UK sets out “AI for Development” vision at UN General Assembly

Julie Delahanty (President of the International Development Research Centre)

THE UK will set out an ambitious vision for how the enormous potential of AI technology can be harnessed to speed up development in the world’s poorest nations at UNGA today.

The Foreign Secretary will call on international partners to come together to coordinate efforts for AI development in Africa and accelerate progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In leading the way, the UK will launch the ‘AI for Development’ programme, in partnership with Canada’s International Development Research Centre to focus on helping developing countries, initially in Africa, build local AI skills and boost innovation.

The announcement coincides with the UK co-convening an event on AI in the margins of the UN General Assembly, where the Foreign Secretary will attend as part of our efforts to drive the global conversation on AI. The session, chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will bring together governments, tech firms and NGOs to discuss how AI can accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – a series of targets to make the world a healthier, fairer and more prosperous place by 2030.

Today the UK is also announcing £1 million of UK investment in a first-of-a kind fund that, working alongside international partners, will harness the power of AI to help countries and global organisations prevent crises before they happen. The Complex Risk Analytics Fund (‘CRAF’d’) will also respond to emergencies when they occur, and help countries recover onto the path of sustainable development. 

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: 

“The opportunity of AI is immense. It has already been shown to speed up drug discovery, help develop new treatments for common diseases, and predict food insecurity — to name only a few uses. The UK, alongside our allies and partners, is making sure that the fulfilment of this enormous potential is shared globally.”

“As AI continues to rapidly evolve, we need a global approach that seizes the opportunities that AI can bring to solving humanity’s shared challenges. The UK-hosted AI summit this November will be key to helping us achieve this.” 

Julie Delahanty, President of the International Development Research Centre, said:

“IDRC is pleased to announce a new collaboration with FCDO, a key ally in tackling the most pressing development challenges. The AI for Development program will build on existing partnerships, leveraging AI’s capacity to reduce inequalities, address poverty, improve food systems, confront the challenges of climate change and make education more inclusive, while also mitigating risks.”

This investment is also part of a wider UK commitment to use AI innovation to address global challenges, including the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.  

On 1 and 2 November the UK will host the first major global AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, building global consensus on the rapid, international action needed to advance safety at the cutting edge of AI technology. 

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