By Dr. Saiph Savage
I had the honor of co-chairing a pivotal working group organized by Senator Lagunes and the National Artificial Intelligence Alliance (ANIA). The other co-chair was the amazing Cristina Cárdenas who is the Senior Director of Governmental Affairs | Coursera. The working group focused on the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) for workforce development in Mexico. The working group, which included Mexican academics (e.g., Professors from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), Mexican Senators like Gustavo Madero, and industry actors, was not just a forum for exchanging ideas but a significant step towards positioning Mexico as a thought leader in AI and enhancing its economic competitiveness. By imagining AI in the Mexican workforce, and considering our unique cultural context, we can create outcomes that significantly differ from European models. This approach is crucial in leveraging AI to meet specific national and regional needs, setting a precedent for innovation and thoughtful AI integration in Latin America.
The Core Issues:
The central theme revolved around integrating AI into public policy, especially in education and workforce development. An important issue that was discussed was:
Issue: Training and Specialized Job Creation in AI
A significant issue that emerged during the working group discussion was the necessity for Mexico's government, academia, NGOs, and industry actors to ensure that individuals are adequately trained for new job roles that will emerge in the AI-driven future. These roles will likely involve close collaboration with AI technologies, requiring both the development of digital skills and the creation of policies to facilitate this training.
Furthermore, the working group emphasized the importance of developing policies that compel industry actors to create jobs in Mexico requiring specialized skills, e.g., conducting research on the design and development of innovative robots. Currently, such specialized roles are predominantly available in the global north, often leading to a brain drain where Mexican engineering and PhD graduates feel compelled to emigrate to pursue these opportunities. Implementing these policies would not only retain local talent but also position Mexico as a significant contributor in the field of advanced technological research and development. In particular, this discussion centered around:
Training for Digital Skills:
The rapid integration of AI into various sectors necessitates a workforce that is not only digitally literate but also proficient in working alongside AI technologies. This demands a concerted effort from both the government and industry sectors to provide training programs that enhance digital skills. Such programs should cater to a range of skills, from basic digital literacy for entry-level positions to advanced AI-related competencies for more specialized roles.
Policy Development for Industry Education:
It is imperative for industry actors to play a pivotal role in educating the workforce. Policies need to be developed that mandate and facilitate industry-led training initiatives. These policies should ensure that entry-level job opportunities include comprehensive training programs in digital skills and AI collaboration. Additionally, there should be a focus on creating avenues for continual learning and skill development to keep the workforce abreast with technological advancements.
Opportunities for High-Skilled Workers:
There is a growing concern that many talented Mexican students and professionals are compelled to leave the country due to the lack of specialized job opportunities, particularly in AI and technology sectors. To address this, industry actors should consider opening research positions and creating innovative job roles that cater to high-skilled workers. These positions should focus on the development and application of AI technologies tailored to Mexico's unique workforce needs and challenges.
Creating a Sustainable AI Workforce:
By investing in the training and development of Mexico's workforce and ensuring that there are sufficient opportunities for both low and high-skilled workers, the government and industry actors can create a sustainable model for AI collaboration. This approach will not only retain talent within the country but also establish Mexico as a hub for AI innovation and research, further enhancing its economic competitiveness and global standing in the field of AI.
With the working group, we also discussed other important issues. These included:
1. Inclusive Access to Infrastructure: Participants stressed the importance of inclusive access to digital infrastructure as a foundational step for integrating AI into education and workforce development.
2. Educational Reforms and Skill Development:
There was a consensus on the need for educational reforms to prepare professionals for the evolving job market influenced by AI. This includes developing new educational models and curricular changes
3. Equity and Vulnerable Groups: The discussion emphasized equity in resource allocation, especially for vulnerable groups and rural areas, to ensure that the benefits of AI are distributed fairly.
4. Legal Binding of Agreements and Oversight Council: The need for legally binding agreements and legislation to ensure the implementation of policies was highlighted. Proposals included the creation of an oversight council to monitor the execution of these policies.
5. Role of Civil Society and Academia in AI Promotion: The significant roles of civil society and academic institutions in promoting AI in Mexico were underscored, emphasizing their crucial contributions to AI development and education.
6. Shifting Work Dynamics with AI: The working group discussed the transformative impact of AI on labor dynamics and value creation, highlighting the need for strategic government programs to enhance digital skills in the public sector and mandatory digital skills training for public employees.
7. Specific Focus on Educational Needs: It was emphasized that capacity building and educational models should be tailored to the specific needs of different regions in Mexico.
8. Coordinating Educational Levels: The lack of coordination between basic, secondary, and higher education levels was a concern, along with the use of AI to preserve indigenous languages and cultures and teach students about their heritage.
9. Ethical Considerations in AI Use: The incorporation of ethics in AI education was deemed essential, promoting critical thinking and reasoning in students.
10. Shared Responsibility Among Stakeholders: Collaboration between academia, industry, and government in developing educational strategies was highlighted as key to creating an inclusive and effective AI policy.
11. Addressing the Digital Divide: A major concern was the widening digital divide and the need for policies that ensure no segment of society is left behind in the AI revolution.
This discussion in Mexico on AI regulation for workforce development not only provides a roadmap for Mexico but also sets a precedent for Latin America in defining the role of AI in the workforce. This approach is distinct from European models, which often operate within different economic, cultural, and social contexts. By tailoring AI policies to address the unique challenges and opportunities in Latin America, Mexico positions itself as a thought leader in the integration of AI within the workforce.
The role of AI in Latin America, with its diverse socio-economic landscape, requires a nuanced approach that considers factors such as digital infrastructure, equitable access, and cultural diversity. The working groups and discussions in Mexico exemplify how a region-specific approach can lead to more effective and inclusive AI policies. These efforts not only enhance Mexico's economic competitiveness by harnessing the transformative power of AI but also contribute to a global dialogue on how emerging technologies can be adapted to different regional realities.
Crucially, part of Mexico's strategy involves creating and retaining specialized AI jobs within the country. By regulating and incentivizing the development of high-skill positions in fields like AI research and development, Mexico can significantly reduce the brain drain of its talented workforce. This focus on cultivating advanced roles in technology not only retains local talent but also establishes Mexico as a hub for AI innovation and expertise.
In conclusion, Mexico's proactive stance in discussing and formulating AI policies, with significant input from various stakeholders, demonstrates a commitment to not just keeping pace with global AI advancements but also leading in creating a workforce that is adaptable, skilled, and ready for the challenges of a rapidly evolving digital world. By focusing on specialized job creation and the prevention of brain drain, Mexico strengthens its position as a leader in AI, serving as a model for other Latin American countries. This approach underscores the importance of regional collaboration, shared learning, and the development of policies that resonate with the unique needs and strengths of the region.