How open source software contributes to the common good

Building AI through open source communities.

Imagine a world where the tools to create platforms like Firefox, Trello, and Hubspot are at your fingertips. That world is already a reality.

That’s right. We’re talking about open source software. An open source license allows software to be freely used, modified, and shared. These programming codes are developed by academics, researchers, and enthusiasts, forming a community around open coding languages.

The community of participants involved in the Leading with AI: Ignite and build your AI-driven ideas Lab analyzed, questioned, and discussed to what extent the open source community building AI is actually “open.” This Lab, co-hosted by GIZ’s Global Leadership Academy and the International Training Centre of the ILO, is currently in its second phase Prepare for an AI Future

Open source software is more common than you might think. Scikit-learn, TensorFlow, Apache Mahout, and others are built using open coding languages like Python and R. Even Google uses and supports open coding languages like Python and R community initiatives.

The rise of open-source software

The applications range wide and far. Initiatives like Open Data, Open Government, Open Science, NumFocus, and Open Street Map depict the versatility of open source software. Dig in to participant exchanges revolving around open source software.

Open source is not a democracy

This phrase triggered many reflections. “The openness of something often does not change the fact that many do not have access or the capabilities to use the open source software,” highlighted Amoaben.

How could “open” become accessible?

Brian shared his thoughts: “While promoting the use of AI and open source software, we should support policies that increase the reach of technology and software engineering for the under reached and unreached.”

Reducing the digital divide

Accessibility and inclusion are at the core. The impact could be exponential, but the model needs a rejig. “Open source helps bring everyone on board,” envisioned Chu. “It could be a springboard for radical innovation, as others may bring mind blowing-proposals to an already existing system,” he finished. 

Practical solutions also surfaced. Jumatil sees a clear opportunity for intervention: “In order for open source to narrow the digital divide, we need to invest in education.” Building capacity and sharing knowledge will bridge this gap.

Virtual Panels

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Virtual Roundtables enable participants to network, learn and benefit from the shared knowledge and experience of the group through moderated dialogue. Gather online, take part in structured and themed discussions around the Lab topics.