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Citibeats & Clever, Chapter III: Working together to create ethical AI

 How can we achieve more representativity of data?

Abby Seneor, Citibeats' Chief Technology Officer, and Clever, an AI assistant from Open AI discuss how to reduce bias and toxicity in machine learning models by increasing the diversity of the data and with the use of open source data!

Read what Clever thinks about our new project, The Ethical AI Community, and get ready for a surprise that Clever has prepared for us!

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Uncovering Global Concerns Triggered by Increased Migration

Migration has been a longstanding topic of debate across the globe, primarily in socially and economically tumultuous areas like Latin America and Africa. In the last 6 months alone, with the reopening of borders from loosened COVID-19 restrictions in addition to a number of global events, we see the migration debate growing steadily and taking center stage once again. 

Events like the war in Ukraine, displaced Venezuelans in Latin America, and the threat of climate change among vulnerable populations keep igniting people’s need to leave their homelands in search of better living conditions. In 2022, the number of forcibly displaced persons, within and across borders, has already surpassed 100 million.

With increased migration comes the increase of potentially detrimental social and economic effects, namely xenophobia, housing shortages, and spikes in violence. It’s critical that government leaders and decision-makers understand the extent of citizens’ concerns so that they are better equipped to implement policies and aid that will help mitigate further disruption.

Surveys and polls are traditional methods governments can use to analyze public opinion, but they are expensive and limiting in that they capture issues as a snapshot in time. But societal concerns regarding migration are dynamic and ever-changing — in order to implement an early intervention, leaders need real-time data solutions that will most effectively inform necessary action.


Global Events Lead to a Resurgence in Migration

Looking back at the height of COVID-19 in 2020, migration showed signs of slowing down in countries like Venezuela — where 6.8 million citizens have left their homeland since U.S. sanctions exacerbated an already deeply-struggling economy in 2014. Although this was mainly due to reduced economic opportunities and travel bans inflicted by the pandemic, Venezuela’s socialist government adopted reforms for saving the economy, like the privatization of the oil industry, that offered some hope for a possible revival.

During this period, the United Nations estimates that about 150,000 Venezuelans returned to their home country. But with the slowdown of COVID-19, migration seems to be on the rise again. Since November, at least 753,000 Venezuelans have left the country in search of a better life in another country in Latin America or the Caribbean.

In Africa, due to continued economic hardship, much of the migration from  countries like Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho consists of citizens looking to find jobs and escape extreme poverty.  As such, South Africa hosts the largest number of immigrants on the continent because of its middle-income status, comparatively democratic institutions, and industrial economy.

As for the concerns in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens have been forced to flee the economic and societal crisis brought on by war.

There’s no doubt that migration has deep-seated effects on countries and their citizens, but what exactly are the issues? Which ones are of greatest concern and require the most immediate action?

With the use of real-time data collected from citizens about the growing debate on migration, Citibeats developed a report to help decision-makers gain insight into this complicated topic and shed some light on what citizens are most concerned about.


Findings of the ‘Global Volume of Conversations About Migrations’ Report

Using the Social Risk Monitor — an advanced AI tool that allows Citibeats to collect data in different languages, dialects, slang, and new, local, or domain-specific vocabulary from more than 27 countries around the world — we see that migration has become a key topic of debate during the last six months, namely in the countries of Venezuela (20.1%), South Africa (18.8%), Nigeria (8.2%), and Mexico (5.6%), where it represents an important volume of the global conversation. 

Furthermore, we see that the debate has been growing steadily in 87% of the countries analyzed.



Real-time Data Identifies Citizens’ Most Pressing Concerns About Migration

While it’s imperative to know that migration is becoming an increasingly contentious issue on a global scale, it’s not enough to enact change and mitigate escalation. The key to leaders’ ability to develop policies that will curtail worsening conditions is understanding citizens’ specific concerns. 

By collecting unstructured data from digital platforms like social media, discussion forums, and blog posts, Citibeats brings to light social indicators that help guide these actionable insights and identify the things people are talking about when it comes to migration.

One of the areas uncovered is citizens’ demand for intervention to guarantee the protection of human rights for migrants, particularly with the increase in human trafficking and in cases of death during transit. On the side of migrants, they are demanding global frameworks to ensure dignified access to asylum processes.

A citizen in Mexico expressed this concern via Twitter on July 6, 2022:

“Talking about human trafficking and smuggling is not only important, it is URGENT given the current context. We are going through a crisis of disappearances of women, girls and boys, we are the passage of migrant caravans, who are mostly captured by trafficking networks in our country.”

A widespread expressed concern is the need for financing and international intervention to improve infrastructure. Specifically, people want to see the implementation of refugee camps, and measures to strengthen borders, and increase security.

A Chilean citizen shared this tweet on June 23, 2022:

“It’s high time to implement a refugee camp in the north, asking the United Nations for help. This is a migration crisis that requires a humanitarian approach in addition to security measures.”

Another extensive debate among citizens centers around the alleged increase in violence linked to immigration. Citizens have pointed out a crisis of xenophobia towards migrant communities which is also a cause of polarization among citizens.

