This article was published by The Future Society in Advisory Services, Policy Research, The AI Initiative on May 19, 2021

Policy Pathways to Harness AI for Development

Main insight

This project builds a framework of enabling policies for emerging and developing countries to harness artificial intelligence for their development objectives while mitigating important risks.

Advisory ServicesPolicy ResearchThe AI Initiative
May 19, 2021
2 min read

The Future Society launched with the World Bank’s Digital Development Practice a new global research & advisory project about policy and regulatory approaches for harnessing responsible artificial intelligence for a broad range of countries beyond those leading in AI today.

The pace and magnitude of the digital revolution suggest that developing countries cannot afford to lag behind in leveraging AI. Furthermore, AI and digital technologies offer developing areas significant opportunities and risks in a ‘more to gain, more to lose’ paradigm. Countries can harness AI to address pressing social and economic problems. However, AI can also exacerbate inequality, concentration and control risks presented by digital technologies. This project aims at building a framework of ‘enabling’ policies for emerging and developing countries to build and harness artificial intelligence for their development objectives while mitigating important risks.

The project analyzes numerous countries’ AI strategies and applications to identify emerging policies and practices. It identifies policy recommendations for countries to harness safe and ethical AI based on their levels of AI and digital maturity. Specifically, it builds a framework of policy approaches that can be applied in a flexible and agile way, building on existing work within and outside The Future Society and The World Bank.

To date, preliminary research finds that national AI strategies focus on 8 Domain areas, ranging from AI talent development, supporting data access and entrepreneurship ecosystems. To achieve these, AI strategies leverage 6 primary Tools & Instruments. These range from regulation to direct investments, to fostering Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and collaborations with the private sector, academia, nonprofits, and the public.

The 2021 summary report Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for Development in the Post COVID-19 Era: A Review of National AI Strategies and Policies can be read on the World Bank Digital Development website or in PDF here. (Full report pending 2021)

Learn about our project supporting Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, and GIZ FAIR Forward to develop Rwanda’s National AI Policy

Learn about work program Policies to Harness AI for Sustainable Development