News, Technology

AI for Good UK – social problems meet tech solutions

Amie Haven

Amie Haven, Journalist

This social enterprise works alongside an AI community tackling humanity’s challenges.

The United Nations (UN), PwC, McKinsey, and AI for Good Foundation demonstrate how institutions, firms, businesses, and charities are promoting the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) for good. “Connecting AI innovators with problem owners for sustainable development” is the premise for the UN’s upcoming 2020 Global Summit. The summit promises equal and inclusive access to AI technologies supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals. Whilst many fear AI will replicate the worst of humanity’s faults and prejudices, others see positive applications to address social problems.

Social enterprises like AI for Good UK show that even small businesses can join in with the heavy hitters and develop tech with a conscience. AI for Good UK has created a platform for an AI community focused on tackling global problems with AI solutions. With projects supported by the UN, PwC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the enterprise is focused on a mission to act for social good.

Founded in 2018 by Kriti Sharma, winner of the GG2 Young Achiever Award 2019 and one of Forbes 30 under 30, AI for Good UK creates products with an eye on diversity and consideration for unintentional consequences. Conferences like Mind the Product support this thinking, encouraging designers and innovators to take responsibility for the unintentional harm products do and not just revel in the glory and good. 

Sharma and her team work with a diverse range of organisations bringing innovative products to life. Working with Sage Foundation and Soul City Institute for Social Justice, AI for Good UK produced an app to help victims of domestic violence who may not have safe access to other support services. rAInbow is an AI messaging and immersive story companion which helps victims determine if they are in an abusive relationship by helping them understand the realities of abuse and exploring their options safely.

Many people in abusive relationships find it hard to accept they are being abused or they feel too ashamed to reach out for help or even blame themselves. And the statistics are shocking. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 30% of women worldwide experience some form of physical or sexual violence in an intimate relationship. Since abusers may cut off all external relationships, having an app that answers questions about abuse without judgement may be a lifeline for isolated victims. 

Educating the next generation of AI innovators is also a focus for the social enterprise. They are working with Sage Foundation on a series of AI workshops across the UK, South Africa, US, France, and Spain. Here young people aged 13-17 will take part in free educational workshops designed to teach basic AI skills, demonstrate practical applications, and encourage creative problem-solving. The goal is to prepare young people for a future of employment which will require strong AI skills. Attendees will get the chance to learn the basics of natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and facial recognition amongst other AI skills. They will then get the chance to put their learning into action by designing and building their own solution to a problem using an AI chatbot. Workshops like these are significant since schools are struggling to adjust curriculums to keep up with rapid tech advances. There is also a risk of unequal skills distribution, with some young people being prepared for an AI workplace whilst others get left behind.

With their motto “A little less talk and a lot more action – so let’s act together”, AI for Good UK promotes the efficacy of an AI community. Working for an ethical future of AI tech, the community seek to address humanity’s most stubborn problems. 

AI for Good UK are positioning themselves as a force a good in this exciting – and sometimes frightening – tech revolution.

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