Although “artificial intelligence” as a term is gradually working its way into our everyday vocabulary, the concept itself is still shrouded in mystery for most people working outside the fields of IT and Data Science. The very mention of “AI” tends to conjure up a wide range of ominous images from decades worth of sci-fi. Rarely does it tap into the part of the brain that is reassuring, uplifting, and hopeful.
But it should. The possibilities for using AI to elevate humanity to previously unseen and unimagined heights become more and more evident, one thing has become clear: the potential of AI for doing good is practically limitless. In this article we’re going to look at some examples.
AI is making positive contributions to society
In business we tend to talk about the benefits of AI in terms of productivity, performance, and output. But the broader societal implications of a data-driven world go so much farther than that.
The list of areas where AI can make, and is making, a significant difference in people’s quality of life is growing by the day, but here are a few important sectors where tangible impacts have already emerged and are leaving a better society in their wake:
Many of the world’s learners, regardless of age, have been thrust into the virtual classroom in one manner or another in 2020. The shift hasn’t been without its challenges, but a general consensus seems to have formed along the way: computer-assisted learning is here to stay. In fact, a recent IDC/Microsoft study shows that 99.4% of higher-education institutions say that AI will be instrumental to their competitiveness in the next three years. Using AI to personalize education, produce smart content, automate tasks, tutor students and accommodate special needs are just five of the ways it is poised to be a game-changer on the educational front.
A cleaner environment
AI is a particularly powerful weapon in fighting the multi-faceted challenge that is climate change. A 2019 research paper named “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning” outlined the multiple ways these technologies can play a meaningful role in creating a greener planet, from improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to informing public policy and facilitating behavior change. The 2018 World Economic Forum identified eight areas where “earth-friendly” AI will be instrumental in addressing the many challenges currently facing our planet, including biodiversity, water security, clean air, and weather and disaster resilience.
A healthier population
The importance of health and wellness has never been more top of mind than in the past year. A March 2020 report by McKinsey & Company highlighted six key areas where AI has a direct impact on health care: prevention, diagnosis, diagnostics, clinical decision support, care delivery and chronic care management. And in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, scientists have turned to AI to manage otherwise unwieldy datasets, understand the structure of the coronavirus, and predict which components would provoke an immune response–all of which have been vital in accelerating the discovery process. The result? The fastest vaccine development timeline in history.
Richer arts and culture
Applications of artificial intelligence in the arts community range from enhancing the creative process to helping protect works of art for future generations to study and enjoy. AI is, to some extent, the art curator of the future, managing complex behind-the-scenes processes, and optimizing and personalizing the visitor experience. A recent mini-documentary by the MUTEK AI Art Lab explored the creative role of AI, its evolution as a technology and how artists are using it as a tool, aid and material for critical reflection.
AI means more than just prosperity for business, it means good for all of humanity
AI is the next frontier for this generation much like space exploration was for previous generations. The difference is that, back then, only a select few had the tools and talents to become work in the field. Modern AI platforms are democratizing its use and making the benefits of AI available to all the visionaries out there who are working to make their communities — and the planet as a whole — a better place to live.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution now in full swing, technology will continue to affect us in ways we cannot begin to fathom. The challenge for this new “age of intelligence” is to ensure that the altruistic and empathetic values of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship are factored into the equation, alongside the more cut-and-died metrics that tend to perk up the ears of business decision-makers.
The question before us, then, is not so much whether AI can make our day-to-day lives better (it can and it does), but how it will be used to help, support and guide humanity toward a future where our “better angels” prevail.
We at Stradigi AI firmly believe that AI is a powerful and yet untapped resource to do good in the world. To discover what initiatives we are taking, we encourage you to learn more about AI for Humanity.