World Bank Group (WBG)

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The World Bank Group works in every major area of development. We provide a wide array of financial products and technical assistance, and we help countries share and apply innovative knowledge and solutions to the challenges they face.

Description of Activities on AI

Project 1 Developing Knowledge and Policies

Machine learning-based analytical projects:

  • Automated text analytics – Monitoring the scope and coverage of projects related to forced displacement by multilateral development banks through the use of machine learning.
  • Health data registries – Machine learning approaches are used to automatize the processing, analysis and interpretation of data registries to help assess the impacts and results of the centralized purchase of medications and strategies for hepatitis C virus.
  • Credit scoring – Machine learning-based credit scoring model is applied to study how and which characteristics and behaviors predict creditworthiness differently for women and men.
  • Measurements in land use – Remote sensing and machine learning is used to measure changes in land use to measure agricultural intensification in areas where administrative data is lacking, and data collection is costly.

The International Finance Cooperation (IFC) has also prepared a series of though leadership pieces to guide investments in emerging markets. This year, IFC has published the following reports:

Project 2: Piloting AI in World Bank operations

The World Bank Group’s Technology & Innovation Lab serves as a knowledge and advisory hub around emerging technologies. The Lab explores and provides technology advice on emerging technologies’ potential for innovative problem-solving, and operationalization approaches in both WBG internal and external operations. The Lab has partnered with WBG teams across various sectors to solve development challenges by applying user-centric design and technology foresight, and through prototyping and exploration with AI capabilities [e.g., machine learning (ML), neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), assistive technologies (chatbots), robotics] and other converging tech.

Project 3: Piloting AI in World Bank operations

The World Bank Group’s Technology & Innovation Lab serves as a knowledge and advisory hub around emerging technologies. The Lab explores and provides technology advice on emerging technologies’ potential for innovative problem-solving, and operationalization approaches in both WBG internal and external operations. The Lab has partnered with WBG teams across various sectors to solve development challenges by applying user-centric design and technology foresight, and through prototyping and exploration with AI capabilities [e.g., machine learning (ML), neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), assistive technologies (chatbots), etc.].

Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges

  • Data Privacy & Security: The reliance on data prompts the WBG to engage externally and obliges internally strict guidelines on data privacy, in addition to adhering to global standards of data privacy such as EU’s GDPR
  • Data Scarcity: Lack of standardized datasets and thus volume requires data scientist to use new methodologies to attain enough data, these include: Supervised learning, Active Learning, and Transfer Learning methodologies
  • Algorithm Bias: Biased datasets generate biased outputs. Human interaction to minimize outliers in datasets can minimize their influence, however, can be time consuming.

Opportunities

  • Increased Demand: The COVID crisis has propelled digital transformation and create an increased demand from WBG client countries to gain a better understanding of key policy elements to enable AI adoption and expand AI-enhanced development opportunities.
  • Internal Capabilities: WBG teams are steadfast to test theories, experiment usages and build evidence on harnessing AI for development.
  • Trustworthy AI: The WBG teams are promoting the experimentation and implementation of responsible AI use. WBG will engage with policy makers around the world to build evidence towards a future with AI at the forefront of achieving SDGs.

Related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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