How Data Science For Good Can Change the World

"Data Science for Good" is the theme of the upcoming World Data Science Forum, a movement to help leverage technology for social purposes.

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People are generally afraid of AI, which is using computational statistics to make predictions. According to a report by Genpact research:

“71% of consumers fear AI will infringe on their privacy.”

A survey of Americans’ thoughts on the impact of AI conducted by Oxford concluded this:

“34 percent of respondents thought it would be negative, with 12 percent going for the option ‘very bad, possibly human extinction.'”

Further, 18% were uncertain of the impact of AI, meaning that 64% of people have a negative or uncertain view of AI. Besides the general negativity surrounding AI, there are many specific concerns, as highlighted by a CNBC article:

  1. Mass unemployment.
  2. Nuclear war by 2040.”
  3. Ethical implications over the privacy of patients.”
  4. Mass surveillance.”
  5. Racial, sexual, and other biases.”

However, as reasonable as some of these concerns might be, they’re more reminiscent of fear of the unknown and the new, rather than problems with AI itself.

After all, even the term AI inspires a certain level of anxiety, as “artificial intelligence” implies that we have built systems capable of thought and independent action. We have not. In reality, AI means complex mathematical algorithms – which is not as scary, right?

You might then ask, “why does everyone throw around the term AI if it’s inaccurate?” And the answer is simple: it’s an easy catchphrase. Societies prefer simple truths over nuanced, complex truths, so the argument that “AI is dangerous” is more likely to catch on than “data science can be a force for good.” However, this latter truth is what the next World Data Science Forum aims to inspire, with expert seminars taking place in Kuala Lumpur on October 5th.

In line with the World Data Science Forum‘s mission to create open ecosystems for beneficial data science, the conference is free to attend. Here are some of the planned topics of discussion, as well as uses of data science for good:

  • How AI models predicting dog breeds can be used to help save dogs.
  • How AI models to classify crops and detect crop boundaries can assist precision farming techniques, saving water and growing more food.
  • How AI can be used to cut healthcare costs.
  • How AI can be used to save employee time from doing repetitive, uncreative tasks.

The event aims to dismantle the complexities of AI, laying out the bare truth: AI is a technology like any other, so it can be used for good or for bad, but it’s up to us to create solutions for good.

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