AI Casts A Wide Net In Search Of Solution To Global Challenges

We are excited to launch the monthly SustainAbility 2030Vision story. Each month, we will highlight a recent development, initiative or trend in the technology and SDGs landscape. This month, we look at AI.

2030Vision aims to accelerate the use of technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), to deliver the targets set out in the SDGs and channel the development of digital technology  towards positive impact.

AI casts a wide net in search of solution to global challenges.

Google.org recently announced the launch of the AI for Social Good platform, through which it aims to demonstrate the potential for AI to accelerate efforts to tackle the world’s biggest humanitarian and environmental problems, and to channel the development of AI in pursuit of these outcomes.

The program includes the AI Impact Challenge, a call for businesses around the world to share their ideas for using AI to solve global societal challenges - from healthcare to biodiversity. Google.org will provide selected initiatives with expertise, coaching and consulting, as well as financial support from a $25 million fund. Winners will be announced at Google I/O 2019.

The announcement follows Google’s publication in June of principles and practices for AI development, to guide innovators in designing AI systems which improve the lives of people and planet.

 “We’re far from having all the answers - or even knowing all the questions. We want people from as many backgrounds as possible to surface problems that AI can help solve, and to be empowered to create solutions themselves.” - Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow and SVP, Google AI and Jacquelline Fuller, President, Google.org

Global Fishing Watch is using AI to address SDG14: Life below water, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. This independent non-profit initiative visualises, tracks and shares global fishing patterns and uses AI to classify shipping activity in the oceans. Each day more than 60 million points of information from more than 300,000 vessels are fed through the machine learning classifiers.

Global Fishing Watch uses AI to pinpoint hotspots where illegal fishing activity might be occurring and identify the types of vessel which might be involved. For example, the algorithm can identify vessels which are using false maritime mobile service identity numbers, and vessels who are manipulating their GPS location.

 "We have a shared resource: fisheries on the high seas. We can't manage it if we don't know who's fishing." - David Kroodsma, Research Director, Global Fishing Watch

Google’s AI for Social Good platform and initiatives such as Global Fishing Watch highlight some of the critical obstacles in the development and deployment of AI. Innovators grapple with challenges of building applications which do not develop biases, incorporate privacy safeguards and respect human rights. The debate about responsible AI in military or surveillance applications continues. And there is a pressing need to ensure the benefits of AI are distributed widely and evenly as possible.

Research and development must continue to build AI systems which have equity, fairness and security at their core.

2030Vision aims to provide a platform for collaboration to help manage the risks of AI and explore how AI can be channelled mindfully to achieve the Global Goals.

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