AI for good – Indicators, trends, opportunities and impacts

11 Apr 2019 11:00h - 13:00h

Event report


Mr Stephen Ibaraki (Social Entrepreneur, Futurist, Venture Capitalist) began by pointing out that we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He spoke of much recent scientific advancement he has been watching, such as gene editing, human augmentation, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and robots; and of how many of these advancements raise some controversy. Ibaraki presented an overview of the future of work and how much financial services and healthcare will be influenced by artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies, creating new jobs and increasing productivity. He highlighted the power of AI to combat many present issues such as fake news, aging, chronic diseases, and environmental risks.  Ibaraki estimates that over USD$200 billion were invested in AI in 2018, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year. He talked about hybrid manufacturing plants that are regulated by AI and that show a high increase in productivity. According to him, over 40 countries already have national strategies for AI, and many will follow. He spoke about how the AI for Good summit is growing and generating many projects as outcomes. Finally, he mentioned the potential of AI applied to media by manipulating images in real time in advertisements.

Mr Fred Werner (Head of the Strategic Engagement Division, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU) began his presentation by pointing out that AI is everywhere. He argued that media frequently tries to portrait the technology in either a dystopian manner or by sensationalising it. He believes that AI, however, is already present in many aspects of daily life without people even noticing it. Werner pointed that the technology might be very useful to assist in achieving the SDGs, as AI can assist in almost every one of these goals. He mentioned a few relevant examples in healthcare and disease prevention, finance, farming output improvements, education, and customising learning. However, Werner points out that a few issues remain to be addressed. For instance, he highlighted the importance of avoiding unfair bias, ensuring the safety of AI applications, and of how data is used. He presented the problem of dealing with black boxes in AI: the issue of not knowing how a decision was made by an algorithm. A few other relevant issues according to him are: the liability of AI decisions, privacy concerns on the prediction capabilities of the technology, and the impact of AI on the job market. He concluded with a final guiding issue: How to design AI that is accountable, transparent and ethical.

Mr Bastian Fredriksson (AI4Health) spoke briefly about the AI4Health initiative, which aims at using AI tools to solve complex or extensive tasks in healthcare that would be otherwise prohibitively expensive, difficult, or time consuming. He explained how the initiative works by combining individual data with public data.


By Pedro Vilela