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AI: Saving Lives and Languages in Ghana

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A banner image of the film being recorded in Ghana.

A new film by award-winning reporter Sophia Smith Galer investigates the attitudes and experiences behind the negative perceptions of AI uncovered by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll in Ghana, West Africa.

World Risk Poll 2021: A Digital World Perceptions of risk from AI and misuse of personal data

Download the report

Perceptions of AI

In July 2023, Lloyd’s Register Foundation invited creative content creators and journalists across the world to tell the human stories behind the World Risk Poll - the first global study of worry about, and harm from, risks to people’s safety.

We partnered with multi-award-winning journalist, author, and creator Sophia Smith Galer, who visited Ghana to better understand why its population is especially worried about artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential risks.


Worldwide, two in five people (39%) believe AI will ‘mostly help’ people in their country over the next 20 years. 28% say it will ‘mostly harm’ people, according to data from the 2021 World Risk Poll report ‘A Digital World: Perceptions of risk from AI and misuse of personal data.

Concern over the risks of AI is particularly prevalent across several of the world’s lowest-income regions - including Central/Western Africa, Southern Africa, Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, and Southern Asia, where more than a third of people say AI will mostly harm in their country in the next 20 years.

And Ghana is no exception, with 47% of people viewing AI as potentially harmful, compared with only 28% who see it as helpful. This makes it one of the most sceptical countries in a sceptical region. Speaking to people on the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital, Sophia found that some people felt AI could threaten employment and take away jobs, while others felt more generally scared of how it is currently used and will be used in the future. For many individuals, it appears they just didn’t feel confident to talk about AI, perhaps partly due to not knowing suitable terminology.

However, what’s surprising about Ghana is that these views come despite the fact it is a country very much involved in developing AI, and its government is seemingly AI positive. Google has even chosen Ghana as the home of its first Africa Artificial Intelligence lab, which opened in 2019.

The World Risk Poll shows a general trend that globally, in areas that are at the forefront of AI development, people feel more confident with these emerging technologies, but in late-adopting countries, people are more hesitant to accept AI and demonstrate more concern over its impacts.

During her visit, Sophia spoke to a number of people leading the AI revolution in Ghana, many of whom are volunteers using technologies to improve information spaces online. One application is bridging the gap in translation apps and services, which currently neglect the diversity of Ghanaian languages. Another promising use case is in the healthcare sector, where professionals are using AI to speed up screening and diagnosis times – in turn saving lives.

Despite evident concerns among the people of Ghana, there are many positive examples of AI being developed and used in the country, and where it is already empowering people and organisations.

Sophia shares just some of the innovative projects that the Google centre is currently supporting, from using AI to improve data on critical infrastructure in the region, weather forecasting projects where machine learning is being used to predict flooding events, and healthcare initiatives.

Clear innovation is happening in Ghana thanks to artificial intelligence, presenting opportunities to help tackle some of the country’s greatest challenges. While the government and developers such as Google are confident in its capabilities, to fully exploit its benefits the concerns of the general population must be addressed, including with clearer communication about its applications and limitations. 

Sophia Smith Galer is an award-winning journalist and content creator credited for pioneering journalism on TikTok. She has earned a series of accolades, including the British Journalism Awards’ Innovation of the Year in 2021, a spot on the Forbes Under 30 List and recognition in British Vogue as one of the 25 most influential women in the UK in 2022. She has previously reported for the BBC and Vice News.

To find out more about the World Risk Poll findings on perceptions of AI risk around the world, explore the report.