The potential impact of the AI

Developing a comprehensive AI roadmap is crucial for steering the country towards a future of sustainable development

The potential impact of the AI


he global landscape has been reshaped in the wake of the fifth industrial revolution, primarily driven by the ascent of artificial intelligence. As a transformative force, the AI is influencing diverse sectors, including health, education, environment, agriculture, manufacturing and defence.

The profound implications of the AI on human resources manifest in enhanced efficiency and goal achievement through reduced reliance on the traditional workforce.

In the global AI landscape, 2022 witnessed the prominence of applications like generative pre-training transformer, exemplified by OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Within the first five days of its November 2022 launch, ChatGPT garnered one million users, showcasing the rapid adoption of advanced AI technologies.

The Global Artificial Intelligence Market Report underscores the robust growth of the AI, indicating a significant global adoption trend. In 2021, AI global funding doubled to an impressive $66.8 billion, with 65 AI companies reaching valuations exceeding $1 billion—a remarkable 442 percent increase from the previous year. Despite a decline of approximately 26.7 percent in AI investment compared to 2021, the global private investment in AI reached $91.9 billion. The long-term trend indicates that AI investment has seen significant growth, with an 18-fold increase since 2013.

AI adoption is on the rise, with a report revealing that 35 percent of companies currently use AI and an additional 42 percent are exploring its implementation for the future. Voice technology is becoming increasingly popular, with predictions indicating that there will be 8 billion AI-powered voice assistants by 2023. Additionally, businesses using AI for digital commerce are expected to see more than a 25 percent improvement in customer satisfaction in 2024.

However, regional variations in AI readiness are notable, as revealed by the 2023 Government AI Readiness Index. The South and Central Asia region, including Pakistan, ranks second-lowest globally, indicating substantial disparities in AI transformation readiness.

In contrast, North America, led by the United States with a score of 84.80, has the top position, emphasising the role of strong government support, robust data infrastructure and strategic planning.

Pakistan, recognising the pivotal role of AI, has witnessed significant strides, with initiatives like the Presidential Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Computing and the Pakistan Artificial Intelligence Initiative contributing to the integration of the AI in key sectors.

The Draft National Artificial Intelligence Policy introduced in May 2023 further solidifies Pakistan’s commitment to AI development. Envisioned to shape the country’s AI landscape by 2028, the policy emphasises the creation of a national AI strategy, the establishment of AI centres, and the formulation of a robust regulatory framework. These initiatives align with the government’s proactive stance, exemplified by the introduction of AI-centric regulatory frameworks in 2020.

AI’s transformative impact on Pakistan’s development journey is evident across various sectors. Strategic planning, robust policies and a focus on skill development are imperative to harness the full potential of AI while addressing associated challenges.

AI’s impact on education and health in Pakistan is transformative, offering personalised learning through AI algorithms and improving healthcare delivery through applications in medical imaging, clinical decision support and drug discovery.

The academic sector plays a crucial role, with institutions like the National Centre of Robotics and Automation and the National Centre in Big Data and Cloud Computing spearheading AI research.

In addressing climate change and agriculture, the AI is emerging as a potent tool. Technologies developed by Google for flood forecasting and wildfire detection leverage AI and machine learning to provide real-time information, facilitating effective disaster response.

In agriculture, Pakistan’s National Centre of Artificial Intelligence has introduced innovative solutions, such as the Smart Irrigation System and the Rice Quality Analyser, demonstrating the potential for AI to revolutionise the sector.

Likewise, the green AI initiative of the government of Pakistan (where SDPI is preparing a blueprint study to develop the business case for the adoption of current technologies in agriculture) is a proactive approach to using AI for precision agriculture.

Globally, AI’s environmental impact, concerns about job displacement and ethical considerations surrounding data privacy are challenges that demand attention. The potential displacement of over 800 million jobs by 2030 and a $15.7 trillion economic impact underscore the need for a balanced approach to AI adoption.

For Pakistan, AI related challenges are different. Pakistan’s ranking of 92nd in the Government AI Readiness Index indicates a gap between aspirations and achievements.

Re-skilling the workforce remains crucial, with only 10 percent of IT graduates deemed skilled, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. Limited resources in education and health sectors pose additional hurdles.

To navigate these challenges, a strategic focus on mid-career professionals for skill development is proposed. Continuous learning programmes, workshops and specialised training initiatives can empower individuals to adapt to emerging AI trends, ensuring resilience and competitiveness.

An effective AI advocacy approach involving stakeholders from government, academia, civil society, the private sector and the public should highlight advantages while dispelling misconceptions.

AI’s transformative impact on Pakistan’s development journey is evident across various sectors. Strategic planning, robust policies, and a focus on skill development are imperative to harness the full potential of AI while addressing associated challenges.

Developing a comprehensive national AI roadmap is crucial for steering the country toward a future where AI contributes significantly to sustainable development.

The writer heads SDPI’s Centre for Learning and Development

The potential impact of the AI