The quest for national AI success has electrified the world—at last count, 44 countries have entered the race by creating their own national AI strategic plan. While the inclusion of countries like China, India, and the U.S. are expected, unexpected countries, including Uganda, Armenia, and Latvia, have also drafted national plans in hopes of realizing the promise. Our earlier posts, entitled “How different countries view artificial intelligence” and “Analyzing artificial intelligence plans in 34 countries” detailed how countries are approaching national AI plans, as well as how to interpret those plans. In this piece, we go a step further by examining indicators of future AI needs.
The “Rebirth of 1800 St. Bernard” took place last year on a chilly December day by New Orleans standards. Attendees wore protective masks and socially distanced—a difficult feat with at least 100 people present. That day represented more than a groundbreaking for residents of New Orleans’ Seventh Ward; it promised the revival of a community anchor in the majority-Black neighborhood that had been decimated by Hurricane Katrina more than 15 years prior.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, thus far, spared Africa from the high number of cases and deaths seen in other regions in the world (Figure 1). As of April 2021, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for just 3 percent of the world’s cases and 4 percent of its deaths. Some experts attribute the relatively low case counts in sub-Saharan Africa to the region’s extremely young population or, importantly, the swift and preemptive lockdowns that many countries implemented in March 2020. While these lockdowns have likely saved lives, they have also left significant scars on the fiscal position of sub-Saharan Africa and the market conditions it faces. Dwindling revenues following the fall in global trade met a wave of unemployment among a population that lacks widespread access to safety nets and health infrastructure.
In sectors as diverse as health care, criminal justice, and finance, algorithms are increasingly used to help make complex decisions that are otherwise troubled by human biases. Imagine criminal justice decisions made without race as a factor or hiring decisions made without gender preference. The upside of AI is clear: human decisionmakers are far from perfect, and algorithms hold great promise for improving the quality of decisions. But disturbing examples of algorithmic bias have come to light. Our own work has shown, for example, that a widely-used algorithm recommended less health care to Black patients despite greater health needs. In this case, a deeply biased algorithm reached massive scale without anyone catching it—not the makers of the algorithm, not the purchasers, not those affected, and not regulators.
After years of inactivity, momentum is gathering for policy action on issues related to consumer financial data in the United States. In July, the president issued an executive order encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to enable data portability in financial services. The CFPB issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking last year and expects to commence a rulemaking process in spring 2022. Congress has shown interest in the subject as well, most recently by holding a Task Force on Financial Technology hearing on consumers’ right to access financial data.
As a result of the American Recovery Plan Act (ARP), many cities and counties are seeking to make transformative investments while prioritizing equity in the process. Naturally, the spending decisions local governments are making have received a lot of attention.
More than half of the world’s children are growing up in cities. By 2030, up to 60 percent of the world’s urban population will be under 18 years old. Yet, children and families are often invisible to urban planners, developers, and architects when creating city-wide policies that impact transportation, air and noise pollution, and health and well-being. “The truth is that the vast majority of urban planning decisions and projects take no account of their potential impact on children and make no effort to seek children’s views…All too often, this is down to a simple lack of respect for children’s rights or abilities,” writes Tim Gill in his recent book “Urban Playground.”
In November, at the COP26 U.N. Climate Change Conference, the U.S. will join the community of nations keeping alive the promise to meet the agreed target to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. The Biden administration will continue to work to reestablish U.S. leadership and increase global commitments for tackling climate change amid lingering skepticism from other countries. Its strategy for achieving its own ambitious target goes beyond a narrow focus on mitigation to include other important dimensions such as quality jobs, public health, and environmental justice. This offers an opportunity to leverage the areas of intersection and synergy between the U.S. climate agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to advance U.S. climate ambitions, both at home and abroad.
Fiscal policy, including both automatic stabilizers and pandemic-related tax and spending legislation, played a significant role in cushioning the blows to the economy of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021. The Hutchins Center Fiscal Impact Measure (FIM)—which measures how much federal, state, and local tax and spending policy adds to or subtracts from overall economic growth—shows that fiscal policy has boosted economic growth on average since the start of the pandemic, but will restrain growth going forward as the effects of the stimulus wane.