Google says it will make a total of $25 million available worldwide next year to projects that address and mitigate social, humanitarian and environmental problems through the application of artificial intelligence.
Google’s AI for Social Good program is in fact a combination of efforts the company has made earlier with AI research to help tackle certain humanitarian problems, such as flooding, famine forecasting, as well as protecting of whales.
Google says it wants to motivate many more people from all backgrounds to identify problems where AI can help to solve them. To that end, the company is also launching the Google AI Impact Challenge as part of the AI for Social Good program. This is a call to people to come up with ideas on how AI can contribute to solving social problems, for example. A number of organizations will be able to look forward to financing in that context, from a fund that contains a total of 25 million dollars.
There are a number of criteria that the projects must meet in order to have a chance of funding from Google. For example, the ideas must actually revolve around a solution to a social challenge. Furthermore, factors such as feasibility, how central AI is and scalability play a role in the assessment of the ideas.
This announcement comes at a time when Google has come under multiple fire for how the company has used data and artificial intelligence for controversial projects. For example, Google employees criticized the former collaboration with the Pentagon for a military project in which AI played a role in classifying drone images. There was also criticism of an alleged search engine that the company wanted to release in China, including the necessary censorship.
Other major US tech companies have also set up similar projects before. For example, last year Microsoft introduced AI for Earth, a five-year program that makes a total of $50 million available to initiatives that address problems related to nature and the environment.