17 July 2023
This month, UNESCO published its AI Readiness Assessment Methodology, a diagnostic tool to support governments in ensuring Artificial Intelligence is developed and deployed ethically, in line with its Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, adopted unanimously by its Member States in November 2021.
UNESCO worked with a high-level group of AI experts from all regions of the world to develop the Readiness Assessment Methodology (RAM) in 2022. The tool is a comprehensive assessment that tests the adequacy and pertinence of existing national laws and policies to frame the technological development positively, and gauges the technical capacities of public servants and institutions.
Pinpointing a precise plan of action
The RAM provides an assessment of a country’s legal, social, cultural, scientific, educational, technical and infrastructural AI capacities. It also indicates whether a country’s AI systems align with the values, principles and policy areas set out in UNESCO’s Recommendation. It is conducted by national experts, hired by UNESCO, who have a strong understanding of the national context. The end product of the RAM will be a comprehensive report, enabling experts and policy makers to pinpoint what institutional and regulatory changes are needed to take advantage of these technologies while protecting against its shortfalls.
These changes may involve costly capacity-building efforts, and UNESCO is committed to using its networks and expertise to support countries, particularly through its “AI Experts without Borders” network, launched in June 2023. This network will assist countries in developing policies, using international benchmarks as a reference.
50 countries implementing in 2023
“Countries are at different stages of readiness to implement the UNESCO’s Ethics of AI Recommendation, and there is “no one size fits all” approach. They also have different societal preferences, risk thresholds and innovation landscapes. UNESCO's tool takes these specificities into account while bringing an international perspective, so we can learn together on how effectively we can address the AI challenges” said Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO.
50 countries are engaged with UNESCO in the implementation of RAM this year, including Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Botswana, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Gabon, India, Kenya, Malawi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal, South Africa, Timor Leste, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.
National analyzes that will feed the international dialogue
The UNESCO’s RAM is implemented with the support of the European Commission, the Government of Japan, the Patrick McGovern Foundation, and the Development Bank in Latin America (La Corporación Andina de Fomento- CAF)
Country reports, based on the RAM diagnostic assessment will be published on UNESCO’s AI Ethical Observatory to be unveiled in the coming weeks and launched with the Alan Turing Institute (UK). It will be an online transparency portal for the latest data and analysis on the ethical development and use of AI around the world, and a platform for best practice sharing.
A report synthesizing the lessons learnt in the preparation of the RAM will be published in the upcoming weeks. Its results will deliver insights that will then inform the Global Forum on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, to take place in Slovenia in early 2024.