The Ethics and Practice of AI Localism at a time of COVID-19 and beyond

As they grapple with COVID-19 and other challenges, cities worldwide are mobilizing AI technologies to help trace patient contacts, automate decision-making, and monitor citizen movements. These developments are part of the emergence of AI Localism, a term coined by Stefaan Verhulst and Mona Sloane for a new and radical shift of AI governance from the national to the local level. While local AI leadership offers greater agility and potential for innovation, the urgency of the crisis has left little time to address ethical and human rights questions, and inform city officials of potential risks.

This project will identify successful, equitable and democratic global examples of local AI use and governance for COVID-19 as well as risks and challenges, including problematic AI applications, public concerns, and conflicts over AI use between cities and state and non-state actors. The project goal is to determine characteristics of success and share successful approaches that can be emulated by cities worldwide.

AI Localism

This project is a collaboration with the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (IEAI) at the Technical University of Munich and the GovLab at New York University. The project will run until September 2021.

CAIDE Researchers