Roundtable: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in the Region

In partnership with Google, Latin American experts discussed national strategies to advance AI collaboration in the region.


  • Doron Avni, Senior Director, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Emerging Markets, Google
  • José Guridi, Head of the Future and Social Adoption of Technology Unit (FAST), Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, Chile
  • Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín, Senator, Mexico
  • Eliana Emediato de Azambuja, General Coordinator of Digital Transformation, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil
  • Walter Pasquarelli, Tech & Society Research Manager, Economist Impact, The Economist
  • Fernando Peirano, President, National Agency for the Promotion of Research, Technological Development and Innovation, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Argentina
  • Tamar Colodenco, Public Policy and Government Relations Manager for Southern Cone, Google (moderator)
  • Susan Segal, President & CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas

As part of AS/COA Tech Series, regional experts gathered for a conversation about the economic impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) and how Latin American economies could benefit. In Latin America, AI can be used as a critical tool for people's lives, like detecting wildfires and carbon emissions. Google’s Doron Avni stressed; however, the importance of ensuring that the digital adoption translates to long-term economic growth, while pointing out that while Global GDP shrunk in 2020 by 3.4 percent, Latin America took a hit of 6.9 percent. Avni highlighted key areas that governments can focus to accelerate digital growth such as capital for digital infrastructure, a market-friendly regulatory ecosystem, and human capital, referring to the 2021 Google Digital Sprinters report. “However impressive it may be, it is important that AI is accessible to all sectors of the economy,” he said.

Walter Pasquarelli discussed AI’s potential to create opportunities for governments to solve some of the systemic challenges and inefficiencies holding back the region’s social and economic development. Briefing participants on Seizing the opportunity: The future of AI in Latin America, an Economist Impact report published with Google’s support, he pointed out investment has been low and more focused on the financial sector in the region. Chile’s José Guridi discussed the importance of making AI transition strategies as inclusive as possible, with frameworks ensuring that policies can live on from one administration to the next. Guridi gave an example from Chile, where Ministries of Science and Economy have created incentives for public workers in the form of bonuses attached to policy commitments as a way to encourage continuity over time.

Mexico’s Senator Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín highlighted the importance of developing education programs on digitalization and artificial intelligence at all levels with an inclusive approach. For the senator, the best way to enhance regional collaboration on AI strategies is through countries’ congressional agendas. “I am certain that through Congress we can have good exchanges, first of experiences and also of conclusions for collaboration,” he said. In Brazil, changes in government might make a national policy for AI transition and implementation difficult, said Eliana Emediato de Azambuja. But the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation has gathered over 30 non-governmental groups to help manage the strategy including companies and universities.

In the background of this Latin American context, there is the “brain drain” discussion, with skilling around AI in the local environment, explained Argentina’s Fernando Peirano. He said a “paradoxical challenge” exists as it is getting harder to develop national systems of science, technology, and innovation because there is tension between human resources and where employees are based. Peirano described a “double exodus” of human capital moving from academia towards the productive sector, and then from the local environment to the international scene due to market compensation opportunities and incentives in the technology sector.