As we find ourselves well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with the accelerating development of 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and other ground-breaking technology, we will often realize that what perhaps remains as the greatest driver of boundless innovation is AI, or artificial intelligence.
“Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest,” the World Economic Forum writes. “Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests.”
In the GCC, we are already seeing countries forge ahead with ambitious plans for AI, like the UAE’s National AI Strategy 2031.
One venue that AI could fundamentally improve is that of governmental budgets.
Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, estimates that the efficiencies generated by AI technology can support Middle Eastern government budgets by up to $7 billion annually.
This is according to the findings of a new report by the consultancy, titled ‘AI for Governments,’ which places the Middle East and Africa (MEA) as the leading region in forecast internet protocol traffic growth with a 41% growth rate by 2022. With more data available now than ever, enabling high-impact AI projects has become more achievable.
“Due to the breadth and depth of data availability across sectors and on the citizen-level, AI and other related technologies have the potential to solve many finance and revenue problems that governments face, while driving impact,” Manuel Abat, Partner in the Digital and CMT practice at Oliver Wyman, said.
According to the report, several approaches have been adopted by governments on a global scale that can be implemented and tailored in line with regional visions, government goals and strategic outcomes.
The report also notes that designing and implementing an AI roadmap is a priority and is critical in ensuring sustainable and resilient government activities, highlighting that the benefits of AI to governments were tangible by the end of 2019 and are now even more pertinent in the context of COVID-19.
Oliver Wyman’s report in 2020 seem to confirm the findings of a Deloitte report from 2017, which said that cognitive technologies could free up hundreds of millions of public sector worker hours, effectively saving governments significant expenditure. Its data, however, is intended to reflect on the US government.
Deloitte estimates that automation could save 96.7 million federal hours annually, with a potential savings of $3.3 billion, with a minimum investment in AI. At the high end of AI investment, those figures jump to 1.2 billion hours and a potential annual savings of $41.1 billion.
“Over time, AI will spawn massive changes in the public sector, transforming how government employees get work done,” Deloitte said. “It’s likely to eliminate some jobs, lead to the redesign of countless others, and create entirely new professions.
“In the near term, our analysis suggests, large government job losses are unlikely. But cognitive technologies will change the nature of many jobs—both what gets done and how workers go about doing it—freeing up to one quarter of many workers’ time to focus on other activities.”