While consumers are still struggling to see the daily realities of artificial intelligence (A.I.) Microsoft is pushing ahead with the technology for other, more philanthropic uses. Today, Microsoft is announcing a new five-year $40 million-dollar initiative using A.I. to assist with "humanitarian crises caused by natural and man-made disasters, oppression and other emergencies."
The project is called AI for Humanitarian Action and it will "harness the power of AI to focus on four priorities – helping the world recover from disasters, addressing the needs of children, protecting refugees and displaced people, and promoting respect for human rights" according to a press release from Microsoft.
AI for Humanitarian Action is part of a more extensive $150 million-dollar five-year program called Microsoft's AI for Good, which includes the previously announced AI for Earth and AI for Accessibility initiatives.
Through a process, Microsoft works with select non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian groups with allocations for "financial grants, technology investments and partnerships that combine our AI and data science know-how with these groups' core expertise."
While all of this may sound a bit squishy without firm examples, Microsoft did present an outline for four significant areas they seek to leverage A.I. solutions for humanitarian issues, including:
It seems that no corner of the planet is immune to the devastating consequences of natural disasters, whether they be fires, drought, or storms. Artificial intelligence and data modeling hold huge promise for forecasting and detecting early signs of coming disasters, and also can help responders better target their aid. AI technologies like machine vision can quickly analyze images of roads damaged or destroyed by an event, making way for a faster and safer response. In a new partnership with the World Bank, United Nations, and partners from the tech industry, relief organizations will be better able to predict when and where future famines will occur so aid can arrive earlier, potentially saving more lives.
Needs of children
We believe AI can equip NGOs and governments with better tools to protect the world's most vulnerable population: children. Human trafficking, for instance, is one of the world largest criminal industries, ensnaring millions of children each year. Already we are using predictive analytics and bot frameworks to target both the supply and demand underpinning human trafficking – ultimately disrupting criminals and bringing relief to victims around the world.
Basic health services for children are also in critical need around the world. Our longtime NGO partner, Operation Smile, uses machine vision AI and facial modeling to improve the organization's surgical outcomes and help more children in need of facial surgeries. Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is another issue where advanced technology can help. Each year thousands of babies die, yet the root causes of SIDS are not yet fully understood. Microsoft is using statistical analysis and machine learning to provide new insights for scientists working to identify the causes of, and put an end to, SIDS worldwide.
Refugees and displaced people
The number of refugees and displaced people in the world are at a record high, and this is a seminal challenge of our generation. AI and machine learning have the potential to improve the lives of approximately 68 million displaced people in the world, 28 million of whom are refugees. AI can help optimize the delivery of aid, supplies, and services to refugees and can scale NGOs' efforts to communicate and understand displaced peoples' needs. Microsoft is working already with the Norwegian Refugee Council, NetHope, and University College Dublin to develop a chatbot using AI technologies, such as language understanding, machine translation, and speech recognition to intelligently assist displaced youth to connect them with free high-quality educational resources. Using chatbots like this could also provide a model for aid workers in the field. It could help these workers communicate with displaced people who speak different languages and who need specific core services like access to food, health care, and shelter.
We will collaborate with NGOs and humanitarian organizations to accelerate breakthrough solutions to help monitor, detect and prevent human rights abuses. Deep learning has created the ability to better predict, analyze and respond to critical human rights situations. Utilizing AI-powered speech translation, people can connect with pro bono lawyers who are protecting people's human rights.
For Microsoft, A.I. is a very different concept than what consumers may have seen in the movies, but with intelligent computing infusing daily computing tasks (see Office), the future of data analysis – especially when it comes to helping people – is quickly becoming a reality.
Here's everything you need to know about Windows 10X
Microsoft is building a new version of Windows 10 called Windows 10X that will be launching on new foldable PCs starting at the end of this year. Here's everything we know about it.
Baldur's Gate III gameplay to be revealed on February 27
The world will get its first look at Baldur's Gate III gameplay on February 27 via a live stream from PAX East. Baldur's Gate III is being developed and published by Larian Studios.
Would you buy a smartphone with full Windows 10 on ARM?
Earlier today, a company called Emperion unveiled details about a smartphone its building that supposedly runs full Windows 10, on an overclocked Snapdragon 845 processor, that’s also able to run Android apps without emulation or dual-booting with Android. It sounds too good to be true, and it probably is, but let’s assume this is a product that can be executed on. Would you buy it?
Keep your Oculus Rift S controllers powered with these great batteries
The Oculus Rift S controllers don't come with a built-in rechargeable battery like a smartphone, so what are you supposed to use? We've got the definitive list of best batteries for your Oculus Rift S controller!