AI for Social Good

No alt text provided for this image
AI for Social Good

Introduction

We are witnessing a pivotal time in human history, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is integrated into just about every new or established industry. It is the “x factor” or “secret sauce” that is helping to accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Coupled with the global COVID19 pandemic and our collective experience of “lockdown”, everyone young and old is truly experiencing noticeable changes to how we live, work and engage with one another.

With this backdrop, few would debate that AI (and emerging technologies) will transform our lives. The question is: will it be for better or for worse?

AI for Business #aiforbusiness

Much of the narrative around AI is essentially about changing how companies do business.

Companies adopting AI expect to see increased productivity. New efficiencies can be derived from streamlining tasks that previously took humans weeks to complete and improving work processes by pairing people and machines in new ways.

Boards and Private Equity (P.E.) investors will expect CXOs to answer critical questions about how AI will fit into the company’s strategy along with its opportunities and risks. Consequently, leadership and management teams will be expected to answer deeper questions relating to :-

  • How will AI could transform our products or services and which aspects of our business could benefit from increased automation or machine learning?
  • Have we considered the potential efficiency and productivity benefits that may come with adopting AI?
  • How might AI fit with other emerging technologies we are investing in?
  • Do we have the computing power and infrastructure to support the use of AI?
  • Do we have the digital skills and talent to move forward?
  • How will we gain the trust of our stakeholders if we use AI?
  • How can we ensure that biases do not alter AI decisions?
  • Do we have established practices and controls in place to minimise any reputational, regulatory compliance or other risks?
  • Have we thought about how we would use data collected by AI?
  • Have we considered cyber risks and data privacy issues?

To truly capitalise on AI, companies will need to consider a myriad of questions which are multidimensional affecting “people, process and technology” — all of which will be costly. 

AI for Society

In contrast to business and industry, fewer considerations are made publicly about the use AI for society and social good. 

To be clear, this is not about showcasing the latest in AI technologies — from drones, exoskeletons, and robotics to avatars, autonomous cars, and AI-powered health solutions.

All too often, we naively empower marketing agencies, analysts and businesses to propel the belief that AI is a “silver bullet” that will help society solve key issues of the future alongside topics such as democracy, economic inequality, social welfare, and justice.

There are few platforms or institutions that are available to share successes and failures of the intersection of AI and social problems. Where they do exist, they are still in their infancy and currently only offer philosophical notions of social good. Greater focus needs to be applied to connect researchers to civil society organisations, NGOs, local governments, and other organisations to enable applied AI research for beneficial outcomes. Additionally, data created from any learnings and outcomes should be shared across countries, borders and societies perhaps via a pact with leading tech companies that link back to societal organisations that can collectively make social change happen with the right government and civil support.

On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, one exemplar worth calling out is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDGs promise action on 17 critical social and environmental issues to address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice — by 2030.

If we were to think of the SDGs as an incredibly powerful employee and citizen engagement opportunity, it would allow all businesses and people across civil society to have a sense of a shared purpose — that connect people to businesses, their communities and the world.

In the midst of a pandemic radically transforming our economies and societies – this provides a more sobering wakeup call that should make us all pause to reflect on the world as it is, as it was, and as it could be. As a human family, and a global collective, we have an opportunity to reimagine and reshape the future.

Equality versus Equity

No alt text provided for this image

It is undeniable that AI will continue to transform every facet of our work, play, and home lives, and benefit organisations in terms of making better decisions and predicting outcomes.

The vast amounts of data sets collected and analysed by AI to predict patterns and outcomes are raising issues around privacy, security, ethics and transparency. The disruptive potential of AI poses looming risks around Fairness, Accountability, Transparency, and Ethics (F.A.T.E.). However, let’s side step this for a moment and accept that there are plenty of calls to action for greater governance to avoid these negative repercussions.

Let’s remain focussed on “AI for society”: creating AI that supports equality, transparency, and democracy.  After all, these are presumed to be the pillars and foundations required to support #aiforall. However, I believe herein lies a fundamental problem: our language.

What is Equality?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission describe equality as:

“Ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.”

In other words, equality means ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities and receives the same treatment and support.

What is Equity?

Equity is about giving people what they need, in order to make things fair.

Giving more to those who need it.

This is not the same as equality, nor is it the same as inequality. It is simply giving more to those who need it, which is proportionate to their own circumstances, in order to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities.

