As the Fourth Industrial Revolution evolves, frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are reshaping our economies, societies and the environment. AI is opening up economic opportunities with companies large and small empowered to grow their businesses. From a social perspective, AI provides a host of benefits. Machine learning algorithms power cost-effective healthcare diagnostics for rural communities who previously had no access to doctors. AI allows teachers to spend more time on actually teaching students while automating their administrative functions. And from an environmental perspective, AI-powered intelligent transport systems are making our cities smarter and greener.

However, the wave of optimism surrounding the transformative potential of AI has been tempered by increasing concerns about potential negative impacts including an evolving digital divide, ethical concerns, and the future of work.

So, what should we do to harness AI for social good?

Digital connectivity is the precursor for AI development. However, half of Asia’s four billion plus people still do not have access to the internet. If this issue is not addressed, there is a risk of a new AI divide being built on top of the already existing digital divide. Ensuring inclusivity is essential for equitable future growth. In this respect, last mile internet connectivity should be a policy priority for governments and the private sector alike.

Data availability determines what problems are worked on and what populations are served. Data and technology can increase the speed, depth, and accuracy of analyzing a social challenge, pointing to solutions, partnerships, and innovative investments that can provide maximum impact. Thus, making high quality, reliable, representative, recent and annotated data accessible to innovators is a necessary precursor for feeding good, labeled training datasets into AI algorithms whose results benefit the most vulnerable communities. The Rockefeller Foundation’s Lacuna Fund, in partnership with and Canada’s International Development Research Centre is the world’s first such collaborative effort.

Read the full article about harnessing the power of AI for good by Deepali Khanna and Jonathan Wong at The Rockefeller Foundation.