Latin America looks to use AI to narrow the technology gap, but fear of 'risks' could accelerate the divide

A disruptive technology expert fears regulation will slow adoption and education of AI

The incredible potential of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens to accelerate the technological divide that runs deep throughout Latin America, an expert told Fox News Digital. 

"The use of AI is going to increase the quality of life of all those countries for sure, but what the gap could be, and who is generating those other AI, and then who's controlling the data that's feeding that AI?," Jordi Albo-Canals, a Chilean native and CSO and co-founder of Lighthouse Disruptive Innovation Group, told Fox News Digital.

Albo-Canals suggested that with the right regulation, the tech could help to actually close the gap, but for some parts of the region, the access to the technology remains limited. 


Different countries in Latin America have approached the burgeoning AI technology in different ways, but each formed by their own experience with technology so far: Mexican media company Radio Formula introduced an AI news anchor called NAT in March, who presented short news capsules — the first of its kind, according to the company, Mexico Business News reported. 

latin america looks to use ai to narrow the technology gap but fear of risks could accelerate the divide

Student Jose Lara uses his computer at the roof of his house while trying to connect to the internet and receive his homework for the week during the second month of quarantine in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 27, 2020. (Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)

A survey by the International Data Corporation found that the region already averages 47% adoption of AI-powered technology, with Brazil leading the way at 63% use across its business sectors. Seven out of 10 companies in Brazil use the technology, mostly to analyze consumer behavior and upcoming trends, the report said. 

Forbes reported that a Colombian company launched a "question-and-answer" service powered by ChatGPT for WhatsApp users that reportedly gained 35,000 users in the first nine days from launch. 

The ability to properly utilize the technology and realize its potential will play out unevenly across the region, though, according to Albo-Canals, whose company aims to help bring disruptive technologies to businesses from Latin America, Africa and some parts of Europe.


latin america looks to use ai to narrow the technology gap but fear of risks could accelerate the divide

Shoppers test laptops displayed for sale at a Walmart de Mexico SAB store in Mexico City on Nov. 16, 2019. (Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

He described the access and understanding of technology in some countries in the region "less mature," with a need to focus on the moral implications of using the technology before even looking at the way the different governments may utilize it. 

"Ethical and moral implications of using such technology… is not understood," he argued. "Sometimes people are just not aware." 

A 2022 study found that 40% of Latin American homes still don’t have fixed broadband, even though the use of smartphones in the region is only slightly lower than in richer questions, Bloomberg reported. 


latin america looks to use ai to narrow the technology gap but fear of risks could accelerate the divide

A visitor has her portrait done by "3 Robots Named Paul" — an interactive installation by French artist Patrick Tresset — at the Borges Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires as part of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence on July 29, 2015. (Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images)

Part of the issue may come from the lower level of investment to develop the technology rather than putting money towards simply acquiring it from other countries, according to Albo-Canals.  

He hopes that his company, and others like him, can help to find the best ways to introduce and utilize AI in the region in hopes of using it to close the gap rather than watch it grow larger as use becomes "out of control." 

"Humans, as a society, try to avoid risks, and a way to avoid risks is to advise them on [using] different technologies," Albo-Canals explained. "While in the U.S., for example, there’s different universities where they encourage their students to use ChatGPT, but in a lot of countries in Latin America, in my experience — there’s one in Mexico — they try to ban the use of the technology.

"I think that decision comes from a protective and a conservative strategy, but at the end of the day, that increases the gap with training new professionals, for engineers, specialists — professionals who want to be coders because they were not able to use that technology while they were being educated." 

Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news. 

Authored by Peter Aitken via FoxNews July 14th 2023