Google hosts summit challenging global organization to use artificial intelligence for social benefit

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Friday, February 14, 2020
Google fostering use of AI to benefit society
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Google AI Impact Challenge is a program that started when the company put out an open call for organizations around the world to submit their ideas on how artificial intelligence could help address societal challenges. ABC7 News' David Louie was at the summit to learn more about some of the projects Google is funding.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Artificial intelligence is already in use in places like Uganda to analyze air pollution and guide decision-makers on how to address it.

This is one of 20 projects Google's philanthropic arm,, selected a year ago out of 2,600 proposals to encourage the use of artificial intelligence, or AI, for social benefit.

"We believe that everyone everywhere should benefit from the advances of technology, not just businesses, not just the rich, everyone," said Jacquelline Fuller, president.

RELATED: Google dissolves artificial intelligence ethics board in response to outcry

San Francisco based Rainforest Connection is using AI to detect threats and illegal logging in rainforests.

AI can analyze sound picked up by internet-connected microphones mounted 150 feet high and listen for chain saws.

CEO Topher White let us listen to some sounds he said indicated illegal logging.

"This was from last week," he noted. "The rangers, the people on the ground, the guards, would have had a chance to respond to this and stop it."

The international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has developed an AI tool to help technicians choose the right treatment for bacterial infections.

RELATED: Artificial intelligence front and center at Google I/O developer conference

A UK-based group, Full Fact, is using AI to address misinformation.

"The places where AI can actually make a big difference is in things like monitoring the spread of misinformation and helps us make better choices about what to actually check," said Mevan Babakar, Full Fact's project lead. She said humans must still make critical decisions. is providing $25 million in grants to support these efforts. It's also providing mentors and networking events such as the Google AI Impact Challenge Summit held Thursday in Redwood City.

Clearly, AI is at the very beginning of understanding the potential of artificial intelligence. These 20 grantees and the projects they're working on give us a sense that the frontier appears to be limitless.