Skip to Main Navigation
FEATURE STORY May 24, 2018

How Can Artificial Intelligence Support Development? We Asked a Robot.

World Bank Group


  • The World Bank has been helping countries harness the power of Artificial Intelligence and disruptive technologies.
  • Sophia is one of the most famous and lifelike robots in the world, and an ambassador for the use of AI for development.
  • She shared her views on how AI can help the World Bank Group end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.

Meet Sophia. She is literally the face of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for much of the world. This lifelike robot titillates talk-show audiences, has movie celebrity friends and is not a stranger to controversy.

But Sophia has a more serious side. We recently sat down with Sophia in her capacity as an ambassador for the use of AI to improve the lives of people.

Although it is hard to predict what the future will look like, it is safe to say that artificial intelligence and automation will play a central part in it. AI and other disruptive technologies are already paving the way for innovations in transport planning and management, healthcare, disaster prevention and response and public service delivery. Some of these cutting-edge applications are being piloted in World Bank projects.

AI can also mine huge amounts of data of World Bank Group data, revealing insights and connections that will help optimize the design and outcomes of our projects.

Of course, innovations like AI do not come without risks and challenges, as Sophia herself acknowledges. The Bank has been helping clients harness the power of AI and disruptive technologies in general in a way that is secure, inclusive, and sustainable. To do that, the Bank is working to build the foundations for technology-led economies, boost capacity to face technological disruption, and broker strategic partnerships linked to development challenges and economic opportunities.

Watch Sophia's interview with Boutheina Guermazi, Practice Manager for Transport and Digital Development at the World Bank, on how the new field of AI can help end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity—the core goals of the institution.