How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Our vision is to help 100 million vulnerable people by solving some of the toughest challenges facing humanity. We build ethical and sustainable AI-powered technology to help NGOs build capacity, provide the necessary safeguarding, make service provision more efficient, learn from it and scale successful interventions globally.
We use data generated through our products and partnership with subject matter experts to understand what are the actual needs of our users. We constantly analyse how to improve service provision and facilitate policy-making to accelerate impact and achieve better progress on Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
Covid-19 impacted vulnerable people the most, especially in such areas as public health, wellbeing, domestic abuse, and education. These are the core focus areas for us and our partners. We had to adapt really quickly from identifying the need for verified information around Covid-19 to adding this information to our chatbots, from changing the delivery of our educational programme remotely to developing a fully-online course.
We also had to pay closer attention to our partners to help them deal with the crisis. With the majority of our NGOs being completely overwhelmed with the increased demand for their services, we had to step in and facilitate the development of tools and measures to help them increase capacity through automation and better insights.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
We are very hopeful that 2021 will be kind to us all. We expect data science and AI to become the key tech trend of 2021, especially in sustainability and humanitarian contexts, as there’s a lot more organisations adopting it right now and investors’ interest seems to be on the rise.
We are looking forward to seeing more scientific breakthroughs like Alphafold and GPT-3 and positive case studies of how use of data and analytics delivered some tangible impact. We also hope that consumer trust in data and AI will improve once we’ve come out of the pandemic.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
Data for good is definitely part of my personal and business agenda for 2021. We really count on cross-sector collaboration and public-private partnerships to make data more representative, private and secure for innovation, and available for all organisations leading humanitarian and international development efforts around the world.
It is impossible to make any significant breakthrough or achieve positive outcomes in AI without good data. To start with, we need to become better at identifying metrics for good impactful data and them embed new collection methods that are less intrusive or pose risk to privacy and other human rights.
What has been your path to power?
I built my first robot at the age of 15 in India and have been building AI technologies to solve global issues ever since, from productivity to education to domestic violence. Then I studied Computer Science, became a Google Grace Hopper Scholar and led AI teams in Barclays and Sage.
For my work in ethical technology, I was invited as a Civic Leader by the Obama Foundation Summit. This is when I decided to dedicate my career on applying AI for social impact and helping those that need it the most. In 2018, I founded AI for Good, a social enterprise building intelligent, ethical and scalable technologies to tackle some of the toughest humanitarian challenges.
I gave expert testimony on AI Policy to the UK Parliament in the House of Lords. I was also appointed a United Nations Young Leader at the General Assembly and became an adviser to the UN Technology Innovation Labs. In 2019, I gave a TED Talk on how to keep human bias out of AI that was viewed over two million times.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
Creating rAInbow, a chatbot designed to provide support to those at risk of domestic violence and abusive relationships. It’s designed to be a friendly non-judgemental companion and can even help determine if a relationship is abusive, while offering exit plans, safety assessment, stories and contacts of local service providers.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
AI has the potential to solve big societal problems. The challenge lies in identifying where to direct focus, to ensure that AI is used to do good, delivers positive outcomes and is perceived as such.
The perception of its potential gets harmed when AI is used for either gimmicks or to manipulate opinions.
Therefore, AI for Good focused on building intelligent, ethical and scalable technology for the most vulnerable and underserved. We use AI to create experiences that people really enjoy and that address their most pressing needs, including safety, wellbeing, companionship, and the need to sustain our planet.