Equality vs. Equity

The difference between equality and equity must be emphasised. Although both promote fairness, equality achieves this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently dependent on need. However, this different treatment may be the key to reaching equality.

Since equality and equity are often used interchangeably, let’s ensure we are using the same vocabulary.

Equality → Sameness

I get two apples. You get two apples

Inequality → Unequal

I get two apples. You get no apples.

Equity → Fairness

I get two apples. You get two oranges because you are allergic to apples.

Inequity → Unjust

I get two apples. You get two apples, even though you are allergic.

Equity does not undermine equality, but rather provides the means to achieve this. Equality is undermined when equity is used incorrectly; it is undermined when a person or group’s needs are not taken into account, i.e. giving less to those who need it and more to those who do not. For example, giving women in the engineering workforce less support based on low numbers rather than high need. There are many other examples we can all share.

No alt text provided for this image

In a video posted to Twitter a few days before the 2020 election, now Vice President Kamala Harris wrote: “There’s a big difference between equality and equity.” In the video (with over 6.4 million views), Harris states:

“Equality suggests ‘Oh, everyone should get the same amount.’ The problem with that: Not everybody’s starting out from the same place. So if we’re all getting the same amount, but you started out back there and I started out over here, we could get the same amount, but you’re still going to be that far back behind me… Equitable treatment means we all end up at the same place.”

As you can see our choice of words can fundamentally enable a fair society or the complete opposite.

Ultimately, there is a fine line between equity and inequality, which we must ALL be careful not to cross. Otherwise, we will only reinforce structural, cultural and economic biases.

Final Thoughts

AI is rapidly developing and is increasingly being applied across sectors, posing significant ethical and societal challenges. There is therefore a national and global need to adequately equip future leaders and decision-makers to address these challenges across business, public, and social sectors working with AI.

In the context of “AI for Society”, to create true equality of opportunity, equity is needed to ensure that everyone has the same chance of getting there. We must be cautious when dealing with equity; providing too little to those who need it and too much to those who do not can further exacerbate the inequalities we see today.

We need “AI for social good” initiatives to empower employees, customers, individuals and communities across society in order to truly benefit from AI and emerging technology.

No alt text provided for this image

We need to continuously “zoom out” and look at society as a whole rather than focusing on minutiae siloed topics that are heavily entrenched by structural and cultural inequalities.

We need “Storytellers” and “AI experts” alike to help everyone understand how AI and emerging technology might tackle various societal challenges.

We need to think about our fellow humans .. across all borders, countries, and nations.

About the Author

Over the past 25 years, Salim has built a career in consulting, working both client and supplier side as an interim CIO/CTO, a Transformation Consultant and trusted CxO adviser. He has engaged in and led digital and technology transformations and programmes involving rescue & recovery (“turnaround”), process optimisation & improvement and organisational change — globally across the UK, Central Europe, Nordics, Turkey, UAE, US, Asia and Australia.

Salim is an Oxford University alumni and an author in the field of Artificial Intelligence. His main interest is the role of AI for the betterment of society.

My journey of self discovery

Every now and again I watch something that reminds me of the 70s and my childhood.. the struggles with identity, the internalised anger, frustration and heartache caused by external events, politics, racism and indifference of those around me who saw me as an ‘outsider’ .. a vagrant, an immigrant, a ‘visitor’ at best.

Then I watch the latest episode of Small Axe – a British anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen.

The anthology consists of five films which tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s.

The series premiered on 15 November 2020 on BBC One in the United Kingdom and on 20 November 2020 on Amazon Prime Video in the United States.

The title references a proverb – “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe” – that was popularised by Bob Marley in his song “Small Axe“.

I was born in Kampala, Uganda, have Indian (rather than Pakistani, which I feel segregates me from my original homeland) heritage and grew up in England initially in a children’s home where life was very challenging.. in ways that Alex Wheatle (Small Axe, Episode 4) might be able to relate. It’s amazing how watching a drama about someone else’s situation and history, can surface both pain, suffering and joy – all at once.

Ironically, I felt I had more in common with ‘white’ people than ‘my own kind’. I say often to some of the people I work with, that I speak (only) English, think in English, am accustomed to English values and traditions, but happen to be a ‘bit tanned’ cause I’m also white really (albeit in my head or as my alter ego).

