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Artificial Intelligence for Social Good

A lot of investment in terms of time and money is being spent on the continuous research and development in how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used for social good by large companies such as Google, Facebook and McKinsey. It is exciting to see how the power of AI can be used for tackling various social and environmental challenges across the world.

What if a disaster can be predicted before it actually happens? Or, what if we could use efficient waste management systems for the betterment of the environment. There are so many ways in which innovation in AI can bring about substantial benefit to the society and yield to a better world.

Google has provided a set of educational resources to help understand the value of using AI and Machine Learning (ML) and enable organisations to measure the impact of using such technologies.

Facebook conducted one of the first of its kind, AI India Summit in Bangalore in March 2019, where speakers from the global Facebook AI team addressed an enthusiastic audience of techies, entrepreneurs and investors and helped understand how AI can provide substantial social good with innovation and research. There are several cases where Facebook had prevented the distressed from committing suicide by studying the pattern of the victim’s conversation or usage of words in social media with the use of AI.

There are certain case based scenarios in Healthcare such as reducing time taken in detecting the affected cancerous area during mammography by radiologists and hence increasing the number of patients to be checked in any given time and reducing time in an EMR scan which otherwise is a long process of the patient getting into the EMR machine and undergoing the scanning. Facebook recently commented in its AI India Summit of collaborating with NYU’s School of Medicine Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research (CAIIR) for undertaking the mentioned study of reducing the time of ERM scan.

In one of the insights provided by McKinsey, the 160 AI social impact use-cases that were compiled suggest that the capabilities that are existing could tackle all the seventeen (17) UN’s sustainable development goals and help millions of people in both developed and emerging countries. They range across sectors of Health and Hunger, Education, Environment, Information Verification and Validation, Infrastructure, Public and Social Sector, Security and Justice, Crisis Response, Economic Empowerment and many others.

Each use case highlights a type of meaningful problem that can be solved by AI. From diagnosing cancer to identifying victims of sexual exploitation to aiding disaster relief efforts there are a vast usage of AI in solving the problems.

There are organisations such as Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence which is an independent global research hub developing AI solutions for social good. Their key areas of focus at present are Health, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion, Infrastructure and Education.

As a lot of research, innovation and deep level thinking is currently going into using Artificial Intelligence as one of the key drivers for handling social and welfare problems, it is both a challenging as well as an exciting field to dive into for future development.

There are debates which have come up on whether AI would be eating up jobs which otherwise were done by manually but that is a separate topic altogether. If AI is incorporated by organisations and used with innovation not only can huge costs be cut down but also precision and perfection can be attained which otherwise would not have been present due to human error.

The future lies in seeing Artificial Intelligence as an integral part of any organisation. The power of such technologies not only provide huge boons to the companies for yielding better productivity and benefits but also help in saving lives and substantially impacting the day to day social and environmental challenges.

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