A Nigerian citizen tweeted this opinion about inclusivity and crime:

“We can't blame Nigerians for migrating. Everybody wants a good life. In any case, we are all migrants one way or another. My point is government needs to do more to promote an inclusive society. There is a nexus btw bad governance-poverty & crime surge. We just need to do better.”

The reality is that the issue of migration is not going away any time soon. The only way to alleviate its effects and offer a better way of life for all human beings — the citizens of host countries and of migrants — is to understand the problems and take action accordingly.

It is more crucial than ever that global leaders leverage advanced technology to guide inclusive policy-making and benefit from early detection that only real-time data can provide. With such a powerful tool at their disposal, leaders are better equipped to establish policies that will deliver on the types of change that people are demanding and safeguard against conditions getting worse.  

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Citibeats expands commitment to trustworthy AI with the introduction of the Transparency Page

It’s well known that Artificial Intelligence has been an integral part of the computer science field for several decades now, and perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s taking on an increasingly growing role in social science research as well. And although AI has already proven to have many beneficial capabilities — from the ability to detect early signs of cancer to helping direct government aid in disaster mitigation and relief efforts — this technology also comes with its share of challenges and risks.

The question that persists throughout society is: How trustworthy is AI? To address this, it’s important to analyze what the challenges of human data are, what constitutes ethical AI and what it takes to ensure its implementation.


What are the Challenges of Human Data?

Social science research encounters many challenges when it comes to data. Some of the main ones include acquiring quality data, being inclusive, avoiding individual profiling, and sorting out fake news, among others.

Let’s dive deeper into the first two challenges, as they are very closely linked and are precursors for the other challenges that follow. 

1. Acquiring high-quality data

Since the basis of all research findings and actionable insights is the data, the quality of the data is crucial. When we talk about data that’s collected from online platforms — social media, forums, blog posts — the potential reach is enormous. Consider that, for social media alone, active social media users have now reached a staggering 4.7 billion people worldwide, representing 59% of the total population. 

That leaves a lot of room for potential misrepresentation, fake news, inaccurate information, and false claims. Being aware of this risk is the first step. Taking appropriate actions in data collection to mitigate this issue is the complex next step that requires proper attention and care.

2. Being inclusive and representative

The next major challenge is inclusivity, which includes representing all sectors of the population accurately. For example, bias in research is a major issue. 

When looking at online data alone, online platforms are often not representative of the general population’s gender distribution. Women represent 49.6% of the worldwide population but when we look at major social media platforms, the distribution doesn’t match up. Gender distribution data for both Facebook and Twitter shows females represent only 43-44% of users while males represent 56-57%.

This means that calibrating for gender bias in data collected from online sources is key if decision-makers are to get quality data from which to inform just actions.


What is Ethical AI?

If AI is to be trustworthy, it must be ethical. 

This means that AI technology must be used for social good with clear guidelines in place. It means taking a human-centered approach to the research, development, operation, and use of AI.

Essential characteristics of ethical AI include:

  • Transparency
  • Representativity
  • Veracity
  • Reliability
  • Privacy protection

These are complicated characteristics to implement correctly, which explains why overall lack of trust is a major obstacle to the widespread deployment of AI.


How Citibeats Ensures the Ethical Use of AI

Citibeats is committed to building an ethical AI community and is constantly developing ways to strengthen trust with partners and clients. There are several ways we do this.

In addition to aggregating social data into cohorts to reduce bias and minimize unreliable data by sifting through bots, the Citibeats platform is based on social understanding versus social listening.

Compared to social listening, which has marketing-oriented motivations, social understanding tools contextualize digital conversations and are geared toward interpreting real-time social changes, conversations, and public opinions with the purpose of positively impacting society.

Social understanding focuses on the analysis of social media data and Citibeats is committed to taking steps to ensure a methodological rigourness over the veracity, completeness, and representativeness of the data sampled. This is of utmost importance, as our clients are leaders that look to our data and analyses to inform decisions that will affect citizens' well-being and quality of life. 

On the social understanding approach, Citibeats has developed a methodology to overcome biases and to reach underrepresented populations. To build trust and assure clients that Citibeats’ output is fair, safe, and reliable, we’ve taken an additional step by integrating a new feature into the Citibeats dashboard: the Transparency Page. 


Introducing the Transparency Page: What it is & Why it Matters

The Transparency Page provides an overview of the robustness and performance of the Citibeats data model. It is a holistic framework that helps us govern our AI and data as an embedded component of Citibeats’ strategy for ethical AI. 

And with this new feature that has been integrated into the Citibeats dashboard, our clients have access to the traceability of the data, the accuracy of the attribution, and, ultimately, the veracity of the insights.

Thanks to the Transparency Page, users can:

  • Understand how models work and check the performance metrics with the goal of improving data quality.
  • Check the coverage and representativity of the data to help analysts mitigate fairness and bias issues.

It’s through this level of transparency that Citibeats bridges the gap between decision-makers’ traditional distrust of AI technology and the value that ethical AI can bring to decision-makers looking to better serve their citizens.


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