The G7 summit is about to begin in Biarritz. While it has been much criticized for its increasing lack of relevance, one of its topics of discussion still seems particularly pertinent: fighting inequality through digital development and artificial intelligence (AI).
AI has been the focus of many news stories, most of which tended to focus on the fears associated with increased automation and digitalization. But there are many other ways to look at the technology, and one of them is investigating how it can be used to reduce socioeconomic inequality.
Examples abound: researchers at Imperial College London used AI to detect inequalities in four UK cities, using a combination of government data and images from Google Street View. Such tools could help local government better monitor the success of policies to reduce inequality. The research team is looking to build similar algorithms for developing countries.
The Science for Social Good project, created by IBM, leverages the power of AI to address some of the world’s biggest inequalities and threats. Each project included in the Science for Social Good series aligns with one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN). Poverty, hunger, and illiteracy are all targets for these initiatives.
And the list goes on…
The ethical issues around AI have prompted the IEC to become a co-founder of the recently created Open Community for Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (OCEANIS). It provides a high level global forum where organizations interested in the development and use of standards for the advancement of autonomous and intelligent systems can discuss, debate and collaborate.
IEC International Standards also contribute to 16 of the 17 SDGs. Without going into each and every one of them, suffice to say that electrical energy has been recognized by the UN as cornerstone for economic development, facilitating poverty and hunger reduction efforts, improving education, women’s empowerment and healthcare.
For example, the IEC provides the technical foundation for rural electrification both on and off-grid. IEC 61427-1 specifies secondary cells and batteries for renewable energy storage for off-grid applications and electricity generated by PV modules. IEC 61427-2 does the same but for on-grid applications, with energy input from large wind and solar energy parks.
Standards may not be what first comes to mind when fighting inequality and poverty but behind the scenes they contribute to helping the world become a fairer and safer place.