higher education in society... Read More →
avatar for Fulufhelo Nelwamondo

Fulufhelo Nelwamondo

CEO, National Research Foundation (NRF)
Prof Fulufhelo Nelwamondo is the CEO of the National Research Foundation of South Africa.He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering, with specialisation in Computational Intelligence from the University of the Witwatersrand. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Graduate School of Arts... Read More →
avatar for Anish Kurien

Anish Kurien

Acting Director: TUT Hub of AI Institute of South Africa, Tshwane University of Technology
Prof Anish Mathew Kurien received his DTech in Electrical Engineering from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Pretoria, South Africa in 2012, and his PhD in Computer Science (Joint Degree) from the University of Paris-Est, Champs-sur-Marne, France in 2012. He is currently... Read More →


Jansie Niehaus

Executive Director, National Science & Technology Forum NPC

Friday September 15, 2023 10:00am - 12:00pm EDT