Experts see AI as key to inclusive and sustainable growth

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Responsible leadership focusing on harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) for inclusive growth and sustainability within Asia and the Pacific and beyond is imperative to realize the vast potential of AI for inclusive development, according to an article published by Tokyo-based think tank Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).

In a blog post, Dian Tjondronegoro, professor of the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation at Griffith University; and Bob Trojan, adjunct industry fellow, and Shawn Hunter, director of Inclusive Growth Programs at the Griffith Asia Institute, said AI can enable a transformative pathway toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tjondronegoro, Trojan and Hunter said projects like AI for Earth have demonstrated AI’s potential for conservation and sustainability, directly aligning with multiple SDGs.

“Moreover, AI can empower decisions in critical areas, such as healthcare, education, and environmental conservation, by harnessing massive unstructured datasets like social media posts or satellite images,” they said.

The authors said realizing the AI’s potential for inclusive development, however, requires a concerted effort and ethical stewardship involving leaders, policy makers and technologists.

They cited some key examples of responsible AI actions including identifying impactful challenges and applying policy interventions that promote AI-enabled solutions, developing ethical use cases, fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration, leveraging international frameworks, promoting data literacy and public awareness, promoting transparency, and committing to long-term investment for sustainable impact.

Tjondronegoro, Trojan and Hunter said countries like India and Indonesia grapple with healthcare accessibility, especially in remote areas.

“An important challenge could be deploying AI-enabled telemedicine solutions to diagnose common conditions, thereby extending the reach of healthcare services to marginalized communities,” they said.

In promoting transparency, companies like Microsoft and Google have released AI Ethics reports on issues like carbon footprints of AI models, bias in AI systems, and economic impacts, setting an industry standard for transparency.

“Policy makers can work with the private sector to develop reporting standards promoting responsible practices,” they added.

Further, the authors said leading AI nations, such as the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and the United Kingdom, have committed long-term investment in AI research and development.  

This aimed not only at economic gains but also at solving complex problems like urban pollution control and efficient energy utilization, demonstrating a sustained commitment to both innovation and sustainability, they added.

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