USAID's Artificial Intelligence Action Plan: Key Insights for Responsible AI in International Development

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has recently released its Artificial Intelligence Action Plan, a comprehensive document outlining the agency's strategic approach to responsibly engaging with AI technologies in international development. As AI becomes increasingly prevalent in our lives and its potential impact on the global economy is projected to be significant, it is crucial for development actors to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to promote AI's positive potential while protecting those most at risk of being negatively impacted by its use.
Key insights from the USAID AI Action Plan include:

  1. Commit to Responsible AI in USAID Programming: USAID emphasizes the importance of using AI in a way that is equitable, inclusive, and rights-respecting. The agency aims to explore the risks and rewards of AI through research, cultivate a responsible AI community of practice, and strengthen staff capacity and resources to effectively manage AI components in USAID programming.
  2. Strengthen Digital Ecosystems to Support Responsible Use of AI: Recognizing that ecosystem-level barriers can inhibit progress toward responsible AI, USAID plans to invest in data infrastructure as a digital public good, strengthen capacity for accountability and oversight, and promote an AI-ready and adaptable workforce in developing countries.
  3. Partner to Shape a Global Responsible AI Agenda: USAID aims to elevate development priorities in U.S. government policy-setting and cooperation, encourage multilateral and multi-stakeholder engagement, share approaches for accountability, and pursue responsible AI research and learning partnerships. By partnering with like-minded actors, USAID seeks to shape a global responsible AI agenda that prioritizes inclusion and accountability

The action plan also highlights the importance of localization in AI development and deployment. USAID recognizes that the world's development and humanitarian challenges are inherently local, and that local leadership over collaboration is the path to greater equity, effectiveness, and sustainability. The agency plans to adapt its policies and programs to foster locally-led development, shift power to local actors, channel funding directly to local partners, and serve as a global advocate for locally-led development.

As AI technologies continue to evolve and shape the development landscape, USAID's AI Action Plan serves as a roadmap for responsibly harnessing the potential of AI to promote inclusive growth, sustainable development, and the advancement of democratic values. By committing to responsible AI practices, strengthening digital ecosystems, and partnering with diverse stakeholders, USAID aims to ensure that AI technologies benefit the most marginalized and vulnerable populations worldwide. Find the action plan on their website: