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Saudi Arabia and World Bank announce initiative to share AI expertise with developing countries

Saudi Arabia and World Bank announce initiative to share AI expertise with developing countries

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The World Bank and Saudi Arabia have announced a long-term partnership to accelerate the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in developing nations in support of economic and development goals. The objective is to ensure that no nation is left behind in the race to unlock the value of AI while ensuring the appropriate safeguards are in place to manage the risks associated with AI.

Under the partnership, the World Bank and Saudi Arabia, represented by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), will cooperate to assist countries in creating policies and initiatives that harness the power of AI to support national development and growth. AI and related technologies are expected to unlock an additional US$15 trillion of economic value worldwide before 2030, but many developing nations do not have yet the technical readiness to share in this new wealth.

The partnership will support target nations to identify gaps in their own readiness and ability to utilise AI and data and develop their own AI policies for innovation and acceleration of AI based on sustainable development goals. As part of this initiative, AI country readiness analysis will be conducted to identify key opportunities and challenges as well as policy options to increase responsible AI diffusion. The initiative will first focus on the African continent given the potential for digital-powered development.

The initiative was announced recently by HE Dr Esam bin Abdullah Alwagait, Director, National Information Centre (NIC) and Makhtar Diop, Vice President of Infrastructure, World Bank at the Global AI Summit in Riyadh.

Alwagait said: “Through this partnership with the World Bank, Saudi Arabia aims to help all countries of the world to unlock the value of Artificial Intelligence and to share in the benefits of data-driven decision making to support economic and social growth. Data and AI are at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and through the development of our own AI agenda and policies, we have developed skills and resources that we want to share to ensure that all nations are equally prepared to harness the value of AI.”

Diop added that: “AI offers significant potential to create new opportunities and solve complex development challenges to end poverty and build prosperity. The technology also comes with risks which, if left unattended, can threaten to inflate the widening AI divide between—and within—developing countries, increasing social inequality and leaving millions, if not billions, even further behind. This initiative aims to help governments harness AI technologies while adopting the appropriate safeguards for ensuring privacy and protection as well as inclusivity and unbiased algorithms.”

The new partnership will build on the on-going work of the World Bank to actively help developing countries increase their readiness on AI opportunities and risks for technological leapfrogging. There is an emphasis on scaling innovative use of responsible AI in various applications for development such as in public sector, energy, agriculture, transport, education and health.

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