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Credit: The International Telecommunication Union

Credit: The International Telecommunication Union

ITU annual global summit generates 35 pioneering AI for Good proposals

As announced by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technology (ICT), its annual AI for Good Global Summit has successfully generated thirty-five innovative project proposals leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) for good.

"Leveraging the power of ICTs, including artificial intelligence, is imperative if we are to improve the livelihoods of all people, everywhere, through achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," said ITU Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao.

“This year, we hope to spur action to ensure that artificial intelligence accelerates progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Mr Zhao said in his welcoming remarks.

“Already, AI solutions are being developed to help increase crop yields, manage natural disasters, reduce road congestion, or diagnose heart, eye, and blood disorders.”

Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the ITU (Credit: The International Telecommunication Union)

The summit gathered AI innovators with public and private-sector decision-makers, creating collaboration opportunities to execute the AI for Good project proposals in the near and medium terms. This year’s event was organized by ITU in partnership with 32 sister United Nations agencies, the XPRIZE Foundation and the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The AI for Good community at the summit discussed the merits of sharing AI tools and resources, datasets, and supporting knowledge and expertise – a vision the summit's participants conceptualised as "AI and Data Commons". This responds to growing recognition among stakeholders that shared resources could spur new AI for Good projects, enable significant scale, and create incentives to return new and improved resources to the community.

The pioneering proposals seek to deliver breakthroughs in: (1) expanded and improved health care, (2) enhanced monitoring of agriculture and biodiversity using satellite imagery, (3) smart urban development, and (4) trust in AI.

(1)    AI-improved healthcare

The Summit saw the formulation of fifteen AI-project proposals that aim to improve and expand healthcare in fields spanning primary care and service delivery, the detection of impending vision loss and osteoarthritis, the integration and analysis of medical data, the consideration afforded to AI by healthcare policy, and responses to outbreaks of disease and other medical emergencies.

Participants also discussed the creation of a new study platform that would be open to all interested stakeholders and supported by ITU and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This would help gather use cases of AI in healthcare and identify the data formats and interoperability mechanisms required to amplify the impact of such use cases.

(2)    Monitoring agriculture and biodiversity using satellite imagery

In enhancing monitoring of agriculture and biodiversity, three projects propose the use of AI-powered satellite imagery analysis to predict and prevent deforestation, track livestock with great accuracy, and provide data analytics for micro-insurance to small-hold farmers. Another project proposal provides enabling infrastructure and common capabilities – through a 'global service platform' – to support new satellite data projects in achieving immediate scale.

(3)    Smart urban development

In supporting smart urban development, seven project proposals aim to support linguistic diversity within cities, combat gender violence, and provide virtual testbeds for the simulation of smart city projects. These projects included the targeted establishment of an 'Internet of Cities', a global network able to share the data, knowledge and expertise required to replicate successful smart city projects elsewhere in the world.

(4)    Building trust in AI

A total of nine project proposals address three key dimensions of trust in AI: (1) AI stakeholders' trust in AI developers; (2) trust across national, cultural and organizational boundaries; and (3) trust in AI systems themselves.

Other projects proposals seek to build trust in AI's contribution to agriculture and mental health. They investigate strategies for developing countries to maintain social stability as AI-driven automation influences labour markets. They also explore how the concept of trust varies across cultures, and they study how policymakers could encourage the development of trustworthy AI systems and datasets free of bias.

These projects would be supported by a proposed incubator for multidisciplinary collaboration in the interest of building trust in AI, trustfactory.ai.

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