Monday, July 22, 2019
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Experts tackle AI as tool for social good

Experts tackle AI as tool for social good

Ailyn Agonia
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to solve real-world developmental and humanitarian problems were tackled by experts from some of the world’s leading NGOs and UN agencies during a workshop hosted by Qatar Center for Artificial Intelligence (QCAI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the Researchery(formerly known as HBKU Research Complex) on Sunday.
QCRI Executive Director Dr Ahmed K Elmagarmid led in welcoming the participants to the event which included experts from UNDP, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC) and the World Bank.
Also present were representatives from Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Ministry of Public Health, UNESCO Doha Office and experts from various campuses in Education City.
In his remarks, QCAI Research Director Dr Sanjay Chawla underlined the works of QCAI which has organised several workshops on timely issues including food security since its launch in September last year.
Similarly, Chawla stressed the focus of the centre on promoting use of AI as part of innovative solution to concerns such as alleviating poverty.
He also presented the blue print developed at QCRI for Qatar’s national strategy on AI as the country aspires to lead the transformation into an AI society. The pillars of the blueprint include making Doha a global hub for attracting AI talent and encouraging local businesses to embrace AI solutions. It also cites investing in people and their ideas for Qatar’s future through training, immersive experiences as well as participating in international efforts to bring standardisation in all aspects of AI.
The workshop featured a rich line-up of speakers including Jennifer Colville, Innovation Team leader at UNDP. In her presentation, she tackled UNDP’s call for actions to be taken for ethical and productive use of AI. Among them is using AI in a way that reaches everyone and ensuring that no one is left behind, especially those who are already marginalised and opening up data and making it accessible for all to use for social good. She also cited UNDP’s call on the use of AI to facilitate innovation specifically in putting in place policies, regulations and laws as well as setting up an eco-system for partners to come together and support one another in creating data, accessing data, making it available and being able to analyse and act on it.
Other speakers were Vedran Sekara of UNICEF who tackled AI for the most vulnerable, Rebecca Moreno Jimenez of UNHCR who discussed data innovation at their agency and Justin Ginnetti of iDMC who talked about using AI to detect, map and quantify internal displacement, among others.
The event was organised by QCRI Research Director Dr Ingmar Weber.


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