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May 15, 2018

Action-oriented AI for Good Global Summit gets off to roaring start

By ITU News

The second AI for Good Global Summit started briskly Tuesday at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with organizers emphasizing that this is not just another conference.

“Over the next three days, our objective is to connect AI innovators with public- and private-sector decisionmakers so that they can take promising strategies forward,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao in opening remarks. “What sets our event apart is that we’re trying to be action-oriented and solution-focused”.

The aim of the Summit, which brings together the top minds in artificial intelligence (AI) and humanitarian action, is to identify practical solutions for how AI can accelerate progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And the goal of the 15-17 May event organized by ITU in partnership with XPRIZE Foundation, the global leader in incentivized prize competitions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and 32 sister United Nations agencies,   is to launch concrete projects that can be implemented in the coming months. 

“Last year, the Summit sparked an inclusive global dialogue on socially beneficial AI. It was the first-ever event of its kind,” said Mr. Zhao. “This year, we hope to spur action to ensure that artificial intelligence accelerates progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And we’re looking for concrete projects.”

Four key tracks

Indeed, this year’s summit features four key tracks dedicated to identifying specific projects that will emerge in coming months.

Each of the following four tracks will have ‘Breakthrough teams’ of top experts who will propose AI strategies able to be enacted in the near term:

Strategies will be evaluated by the mentors according to their feasibility and scalability, potential to address truly global challenges, degree of supporting advocacy, and applicability to market failures beyond the scope of government and industry. 

“What makes the AI for Good Global Summit unique is its emphasis on action.” — Vicky Hanson, President, ACM

AI for health

How to leverage AI to advance healthcare emerged as a focus right from the Summit’s earliest moments.

“The use of Big Data and AI hold the promise of transforming health,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), explaining that digital technologies, including AI, will be ‘vital tools’ to achieve WHO’s top goals for providing better health and well-being for 1 billion more people. He also mentioned that AI is already playing a key role in preventing outbreaks and diagnosing treatments.

Finding solutions ‘hiding in plain sight’

Vicky Hanson, President of ACM, summed up the unique potential of the Summit during opening remarks.

“AI solutions to urgent challenges in society might be hiding in plain sight right now,” said Hanson. “What makes the AI for Good Summit unique is its emphasis on action.”

Anousheh Ansari, Member & Chair of Management, XPRIZE Foundation Board of Directors probably spoke for many in attendance when she said: “We are super excited to see how these solutions benefit the majority of the population.

For key insights on trends in AI, read the recent edition of the ITU News Magazine:

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Action-oriented AI for Good Global Summit gets off to roaring start

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