artificial intelligence is Developments are fast, with projects like OpenAI’s DALL-E 2, Google’s MINERVA, and DeepMind’s Gato all pushing new technological boundaries. So far, governments have been slow to adopt this cutting-edge technology. However, by 2023, the opportunity to provide citizens with effective, targeted and affordable services will drive them to finally embrace AI, making government more transparent, accessible and effective.
In some countries, AI is already being used to improve people’s interactions with the state. This year, the Estonian government unveiled a new AI-powered virtual assistant called Bürokratt. Taking inspiration from Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, Bürokratt is giving Estonians a voice-based way to navigate key services offered by the state, such as renewing passports or applying for benefits.
In Finland, a similar platform called AuroraAI was announced in 2018. It is part of a wider effort to provide Finns with personalized and self-directed services, helping them through various life stages, whether it is the birth of a child, marriage or aged care. The platform not only helps citizens interact with government departments, but also provides proactive A concierge-like medical service that helps them renew their prescriptions and even notifies them of new health risks.
In 2023, governments will also finally start using artificial intelligence and big data to solve some of society’s biggest problems. In education, for example, companies such as UK-based CENTURY Tech are helping governments deliver personalized learning. Its system essentially acts as a personal tutor, supplementing a child’s face-to-face instruction by tracking progress and analyzing areas for improvement.
Done right—and with appropriate privacy safeguards in place—these projects can generate vast amounts of data that are themselves a competitive asset, allowing research and innovation to flourish. Consider the UK Biobank, one of the world’s most important government-led biomedical initiatives. The project has created a public database containing genetic information on more than 500,000 people. To date, nearly 30,000 researchers from 86 countries have accessed it, helping AI and biotech startups develop new drugs and therapies.
By 2023, large virtual worlds, such as those built by startup Improbable, will also allow lawmakers and civil servants to plan and make decisions. These synthetic environments are essentially virtual worlds for governments, helping them simulate how a cyber attack or infectious disease would spread and demonstrate how they could best respond.
However, investments are needed for governments to fully deliver on the promise of AI. Soon, a comprehensive digital infrastructure—including national computing power, a distributed cloud, a set of interoperable applications, and machine-readable legislation—will be as important to a nation as roads, rail lines, and public water supplies important. By 2023, an increasing number of countries will accelerate the establishment of such national digital architectures, enabling them to provide more responsive services powered by artificial intelligence to meet individual needs and help the general public. In 2023, bold governments will take the initiative – and they will be the models for the rest of the world to follow.
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