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BKC Policy Practice on AI Hosts Expert Review of Colombia’s AI Ethical Framework with Focus on Youth

BKC Policy Practice on AI Hosts Expert Review of Colombia’s AI Ethical Framework with Focus on Youth

Colombia President Iván Duque Márquez launches AI framework; BKC’s Urs Gasser delivers keynote

As part of BKC Policy Practice: AI, a public-interest oriented program that helps governmental, nonprofit, and private sector organizations implement AI best practices and turn AI principles into operational realities, BKC recently offered expert feedback to the Colombian government on its draft AI ethical framework, an important milestone in the implementation of Colombia’s National Policy on Digital Transformation and AI. This engagement, and related efforts to help Colombia as it develops and implements its AI strategy, builds upon the extensive work BKC Policy Practice: AI has done with governments and international organizations around the world.

Colombia’s draft framework, “Ethical Framework for Artificial Intelligence in Colombia,” establishes a series of principles for the design, development, implementation, and deployment of AI systems in Colombia, with a goal of building a foundation that enables fair and responsible innovation while advancing the public good. 

The draft framework was created for the Colombian government by Armando Guio Español, consultant for the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), expert on AI policy, and BKC Affiliate. His work on AI governance and technology policy began as an LLM student at Harvard Law School in 2015-2016, and continued while he was a Berkman Klein Center (BKC) Fellow in 2018-2019, when he worked closely with the Youth and Media (YaM) team and examined how young people are affected by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

Guio Español’s experiences working closely with BKC and YaM directly shaped Colombia’s vision for its AI ethical framework, and in particular, its unique focus on youth. Colombia’s AI ethics framework is one of the first to specifically recognize the important role that young people should play in shaping national AI policy. 


Watch a short video on BKC Policy Practice: AI’s work with the Colombian government on its AI ethics framework, an implementation of Colombia’s national AI policy.

In late November 2020, BKC Policy Practice: AI hosted an expert roundtable focused on the youth-related elements of the draft framework and how Colombia can ensure the development of key skills among the country’s young people. The roundtable featured a wide range of voices from BKC and beyond with over 25 participants from around the world, sharing feedback for Colombia grounded in their research on AI, youth, and youth engagement.  

The event, facilitated by BKC assistant research director and Policy Practice: AI lead Ryan Budish, began with a foundation-setting presentation from Español, who described Colombia’s objectives and process in creating the framework. BKC fellow Sandra Cortesi, who directs the YaM team, then moderated the remainder of the discussion, starting with brief provocations from a few of the participants who shared important perspectives on key issues like youth-centered co-design processes and protecting youth privacy. The comments and feedback collected from this event will be shared directly with Guio Español and the Colombian government as they work to improve the framework and begin to implement recommendations.

The expert meeting is part of a larger consultation process that was recently launched by Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez. At the launch event, BKC Executive Director Urs Gasser shared with the President the important role that governments can play in shaping AI policy. These exchanges were part of a public event where President Duque launched the draft AI ethics framework.

In identifying some of the challenges in developing ethics frameworks for national policies and how to address them, Gasser remarked on the benefits of proactive dialogue and stressed, “I would emphasize that it's not only what decisions will be made, but also how we arrive at these value judgments, in the case of some of these trade-offs or tensions, that will be key.”

These collaborations and contributions are an embodiment of the work that the Center does as part of BKC Policy Practice: AI. The AI policy practice creates spaces for learning, knowledge-sharing, and capacity-building, by bringing together public and private decision makers with experts from around the world to tackle concrete implementation challenges. Placing academic experts into direct dialogue with policymakers is important for sharing knowledge, best practices, and innovative new ideas. 

On how his time at BKC supported his work on AI and ethics, Guio Español commented, “Without a doubt, I would not have been able to work on this project without being part of the BKC community. When I arrived at BKC in 2018, AI was becoming a very relevant issue, but still, in countries such as Colombia, the topic was not seen as a priority. Additionally, there were many myths about this technology and its real potential. My time at BKC allowed me to understand the real features of AI, its characteristics, and how it could impact Colombia and the region.”

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