What is AI and why we need it to for SDG Goals?

AI and SDG goals 2030

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the transformative technology of our time. Concurrent advances in computational power, algorithms and digitization have led to a rapid increase of applications that some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As with previous technological revolution, its impact will not be limited to industry, but is set to enter the public sector, with it already making inroads into our homes and pockets.

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ means different things to different people, just as ‘intelligence’ differs in its use depending on the context. To start with, let me outline what we think of as AI, and then clarify what we see as not AI.

From Academic Perspective AI means “The art of creating machines that perform functions that require intelligence when performed by people”.

The Age of Intelligent Machines

The core of this definition is the ability to act in a way that it simulates human intelligence, a practical perspective we find most useful for the task at hand. The reference to human intelligence suggests an ability to deal with new situations, to handle previously unseen problems. Endowing a machine with this ability means that we must give it a mechanism to generalize from a specific case to find a more general underlying relationship. In effect, it must be able to learn how to relate the determining features of a situation to the performance of a function.

So, AI in simplest words means the ability to learn how to think like humans. Earlier computers were not intelligent but very dumb and could do things as instructed only. They didn’t have their own mind and consciousness.

But now machines have self-learning abilities just like humans- typical AI consists of neural Network model and lots of data to feed the AI and train them to work.

A Graphic Representation of Artificial Neural Network

With the Availability of huge computational power, cheap storage systems and incredible amount of Data collection, research and development in AI applications has skyrocketed.

Why AI matters for us?

Humans are currently facing lots of challenges due to population boom and Inefficient systems to deal with them. These problems are extremely time & resources consuming and we have little amount of time for so many things.

For example – A doctor have to invest a lot of time in analyzing the diagnostics report of a patient, which is time consuming and have to do repeatedly.

But with the Advent of advanced machine learning capabilities, computer algorithms can automate the task with exceptionally high accuracy to detect even cancer and other many minor ailments. It can reduce the cost of diagnostics and eliminate the wastage of time in analyzing hundreds of diagnostics reports. Not only AI can detect the diseases but can Predict the Diseases before it happens.

AI in Healthcare
Healthcare worker using AI machine to detect eye diseases.

Let’s analyze the various Dimensions of AI and Machine Intelligence and how AI can help us to reach Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

SDG Goal s –No Poverty and Hunger

Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges of humanity. While the number of people living in extreme poverty have dropped by more than half between 1990 and 2015, too many are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

As of 2020, about 736 million people still lived on less than US$1.90 a day; many lack food, clean drinking water and sanitation. Rapid growth in countries such as China and India have lifted millions out of poverty, but progress has been unequal. Women are more likely to be poor than men because they have less paid work, education, and own low property ownership. Around ten percent of the world’s population live in extreme poverty and half of all people living in poverty are under eighteen.

Poverty exists for several reasons – the lack of education, life skills, access to Safe food and clean water which can be regionally systemic, an act of a disastrous occurrence or war or both. Poverty could also be caused by overpopulation.

Food Waste Reduction

With AI we can optimize the agriculture production and increase the water efficiency. Due to disorganized and inefficient food supply chain management and poorly managed storage systems worlds 33% of total food grain produced goes to waste globally which amount to 1.3 billion tons of grains per year

Food waste map
Ai and food waste management

With AI based Model and Sensor data from IoT Devices Global Food Production and Demand can be predicted and hence Wastage of food can be reduced significantly.

There are many Startup companies like Centaur who have taken lead in Food crop management using AI and IoT devices and  Data from sensors within stored product is combined with environmental information and predictive models to recommend appropriate modifications to maximize stored crop quality. Furthermore, data on post-harvest crop conditions is tracked, stored, and available at the click-of-a-button, offering quality reporting from farm to fork, and augmenting traceability and proof-of-provenance.

There are many other applications of AI – Like disaster management, delivering quality education, cheaper and accessible health care through predictive models, targeted social protection etc.

