‘The right to know’: International Day for Universal Access to Information

All around the world, we are joining together to share the celebration of International Day for Universal Access to Information with each other. Sharing knowledge and information is a boon for everyone. As Kofi Atta Annan, former Secretary of the United Nations, succinctly states: ‘Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.’ The accessible dissemination of knowledge and information is a key cornerstone for the development of thriving societies; we all have ‘the right to know’. Research Features is founded upon these egalitarian principles. It’s why all our articles are free to read and easy to understand – and always will be.

This year, the event run by the United Nations and UNESCO will focus on Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and Access to Information. We’ve rounded up a selection of the latest thinking on the importance of open access science and free access to information, as well as the potential societal benefits and risks of using AI. So, you too, have knowledge at your fingertips.

It’s time for science to embrace open access

Open access vs traditional publishing methods. It is a sore subject, rife with controversy and conflicting opinions, but is a debate that is necessary and needs to be had. Professor Jason Schmitt – a Communication & Media professor and filmmaker at Clarkson University – recognises this better than most. His new film documentary – Paywall: The Business of Scholarship – looks to engage the public and, fundamentally, point out that changes need to be made to move science forward. But what are these changes, and why are they so important? Read on to find out more.

AfLIA: paving the way for open access to a wealth of information

The African Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA) is a non-profit organisation set up to advance research and development, drive high, professional standards, and respond to the information needs of communities in Africa. AfLIA is at the forefront of the open access movement within Africa, forming important partnerships with fellow organisations to ensure Africans have free and consistently available access to research and information.

Building artificial intelligence for social good

Artificial intelligence is one of the most disruptive technologies nowadays and as such is considered both an opportunity and a threat to society. On the one hand, it could make us vulnerable as we trust machines to make more and more decisions that so farhave been reserved for humans. On the other hand, it has the potential to revolutionise large-scale energy management, traffic control, the job market, and countless other areas of our economy. For this reason, Dr Long Tran-Thanh, a Lecturer at Southampton University, aims to harness AI to solve the most important societal challenges of our age.

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