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How Can the G20 Use AI to Help Create Sustainable Communities in an Inter-Connected World?

Sarah Mariani, G20 Research Group, and Martin Dionne, Founder of the Brighter Future
September 21, 2017

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was first introduced in the G20 Blueprint on Innovative Growth at the G20 Hangzhou Summit held on September 3-4, 2016. The purpose of the Blueprint was to define the New Industrial Revolution and present the opportunities of emerging technologies to disrupt existing production processes and cycles. AI was included as the driving force of these changes, representing technologies that can manage vast amounts of data to produce designs and solutions a human may not be able to. Despite being left out of the 2017 Hamburg Summit, in just one year AI has become more than a disrupter in production, evolving to become a potentially valuable asset in building more sustainable communities. Communities can be described as a type of infrastructure, with strength built through shared values. These values are exchanged locally to purchase goods and services. While technology has made it easier to exchange value globally, local transactions of value will continue to occur.

Today, these micro-transactions and behaviors on a community level have the potential to affect another community on the other side of the planet, depending on who is responsible for supplying or transporting the good that is purchased. Purchasing a coffee at a local café in Canada, for instance, represents a small transaction that has occurred between members of a community. But this transaction also represents a transaction between the café itself, the person who delivered the coffee beans and the coffee supplier, who may be a farmer in Ethiopia currently employing a staff of 100 people. In one purchase, potentially hundreds of people are impacted.

There is no single entity capable of tracking the impact of transactions. Yet to do so would be the first step in creating more equitable pricing or standards of labor that could best represent the needs of each impacted community member. While no human could possibly track the data of every transaction taking place at a given time around the world, AI has this potential.

AI has the capacity to one day analyze and predict what impact individuals have on their communities both locally and globally, thereby offering a key tool to maximise and optimize policies for any given community no matter its location. Each nation or community would thus be independent yet interconnected through a global omniscient AI, fostering the "right" actions for any given community and therefore ensuring their sustainability.

Sustainability and making globalization work for the benefit of all have been a G20 priority since the club's conception. The kind of artificial intelligence described above offers a way to better coordinate a diverse, interconnected world.

There are three key ways the G20 can work to harness AI to help create sustainable communities:

The first is deliberation. As a global governance forum, the G20 should spend more time on the importance of fostering innovation and on how AI impacts and can improve global governance.

The second is decisions. The G20 should increase the number of commitments it makes on the issue at its annual summits to ensure that AI governance is a collaborative project and an understood technology. It can commit to foster AI from all angles, including research funding, entrepreneurial support and community building.

The third is to continue encouraging global interconnectivity in the face of certain adversity. This may take the form of increased access to the internet in developing regions, or in breaking down barriers between existing regional markets. An interconnected world is one in which goals and values can become more common among different communities, therefore incentivising the creation of an AI technology to maximise and optimize the policy needs of local communities.

AI is here, and big data is driving a revolution all over the world. Harnessing its power for a greater local and global community is up to the G20.

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Sarah Mariani is an analyst with the G20 and G7 Research Groups. Martin Dionne is the founder of Prëmo and a member of the Canadiand delegation to the 2017 G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Berlin.

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