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AI becomes a catalyst for peacebuilding

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Can we imagine a world where policymakers harness the power of AI and create policies for peace and stability in post-conflict societies? A project of the Slovak AI platform CulturePulse strives to make this a reality through AI modeling and the use of “digital twins” that reproduce societal dynamics in real time.

The Balkans, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, have been one of the use cases of this new approach, with the aim of seeking to understand the conditions that favor cooperation or exacerbate conflicts in societies in transition.

The Bosnian conflict, which took place from 1992 to 1995, was a devastating ethnic and territorial war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly involving Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. The conflict resulted in widespread atrocities, resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 people and the displacement of millions, ultimately ending with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995.

However, the consequences of the conflict continue to impact the region even today, as Bosnia and Herzegovina remains deeply divided along ethnic lines and with a complex political system that often leads to political stalemate.

While the AI ​​platform and modeling created by CulturePulse is not designed to replace traditional fieldwork or human research, the primary goal is to provide governments and policy experts with a tool to test potential policies and their impacts in the real world.

“What we’re trying to do is highlight the cultural and psychological predictors of conflict, and then apply that knowledge to the analysis of global information flows and social media. This way we can analyze news data in an area and see if things are “warming up” or “cooling down” and inform stakeholders and peacekeepers so they can develop an appropriate strategy », Justin Lane, co-founder of the Slovak AI platform. CulturePulse, tells The Recursive.

Additionally, as he explains, AI has significantly improved intelligence gathering for peacekeeping, detecting ceasefire violations and troop movements through AI-based intelligence. image and satellites. Additionally, organizations use extensive data and statistical techniques (considered a form of AI) to analyze historical conflicts.

The path to understanding cross-cultural forgiveness

Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made in understanding forgiveness at interpersonal and collective levels. However, a thorough examination of cross-cultural and inter-religious variations in forgiveness remains largely uncharted territory.

This lack of knowledge not only limits progress in the science of forgiveness, which has primarily focused on a Western Christian perspective, but also hinders conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts. Recognizing this, CulturePulse designed a two-year project aimed at bridging this gap and providing practical resources to inform strategy and policy development in post-conflict societies, using examples from Bosnia, Ireland North and South Sudan.

Lane’s first major project contributed to the Syrian refugee crisis on the Greek island of Lesvos, focusing on integrating refugees into host communities by understanding moral differences and values.

“In Lesvos, we have focused on how we can reduce friction in areas such as resettlement and integration. These are problems that traditional analyzes can’t really help with, so having psychologically realistic models of communities can help capture the true human level of the problem, things like values ​​and emotions, which are often overlooked by the AI,” Lane tells The Recursive.

The main conclusions of the project are that one can contribute to the integration of refugees into new host communities by doing small things, such as being aware of key moral differences and how values ​​can often determine the reasons about which people can or cannot do something.

“The difficult thing we discovered is that morality is so complex that there is no perfect answer. If you optimize for one thing, you always sacrifice something else in some way, so that you can do good, and we can do better, but there is no perfect when trying to blend multiple cultures in times of crisis,” says Lane.

Another notable project was studying social cohesion and democratic stability in Central and Eastern Europe using AI and carried out in collaboration with universities, governments and NGOs. They also worked on deradicalization in social media, analyzing social networks and censorship mechanisms to promote social cohesion.

There have also been instances where AI insights have enabled a delegation of young leaders from conflict zones to learn from past experiences in Northern Ireland, highlighting the potential of this technology to contribute to peace efforts. peacebuilding.

“We were able to fund (with our partners at Cambridge University) a delegation of young leaders from Ukraine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Armenia and Azerbaijan to study at Cambridge for three days with us and other experts in political negotiation, then we took them to Belfast for three days where we gave them “on the ground” experiences with veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict. At one point, an older man who was part of the UVF (a loyalist paramilitary in Northern Ireland) was telling their story and inviting them to sign the peace wall in Belfast with him. It was a small thing, but it really had a personal impact on me: AI projects can give people insights, and when we connect them to actions “on the ground,” they can help us learn lessons from experience. past when we are in difficult situations,” Lane tells The Recursive.

Navigating the political nuances and ethics of AI

However, the use of technology also brings with it another set of challenges.

“There are political nuances, funding issues, ethical issues when it comes to AI, and of course, physical dangers of going into active conflict zones to create these systems and acquire the “on the job” experience needed to do a good job. Ethically, for example, we need to ensure that the systems we create are not used to make things work. AI is like a gun. In the hands of one person it can save lives and provide some security, in the hands of another it can be an atrocity,” adds Lane.

While AI can play a crucial role in monitoring and enforcing ceasefires and peace agreements using social listening and standard intelligence tools, the current focus is on prevention conflict resolution by helping stakeholders understand events and mitigate problems before a ceasefire is broken.

“We are more interested in the question: can we help the stakeholders understand what is happening and mitigate the problems so that there is no breakdown of the ceasefire? Although it is important to track conflicts as they occur, when they do arise, it is better – although more ambitious – to try to stop conflicts before they start. Lane points out.

Next, CulturePulse aims to expand its impact in peacekeeping by developing interactive AI tools that can work more effectively when it comes to providing such insights.

“What we found is that people face a similar lack of information around the world when trying to understand conflicts, and our AI is unique in its ability to provide this information at scale . We are therefore working to create a new AI tool that can work more interactively and intelligently with stakeholders such as key NGOs, universities and government ministries, capable of delivering scientific results within 18 hours at instead of 18 months,” concludes Lane.

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