For so long artificial intelligent machines and humanity have been seen as enemies thanks to the thousands of AI movies and TV shows. AI is continually depicted as a force used to interrupt human activity and take over the world in even the most well meaning fictional works today. However, the reality is that AI machines are being used today in many forms to enable and contribute to the social good that is in our society today. Whether it be by adding an additional helping hand in the workforce or keeping tabs on poachers in the wild, AI is not being created to eliminate the livelihoods of its human counterpart merely to help it in areas that are in dire need of a little extra attention.
Recently, a Stanford-led study suggested, “If society approaches artificial intelligence with a more open mind, the technologies emerging from the field could profoundly transform society for the better in the coming decades.” (source)
AI as a Second Set of Eyes
Take for instance the team of scientists who created an AI system that aids ranger patrols in protecting endangered animals from poaching. Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security or PAWS in short, maps out and predicts the behaviors that poachers may make. It uses “complex terrain data” in order to implement its game theory operations to create practical routes for patrols to follow. Not only has this system helped save time and energy, it has provided a second set of eyes in order to help prevent poaching. (source)
Dr. Milind Tambe, the artificial intelligence researcher who led the development of PAWS also helped develop a system for running security at LAX. With limited resources, Dr. Tambe and his team used the same game theory applications that were subsequently used in PAWS, first for LAX’s security team. The system basically randomizes officer schedules along with checkpoint coverage in order to keep the scheduling unpredictable. This unpredictability prevents adversaries from knowing when and where a certain entry point could be vulnerable.
While these are only two of the most recent examples of AI contributing to social good, USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering recently joined forces with Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence and is co-directed by Dr. Tambe. This new center fully believes that AI capabilities can be used to solve many inconsistencies for humanity.
What does the future hold? More social good at the hands of scientist-backed artificial intelligence.
But, Dr. Tambe isn’t the only scientist using AI in such manners. Elsevier Chief Technology Officer, Dan Olley is currently using artificially intelligent machines to learn algorithms that take “data, analytics, and adaptive techniques” in order to learn from nursing students and advance science and medicine. Olley aims to use what is being learned from this machine in order to, “provide data-driven insights and answers to clinicians and research scientists across the globe.” (source)
Dr. Tambe and Dan Olley are both proving that AI is not simply some futuristic endeavour. AI is current, and now it’s being used to help humanity spread social good in areas that seriously need it. Not too far from now we won’t only see artificially intelligent machines in the classroom or at security checkpoints. AI applications could be used to enable safer roads with self-driving cars, better treatments for patients, and even tangible assistance for the elderly.
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