Growing up, I was the first in my family to get an education, (9 ‘O’ Levels, 3 ‘A’ Levels) and make it to university (I went to THREE!). At university, I never sat still. I engaged in community & voluntary work, took charge of and led student societies and rarely slept. I felt I wanted to be an active part of the many voices, ideologies, protestations and social angst around me .. only to find, it’s all nonsense. I see ‘the same old same old’ today .. sadly, little has changed in the last decade compared to when I was younger. The 80s-90s in my opinion were ground breaking. Many of the younger generation today live in comparative luxury and rarely use their time, voice or youth to better society. In my humble opinion of course!

We spend much of our lives searching for who we are inside .. expressing and representing ourselves externally as one thing and being something entirely different in private. Few build up the courage to (eventually) show who they really are .. many often choose death (natural or suicide) rather than ‘face the music’ — disbelief, feigned surprise, judgemental voices, pointed fingers (and worse). So many famous celebrities have provided examples of what I’m describing. And it never gets easier no matter what generation you’re born into.

Then, once part of the adult world, life lessons truly begin. Navigating amongst an ocean full of all contradictory influences, characters, “ism’s”, philosophies, religions, and institutions, takes its toll before you find your place and (if you’re fortunate, some type of) equilibrium is restored — resulting in either a form of acceptance or denial of who you want to be or who your willing to accept you are supposed to be, living by other people’s standards.

After so many years, and now married with my own children (3 boys), I’m finally (beginning) to feel comfortable with who I am and feel blessed to be part of a multicultural Britain. Ironic, how those who now come to Britain do so without any real appreciation or respect of others who came before them. Guess this is a sign of the times and also an example of changing attitudes, sense of entitlement, and so on.

Now that I am 50 years old, I’m beginning to recognise the sacrifices, ingenuity and vision of the people who came before me .. irrespective of their colour, creed or class. That includes the ‘white’ British people who were decent, open minded and accepting of change.. and in some cases, even helped to promote it. Guess this is a matter of opinion which may be coloured by your own personal experiences.

After too many years of trying to give back and struggling to my place amongst my extended family and professional community, I am finally (!) doing something for ME.

I have written my first book — Understanding the Role of Artificial Intelligence and Its Future Social Impact — and continue to explore my inner genius. Forever conscious of making the most of who I am and what I have inside of me.

If you’d like to know a bit more about me and what drives me, check out my profile on IGI Global, my book publisher. If you want to learn more .. get in touch.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope it inspires and enables you to discover and bring to the surface your inner genius.

God bless. Peace & much love.

I’ve learned that ..
People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but People will never forget how you made them feel.

Happy New Year!

HappyNewYear_2020

The start of a new year always brings renewed hope and expectation. But this time its amplified by the fact that we are embarking on a new decade .. giving us time enough to fulfill our goals, dreams and aspirations.

I am looking forward to many things this year:

  • a new job (and possibly, career)
  • a new book (about the role of AI and its social impact)
  • a new podcast series (mirroring topics from the forthcoming book)
  • new challenges and adventures both for me, my wife and children (my eldest sons are at key stages of a University degree and GCSEs and my youngest turns 6 in a few days and is literally counting the days!)

Whatever happens, I sincerely hope that I am able to make a new start and turn this decade into a one that brings prosperity, peace and hope both for my immediate family and my community of friends and loved ones located across the world.

Wish everyone I am connected to both in the physical, virtual and spiritual world every blessing.

Best regards,

Salim

Little Sophia

AI and Robots

I am excited about becoming a member & contributor to Hanson Robotics – makers of the social humanoid robot Sophia.

Even more exciting is getting access to ‘Little Sophia’.

Overview

Little Sophia is the little sister of Sophia and the newest member of the Hanson Robotics family. She is 14” tall and your robot friend that makes learning STEM, coding and AI a fun and rewarding adventure for kids 8+. Little Sophia can walk, talk, sing, play games and even tell jokes! She is a programmable, educational companion for kids, that will inspire children to learn about coding, AI, science, technology, engineering and math through a safe, interactive, human-robot experience.

The interaction between Little Sophia and users focuses on storytelling and learning new things. She’s not just another robot toy built by a toy company, Little Sophia has been designed and built by the same renowned scientists, roboticists and engineers who built Sophia the Robot.

Little Sophia has the same endearing personality as Sophia the Robot. She is intensely curious, refreshingly innocent, and uniquely playful. She is the only consumer robot with a human-like face who can generate a wide range of human facial expressions. She not only responds to commands, but also actively engages in conversations. This unparalleled responsiveness together with her humanoid design makes Little Sophia a smart, educational companion.

