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Can AI solve the world’s pressing issues?       

At a virtual conference hosted by the Apeejay School of Management (ASM), Samuel Fosso Wamba, Head of The Centre of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence & Business Analytics at TBS Business School, France said Artificial intelligence (AI) can be applied to tackle social, humanitarian and environmental challenges.

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Samuel Fosso Wamba

The use of AI in businesses is growing exponentially, but AI can also have a significant impact on real-world social challenges, said Wamba, Guest of honour, at the 2nd conference on Business Data Analytics organised by ASM. He said a report titled ‘Applying artificial intelligence for social good’ by Mckinsey & Company inspired him to publish a research paper called ‘Are we preparing for a good AI society? A bibliometric review and research agenda’. Wamba said to analyse potential applications for social good, the article by Mckinsey & Company compiled a library of about 160 AI social-impact use cases. It identified and classified 10 domains where adding Al to the solution mix could have a large-scale social impact. These 10 domains are: Security and justice, public and social sector, infrastructure, information verification and validation, health and hunger, equality and inclusion, environment, education, economic empowerment and crisis response. These domains range across all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) that could potentially help millions of people worldwide.

Wamba said though India is among the top 10 countries in the list of most productive and influential countries in AI research, there’s a lot that needs to be done. Talking about the evolution of AI research from 1975-2014, Wamba remarked that research in AI during this period was limited to machine learning and data mining. However, from 2015-2019, extensive research has been conducted in the domains of AI like deep learning, neural network, big data, convolutional neural network, data mining, internet of things, natural language processing, classification reinforcement learning,  robotics, image processing, etc.

AI for social good

So, what’s the state of research of AI for social good? “Based on a bibliometric analysis (the use of statistical methods to analyse books, articles and other publications) of 41,032 documents retrieved from the Web of Science database, research in 10 social domains that were mentioned in Mckinsey & Company’s article, accounted for less than 3% of all publications. Even though people say AI will transform our lives and make a huge difference in education, health, economic empowerment and infrastructure, not enough research is going on AI for social good.”

“My research paper provides 136 evidence-based research questions about how AI research can help understand the social changes brought about by AI and prepare for a good AI society. We now invite researchers to extend and complement this study through domain and issue-specific research and, in so doing, help shape the directions in which Al will transform our societies,” he added.

Taking the discussion further, Tarun Vats, Technology Consultant at EY talked about how industry functions such as forecasting, customer preferences, supply chain optimisation, improved scheduling, and improved talent hiring, are being transformed by AI.

“The management education 2.0 is all about integrating Business Data Analytics into our teaching and learning so that our students are industry-ready. Today’s manager is aided and supported by Data Analytics.”

Dr Alka Munjal, Director, Apeejay School of Management

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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