Oxford Insights is working with the IDRC to prepare an index for measuring governments’ readiness for implementing AI in their public service delivery and operations.

The 2019 Government AI Readiness Index will be part of the IDRC’s Artificial Intelligence for Development initiative (AI4D).

Last year, Oxford Insights designed and published a composite index focused on OECD governments, based on nine input metrics, ranging from in-country digital skills to government innovation.  The Index received global political and media attention, including a citation from UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her speech at the 2018 World Economic Forum. The current project will develop a new edition of the Index, which will include a global sample of countries and revised indicators.

 In the next few decades, artificial intelligence (AI) applications will profoundly impact low- and middle-income countries. Leveraging the rapid spread of communications infrastructure, gains in computational power, and the emergence of big data, AI offers exciting opportunities for promoting economic growth and addressing key development problems in the global south, including in health, education, and other public services. However, without investments in policy and regulatory structures, inclusive and ethical AI applications, and infrastructure and skills around the world, AI will likely lead to greater inequality and political instability.

IDRC is building an AI for Development (AI4D) initiative, with a focus on research and capacity-building to develop AI applications that are inclusive, ethical, and rights-based. The program will foster the spread of AI applications for the social good (advancing education, better governance, improved health care delivery, etc), while supporting the development of solutions and capacities that ensure AI applications are inclusive, open, and rights-based. IDRC wrote a white paper on AI and Human Development launched at the Conférence de Montréal in June 2018, and it is building a research agenda together with partners around the world.  The 2019 Government AI Readiness Index will help to inform these discussions and the design of the program.

The methodology

Based on feedback we received on last year’s index we have revisited and refined our methodology in the following ways:

  • We are looking to include as many UN countries as possible this year (expanding from last year’s group of OECD countries). As a result, some of the indicators from last year that were OECD-specific datasets have been removed, and we have had to look for new indicators that cover as many countries as possible.
  • We still have nine indicators; many are the same as last year but we have added a governance component, which covers indicators for data protection/privacy laws, and the existence of an AI strategy (either now or forthcoming). We felt this was important and was a key theme in our feedback from last year.