Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications may sometimes seem like science fiction, and the technical intricacies of ML and AI can be off-putting for those who haven’t been formally trained in the field. However, there is a critical role for development actors to play as we begin to lean on these tools more and more in our work. Even without technical training in ML, development professionals have the ability — and the responsibility — to meaningfully influence how these technologies impact people.
This document aims to inform and empower those who may have limited technical experience as they navigate an emerging ML/AI landscape in developing countries. Donors, implementers, and other development partners should expect to come away with a basic grasp of common ML techniques and the problems ML is uniquely well-suited to solve. We will also explore some of the ways in which ML/AI may fail or be ill-suited for deployment in developing-country contexts. Awareness of these risks, and acknowledgement of our role in perpetuating or minimizing them, will help us work together to protect against harmful outcomes and ensure that AI and ML are contributing to a fair, equitable, and empowering future