Orlando: Microsoft has launched a new $40-million programme aimed at harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for disaster recovery, helping children, protecting refugees and displaced people and promoting respect for human rights.
The tech giant said it would execute the five-year programme by working deeply with select non-governmental and humanitarian organisations through grants, investment of technology and shared expertise.
Unveiled at the annual “Microsoft Ignite 2018” conference here, the programme called “AI for Humanitarian Action” is part of Microsoft’s “AI for Good initiative” that was launched in July last year.
“Today, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly meeting, we are announcing AI for Humanitarian Action, a new $40-million dollar five-year Microsoft programme,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.
Microsoft said its “AI for Humanitarian Action” programme will accelerate the pace of innovation by managing strategic AI projects that demonstrate new applications, delivering reusable solutions and partnering with others to expand and scale initial projects.
AI can address humanitarian causes in myriad ways. For example, AI technologies like machine vision can quickly analyse images of roads damaged or destroyed by an event, making way for a faster and safer response, Smith explained.
“In a new partnership with the World Bank, United Nations, and partners from the tech industry, relief organisations will be better able to predict when and where future famines will occur so aid can arrive earlier, potentially saving more lives,” the Microsoft President noted.
AI and Machine Learning (ML) also 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 optimise the delivery of aid, supplies, and services to refugees and can scale NGOs’ efforts to communicate and understand displaced peoples’ needs,” Smith explained.
The company said it would collaborate with NGOs and humanitarian organisations to accelerate breakthrough solutions to help monitor, detect and prevent human rights abuses.
“We are hopeful the world will see what a compelling force for good AI can be when it’s used well in partnership with innovative NGOs. By ensuring technology fulfils its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we can empower everyone to achieve more,” Smith noted.