TA 2. Innovations and synergies across different data ecosystems

(TA2.15) The Data Revolution: AI for Sustainable Development


Sharjah Stat Hall October 22, 2018 10:30 am - 11:45 am

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Jake Porway
James Hodson
Zeeshan Shaikh


The ubiquity of new and open data sets offer the promise of boosting impact and scaling the services of social change organizations exponentially. These massive datasets combined with never-before-seen computing power could help identify effective interventions to combat structural poverty, better target health services to the needy, and predict educational outcomes for the underserved. However, data alone is not enough. To unlock the power of these new datasets, a combination of skills in computer programming, statistics, machine learning, data visualization, and software design is critical.

Very few mission-driven organizations can afford data scientists and it is not simple to integrate them into the social sector, limiting what social organizations can achieve. The social sector has traditionally used data for historical analysis; such as creating charts of what happened last year. The promise of data science lies in being able to collect massive amounts of new digital information to build statistical models which can predict the future and improve an organization’s operational efficiency. And yet data scientists in isolation will not adequately diagnose and solve social sector problems.

DataKind and the AI for Good Foundation will present an introduction to data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), and how it can help organizations become both faster and leaner, and to accelerate their impact. In this session, we aim to introduce a diverse audience to our “open room,” cross-border approach to problem solving, and show the real benefits that open data sources and shared experiences can have in solving big problems.

We’ll share inspiring real world examples of how organizations have leveraged data along with machine learning, AI, and predictive technology to develop innovative ways to manage water scarcity, combat crop disease in support of poverty alleviation, uncover corruption in an effort to prevent future environmental and human rights abuse.

After delivering a joint presentation that highlights the art of the possible for machine learning and AI in assessing and achieving the SDGs, the second half of this session will be an interactive moderated panel with experts across AI and big data technologies, technology policy, and economics. As part of this conversation, moderators from the AI for Good Foundation and DataKind will engage panelists in a conversation around the applications and possibilities for these interventions to address organization’s pain points and improve mission delivery. Audience members will walk away with a solid understanding of how data science can fuel work within the SDG space and generative tools for developing potential ideas for data science projects that can be explored beyond the conference.