Through its Strategy and Research team, USAID serves as a thought leader in understanding the implications of emerging digital technologies in developing country contexts. By researching emerging technologies and developing guidance on how these technologies can be strategically and responsibly leveraged, the team supports USAID in solving key development and humanitarian challenges.
Digital technology has revolutionized the world around us and offers great potential for more inclusive economic progress, enhanced citizen engagement, and institutional accountability. By leveraging digital tools in development programs, donors are able to more effectively serve the world’s most vulnerable populations. Yet, as we look to the next decade of digital development, it is obvious that many gaps remain and the future is not predetermined to be equal or inclusive. 
With the increasing integration of digital technologies in development and private industry, we must consider both the continued opportunities and risks that these technologies present. This requires us to examine the social norms and political and economic realities that may impact the inclusive, sustainable use of emerging digital tools. In development, these factors are especially important to consider as many of the communities we serve are those who are most impacted by barriers to or risks from technology.
Creating Inclusive Infrastructure through Digital Identity
There may be no single factor that affects a person’s ability to share in the gains of global development -- to receive services and be represented -- as much as having an official identity. Identity is tied to voting rights, financial inclusion, land ownership, education, and can even help protect against human trafficking or child marriage. In many ways, the roughly 1.1 billion people who lack official identity are invisible, discounted, and left behind.

Making AI Work for International Development
Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies promise to reshape healthcare, agriculture, and democracy in the developing world, but they also introduce significant concerns. 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 is contributing to a fair, equitable, and empowering future.

About USAID's Center for Digital Development

The rapid development and adoption of digital technology are transforming industries, governments, economies, and societies. Digital ecosystems hold immense potential to help people live more free and prosperous lives. At the same time, digital transformation comes with the risk of increasing inequality, repression, and instability. Together with our partners, USAID works to end the need for foreign assistance through digitally supported programming that fosters partner countries’ self-reliance and maximizes the benefits, while managing the risks, that digital technology introduces into the lives of the communities we serve. To learn more about our work, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.