AI and digital technologies present developing economies with a ‘more to gain, more to lose’ paradigm: AI can be harnessed to accelerate economic growth across sectors,  but also has the capacity to exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities. TFS’s work in this theme builds capacity for AI policy, regulatory, and governance frameworks that support countries’ efforts to harness AI responsibly towards achieving national objectives and meeting their inclusive and sustainable development goals.

National AI Strategies in Rwanda, Ghana, and Tunisia

From 2020 to 2022, TFS worked with GIZ, Smart Africa, and public sector ministries from three national governments—Rwanda, Tunisia, and Ghana—to develop their national AI strategies. TFS led participative consultations with local AI actors, conducted SWOT analyses of local AI ecosystems, drafted ethical guidelines, and developed implementation plans to support each country in achieving its respective national objectives toward sustainable and inclusive growth.

Policy research

In 2019-2020, in collaboration with the World Bank’s Digital Development Practice, The Future Society produced a report titled Harnessing AI for Development: A Review of National AI Strategies and Policies, which analyzed over 20 national AI policies, mapping out governments’ use of AI to support their development objectives and make progress towards tackling each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In 2020, TFS published a forward-looking report on AI for SDGs in a Special Issue of Delphi Journal. The paper considers how AI technologies can spur or inhibit progress towards SDGs, and makes the case for multi-stakeholder collaboration and new kinds of “public-private-people” partnerships to reconcile technical, ethical, legal, commercial, and operational frameworks and protocols. 

AI in Latin America

In 2019, The Future Society published Planet Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence for a Predictive and Inclusive form of Integration in Latin America, exploring how AI technologies can help achieve progress towards the SDGs as well as how they may inhibit them. Following that, in 2020, The Future Society participated in the first Regional Forum on AI in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by UNESCO in partnership with the Brazilian Network Information Center (NIC.br) through its Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society (Cetic.br), and the Brazilian Government, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC).

Sectoral approaches

In 2021, TFS led sectoral research on opportunities and challenges of AI in healthcare in Africa, and produced a report on AI for education for The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) based in Rabat, Morocco. TFS built upon our research in the education sector by organizing an international webinar titled ‘Artificial Intelligence and Education, Best Practices and Policy Recommendations’ in collaboration with ICESCO, Mila, and Algora Lab.

Between May and August 2021, The Future Society collaborated with the bank Société Générale, its 16 branches in Africa, and the civic tech Bluenove to up-skill Société Générale employees’ understanding of the risks and benefits linked to the adoption of AI in the banking sector. The three workshops organized throughout the summer culminated in the production of a manifesto for the responsible use of AI and data. 

Downstream impact

Our work at the national level and within discrete sectors helps us understand if our higher-level research and policy objectives are well-calibrated. Work within this theme continuously informs our research and advisory, including that provided to the OECD AI Policy Observatory, Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), UNESCO, the World Government Summit, The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, UN Data Forum, and other international organizations and governments. We are also keen to share our findings: TFS has led sessions on AI policy for sustainable and inclusive development at Internet Governance Forum (2020, 2021, 2022), and Internet Governance Forum Rwanda (2020).

Endorsements

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