AI for social good: Improving lives and protecting the planet

McKinsey Report: “…Challenges in scaling AI for social-good initiatives are persistent and tough. Seventy-two percent of the respondents to our expert survey observed that most efforts to deploy AI for social good to date have focused on research and innovation rather than adoption and scaling. Fifty-five percent of grants for AI research and deployment across the SDGs are $250,000 or smaller, which is consistent with a focus on targeted research or smaller-scale deployment, rather than large-scale expansion. Aside from funding, the biggest barriers to scaling AI continue to be data availability, accessibility, and quality; AI talent availability and accessibility; organizational receptiveness; and change management. More on these topics can be found in the full report.

While overcoming these challenges, organizations should also be aware of strategies to address the range of risks, including inaccurate outputs, biases embedded in the underlying training data, the potential for large-scale misinformation, and malicious influence on politics and personal well-being. As we have noted in multiple recent articles, AI tools and techniques can be misused, even if the tools were originally designed for social good. Experts identified the top risks as impaired fairness, malicious use, and privacy and security concerns, followed by explainability (Exhibit 2). Respondents from not-for-profits expressed relatively more concern about misinformation, talent issues such as job displacement, and effects of AI on economic stability compared with their counterparts at for-profits, who were more often concerned with IP infringement…(More)”