Artificial intelligence is not only enabling businesses to drive productivity and efficiency by making smarter, data-driven decisions, but is also helping solve some of the most pressing problems the human society is faced with. Here, we list some of the sectors that are using the technology for the greater social good.
Healthcare can be one of the biggest beneficiaries of artificial intelligence. This is evident from the speed with which the vaccines for COVID-19 have been developed. Using artificial intelligence, it took scientists only a year to study the virus and create the vaccine, which otherwise usually takes much longer.
The technology provides the healthcare sector with an improved ability to collect, process and disseminate health data for faster diagnosis and treatment. For example, artificial intelligence can help identify influencers who can help disseminate crucial information about diseases and their prevention/cure. Wearable devices that analyze heart rate sensor data are already fairly accurate (85%) at detecting early-stage diabetes. AI is also enabling timely and targeted interventions for expectant mothers who run the risk of dropping out of healthcare programs in India. Forus Health (in India) has tied up with Microsoft to eradicate preventable blindness using an AI-enabled portable eye-scanning device that helps detect retinal diseases.
Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Heidelberg have used artificial intelligence to create a disease-detection system that uses images of skin lesions to determine whether they are cancerous or not. PathAI, has leveraged the technology to determine the probability of a patient developing cancer based on accurate identification of a specific protein.
Climate change is a big problem and artificial intelligence can play a big role to help fight climate change, reduce pollution, conserve natural resources and sustain biodiversity. For example, The Rainforest Connection in the United States uses TensorFlow to analyze audio sensor data on its platform to detect illegal logging in vulnerable forest areas. Lion Identification Network of Collaborators (LINC) uses computer vision, image recognition and pattern recognition to compare photographs that help preserve animals—such as the African lion. They use automated solutions to monitor unique identity elements of the specific animals being analyzed. Pattern recognition is also helping track the under-sea life not only to fight illegal fishing but also to enhance sustainable marine ecosystems. In India, the state of Maharashtra is leveraging artificial intelligence to predict the human-wildlife conflict which in turn is used to inform policymaking.
From water harvesting to flood forecasting, improving agricultural productivity and predicting the progression of wildfires, artificial intelligence can help minimize the damage caused due to such disasters. For instance, low altitude sensors—such as drones and smartphones—can help detect damage to the plants early to enable timely interventions. Similarly, artificial intelligence is informing decisions that help improve dam and barrage water release to minimize the risks.
Google’s Flood Forecasting initiative has helped develop forecasting systems that enable governments in India and Bangladesh to learn in advance of the possible time and areas that may get flooded. This allows them to take proactive action to inform people in advance and help them stay safe.
Artificial intelligence is a great tool that can help make education more accessible as well as personalized. Voice assistants can enable children to learn without human teachers, which can be especially useful for visually challenged students. Microsoft’s SeeingAI app and Google’s Bolo are allowing visually impaired people to learn more about the world around them. Using VoiceOver, the SeeingAI app allows such learners to know more about the things and people around them.
Adaptive learning technology makes it possible to recommend content based on a student’s past experience and interaction with the study material. It can help students learn better and teachers to teach better. Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal, which finds mention in UNESCO’s paper on artificial intelligence, leverages technology to support educational policies. The PAM (Mathematics Adaptive Platform) analyzes the experiences of each student to assess the skill level, which is then used to provide personalized feedback and suggested activities.
Equality and inclusion
Through its speech-to-text and text-to-voice translation abilities, artificial intelligence is helping people with disabilities—visual and autistic—to learn and gain knowledge. To address the challenge of equality and inclusion, Affectiva and Autism Glass use artificial intelligence to automate the recognition of emotions. This helps provide cues to autistic people to better interact in a social setting. Another project by Google, named Project Euphonia helps people with atypical speech be better understood. As part of the project, Google invites people—aged 18 or more—with impaired speech to record a set of phrases and share it with the company. Google then uses these phrases to train speech recognition models.
Collaborate for the greater good
Apart from the areas described above, there are many more use cases and social sectors—such as infrastructure management, crime prevention, information verification, and so forth—that can leverage the potential of artificial intelligence for social good. Businesses, governments, and individuals can collaborate and work together to leverage technology and build a better society.
The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant
She can be reached on LinkedIn.