In pop culture, artificial intelligence (AI) often shows up as a robot companion, like TARS in “Interstellar,” or some far-out superintelligence. But in reality, AI—computer programming tools that help us find patterns in complex data and make everyday products more useful—already powers a lot of technology around us, and is addressing some of society’s biggest unsolved challenges.
For the past few years we’ve been applying core Google AI research and engineering to projects with positive societal impact, including forecasting floods, protecting whales, and predicting famine. Today we’re unifying these efforts in a new program called AI for Social Good. We’re applying AI to a wide range of problems, partnering with external organizations to work toward solutions.
But we’re far from having all the answers—or even knowing all the questions. We want people from as many backgrounds as possible to surface problems that AI can help solve, and to be empowered to create solutions themselves. So as a part of AI for Social Good, we’re also launching the Google AI Impact Challenge, a global call for nonprofits, academics, and social enterprises from around the world to submit proposals on how they could use AI to help address some of the world’s greatest social, humanitarian and environmental problems.
We’ll help selected organizations bring their proposals to life with coaching from Google’s AI experts, Google.org grant funding from a $25 million pool, and credits and consulting from Google Cloud. Grantees will also join a specialized Launchpad Accelerator program, and we’ll tailor additional support to each project’s needs in collaboration with data science nonprofit DataKind. In spring of 2019, an international panel of experts, who work in computer science and the social sector, will help us choose the top proposals.
We don’t expect applicants to be AI experts. For any nonprofit or researcher who has a great idea or wants help brainstorming one, we’ve built an educational guide with introductions to AI and the types of problems it’s well-suited for, as well as workshops in key locations around the world.
To give you a sense of the potential we see, here are a few examples of how Google and others have already used AI over the past few years:
We’re excited to see what new ideas nonprofits, developers and social entrepreneurs from across the world come up with—and we’re looking forward to supporting them as best we can.