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This article focuses on the AI for Social Good (AI4SG) movement, which aims to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). It argues that, through AI4SG, Big Tech is attempting to advance AI-driven technosolutionism within the development policy and scholarly space creating new opportunities for rent extraction. The article situates AI4SG, within the history of ICT4D. It also highlights the contiguity of AI4SG with the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), a framework that places AI and other digital innovations at the center of national and international development and industrial policy agendas. By exploring how Big Tech has attempted to depoliticize datafication, we thus suggest that AI4SG and 4IR are mutually reinforcing discourses that serve the purpose of depoliticizing the development arena by bestowing legitimacy and authority to Big Tech to reshape policy spaces and epistemic infrastructures while inserting themselves, to an unprecedented degree, between the citizen (data) and the state (development and policy).

Original publication




Journal article


Information Technology for Development

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