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Jean-Philippe Courtois, EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations, provided a compelling vision with his opening keynote at the historical UN ITU AI for Good Global Summit (AI4G), hosted May 28-31, 2019 at UN ITU HQ, Geneva.
Key themes in Jean-Philippe’s speech included these areas:
- AI provides incredible new opportunities to transform entire industries from retail, healthcare and energy to agriculture. You can see AI being used today enabling new generations of business agents, enabling person, object and activity detection, enabling AI assisted professionals, and enabling autonomous systems.
- One example is precision agriculture using Microsoft FarmBeats, an AI + IoT solution enabling data-driven decisions to improve agriculture yield, lower overall costs and reduce environmental impact of agriculture production. This becomes even more critical for developing nations.
- Microsoft is helping business leaders through the AI Business School to build their AI business strategy and during the keynote, Microsoft announced the availability of a new learning path tailored for government leaders.
- Microsoft is taking a principled approach to AI that starts in the application of ethical decision making. Like Microsoft did with GDPR, they are empowering their customers with best practices and tools to ensure they are using AI responsibly.
- If computers are good at vision, imagine what that means for people that can’t see. If computers are good at hearing, imagine what that can do for someone who is deaf. Over the next 5 years, AI will have a more profound impact on the 1 billion people in the world with disabilities than anyone else. Microsoft has partnered with Ashoka to enable social entrepreneurs to do just this.
- And through their AI for Good initiative, Microsoft has committed $115 million to empower people around the world with AI to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges including environmental sustainability, empowering people with disabilities, and helping people through humanitarian action.
As noted by Jean-Philippe in a follow-up interview, “Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, and participating in the conversation around AI for Good is essential to realizing our shared vision. The pace of AI innovation we see today provides a unique opportunity for us to take on society’s greatest challenges at scale. Equally important is the responsibility that we share across academia, civil society, industry and government to ensure we are taking a principled approach to the creation and use of AI to ensure it is used in a way that fosters trust and enables its broader adoption so the potential of AI can be realized. We recognize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are addressing urgent and complex societal issues that are bigger than any one organization. That’s why Microsoft is partnering across public, private and nonprofit sectors to deepen and broaden our collective impact. The more we — as governments, nonprofit and private companies — can work together toward these shared goals, the greater and more lasting our impact will be toward building a sustainable future for all.”
The United Nations (UN) International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the oldest UN specialized agency, and for more than 150 years, it has facilitated setting global standards in technology. The UN ITU is the founding host of the AI for Good Global Summit and global meme AI for Good transforming the application of AI into solving humanities’ grandest challenges. What is remarkable is that AI4G is provided without charge every year, due to its United Nations roots, to all participants with overflow registrations every year.
Accenting the unique impact of AI4G, Vicki Hanson, CEO of the global organization ACM, No.1 in computing science, provided these comments, “ACM is honored to be a partner and Gold sponsor for the 3rd annual AI for Good Global Summit.” Vicki continues, “By bringing together AI technologists with leaders in government, industry, and humanitarian initiatives, new ways to apply AI to pressing world challenges are imagined and realized. Our work together here exemplifies a popular motto among ACM’s members in 190 countries: ‘We see a world where computing helps solve tomorrow’s problems, where we use our skills and knowledge to advance the profession and make a positive impact.’”
The AI for Good Global Summit is the only AI summit bringing together governments, industry, academia, media, and all 37 United Agencies, ACM and XPRIZE (leader in global challenge prizes) as partners. From its inception in 2017 and now in its 3rd iteration, it’s the most successful interdisciplinary AI summit with 70+ speakers in 2017, 150+ in 2018 and more than 300 in 2019. The media reach growing from 30 million in 2017 to more than 2 billion in 2019 and influencing the entire world’s population. For 2019, there are more than 150 use cases on how AI can be used for Good, including for all UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals encompass: ending poverty, resolving hunger, good health and well being, to peace, justice, strong institutions and partnership. As an example, for AI for Good in good health/well-being, the ITU is working in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) with the Focus Group AI for Health (FGAI4H) project. This initiative began in 2018 with the goal of providing performance standards and benchmarks for AI applications in healthcare. This is significant with global health nearly $9 trillion in value and 80% adoption of machine learning (AI) in the next three years.
The AI for Good Global Summit pioneered the global meme AI for Good which has transformed into a multitude of variations. With more than an estimated 100 projects recommended as outcomes moving into 2020, there is a concerted drive to produce meaningful and lasting solutions to better the lives of all the world’s citizens.
What is particularly notable is Microsoft’s strong commitment to AI for Good
Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative: what is its focus?
This initiative includes three distinct programs that include AI for Accessibility, AI for Earth and the newest one, AI for Humanitarian Action. Through these programs, Microsoft has committed $115 million to provide people and organizations worldwide AI technology, resources and expertise. To-date Microsoft has over 240 grantees in 63 countries doing some incredible work from helping to protect bio-diversity (example: Wild Me) to helping to promote respect for human rights (example: TrialWatch).
What are the prospects for success in doing this, the key challenges ahead and pragmatically, how these can be solved?
Microsoft is seeing recent breakthroughs that are helping to accelerate widespread transformation across industries and the public sector, with the potential for AI to have a lasting positive impact on society. However, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. At Microsoft, their approach to AI is rooted in 6 fundamental principles that Satya Nadella instantiated in 2016 to guide both the creation and use of AI. But ultimately the task of building responsible and trusted AI is not the responsibility of one company alone, as broad societal change requires a greater scale of innovative ideas to ensure the benefits of AI are spread evenly through society. This is where Microsoft is proactively advocating for policy and regulation such as for facial recognition that protects the privacy of people.
May 28, 2019 at 05:02AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs