UNDP’s Initiative To Build an Immersive and Safe World with AI

UNDP integrated AI to enable policymakers to build a safer world for us.

The United Nations Development Programme is part of the United Nations Organization that helps countries to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development. The UNDP is headquartered in New York City and is the largest development aid agency having its offices located in 170 countries. UNDP is mining the text entries using NLP 40 to cluster and rank themes. By training an AI model to compare submissions with a set of predefined common causes and to identify novel themes, the project hopes to make this data analyzable.

UNDP has launched a new digital strategy to enhance its support to governments in shifting to this transforming environment including by building digital capacity within the organization. The AI strategy of UNDP seeks to increase the understanding of digital technologies and how they can be used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. As well as risks and trade-offs that come with them. On the other hand, it is also working to manage the unique ethical issues that can rise from deploying AI in an international development context. The AI readiness tool for stakeholders is building on UNDP’s Digital Readiness Assessment piloted. It can help with providing insights into AI understanding and capacity, planning, and implementation. The key part of UNDP’s digital transformation is the AI chatbot for guide rails for the governance of data at all levels. 

UNDP Philippines has partnered with Thinking Machine and Zero Extreme Poverty PH, with a presence in 400 cities and municipalities nationwide to enhance targeting of poverty alleviation interventions. The Thinking Machine has previously also developed a deep learning model that used satellite data to nighttime lights to approximate wealth. The Independent Evaluation Office is exploring the use of AI and machine learning to obtain conclusions, findings and recommendations from UNDP evaluation reports. Here the main aim is to leverage this rich unstructured data to generate insights, relationships and trends that might not otherwise be readily apparent and to visualize this information more quickly. 

UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub along with data science company Dataverz is exploring the use of AI to improve its sensemaking process. The organization has also partnered with Omdena on this initiative which saw 50 technology change-makers build AI-based solutions for identifying the relationship between human development indicators to assist governments in addressing the digital divide. UNDP is also partnering with UNESCO and Citibeats which is an ethical AI platform that focuses on analyzing social data to curb misinformation about COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. 

The UNDP has been working with many local organizations and is also yet to localizeMeekin which is an award-winning platform that was developed by the social enterprise KoeKoe Tech. The platform is capable of identifying the trends in hate speech using AI and Natural Language Processing. The UNDP China has also mounted a social media information campaign to encourage people to adhere to WHO viral protection practices through AI chatbot for COVID-19 information campaign. The country office saw that there were still gaps in local dialects, so it used an AI generated news anchor called Xiao Qing who can speak nearly 25 languages giving the campaign an innovative appeal and resonance with the younger generation. 

In Bangladesh, UNDP and a2i have partnered with a non-profit GiveDirectly to direct aid to those most in need. It uses AI tools to extract mobile phone and satellite metadata to identify vulnerable populations who may be eligible for cash transfers in a way cheaper. UNDP China has launched the inaugural UI&AI AI for SDGs Youth Bootcamp that has brought together teams of passionate young people across the world to harness AI technologies to deal with real-world problems. This was the step that came together with the Institute for AI International Governance of Tsinghua University. 

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