Brazil launches national AI strategy

Brazil has launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) strategy, which aims to balance ethical use of the technology while boosting research and innovation in the sector.

Following a public consultation, which ran from December 2019 to March 2020, the strategy sets out six objectives. These include to: develop ethical principles that guide responsible use of AI; remove barriers to innovation; improve collaboration between government, the private sector and researchers; develop AI skills; promote investment in technologies; and advance Brazilian tech overseas.

Since Canada became the first country to adopt a national AI strategy in 2017, other governments have raced to develop policies that will reap the benefits of AI while curbing its harms. The OECD now tracks over 60 countries’ AI policy frameworks.

Brazil’s strategy notes that the state needs to encourage entrepreneurship in the sector. “In 2019, while the US invested US$224 million in AI startups, and China US$45 million, Brazil invested only $1 million,” it said.

Trust and ethics

Brazil has adopted the OECD’s five principles for responsible AI: inclusive growth, sustainable development and wellbeing; human-centered values and equity; transparency and responsible disclosure; robustness, security and safety; and accountability.

The strategy is organised into nine pillars or axes. The first pillar – “legislation, regulation, and ethical use” – is thematic and ensures that human rights are safeguarded and that strong regulatory frameworks are established. This includes a commitment to build ethical requirements into tenders for AI-driven solutions.

Another pillar – “qualifications for a digital future” – aims to “prepare current and future generations to cope with the changes and impacts of AI”. The strategy proposes a national digital literacy programme for students, and tech training for teachers, for example.

And a third pillar focuses on how AI can be applied to government for the benefit of citizens, including a commitment to implement AI in at least 12 of Brazil’s federal public services by 2022.

Big opportunities

The strategy is also ambitious about the possible commercial benefits of doubling down on AI.

One pillar of the strategy, for example, aims to identify productive sectors — such as financial services and the law — and applications, where AI would benefit to industry. It proposes fostering links between AI start-ups and SMEs.

And another pillar – “research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship” – points out that Brazil has a good national distribution of AI experts and practitioners, but that they mostly work in academia or the public sector, rather than in private tech firms.

Source: Global Government Forum, article by Josh Lowe, 13 April 2021

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