Google has announced a new initiative, AI for Social Good, which will aim to drive the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) to address societal issues.
In a joint statement, Google AI senior VP Jeff Dean and Google VP Jacquelline Fuller noted that, in recent years, Google has been adopting AI for 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," they said.
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Under the new initiative, Google has launched its Google AI Impact Challenge, backed with a $25m grant funding which is open to nonprofits, academics and social enterprises on a global scale. The challenge calls for submissions from companies that use AI for social good.
"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," Dean and Fuller said.
The new humanitarian initiative follows Google Cloud's decision not to bid on the Pentagon's $10bn JEDI cloud computing project due to ethical concerns. However, Google AI senior VP Jeff Dean said that the AI Impact Challenge was not established as a reaction to the company's recent controversy surrounding its military and surveillance-related work.
"This has been in the works for quite some time. We've been doing work in the search space that is socially beneficial and not directly related to commercial applications," Dean stated. "It's really important for us to show what the potential for AI and machine learning can be, and to lead by example."