Mexico leads Latin America as one of the first ten countries in the world to launch an artificial intelligence strategy

By Emma Martinho-Truswell and Constanza Gomez Mont

Mexico has joined some of the world’s most technically advanced and ambitious nations by launching a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. During a time of national political transition and technological change worldwide, Mexico’s AI strategy provides direction on how the opportunities from AI can be harnessed for the country’s economy and society.

The launch of its strategy makes Mexico one of the first ten countries in the world - and the first in Latin America - to publicly announce a national AI strategy. In doing so, Mexico has joined an elite club which includes the UK, Canada, China, the UAE, Singapore, South Korea, France, and Japan.

 
  Publication of AI strategies and policy statements

Publication of AI strategies and policy statements

 

Mexico’s strategy clarifies the role of government in helping to shape the development and uses of AI, and confirms Mexico’s place as a leader in digital technologies in Latin America.

Mexico’s strategy calls for the following:

  • Developing an AI subcommittee within the Intergovernmental Commission for Electronic Governance, to promote multi-sectoral dialogue and approaches;
  • Mapping use cases and needs of industry, and identifying best practices within government;
  • Promoting Mexico’s international leadership in digital policy, with a special emphasis on the OECD and D7;
  • Opening up the recommendations of the report for public consultation;
  • Working with experts and citizens through the AI subcommittee to ensure the continuity of these efforts with future governments.

Based on our discussions with policy makers in the country, Mexico is unique for its focus on the social impacts of AI. Current case studies of AI in Mexico demonstrate the use of emerging technologies to achieve social goals, such as increasing financial inclusion, combating corruption, improving public health, and reducing crime.

The initial steps for Mexico’s AI strategy are based on our report ‘Towards a national strategy for AI in Mexico’. The report is the product of a collaboration between Oxford Insights and C Minds, commissioned by the British Embassy in Mexico and funded by the UK Prosperity Fund. Its recommendations are based on inputs from experts across Mexico, collected during a six-week research period that included: qualitative analysis of interviews with over 60 AI experts working in government, big technology companies, startups, academia and non-governmental organisations; a review of existing national AI strategies from around the world; and quantitative analysis predicting the likely economic impact of AI on the Mexican labour market.

 
  The C Minds and Oxford Insights team in Mexico

The C Minds and Oxford Insights team in Mexico

 

Mexico is well-placed to make rapid progress in AI. The country has a young and talented labour force, an early mover advantage from being among the first countries in the world to announce an AI strategy, and close economic and cultural relationships with both North and South American countries making strides in AI research and applications. The current Mexican government pioneered the creation and deployment of Mexico’s first national digital strategy, with focus areas including connectivity, interoperability, data, digital skills, inclusion, cybersecurity, and efforts to ensure the consistency of legislation governing the digital ecosystem. This will serve as a foundation for a strong AI policy that could be developed by the new administration (following July 2018’s elections).

Mexico also has a nascent, innovative group of startups working to find new digital solutions to challenges at the national and local levels. It has a strong academic community, which will flourish with the right support. Finally, local governments such as Jalisco are already embracing a  coordinated digital effort and are committed to working with civil society on AI. Jalisco, Mexico City, and Monterrey are demonstrating how AI can be used for priority challenges such as mobility, health, government communication, and agriculture, among others.

There is much more that can be done. In Oxford Insights and C Minds’ report, our recommendations include:

  • The creation of a central government office to implement and coordinate Mexico’s digital and AI policy;
  • The establishment of a national Mexican Centre for AI, modelled on the UK’s Turing Institute, to help support collaboration between industry, academia, and government;
  • An emphasis on education, including teaching computational thinking in schools and increasing the numbers of Masters and PhD students in AI and data science;
  • Maintaining a resilient open data infrastructure while protecting personal privacy;
  • Designing and implementing an ethics framework to help guide good decision-making for those working in AI.

    Nevertheless, Mexico’s AI ecosystem has made a clear statement that Mexico intends to lead Latin America in AI strategy, and join the elite group of countries who have already started developing an ambitious AI agenda. A thoughtful, inclusive, and ethical approach will help to ensure that AI can promote shared benefits for all citizens.