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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the challenges, opportunities, and tensions facing the equitable development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the MENA region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. While diverse in their natural and human resource endowments, countries of the region share a commonality in the predominance of a youthful population amid complex political and economic contexts. Rampant unemployment—especially among a growing young population—together with informality, gender, and digital inequalities, will likely shape the impact of AI technologies, especially in the region’s labor-abundant resource-poor countries. The chapter then analyzes issues related to data, legislative environment, infrastructure, and human resources as key inputs to AI technologies which in their current state may exacerbate existing inequalities. Ultimately, the promise for AI technologies for inclusion and helping mitigate inequalities lies in harnessing grounds-up youth entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives driven by data and AI, with a few hopeful signs coming from national policies.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, MENA, Arab Spring, young population, unemployment, digital inequalities, AI technologies, human resources, youth entrepreneurship, national policies

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