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The Promise of AI in the Developing World

When it comes to technology, there is a common misperception that only the rich benefit. But the innovations behind gadgets like iPhones and robotic vacuums have the potential to boost development and prosperity throughout the Global South.

LONDON – A common misperception among observers of digital trends is that consumers in developing countries do not benefit from advances in technology. Whether it is owning the latest smartphone or “employing” robot cleaners, the ability to access innovation is one of the most visible differences between rich and poor countries.

This gap has become even more pronounced since the advent of artificial intelligence (AI). For example, the vast majority of home “smart speaker” personal assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, are shipped to wealthy countries. In 2017, over 80% of global smart speaker shipments were to North America.

But while technology can deepen global inequality, it also has the potential to mitigate it. This is because AI can do much more than power appliances; it can also revolutionize the way health care, disaster relief, finance, logistics, education, and business services are delivered in the Global South.

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