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United Nations tech agency launches AI-powered matchmaking

by Marco van der Hoeven

A new community platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), aims to step up global collaboration on the use of AI to drive sustainable development.

The AI for Good Neural Network is designed to accelerate exchanges among government and industry, as well as to foster partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations for 2030.

The new networking tool features AI-enabled smart-matching to help users build connections with innovators and experts, link innovative ideas with social impact opportunities, and bring the community together to discuss AI applications for social good.

Global community

AI for Good – organised by ITU in partnership with 40 organizations across the UN system and co-convened with Switzerland – provides the leading action-oriented, global, inclusive platform promoting AI to advance health, climate, gender, inclusive prosperity, sustainable infrastructure, and other global development priorities.

“This new cutting-edge tool brings AI for Good to the service of the United Nations and our global community in ways that were not possible just a few years ago,” said ITU’s Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao. “With the ongoing pandemic shifting our work and learning environments largely online, the Neural Network now leverages the power of AI to stimulate meaningful action, bring more partners aboard, and ramp up AI in pursuit of sustainable development.”

AI for Good in action

Expanding on ITU’s AI for Good programme, the Neural Network offers content and collaboration opportunities aligned to each of the 17 SDGs. In exploring practical applications, AI for Good has helped spur innovation, foster knowledge exchange, and promote AI achievements across the UN and beyond.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) offer some highly practical applications across multiple industries and sectors — applications with considerable potential to serve as a force for good,” explained Chaesub Lee, Director of ITU’s standardization bureau. “AI and ML are gaining ground in ITU’s standardization work, with research, analysis and stakeholder discussions focusing on network orchestration and management, multimedia coding, service quality assessment, and various aspects of telecom management, operation and services, as well as cable networks, all supporting accelerated digital transformation in key industry verticals.”

Several ITU pre-standardization initiatives have turned to AI to find solutions and help set standards for better health care, autonomous and assisted driving, environmental efficiency, natural disaster management, machine learning in 5G networks and most recently, digital agriculture.

The United Nations Activities on Artificial Intelligence Report released in December 2021 highlights over 200 AI projects and initiatives from 40 UN organizations applying AI technologies for social good – largely reflecting the scope of ITU’s AI for Good.

At the AI for Good Innovation Factory, start-ups pitch AI innovations addressing key socio-economic challenges. In the AI/ML in 5G Challenge, students and experts compete to solve real-world machine learning puzzles in 5G networks.

Smart matching for a better future

Through the Neural Network, community members can connect to each other, receive personalized content, and pursue engagement aligned to their profiles, goals and needs. Since no two human interactions are the same, the inclusive platform reflects both community and individual needs.

The smart matching mechanism – designed according to the principles of the Global Initiative in AI and Data Commons – will connect AI innovators to anyone with an AI-related problem, as a step towards globally scaled AI solutions. For example, it can generate matches for open data and AI algorithms, cloud storage and computing power, problem statements and expertise, funding and mentorships, domain transfer, SDG alignment, and more.

The solution is meant to stimulate unprecedented cooperation across borders and boundaries, foster impactful SDG-focused partnerships in the field of AI, and directly serve Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

The AI for Good Neural Network is open to all with an interest in how AI can positively impact the future of humankind. Join the AI for Good Neural Network to help build the future of AI.

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