Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic in technology right now. AI is transforming industries, businesses and many aspects of our everyday lives. Many commentators live in fear of AI’s ability to eventually replace many roles currently carried out by humans and the impact this could have on employment.

One area of AI that is discussed less often is its ability to do good, we tend to hear more about its ability to threaten jobs. Incremental are firm believers that AI is a power for good in the world. A recent PwC study suggested that AI will in fact create more jobs in the UK than are displaced by the year 2037. Although almost every industry and role will be affected, the new jobs created will be highly skilled valuable jobs with automation allowing more people to focus on adding value and less on administrative tasks.

Here are just a couple of examples of how AI is being applied for good across the globe:

  • Computer Vision – Computer vision is a tool that uses AI to analyse photos and video outputs to understand what it is seeing. Computer vision has come a long way and can now be used to help blind and low-sight people understand the world around them. Using cameras (including the one on your phone) AI vision can be applied to tell you what is around and convert this into sound, providing a narration of what is happening. This is technology that could be used for a wide range of purposes and is readily available with computer vision API’s on Microsoft Azure.
  • Translator – AI can take speech, understand it and then turn it into something else. This has a number of applications, for example This technology can also be applied to convert speech and then present sound or text in a different language. Rochester Institute of Technology use this to, in real time, convert lecturer’s speech into text and presenting live subtitles on the page to help deaf students.
  • Humanitarian Support –Humanitarian crises caused by natural and man-made disasters, oppression and other emergencies catch the world unexpectedly and require a quick reaction. AI is being used to not only predict certain disasters and help create a more proactive approach, but it can be used to solve problems on a massive scale, such as finding a cure/treatment for new diseases or the most effective distribution of resources to counter act a disaster.
  • Disease Control and Cure –When looking at developing a cure for diseases such as cancer, AI represents the best way of us discovering the answer. The more powerful and accurate AI solutions become, the quicker they can be used to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare industry. Project Premonition is a Microsoft powered project where through drones, the cloud and smart traps, scientists are able to monitor the global ecosystem to ensure early warning of any outbreaks.
  • Protecting the Planet – AI is being used to help reduce waste and ensure we are only using the least amount of resources required in the most efficient way possible. An example of this is Microsoft Yield, this is a new AI powered service available to farmers that based on all of the data available tells farmers what to plant, how much to water crops and when best to harvest.
  • Education – The traditional approach to teaching involves putting people of the same age in a room and teaching the same curriculum at the same time. This model is however failing many people. Squirrel is an example of a personalised learning platform that provides customised teaching for each student using artificial intelligence. Learning levels are measured and exercised in real-time to provide students with optimal learning content and speed. Next to paid services, Squirrel also offers free education to thousands of children in over 1000 learning centres across China.
  • Environment – Wildlife conservation involves counting animals, which is a difficult task. Motion sensitive cameras are being used to automatically photograph animals, providing massive amounts of data. This data needs analysed and can be carried out by deep learning. Snapshot Serengeti project scientists are using this approach and are managing to achieve the same 96.6% accuracy as human volunteers. This is also reducing manual effort by 99.3% which accounts for more than 17,000 volunteering hours.
  • Human Rights – Using satellite images of remote areas, Amnesty International is monitoring at risk areas to identify humanitarian crises. They are applying machine learning to help analyse the images to identify damaged buildings as an indicator for help needed. In order to set up the machine learning algorithm you need to create a database of examples that it can use as a reference point.


These are just a few examples of how AI is being used for good. In the fields of healthcare, accessibility and scientific research, the applications are truly endless and we look forward to seeing how AI helps us solve some of the greatest problems of our time. For many organisations AI is now within reach and can be used to better solve problems, apply resources and identify areas of need.


Contact us for help applying for Microsoft grants and to understand the potential available from AI to help not for profit organisations.