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Google announces new AI competition to deal with social issues

Google has said it is earmarking a sum of $25 million for the development of new AI applications that would seek to address the ills of the present society and help improve people’s lives in the process. Named the AI Global Impact Challenge, the contest is already open and will accept applications till Jan. 22, 2019. After that, the winners will be declared in the spring of 2019.

Google said the contest will target NGOs, social research organizations and social enterprises who might already have a track record of working on the social sector. That said, the competition is also open to almost anyone who might have a brilliant idea that can change things for the better. The competition, in its present format at least, is however limited to the application of AI techniques to deal with issues related to the environment and society. Specifically, the challenge areas could be preventing environmental degradation, child and sex trafficking, crisis management and such.

The winners of the competition will be eligible to use Google’s resources which includes both the men and machine. For instance, there would be AI experts from Google who would be providing vital inputs that would aid in the development of the specific applications. Similarly, the winning organization will also be allowed to use Google’s computational setup for the development and implementation of the AI solutions. Not to mention, the winners will also be granted funds from the $25 million resources that has already been set aside for the competition.

Also, while the new initiative from Google is indeed laudable, experts believe this could be a way to win back people’s trust after the company went in for some criticism ever since it joined a US military backed project named Project Maven. The project is meant to help the US Department of Defence to develop solutions that would require the application of advanced AI techniques to help distinguish humans and real targets from the footage supplied by the drones.

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Seeking to distance itself from the controversial project, Google has said they won’t be extending the contract with the Department of Defence after the term expires in 2019. By then, it hopes the new competition will help restore their image, that of working towards the betterment of the society the world over.