SEATTLE — Artificial Intelligence has vast potential for educating and aiding those in poverty and has already begun to revolutionize societies. Some of its benefits have begun to be displayed in third world countries, where the Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence Lab helps better locate those in need and Minimally Invasive Education has given thousands access to education.
Combining Satellite Imagery and Machine Learning to Predict Poverty
Alleviating world poverty is highly reliant on knowing where poverty is most prevalent and then finding out exactly what that village or city needs. This information is based on surveys conducted in impoverished areas, yet obtaining this information is difficult, expensive and time-intensive. The fact that only about half of the nations in sub-Saharan Africa have conducted two or more surveys since the 1990s goes to show that more knowledge is needed on the state of poverty in improvised villages. Remote locations are often not reached but artificial intelligence can be the solution to this problem.
A team of Stanford University researchers led by Marshal Burke has developed Artificial Intelligence that uses machine learning to evaluate worldwide satellite photos for the purpose of finding the precise location of those living in severely poverty. The AI uses a computer algorithm to detect signs of poverty through the process of machine learning, categorizing the areas of poverty by examining the photos, looking at how much light is emitted by villages at night, or other factors such as their distance from water sources and roads.
This imagery is available to the public online, giving them a greater knowledge of which spots are in most need of aid. So far the Stanford team is capable of predicting this information in five African countries: Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Rwanda. In the future, AI will make the process of locating those in poverty more efficient, knowing immediately which places on earth need help, a critical component in the fight against poverty.
Universal Access to Education
For a lot of villages, finding a teacher is not an easy task, hence the benefits of a virtual replacement in the form of self-learning machines. Minimally Invasive Education (MIE) is a computer program which quickly proved to accommodate and educate poor children with no prior technological experience, quickly learning to use computers on their own. The program has contributed in educating more than 300,000 poor children from India and Africa. There are many other tutoring programs based on artificial intelligence which help students learn basic mathematics and writing, monitoring their progress, and detecting the areas where they most need improvement.
Scientists are predicting vast new improvements which could greater facilitate the basic needs of those in extreme poverty, empowering them with the tools they need to escape their dire conditions. Nonetheless, others have argued that this improvement should be scrutinized, making sure that we don’t overpower the AI, outdoing human intelligence, and deeming humanity worthless. Physicist Stephen Hawking and philosopher Sam Harris have been on the forefront of warning humanity of the dangers of artificial intelligence, stressing how it could be the biggest disaster in human history if it is not properly managed, “the gains we make in Artificial Intelligence could ultimately destroy us,” Harris said.
Although great educational improvements have been made, this is only the beginning of the AI revolution.
– Marcelo Guadiana