Tuesday April 24, 2018
Home Lead Story Artificial In...

Artificial Intelligence May Aid Solving ‘Global Hunger’

0
//
46
ai
Subsistence farmer Joice Chimedza harvests maize on her small plot in Norton, a farming area outside Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, May 10, 2016. VOA
Republish
Reprint

Despite a global abundance of food, a United Nations report says 815 million people, 11 percent of the world’s population, went hungry in 2016. That number seems to be rising.

Poverty is not the only reason, however, people are experiencing food insecurity.

“Increasingly we’re also seeing hunger caused by the displacement related to conflict, natural disaster as well, but particularly there’s been an uptick in the number of people displaced in the world,” said Robert Opp, director of Innovation and Change Management at the United Nations World Food Program.

ALSO READ: ‘Artificial Intelligence yet to make its mark in India’ 

ai
Humanitarian organizations are turning to new technologies such as AI, or artificial intelligence, to fight global food insecurity. Pixabay

“What AI offers us right now, is an ability to augment human capacity. So, we’re not talking about replacing human beings and things. We’re talking about doing more things and doing them better than we could by just human capacity alone,” Opp said.

Analyze data, get it to farmers

Artificial intelligence can analyze large amounts of data to locate areas affected by conflict and natural disasters and assist farmers in developing countries. The data can then be accessed by farmers from their smartphones.

“The average smartphone that exists in the world today is more powerful than the entire Apollo space program 50 years ago. So just imagine a farmer in Africa who has a smartphone has much more computing power than the entire Apollo space program,” said Pranav Khaitan, engineering lead at Google AI.

“When you take your special data and soil mapping data and use AI to do the analysis, you can send me the information. So in a nutshell, you can help me [know] when to plant, what to plant, how to plant,” said Uyi Stewart, director of Strategy Data and Analytics in Global Development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“When you start combining technologies, AI, robotics, sensors, that’s when we see magic start to happen on farms for production, to increase crop yields,” said Zenia Tata, vice president for Global Impact Strategy at XPRIZE, an organization that creates incentivized competitions so innovative ideas and technologies can be developed to benefit humanity.

“It all comes down to developing these techniques and making it available to these farmers and people on the ground,” Khaitan said.

ai
However, the developing world is often the last to get new technologies. Pixabay

Breaking down barriers

As Stewart said, “815 million people are hungry and I can bet you that nearly 814 million out of the 815 million do not have a smartphone.”

Even when the technology is available, other barriers still exist.

“A lot of these people that we talked about that are hungry, they don’t speak English, so when we get insights out of this technology how are we going to pass it onto them?” Stewart said.

ALSO READ: Stephen Hawking believes Technology could end Poverty and Disease, says Artificial Intelligence could be the Worst or Best things for Humanity

ai
While it may take time for new technologies to reach the developing world, many hope such advances will ultimately trickle-down to farmers in regions that face food insecurity. Pixabay

“You’ve invented the technology. The big investments have gone in. Now you’re modifying it, which brings the cost down as well,” said Teddy Bekele, vice president of Ag Technology at U.S.-based agribusiness and food company Land O’Lakes.

“So, I think three to four years maybe we’ll have some of the things we have here to be used there [in the developing world] as well,” Bekele predicted.

Those who work in humanitarian organizations said entrepreneurs must look outside their own countries to adapt the new technologies to combat global hunger, or come up with a private, public model. Farmers will need the tools and training so they can harness the power of artificial intelligence to help feed the hungry in the developing world. VOA

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2018 NewsGram

Next Story

This Way China Can Help India In The Terms of Artificial Intelligence

China giving a hand to India for leap in Artificial Intelligence

0
//
34
Robot along with human
Artificial Intelligence. Pixabay

Tech honchos in Silicon Valley are deeply worried at China’s rapid progress in harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that has shown encouraging results in changing the way we work and live.

According to Eric Schmidt, former chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, China will overtake the US in AI by 2025.

Measured by start-up financing deals and dollars from venture capitalists, the United States’ AI start-up ecosystem currently dominates — followed by China, says a recent Accenture analysis titled “Rewire for Growth”.

When it comes to India, the number of AI start-ups has increased since 2011 at a compounded annual growth rate of 86 per cent.

Robots
Artificial Intelligence Robot. Pixabay

But the size of funding till date is substantially smaller in India than in the US and China, reflecting the limited success of India’s AI start-ups in achieving scale so far, the report noted.

“According to our analysis, AI has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15 per cent of current gross value added, to India’s economy in 2035,” said Accenture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi now wants that AI technology should be “Made in India” and “Made to Work for India” but despite promising starts, the country’s policy initiatives are not comprehensive yet and lag other G20 countries.

China, on the other hand, today harbours one of the biggest clusters of AI scientists.

Also Read: Artificial Intelligence May Aid Solving ‘Global Hunger’

According to The Economist, China’s State Council has issued an ambitious policy blueprint, calling for the country to become “the world’s primary AI innovation centre” by 2030.

“China’s AI programme is highly structured and driven ‘top down’ whereas India’s approach is more ‘organic’ — at least till this point — driven largely by the private sector and driven by their unique needs for AI,” said Dr Prashant Pradhan, Chief Technology Officer, IBM India/South Asia.

These represent very different approaches to “getting ready” for AI.

“China’s approach carefully manages investment, infrastructure, focus verticals and training. This has benefits in speed of execution and outcomes — especially when there is clarity on the priority areas of application,” Pradhan told IANS.

Advances in AI largely happen in an open, peer-reviewed community with free exchange of ideas. “Over time, there may be more coordinated government investment — especially in resource-constrained environments,” Pradhan noted.

When it comes to funding, Machine Learning (ML), recommendation engines and computer vision are the most popular segments of AI, accounting for almost 80 per cent of total funding globally.

“Big industry players that have the financial strength and business experience to invest in AI research and development (R&D) typically lead the strategic charge on global competitiveness for their country,” the Accenture analysis stressed.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are spearheading AI innovations in the US, and Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are funding the AI research in China.

In line with the global trends, the digital platform companies are becoming the driving force of AI innovations in India too.

According to Rajesh Janey, Managing Director and President, India Enterprise, Dell EMC, the country is entering an era of monumental technological change, rich with opportunity.

India's PM with China's President
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping

“Globally, businesses plan to triple their investments in advanced AI within five years. India too will see the same enthusiasm, with investments in AI jumping from 31 per cent to 89 per cent in the same time-frame,” Janey told IANS.

AI will improve our interaction with technology, understand the abundance of data and rely on the predictions to automate excessively complex or mundane tasks, said Shaakun Khanna, Senior Director, HCM Strategy and Transformation, Asia Pacific at Oracle.

In February, Modi inaugurated the Wadhwani Institute of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Mumbai’s Kalina campus — reported to be the first AI research lab in the country.

Also Read: India Urges China to Open Markets For Trade

US-based philanthropist brothers Romesh Wadhwani and Sunil Wadhwani have established the institute and want it to become like San Francisco-based non-profit “OpenAI” that has SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk as one of its co-founders.

In order to become a true AI powerhouse, it is high time that New Delhi makes Beijing a bigger partner in fuelling AI research at home.

According to Accenture, AI research has been motivated by societal needs in India so far and the first step now is to create a comprehensive, long-term vision and road-map for AI.

“The national AI plan with clear milestones should be set as a priority. Here, India can follow the lead of China which has laid out clear targets for AI development in phases, initially by 2020 and going forward by 2030,” it added.

The first critical thing is to understand the role AI is likely to play across multiple professions. “Targeted augmentation in every field will be the key to success for the country to have an AI-ready workforce,” Pradhan stressed.  IANS