Artificial Intelligence is the Next Big Thing to Resolve Social Issues

Author : Odisha Today Bureau | Posted on: 2019-07-11

Artificial Intelligence (AI) may seem like a sci-fi but AI machines can do some pretty amazing and impossible stuff which humans will never be able to. AI touches many aspects of our private and business lives and companies that are willing to innovate are set to win. According to Cisco study, 95% of employees are convinced that AI can make their job easier and at least half of them believes that having a virtual assistant would help them increase their productivity and focus.


Today, Artificial Intelligence is changing every aspect of technology. Nowadays, technology is not just about creating tools for practical purposes, it is much more advanced. But the next big frontier in AI technology lies in combining machine learning with human skills to drive a positive change in society and resolve some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.


Google has already started tapping artificial intelligence to tackle various social and environmental challenges across the world and is betting big on some of its ongoing pilot projects being tested across the world, including India.


While addressing the company’s ‘solve with AI’ event in Tokyo, Google's AI head Jeff Dean said that AI can help solve some of the most difficult social and environmental challenges in areas like healthcare, disaster prediction, environmental conservation, agriculture, or cultural preservation.


Since data fuels all AI algorithms, the US-based internet giant has identified several areas where machine learning can be used to analyze large data sets to help drive solutions. For instance, in the field of healthcare, the use of AI technology to detect Diabetic Retinopathy has already started showing positive results.


Google's Health Product Manager Lily Peng said at the event, “Diabetic Retinopathy or DR is a complication of diabetes which can lead to blindness. The key to preventing the diseases is through early screenings. However, in many places such as India, there aren’t enough specialists to do these screenings”.

Peng demonstrated how Google, with the help of its sister firm Verily, has developed a machine learning system that can detect the disease in the images of the patient's retina with a high level of accuracy on par with human specialists.


Aside from diabetic retinopathy, Peng said that Google is using machine learning models in two other areas of medical learning models in two other areas of medical imaging – analysing CT scans to predict early signs of lung cancers and detect lesions in pathology images to assist doctors with breast cancer metastases.

Besides, Google is also working on developing AI algorithms to help offer communication support to people with speech and hearing disabilities.


The company recently rolled out Project Euphonia, which aims to make communication easier for people suffering from speech impairments caused by neurological conditions such as ALS and Parkinson's disease. The project's aim, Google said, is to use AI models that can understand diverse speech patterns, such as impaired speech, to help people communicate with the world.


And it's not just Google that is driving these innovations.


Wadhwani Institute for AI, a Mumbai-based non-profit organization that was recently shortlisted for a grant from Google, is helping apply AI innovation in agriculture and has developed technology to reduce crop loss in cotton farming.


The institute's AI algorithm aims to help small farmers in India who struggle with the issue of pest damage and are unable to receive timely advice from experts to prevent damage to the crops, said Wadhwani AI's VP (Products and Programmes) Raghu Dharmaraju said.


The system enables farmers and extension workers to take photos of pest traps and use image classification models on their smartphones to count and identify the pests and receive suggestions such as what pesticides to spray and when.


Rainforest Connection (RFC), a US-based firm that uses Google's open-source machine learning software TensorFlow to help reduce deforestation, is another such example.

Topher White, CEO of Rainforest Connection, said that deforestation caused by illegal logging is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions. "A single square kilometer forest we protect is equal to taking 1,000 cars off the road," he adds.


Google has also rolled out several other AI research and engineering projects across the globe to stop illegal fishing, forecast floods, preserve ancient languages and conserve native bird species.


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