Brazil publishes national artificial intelligence strategy

The plan outlines the framework for fostering research and development in the field and driving AI innovation to solve the country's key challenges.

The Brazilian government has published the country's artificial intelligence (AI) strategy to guide actions around research, innovation and the development of related technologies to tackle the country's greatest challenges, as well as ethics.

The publication of the strategy follows a process of over a year since the launch of the consultation to gather input for the plan in late 2019, after a period of engagement with AI consulting firms and an international benchmarking process. According to the Brazilian government, the consultation lasted until March 2020 and more than 1,000 contributions were received.

According to the Brazilian minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes, the publication is "the fulfillment of a dream" and a big step for Brazil, since the government considers AI is as "essential" for the development of many other technologies, such as innovations around the Internet of Things approach.

Pontes also noted the Brazilian government is also making progress around the national AI research center network. Without citing specific dates, the minister said four of the eight AI centers are set to be delivered.

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The document analyzes the current state of AI in the world and compares the global and local scenarios - according to the strategy, while the US has invested $224 million in AI startups in 2019, Brazil has only invested $1 million.

The strategy also points out Brazil faces considerable challenges to develop its AI industry, such as lack of skills, a high tax burden for companies and bureaucracy. In addition, the plan presents a vision for the future.

Brazil adheres to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s human-centered AI Principles, which provide for recommendations around areas such as transparency and explainability. Based on the OECD's principles, the strategy discusses six vertical themes: qualifications for a digital future; workforce creation; research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship; government application of AI; application in the productive sectors and public safety. In addition, three common themes to all areas are discussed: legislation, regulation and ethical use, as well as international aspects and AI governance.

Objectives set out in the plan as a means to advance the various themes are: promotion of continued investments in AI research and development; removing barriers to AI innovation; training of professionals for the AI ecosystem; stimulating innovation and the development of Brazilian AI in an international environment and establishing cooperation between public and private organizations, industry and research centers for AI development.

Within the objectives, the plan outlines various strategic actions to advance AI development in Brazil. These include the need for research around ethical AI, the update of the national education curriculum to incorporate elements related to computing and programming, stimulation of diversity in teams developing AI technologies, and the creation of governance ecosystems for AI use in the public and private sector.