SDG 11-Sustainable Smart Cities and Mobility

smart cities solutions

Future lies in Smart cities and due rapid urbanization 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN . With shrinking resources and management capabilities it would it a challenging task to manage huge population influx and to deal with this technological challenge we need to develop more smart and sustainable cities.

Smart Cities

China and Korea have already deployed Big data analytics and AI to make their cities Smarter with more efficiency in delivering services like Smart Transportation, Smart lights, Automated parking etc. and hence efficiently managed their massive population without breakdown of cities due to heavy urbanization.

From a technology perspective, Smart Cities are made up of various layers that is –connectivity, datacenter, analytics, applications, and the end-user layer. Each one of these layers incorporates various types of technologies that allows for the creation and aggregation of data and provides the right level of response for end users in the city, be it a citizen, resident, tourist, or business. Furthermore, each technology layer evolves at varied paces which requires that each layer is decoupled so that products can be switched in and out as needed while continuing to interface with other layers to support the business.

Artificial Intelligence can predict, prevent, and reduce crime; address new and emerging threats; improve emergency/disaster planning and response; reduce the cost of operations; and allocate resources more effectively. Safe Cities work to create safe and livable communities using a variety of tools such as advanced analytics, social media, collaboration and information sharing tools ; Smart Mobility will Decongest the roads and make cities much greener, cleaner and less pollution levels.

Migration management & Agile Governance

The demands being made on governments are diversifying, deepening, and quickening. Traditional policy development lags technology innovation, though people increasingly expect the public agencies they rely on to take more innovative approaches to their responsibilities. This is particularly true during emergency situations triggered by events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional governance structures and policy-making models must evolve from cumbersome and slow, to agile and responsive – and truly agile governance will acknowledge that policy development is no longer limited to just governments. 

WEF transformation map

The forecasts by the UN International Organization for Migration posit that there could be between 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate.

Powerful digital tools like artificial intelligence are swiftly eliminating entire markets which has taken influence away from traditional regulators, unskilled workers and given it to corporations and skilled labor. Governments are being challenged to move beyond simply understanding major technological advances, to mitigating, shaping, and harnessing them to govern better, and to become more accessible, transparent, and trustworthy. Soon, governments will be forced to entirely change their approaches to creating and enforcing regulation, not least to better stimulate rather than stymie innovation.

Potentially governments will have to create brand-new instruments to cope with the spread of modern technologies, either by nurturing internal expertise or working with the private sector. Governments that are agile will be able to find ways to reinvent themselves so they can better understand what they are regulating; close collaboration with businesses and civil society organizations will likely be necessary to make that happen. Agile Governance and Artificial Intelligence Combined with Blockchain Technology to scale them Public Service Delivery systems by making the system faster, smarter, and more accessible to normal people.

Digitalization and technological change are rapidly transforming every aspect of our societies and economies, the migration and refugee policy space is no exception. Technology is already affecting migrants, refugees, and people on the move in many ways, but policymakers have yet to systematically address the different uses of technology in the migration management field. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to accelerate these digitalization processes, making fast policy adaptation crucial.

Technological changes range from broader developments, such as increasing digital connectivity in general via smart or cell phones, messaging services and web-based applications, or app-based systems to more tech-centered applications.

Digital connectivity is providing new options for migrants and refugees to gain access to training or education via online learning platforms and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), or to services delivered virtually by NGOs, international organizations, or governments. Combined with the global spread of social media use, this connectivity has also created new (dis)information ecosystems in the migration space that policy makers must grapple with.

Digitalization in migration management, in this regard, will both open up opportunities and pose new risks, and actors in the policy space, including migrants and refugees themselves, should be part of the discussions that shape it.

Technologies like AI and machine intelligence have much more potential in achieving human development goals and with agile governance system social protection systems can be strengthened and rapid poverty reduction can be achieved. All it needs Will power to make right efforts.

AI can be a Silver bullet towards Human emancipation, and we need collaboration with Local government, Industry and Academia to make synergized efforts to deal with unique challenges of every society.

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