28 May 2024

Strengthening AI Governance in Chile: GobLab UAI and the Importance of Collaboration

By Pablo Fuentes Nettel

AI policy in Chile

In 2021, the Chilean Ministry of Technology, Knowledge, and Innovation unveiled the National Policy of Artificial Intelligence, outlining Chile’s vision for AI development. Recently, they updated their strategy aligned with UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI. Furthermore, the country has taken a significant step forward in terms of AI regulation with a draft bill to regulate AI to be discussed in Congress.

As Chile continues its journey toward implementing this strategy and enhancing AI readiness, there are compelling case studies in Chile that exemplify how AI readiness goes beyond policy frameworks, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and innovation. One such example is the work done by GobLab UAI, which supports Chile’s digital transformation by fostering the responsible use of data and AI systems. We spoke with María Paz Hermosilla, Director and Founder of GobLab UAI, to delve into this initiative and highlight key projects contributing to Chile’s AI readiness.

About GobLab

Established in 2017 by María Paz Hermosilla, GobLab is a public innovation lab operating within the School of Government at Adolfo Ibañez University (UAI) in Santiago. The lab aims to leverage data and innovation to transform Chile’s public administration and create value for citizens. 

Ethical Algorithms project

One of GobLab’s flagship initiatives is the Ethical Algorithms project, which seeks to develop capabilities and promote the adoption of standards to infuse an ethical dimension into public procurement and the utilization of AI by governmental entities. This initiative operates on two fundamental principles: fostering collaboration and piloting governance assets before full implementation. By partnering with academia, governmental bodies, and civil society organizations, GobLab pilots initiatives aimed at enhancing transparency in AI development and usage. Over its initial three years, the project received funding from the IDB Lab, and is currently funded by the Chilean R&D agency, ANID.

As a result of the Ethical Algorithms project, the UAI, BIDLab, and the Digital Government agency of the Chilean national government jointly published the guide “Ethical Formulation of Data Science Projects” in 2022. This guide serves as a valuable resource for public sector stakeholders, aiding in the identification and mitigation of ethical and legal risks associated with data science projects.

Similarly, the collaboration between UAI, BID Lab, and ChileCompra — the national public procurement body — led to the co-design and implementation of a bidding standard and guidelines to foster an ethical approach to government procurement of AI-powered systems. They incorporate requirements related to transparency, privacy, non-discrimination, and explainability, thereby enhancing the ethical integrity of public procurement processes. This groundbreaking initiative positioned Chile as the first country in Latin America to establish data ethics requirements for the procurement of AI systems.

Public Algorithm Repository

Transparency plays a pivotal role in ensuring the responsible use of AI by governments. Providing visibility into the development and deployment of AI systems is a fundamental aspect of fostering accountability and trust. Acknowledging this, GobLab has launched the Public Algorithms Repository. This platform serves as a digital hub that centrally compiles and displays information on automated decision support systems developed and/or utilised by public institutions in Chile.

The platform provides streamlined information, ensuring users can easily access the data they need. Algorithms are categorised based on the institution responsible for their implementation, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) they address, and the geographical regions they serve. 

The repository outlines key details for each project, including the owning institution, relevant stakeholders, broader objectives beyond technological integration, project description, timeline, funding sources, and more. GobLab’s approach actively promotes an open government ethos within Chilean administration, crucial for ensuring the responsible deployment of emerging technologies such as AI.

Looking ahead

Chile’s strategic focus on fostering collaboration across various sectors to facilitate the adoption of ethical AI practices within public administration is extremely interesting. By engaging diverse stakeholders, including government bodies, academia, and civil society, initiatives like GobLab’s Ethical Algorithms ensure a multifaceted approach to AI development that emphasizes transparency, accountability, and inclusivity. This collaborative framework not only enhances the ethical standards in AI applications but also ensures that technological advancements are aligned with the public good. As a result, such concerted efforts are pivotal in building public trust and harnessing the full potential of AI to meet the needs and challenges of Chilean society. This model of governance and collaboration is not just a blueprint for Chile but also an inspiring pathway for other nations pursuing responsible and citizen-centric AI strategies. 

Looking ahead, the continued evolution and expansion of these initiatives promise to further solidify Chile’s position as a regional leader in AI governance, setting a standard for others to follow.

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