Prof Marlene Holmner presents at Nigerian Conference

Posted on November 05, 2021

Professor Marlene Holmner, of the Department Information Science, at the University of Pretoria, was one of four Lead Paper Presenters at the Ahmadu Bello University Library Complex International Conference (Blended) was held from 1st - 3rd November 2021 at the PG e-Library, Kashim Ibrahim Library, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.

The theme of the conference was: Management of Information, Knowledge, Research and Innovation for Sustainable Development.

The keynote address was presented by Prof Dennis Ochola (Department of Information Studies, University of Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal).

Professor Holmner's Lead Paper Presentation:
Information Ethics and the 4th Industrial Revolution

In her introduction Professor Holmner noted:

“Advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), distributed ledger and cloud computing, are at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They can also unlock moral values and benefits to individuals and society. “Perhaps nothing, not even the race to the moon, has changed society with such speed and scale as the recent advances of new, disruptive technologies.” (WEF Responsible Use of Technology, 2021) While we believe that AI will help improve daily life in many ways and help solve big societal problems, we can’t afford to look to this future with uncritical eyes. This is why we need to think beyond the technology itself to address the need for strong ethical principles, the evolution of laws, the importance of training for new skills, and even labour market reforms.”

The following concepts were clarrified:

“Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is a term coined in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). It is characterized by the convergence and complementarity of emerging technology domains, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, new materials and advanced digital production (ADP) technologies. The latter includes 3D printing, human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and artificial intelligence, and is already transforming the global industrial landscape.

Information Ethics

Information ethics has been defined as the branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy automatically through experience and by the use of data.”

In her conclusion, Professor Holmner said:

“The computer era has required us to grapple with important questions about privacy, safety, security, fairness, inclusion, and the importance and value of human labour. All of these questions will take on particular importance as AI systems become more useful and are more widely deployed. To ensure that AI can deliver on its promise, we must find answers that embrace the full range of human hopes, needs, expectations and desires. (Microsoft, 2018)”

- Author Joukje Geertsema

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