ITU Blog: Accelerating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through AI

A technician holds a drone used to scout a plot of heat-tolerant hybrid maize in Zimbabwe. Drones are increasingly being used worldwide to gather huge amounts of data that AI can analyze to help mitigate some of humanity’s grandest challenges – from food security to climate change to poverty. PHOTO: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

Continuing on from Mobile and Cloud First, “AI First” is quickly becoming a top solution strategy for industry and governments, as evidenced by massive artificial intelligence (AI) investments in the billions. IDC has predicted revenues of nearly 50 billion globally in 2020 at a 55% compound annual growth rate. But it’s not just about business growth: AI is potentially one of the most powerful accelerators of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The “AI of Everything” is the top tech trend for 2017 and could be an inflection point for humankind and the SDGs.

British computer scientist Alan Turing made predictions about machine learning way back in 1947. Fast forward to 2017, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking in India, called AI the ultimate breakthrough technology, which is real­ized today in intelligent agents, augmented real­ity, and rapid advancements in deep neural nets providing fundamental human-like perception.

AI, for instance, is currently being used to mine opportunities from the data within India’s 1.1 billion-citizen, biometric digital identity sys­tem, Aadhaar. The possibilities were discussed amongst entrepreneurs at the Financial Services Roundtable Fintech Ideas Festival CEO-summit in January.

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