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Pakistan Scholar among winners of Facebook’s Ethics in AI Research awards

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Today, Facebook announced the winners of the Ethics in AI Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific, an initiative to help support thoughtful and ground-breaking academic research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) ethics. 

Among the winners from nine different countries is Junaid Qadir, Professor at the Information Technology University (ITU) of the Punjab, along with co-investigator Amana Raquib, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi.

To support AI ethics research in the Asia Pacific, Facebook partnered with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (PCPD; esteemed co-chair of the Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI of the Global Privacy Assembly) to launch a request for proposals (RFP) in December 2019. The RFP was open to academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across Asia Pacific. 

“The latest advancements in AI bring transformational changes to society, but at the same time an array of complex ethical questions that must be closely examined. At Facebook, we believe our understanding of AI should be informed by research conducted in open collaboration with the community. That’s why we’re keen to support independent academic research institutions in APAC to pursue interdisciplinary research in AI ethics that will  enable ongoing dialogue on these important issues in the application of AI technology that has a lot of potential to benefit society and mankind,” said Raina Yeung, Head of Privacy and Data Policy, Engagement, APAC at Facebook.

“We’re excited to be awarded this grant and are looking forward to beginning this project. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has great potential to facilitate sustainable human development goals, but it also has significant potential for abuse. Through this work, a culturally-informed, pro-social AI framework for Pakistan and the Muslim world will be proposed. In this regard, the rich Islamic legal tradition and the work on objectives (Maqāsid) of Islamic law will be leveraged for studying contemporary AI-related issues,” said Junaid Qadir, the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project.

“Through the proposed framework, the project team will seek to engage with other AI ethics frameworks and propose new insights that can advance the general body of knowledge on AI and Islamic ethical principles and guidelines,” he added. 

Junaid Qadir is a professor at the Information Technology University (ITU) of Punjab, Lahore since April 2020, where he also serves as the chairperson of the Electrical Engineering Department since January 2019. He completed his Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia in 2008 and his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, Pakistan in 2000. 

Amana Raquib, the co-PI of the project, has completed her doctorate, summa cum laude, in Religious Philosophy and Ethics from the University of Queensland, Australia. She had earlier completed her undergraduate in Philosophy from the University of Karachi. She is the author of the book “Islamic Ethics of Technology: An Objectives’ (Maqasid) Approach.”