The Edge of Digital Ethics - Human Rights and Empty Promises





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Per Axbom
Per Axbom
I realised I was sharing a lot of Africa-related content in December. Likely this is related to research I’m doing for my talk on AI and human rights on January 20. But this also meant I was more receptive to the stories coming from The Continent, a weekly publication I subscribe to that showcases the best reporting from journalists across Africa.
I was especially taken by the final issue of 2021 and it’s summary of the year gone.
“As Africans, we had the extra spice of watching our expectations play out as Western countries finally sent us some of their hoarded vaccines (just before they expired – and then only as donations). The northern hemisphere is already talking about booster shots while fewer than 10% of Africans have had any sort of jab.
In public climate negotiations, the same countries spoke of a fairer and more just world while behind closed doors telling African countries to shut up and accept the status quo.”
Africa consists of 54 countries. I have lived in two and visited a total of ten. Of course I argue that we can not talk about Africa as one place, given its glorious diversity in culture, literature, language, animal life, architecture, innovation and more across its vast land from ocean to ocean. But what The Continent does really well is pinpoint the ways in which Africa as a whole is mistreated, exploited and cast aside on a whim. The pandemic has highlighted again and again how easily Western countries get away with empty promises.
There is power in unity and I am hopeful in seeing highlights of African leaders raising their voices in rare expressions of blunt frustration with what they express as “afrophobia” and “travel apartheid”.
This issue is about challenging biases and understanding how important voices are so easily ignored and silenced. By design.
Wishing you all the best from a cold and snowy Sweden. Attaching a photo from our walk in the forest earlier today.
P.S. I want to read more so I’m starting a book club. After reading this newsletter you’ll understand how I came to choose the first book on the list.

Our French bulldog sniffing trees in a snow white forest.
Our French bulldog sniffing trees in a snow white forest.
When Africa meets design
The Continent's Africans of the Year: Timnit Gebru
What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design? – Eye on Design
Light And Dark: The Racial Biases That Remain In Photography
The Golden Ratio, a supposed Greek invention, may have African roots
The many languages missing from the internet
How Western companies undermine African democracy
Lesley-Ann Noel on Pluriversality
Drawing on her own positionality as an Afro-Caribbean designer educated in Latin America, Noel shares philosophies that could guide a new form of liberatory, anti-oppressive and anti-hegemonic design education, research and practice. This form of design education would be grounded in critical consciousness, positionality, an emancipatory worldview, pluriversality and critical utopias. By sharing multiple worldviews and modes of practice, Noel hopes to challenge her audience to re-think both the definition and decolonization of design.
Lesley-Ann Noel: Alberini Family Speaker Series Lecture
Lesley-Ann Noel: Alberini Family Speaker Series Lecture
Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names
The world map that reboots your brain
Raoul Wallenberg Talks #1
Mindful Book Club
Insight in a tweet
Desmond Tutu passed away on December 26 at 90 years old. His strong moral voice lives on if we listen to it.
"When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land." Desmond Tutu
In Swedish / På svenska
Jonas Söderström: Här är min to do-lista till digitaliseringsministern
Ludditerna fick fel – men hade rätt | Torbjörn Elensky
Raoul Wallenberg Talks #1
Insikt i en tweet
AI i sjukvården, en översikt av kunskapsläget:
AI kan avlasta (som en 4-åring ”hjälper till” med disken)
AI är säkert och pålitligt (som en 5-åring med en morakniv)
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Per Axbom
Per Axbom @axbom

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