Small Countries (like Georgia) and AI Development

By Paramjeet Berwal

Generally, it is said that countries with huge population are ahead in the AI race (in deep learning, at least), because there is enough human resource for the AI to learn from. In other words, big dataset is critical to making better predictions about anything that pertains to human beings. However, more goal-based approach is being followed. Companies like Deepmind have been successful in teaching AI (AlphaZero) to perform a specific and yet dynamic tasks with barebone rules and under no influence of human ways. 

Also, AI will be more autonomous as and when the working of human brain unfolds. Blue Brain Project and others are endeavours directed towards ultimately building artificial brain that functions just like human brain. Also, if one cannot make an artificial brain that works like human brain, there could be a way to make human brain work like an artificial brain. The work of Neuralink points in the direction.

Kai-Fu Lee has suggested that most of the countries, especially small and less developed ones are likely to suffer because they merely act as data points for the big AI-oriented companies that are virtually present there. Though the observation seems genuine, there is another side to it. 

Small countries like Georgia where there is scarcity of financial resources might not be, in the beginning, able to make a huge impact in the field of AI technological research, whether basic or advance, but can adapt to AI revolution that is engulfing almost everything under the sun to the advantage of their citizens and for gaining a competitive edge over others. How can this be done? 

Georgia has been trying very hard to get integrated into the EU. The EU, with time, has transitioned from single market to digital single market as knowledge-based economy goes on to become AI-based economy. In order to sustain an AI-powered digital economy, one needs digital connectivity that spans across borders. It implies that AI democratizes or will have to democratize whatever comes under its domain which is almost everything. It creates potential opportunities for the youth and institutions, whether public or private, in Georgia to access AI tools for creating applications that have commercial viability and are useful to Georgian citizens. Of course, education system has to be changed in order to equip Georgian students to understand and apply the knowledge. This has to be accompanied by another major aspect that needs to be paid heed to by the Georgian government and other stakeholders. An overall AI-oriented environment in the country is a pre-requisite for there to be investments in this direction. If Andrew Ng could go and invest in Medellin, Colombia, Tbilisi also has prospects if the necessary steps are taken.

Not only this, the existing and upcoming businesses in Georgia, in order to gain access to the international market, will have to adopt AI techniques, for everything about how businesses are done will change- from product conception to post-sale scenario, and beyond. Whether you are a law firm or a bank, every business will have to deploy AI in order to not only optimize and streamline operations but also scaling up. Absolutely new product and service segments are likely to be ushered into market and the ones taking the lead will be those who know how AI can assist their businesses. Furthermore, the size of Georgian economy and market makes it all the more important to critically assess any business idea that one may want to venture in. What can predict better than AI? AGI!

Public administration will also be a concern and in order to take governance a step further, authorities will look for avenues where they can seek help of AI in order to effectively and efficiently manage people. This also entails use of AI in public services and administration of justice. 

There are a lot many more things that AI will have an impact on. If Georgia wants to surge ahead in the future, it has to adapt to the changing times. This will require leaders that can foresee into the future, citizens made aware of the same and professionals who can assist in the journey.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are that of the Author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions he represents, the Tbilisi Tomorrow Institute or the organisations supporting the Tbilisi Tomorrow Institute.

Paramjeet Singh Berwal

Paramjeet, a lawyer, an invited lecturer, and AI research and policy consultant, is the Director of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Technology Law at Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University, Georgia. He is a Global Panelist with MIT Technology Review. He is frequently invited to deliver talks and presentations on various topics pertaining to AI. His research includes how AI will influence human existence, especially in the context of economy, work, law, society and its institutions, business management, social behaviour and policy making. He may be contacted at