About Hanson Robotics

One of our many goals at Hanson Robotics is to support and encourage the future scientists, developers, engineers and roboticists that will shape our world tomorrow.  Research has shown that science achievement gaps emerge by kindergarten and these gaps continue until at least the end of eighth grade.

The growth of STEM jobs in the future is expected to skyrocket. However, there’s a lack of women in these fields meaning fewer female role models, both for current female STEM employees, and for girls still forming career choices. There’s no evidence that girls are less capable in these fields, but rather that they often ‘feel’ less capable, partly due to stereotyping. Stats vary by country and by discipline, but generally speaking, women make up only 15-25% of the current STEM workforce, and the gap is broadening. 

We believe that Little Sophia can help to introduce STEM, coding and AI to children – especially girls – in a fun, safe, inspiring and interactive way that will  make a difference in reversing the current trends. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Battery Life?
Little Sophia will operate about 2.5 – 3 hours on a full charge.
Can you operate Little Sophia while plugged into the wall or battery back?
Yes, Little Sophia will operate while plugged into the wall or a battery back.
How long with it take to charge Little Sophia?
It will take about 1.4 hours to fully charge Little Sophia using the provided 3amp usb wall charger.

Critical role of EA – in Modern Times

The rise of Product Management and scalable Agile delivery practices (e.g. SAFe, DAD, …) have led to diluting (or even deferring) “strategic planning” and “design thinking” enabled by architecture. Instead, architecture has been reduced to a project level support role to get “tech teams” to help launch new products.

The opportunity for Enterprise and Business Architecture is to stitch building blocks and siloed solutions together to form a tapestry that reflects the goal, vision and mission of the over-arching business.

Companies often forget that while technology may be crucial to their success, they are in fact not built or intended to work like modern day software technology companies such as Facebook, Amazon, etc. but rather businesses that serve to support our society and economy via Manufacturing, Aerospace, Retail, Healthcare and Pharma (to name a few).

We need to refresh the conversation about the role, purpose and value of Enterprise AND Business Architecture if we are to have a chance to genuinely be competitive and innovative over the long term rather than reactively adopt emerging technology without a sound game plan.

Click the link to read the advertised article by Anthony Hill that explores this topic further.

Conversational AI – NVidia breakthrough

‘Conversational AI’ refers to the use of messaging apps, speech-based assistants and chatbots to automate communication and simulate conversations to create personalized customer experiences at scale.

Both the terms ‘Chatbot’ and ‘Conversational AI’ have the same meaning. ‘Conversational AI’, however, is more inclusive of all the technology that falls under the bot umbrella like voice bots and voice + text assistants, whereas ‘chatbots’ have a more limited ‘text-only’ connotation.

Businesses can use ‘Conversational AI’ to automate customer-facing touchpoints everywhere – on social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter, on their website, their app or even on voice assistants like Alexa & Google Home.

NVIDIA’s ‘Conversational AI’ becomes the first platform to train one of the most advanced AI language models – BERT, within an hour and complete AI inference in just over 2 milliseconds. This trailblazing level of performance makes it possible for developers to leverage state-of-the-art language understanding for large-scale applications they can make accessible to hundreds of millions of consumers globally.

The world of AI has just taken a major step forward… thanks to #NVIDIA !

Click on link to read the NVIDIA article for more details.

#ai #emergingtech #conversationalai #dataops #analytics #voicebots #assistants #bert

Towards a Cashless society

Do you still carry cash in your wallet? Do you actually have a wallet? Or have you transitioned to e-wallets and digital currency?

The future of money and the analysis of the development of the cashless society which includes the analysis of the means to achieve it and the analysis of the challenges and benefits it can bring, have been studied and discussed by academia on a regular basis in Europe since the early 2010s.

New payment solutions as disruptive technologies, emerging payment technologies, emerging payment business models, biometric payments, integrity, and privacy, and the design of new payments and technologies continue emerging. 

Sweden goes from being the first in adopting banknotes in Europe in 1661 to introducing its own digital currency in 2021, and becoming the first world’s cashless society in 2023.

India could be a ‘cashless model’ for the world .. Growing smartphone use and crashing data costs have helped cashless economy to grow immensely.

Cashless society is happening. There’s no turning back !

Click link to read more in this BCG post.

 #Cashless  #DigitalTransformation  #automation  #contactless  #epayments