Thursday, May 26, 2022

Building Responsible AI Solutions For Creating Societal Impact

Artificial intelligence is not just being used to solve business problems, but also to solve social challenges.

Building Responsible AI Solutions For Creating Societal Impact
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

In the past decade there has been a huge shift in how artificial intelligence has been adopted in a myriad of industries; trends have moved from research and development to operationalizing and generating business value. Better solutions are being built with AI to tackle many business challenges, whether it is building predictive maintenance models, face detection biometric systems, or credit risk modeling. 

Artificial intelligence is not just being used to solve business problems, but also to solve social challenges.  United Nations has a list of 17 sustainable development goals which are set in place to improve the overall society from various perspectives, like eradicating poverty, building ecological balance, industrial innovation, ensuring gender quality etc. 
There are individual professionals and non-profit organizations working towards this cause. Aishwarya Srinivasan who is currently working as a Data Scientist at Google, shares with us how she has been dedicated to contribute to building a better society using her data science skills. As a data science professional, she has been closely involved in building models that are being used in various organizations and industries. She is an advocate for responsible and ethical AI. This can be thought of as a framework or guidelines to be followed by organizations while they are building AI solutions. This evaluates the righteousness of the solution based on what data is being collected from the user, how it is being used, how it impacts the user etc. 

United Nation’s fourteenth sustainable development goal is “Life Below Water”, which focuses on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. This calls for better cleaning and maintenance of the marine areas. Aishwarya worked on the initiative with United Nations for estimating marine litter density across the globe. This information was crucial to run clean up campaigns and build strategic decisions to ensure the UN goals were met. Her work was featured in United Nations Environment Programme and Forbes. She worked with subject matter experts at United Nations to build a statistical estimation model. The model used the sampled marine litter data as prior to the estimation and using Bayesian methods to predict the posterior values of marine litter. 

In 2020, during the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, the world was hit by a major chaos and it was a global crisis. Many countries were constantly fighting the pandemic, even having military involved; hospital facilities and healthcare personnel were incessantly working to help COVID-19 patients. The situation was intense, as the number of patients and those needing critical care were extremely high. Hospitals were unable to accommodate incoming patients as they didn’t have the resources to treat the patients. 

Tampa General Hospital partnered with IBM on solving this challenging scenario using data science and machine learning methods. Aishwarya Srinivasan was working as a lead data scientist on this project to build a predictive model that could predict the number of incoming patients and critical care patients, so the hospital is ready with the required resources. 

Aishwarya mentions, “To be a good data scientist, one needs to not just be good at programming, mathematics and statistics, but also needs to understand the business or societal challenge. One needs to understand what the impact of the solution would be on the user, how the product would improve efficiency in short and long term and also analyze how is it economical for the business” 

Aishwarya is passionate about creating a difference and helping the community. She is part of the advisory board member of two non-profit organizations, AI for Good Foundation and AI Education Project. AI for Good Foundation aims to drive forward technological solutions that measure and advance the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. The AI Education Project is working to bring critical and fundamental knowledge about artificial intelligence to communities who are on the front lines of automation and economic disruption. She has been mentoring and delivering talks for various students in developing nations. She aims to motivate underprivileged groups of children who are passionate about AI and pave their way in the career. 

She says, “The world needs scientists and engineers to not just focus on business and revenue but also build a better society.”

About Aishwarya Srinivasan
Aishwarya Srinivasan is working as a Data Scientist in the Google Cloud AI Services team to build machine learning solutions for customer use cases, leveraging core Google products including TensorFlow, DataFlow, and AI Platform. Previously, she was working as an AI & ML Innovation Leader at IBM Data & AI, where she was working cross-functionally with the product team, data science team and sales to research AI use-cases for clients by conducting discovery workshops and building assets to showcase the business value of the technology. She is an advocate for open-source technologies; previously a developer advocate for PyTorch Lightning and a contributor to Scikit Learn. She holds a post-graduate in Data Science from Columbia University.