We are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fuel behind all the developments that we are witnessing in this era.

The continuous and vast development of computing infrastructure changed our goal from machine programming to machine learning.

Today we see self-driving cars, translation software, virtual assistants, drones, and other things which are powered by AI. As our technologies continue to grow, AI will dominate our cities even further.

AI is taking over at a quick rate. For us, this could mean good news. Automation will reach a level never attained before. Our lives will be easier. Services will be more accessible and smart.

On the other hand, the dominance of AI can easily become detrimental. It could widen inequalities among those who have access and those who don’t have access to AI tech. It could also displace a massive volume of workers who can be replaced with automated equivalents. Data used to train AI systems can also be compromised.

Before us is a future which is potentially better for everyone. On the flip side, there could be an impending national crisis. As early as now then, a national strategy must be laid down to ensure that we will reap benefits from this revolution.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) white paper, A Framework for Developing a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, proposes a guide on developing a national AI strategy.

Here, we discuss the steps.

Step 1: Assess country’s long-term strategic priorities

First, a country should analyze its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). A SWOT analysis will help align the goals of  country in accord to their priorities, concerns, aspirations, resource constraints, and geopolitical constraints.

Step 2: Set national goals and targets

WEF specified four specific focus areas where goals and targets must be set:

  1. Target for capacity: This pertains to human resources and digital infrastructure
  2. Target for investments: Specifically, the investments allocated for AI research and development as well as grants.
  3. Target for adoption: This signifies the target socioeconomic and industrial sectors for AI adoption.
  4. Target for regulation: This is a matter of setting privacy and ethical standards for data usage.

Step 3: Create plans for essential strategic elements

Meanwhile, WEF also identified five key dimensions which should be present in any national AI strategy:

  1. Providing a set of standardized data-protection laws and addressing ethical concerns
  2. Establishing a strong research environment and forging industry-academia integration
  3. Preparing the workforce for the AI economy
  4. Investing primarily in strategic sectors, designing AI ecosystem in accord to the vital industries of their economy.
  5. Engaging in international collaboration

Step 4: Develop an implementation plan

Now with all the essentials laid down, it is time for an implementation plan. According to the WEF, the following components must be included in such a plan:

  • Phases and milestones
  • Timelines
  • Role of all stakeholders (government, independent organizations, private sector enterprises, academia)
  • Budget allocation
  • Administrative structure for implementation of the strategy

The path ahead

Laying these steps down and looking at them one by one, developing a national strategic plan for AI surely seems like a cumbersome task. However, not to develop such a framework will entail a lot of detrimental effects.

Creating this strategy does not have to be too hard. Involving all the stakeholders in AI development is one way to ensure the building of strategies in an efficient and contextualized manner.

In times of drastic changes such as the rise of AI in our society, it is high time for our global leaders to protect the citizens. To do so, much of long-term thinking and being proactive is required of them.

The path leading to a positive, AI-integrated world is our collective choice. With this, we must push forward in spite of all the challenges ahead.

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