In the past few years, the rapid development of artificial intelligence has generated solutions to many of the most critical operational challenges governments face and is being used to combat a global health crisis.
FREMONT, CA: Governments have utilized AI to manage the budgets, detect fraud, and forecast and limit energy consumption. Besides solving the challenging problems, these AI solutions have the added advantage of providing data for evidence-based policymaking, strengthening support for additional use cases, and allowing data-driven decision-making. As the private sector’s AI investments and innovations mature, the public sector has a greater opportunity to push the boundaries of how AI is applied.
But there is a considerable challenge. While several governments have successfully used AI and digital technology to streamline, expand, and enhance a few services while lowering the costs, most have been slow to pursue the full digital transformations and stay behind rising “AI-powered” companies. Concerning intense public scrutiny and the larger political process, government decision-makers are cautious regarding pursuing big changes and the investments AI needs, especially in these times of increasing budget deficits and fiscal uncertainty.
The global pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis have given rise to a unique opportunity. Government leaders have become willing to consider broader process changes and, at least for the time being, are less resistant to adopting new technologies. Optimistically, the pandemic has developed a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the leaders to push for bold institutional change. The pandemic has put a permanent mark on societies, changing what people require and expect from their governments. Suddenly, the risk of doing nothing feels a lot greater than the risk of bringing new technology and processes. This has opened up the window of opportunity for a transformative change bigger than it has been in decades, but that window could close just as quickly. Governments need to act immediately.
Looking ahead, what is most essential to remember is that AI has the potential to touch almost every aspect of government. Those leaders who can embrace this potential can set their nations or regions on a path toward a more robust economic recovery, societal healing, and government’s productive participation to achieve those goals and more.