AI for social good

Key finding: Examples of AI used for social good are predicting natural catastrophes, preventing disease spreading, easing access to food and water, recognizing hate speech or increasing security in the cities.

Although some fear scenarios of AI going in the wrong direction similar to the ones from Black Mirror series, we are not quite there yet. Instead, there is a lot that AI can bring to the table in terms of social good.

Preventing disease spreading

Zika virus is a virus that is a mosquito-borne viral infection that is carried by animals and people in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Most people who are infected have no symptoms at all or mild fever, rash and muscle pain. Though during pregnancy it can lead to a baby’s brain condition or miscarriage. IBM Research’s Science for Social Good is taking steps to prevent spreading this deadly disease. Together with Cary Institute, they use machine-learning algorithms to analyze data on viruses and species that carry them. The algorithm allows to identify carriers with 82% accuracy and the outcome is an interactive map showing where people are most at risk.

Photo by Marco Verch

Flood, earthquakes and wildfire prediction

Google is developing algorithms that allow to predict occurence of floods. They use historical data to create a model that will allow to send alerts to people that are in danger so as they have time to prepare themselves or escape. The same is being done to predict earthquakes and wildfire.

Increase in access to goods

AI can be used in order to design water and food disribution networks in developing countries. Actually it is already used for example by non-for-profit organization Global Water Challenge. Same algorithms might be used to distribute any other goods like medicines, clothes etc. The problem that is being encountered is poorly digitalized and centralised data as well as lack of it.

Preventing hate speech

Google developed AI algorithms that allow to detect hate speech in social media platforms and websites. It makes it much easier for organizations to take proper steps quickly.

Increasing security

AI can be used to protect us against crime. A research done at Carneige Mellon University uses a branch of AI which is called game theory to suggest patrol routes to improve overall protection of Staten Island Ferry . It carries 60000 passengers a day

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