Artificial intelligence: five ways it can change our lives for the better

Artificial intelligence has already stolen the headlines in 2017 by defeating poker champions and ordering us cups of coffee. Besides this, there are ways the technology is being used to improve the world.

AI is the most important investment for companies in the near future. IDC predicts a widespread adoption of cognitive systems and AI will drive worldwide revenues from nearly $8bn in 2016 to more than $47bn in 2020. The industries with the most lucrative short-term opportunities are identified as banking, securities and investments and manufacturing. But artificial intelligence is being used for philanthropic purposes in many other ways.

Reducing the risks of HIV in the homeless through artificial intelligence

The Center on Artificial Intelligence for Social Solutions (CAISS) has developed a tool which identifies peer leaders within Los Angeles’ homeless community to spread awareness about HIV prevention.

HEALER uses algorithms to map individuals based on their friendships, creating a social network of the homeless youth. The best peer leaders within each network are then identified using sequential planning under uncertainty and decision theory. The creators say it incorporated its AI into one community which resulted in 50% of people taking HIV tests compared with 33% in a control group.

Identifying suicide risks

Facebook is now using artificial intelligence to identify users who could be in danger of harming themselves.

It recognises if someone is in trouble through pattern-recognition algorithms, which are confirmed by a human review team. These patterns include talking about sadness and pain and recognizing concerned responses from friends.

“The world’s first robot lawyer”

Refugees hoping to claim asylum are now being offered free legal advice thanks to a chatbot which can help them fill in immigration applications or apply for asylum support.

The chatbots use natural language processing on Facebook Messenger. This allows the bot to ask a series of questions to determine which application refugees need to fill out.

Helping emergency services to help you

Britain’s NHS has come under growing pressure with an aging population and stretched resources but may have found a way to reduce the strain on its emergency services.

The NHS has joined with Babylon Health for a six-month trial which will see a chatbot offered as an alternative to the 111 phone service which offers out-of-hours medical advice. In theory, AI-powered triage service will check the patient’s symptoms in order to make the correct diagnosis within 90 seconds compared with 12 minutes for a human 111 operator.

Preventing child blindness

As many as one in five children go blind because of congenital cataracts. This treatable disease is still going undiagnosed in developing countries because of a lack of expertise and resources.

One research team in China has created CC-Cruiser which scrutinizes images of eyes to detect cataracts and recommends surgery when required. Out of a group of 50 patients, the AI was able to identify every case while ophthalmologists missed or misdiagnosed several from the same group. In addition, the CC-Cruiser will be able to utilize big data by pooling worldwide cases to improve the AI further.

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