Bangladesh has slipped 20 places to 123rd position in the 2020 Government AI Readiness Index, indicating the nation's lack of preparedness for implementing artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide public services.
Bangladesh scored only 33 out of the total score of 100.
The 3rd edition of the index – which assessed 172 countries this year – was published by British consultant Oxford Insight and Canadian government's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) earlier this week.
It should be noted that Bangladesh had ranked 103 out of 194 countries in the previous index, and the current edition did not include 22 nations in the rankings after they failed to meet the threshold for inclusion.
This ranking measures government AI readiness based on ten dimensions under three pillars – government willingness to adopt AI and ability to adapt and innovate to do so; supply of AI tools from the technology sector; and data and Infrastructure support to build, use and deliver those tools.
Bangladesh scored relatively well in Governance and Ethics, Digital Capacity and Adaptability in the Government pillar. The country's performance is better in Data Representativeness and Data Availability.
However, due to absence of a national AI strategy, Bangladesh received a zero in Vision.
Commenting on the matter, Chief Technology Officer of Fiber@home Ltd, ICT expert Sumon Ahmed Sabir said, "Before taking a national AI strategy, we need to implement a national data strategy.
"Bangladesh requires proper strategy for data collection, preservation, update and synchronisation."
Illustrating his point, Sabir said, "If a person passes away at a hospital, information related to his death, including his death certificate, should be collected, preserved and synchronised digitally as part of the data strategy.
"This way, when a beneficiary visits a bank to claim funds of the deceased person, the bank will be able to access all necessary information digitally. The readily available data will make the process much faster, and save a lot of time and hassle for both parties."
Giving some more recommendations, he said, "Only after taking up a proper data strategy with data accuracy, data integrity and data synchronisation, can we make an AI strategy. If we formulate an AI strategy now, we could get it wrong."
Among most prepared nations to adopt the applications of AI, Finland (3rd) and Netherlands (9th) recently launched AI registries for more transparent delivery of public services.
The United States topped the table, while the UK took second place. Singapore, top of the previous edition of the table, has dropped to sixth position.
Bangladesh ranks bottom 3rd in South and Central Asia
The index for South and Central Asia has covered 16 countries from the region, with an average score of 39.03.
Bangladesh's score is lower than the global average score (44.25), and the regional score as well. India holds the first position in the South and Central Asia region with its brand for "AI for Al" national strategy.
Out of the 16 countries in this region, only India has a national strategy for implementing AI technology, and the rest lack such a strategy, according to the report.
Following India, the other top performers in the region are Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia respectively. Amongst the 16 countries in the region, not only are Maldives (84th), Sri Lanka (90th) and Bhutan (108th) ahead of Bangladesh, but Bhutan (108th) and Pakistan (117th) as well.
Bangladesh only managed to outperform Nepal (146th) and Afghanistan (164th) in this region.
Discussing Bangladesh's performance in the index, ICT expert Sabir said, "The score that we received is actually a reflection of the infrastructural development that Bangladesh has carried out in the last few years, in tech sectors such as telecommunications, data communication and internet.
"Since these developments are not directly relevant to the field of AI, Bangladesh's score has suffered."
The report makes an interesting point about governments' AI-readiness by stating, "For the majority of the world's governments, where the use of AI in public services is still in its infancy, we believe that understanding readiness is crucial."