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Article Article September 21st, 2017

Destination unknown: Exploring the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Government Working Paper

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving from theory to reality - and this is something we all need to be ready for, including governments. That's why the Centre for Public Impact is investigating how this new set of technologies can be used and deployed by policymakers around the world.

This working paper is intended to help government officials navigate this unfamiliar terrain. We address four capabilities of AI that can be deployed to improve both the outcomes governments seek to achieve and the way in which they make policy: predictive analysis, detection, computer vision and natural language processing.

We also investigate the potential challenges to the broader uptake of AI in government, particularly the legal, technical and human resource challenges of deploying these technologies in the private sector. And we identify three broad risks going forward: the risk to government legitimacy should governments continue to fall behind other organisations in their use of AI; the potential misuse of AI by government; and whether AI will fundamentally change the way government looks, thinks and acts.

Our paper concludes by making three broad recommendations to government:

1. Define needs: Best practices for identifying departmental need

2. Build capacity: Human and technical building blocks required for the uptake of AI

3. Adapt structures: Adaptations required to existing cultural, regulatory and legislative environments.

There is a clear demand for this technology. While there is still significant progress to be made, there are clear indications that governments have started to take some preliminary steps towards digital government and we hope this working paper helps them on their journey.

We would love to hear your comments and feedback: please get in touch with us at

Read the report


(Last updated June 2023)

This working paper was originally published by CPI in September 2017. 

Since then, AI technology and discussions on AI ethics have made rapid advances. CPI has also significantly evolved both our organisational purpose and approach.

As such, some of the information, analysis, and recommendations in this working paper do not represent CPI’s current position on the use of AI in government or our organisational values.   

We are currently developing a refreshed vision for the responsible use of AI, aligning with our values and vision for better government, which we look forward to sharing in due course.

Written by:

Joel Tito Fellow, Centre for Public Impact
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