Artificial Intelligence to bolster public services

KATHMANDU, JUNE 18: From government agencies to private sectors, industries to innovations, artificial intelligence (AI) is a global fad today. Hefty amounts are being poured into AI research and development in developed countries while developing ones are also paying heed to how they could join the bandwagon.

After the spurt of AI in the latter months of 2022, and the gradual expansion by tech giants since then, governments, researchers, and industries across the world are not only fascinated but also worried about AI going beyond regulation. Similarly, improving governance with AI is an equally growing concern among states.

Evidently, it is every government's priority to improve public service, maintain efficiency in day-to-day operations, increase productivity, augment oversight, and implement policy and action plans, where the adoption of technology is central. AI must be leveraged with caution and proper regulation.

In this regard, a paper recently released by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has showcased how some states are utilizing modern technology—AI—in government affairs and boosting service delivery.

The paper, "Governing with Artificial Intelligence: Are Governments Ready," mentions various dimensions of governance where AI can be leveraged and why trust in it is required to unlock further potential.

"OECD countries are increasingly investing in better understanding AI systems and using the opportunities they provide to transform the machinery of government. The responsible use of AI can improve the functioning of government administrations in several ways," the document said, adding that AI increases productivity.

According to the paper, once the public sector applies AI, it spurs productivity in government activities and helps design relevant and inclusive public policies. AI enables oversight agencies, builds capacity, and reinforces governmental accountability.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Labour and Welfare Administration of Norway used conversational AI to facilitate citizens receiving social benefits around the clock. It was able to sort out 80 percent of inquiries, thereby reducing the involvement of government employees.

"Transport Canada has piloted the use of a risk-assessment algorithm to assess and identify potentially high-risk cargo before it is loaded onto inbound aircraft," the paper stated, adding that a custom AI model called GiusBERTo has been applied in the Court of Auditors in Italy.

The facility "automatically de-identifies and anonymizes court decisions without sacrificing any important information, a process previously done manually."

The document also warns of the downsides associated with the use of AI, thereby underlining the need for ethical and responsible development of AI.