Top Takeaways from the 2019 SingularityU Global Summit

Amir Banifatemi, General Manager at XPRIZE, Cameron Birge, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft and Tess Posner, CEO of AI4ALL, joined moderator Leila Toplic, Lead for Emerging Technologies at NetHope for a panel discussion on day two.

Kicking off their discussion of ways we can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for good, Toplic began with some examples. AI can help us make decisions faster, in the event of an emergency. It can help us to reach more people with information and services, such as refugees, and can help us predict and prevent outbreaks, such as ebola.

“Young people are hungry to make a difference, and AI is a rocketfuel for that.” – Tess Posner


“AI for good is about using AI to solve some of society’s toughest problems,” Toplic said. “It can help us move the needle on all of these different challenges.” In fact, it applies to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Tess Posner explained that AI4ALL is focused on increasing the diversity and inclusion in AI. “Young people are hungry to make a difference, and AI is a rocketfuel for that.” Working with high school students, she sees them using the technology to solve problems they care deeply about, such as addressing water quality issues.

While AI may be tempting to use, it is important to consider the implications of the technology, and whether it is actually needed. “AI has become such a shiny buzzword, that it’s often touted as the solution to anything. In reality, it’s a great tool, but you have to make sure it’s actually needed.”

Microsoft’s Cameron Birge agreed, adding that “in this space, if you go wrong, you can really harm a lot of people.”

Birge pointed to AI’s opportunity to free up resources. “It’s not necessarily that AI tools are going to replace a person, it’s about coming in and supporting and freeing up those resources,” he noted. “Nonprofits don’t have a lot of resources.”

All panelists agreed that is is crucial to include key stakeholders in the development of the project, and ensure diversity of expertise in the room. “It’s not only important to build diverse teams, but also consider diversity in the product development process,” said Posner. “Are you including the voices and stakeholders who are going to be impacted by the solutions?”