Can Mexico develop an AI action Plan for 2030?
Author: Cristina Martínez
The 10th Mexican Congress on Artificial Intelligence (COMIA) took place from June 5-8th 2018 in Merida, Yucatan. The event was organized by the Mexican Artificial Intelligence Society (SMIA) in partnership with the Polytechnic University of Yucatán (UPY), the first public university in Mexico to be specialized in IT.
C Minds was invited to speak on the Artificial Intelligence in Mexico: 2030 Action Plan panel, together with representatives from IBM, CANIETI, SMIA, UPY and the State’s Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Higher Education (SIIES). The dialogue was moderated by Miguel Gonzalez, SMIA’s President. I had the opportunity to discuss the main findings of our report Towards an AI Strategy in Mexico: Harnessing the AI Revolution, commissioned by the UK Embassy Prosperity Fund and written in collaboration with Oxford Insights. I shared insights about the current status of the AI ecosystem in Mexico, as well as some of the policy recommendations provided to advance the AI agenda in the areas of governance, government and public services; capacity, skills, and education; R&D; Data and digital infrastructure; and ethics. I also highlighted the need to foster collaborations across sectors and spoke about the #IA2030 coalition, which we are leading as a means to follow through on our own recommendations. It is a multidisciplinary group of practitioners that seeks to inform a comprehensive AI Action Plan for Mexico in light of the political and social changes that are approaching.
Both Alberto Muñoz, President for CANIETI Southeast Region and Raul Godoy, Yucatan’s Minister of Research, Innovation, and Higher Education discussed an ambitious plan to establish an AI Center in line with the State’s Special Economic Zone, which is focused in the promotion of the development of the IT industry locally. This center would build upon the strengths of the State (its geostrategic position, connectivity, and pool of talent) to offer a unique approach to attract investment from the private sector. They are looking at AI Cells that connect experts and students with industry needs in projects that generate tailored solutions and added value, in parallel to a Fellowship program to attract global and national professionals and a career development plan for students to become highly specialized in AI. Gildardo Sánchez, UPY’s Dean, is a key partner of this project. He sees an urgent need to rethink the content of academic plans in order to meet the needs of the workforce of the future. Moreover, Leobardo Morales from Systems Hardware IBM Mexico explained how the company is also sharing online learning tools and open code for students to upskill for the digital age.
The panel evidenced how AI can be advanced strategically at the local and national levels, and from an industry, government, academia, and civil society perspective. We were all optimistic about the possibility for Mexico not only to develop a 2030 roadmap to catalyze the development of AI for social impact, but to become a global leader in the field. Mexico must follow the leadership of France, Japan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, China, and Canada in recognizing AI’s potential to solve the countries’ most pressing challenges and in strategizing accordingly. We agreed on the need to focus on the evangelization of AI and to explain existing use cases in a non-technical fashion. Such cases include MiSalud from Prospera Digital, a government platform for maternal health that enables patients to ask questions and receive advice through their cell phone, or the Tax Administration Service’s use of machine learning to detect fraudulent operations and companies in three months instead of eighteen. There are endless possibilities for AI to become an enabler of the digital transformation in Mexico’s key sectors, including education, energy, transportation and health.
Having the panel at a University allowed us to remind students that AI is a tool that can help enhance human capabilities and creativity, and that they can become innovators and social changemakers by leveraging new technologies, a belief that is key to C Minds’ work.