The benefits of AI for businesses are already well-known for driving better decision making and simplified operations for enterprise. But, it is equally important to consider the socially impactful benefits of  AI.

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Top firms like IBM are focusing on creating a social change using their AI expertise. IBM launched the “Science for Social Good” initiative partnering with government agencies and NGOs for accelerating the pace of problem-solving to tackle existing global challenges. Positively impacting the quality of life ultimately creates a positive influence on businesses in the long run. “AI for good” is becoming a strategic priority for firms and also for the public sector companies, as their dependence on technology to resolve the world’s most complex problems, grows.

AI initiatives have lately impacted human society in multiple ways, and here are the top three:

Managing natural resources effectively

Natural resources management, especially planning water access, is a significant crisis in developing countries. Financing natural resources is another fundamental issue. Leveraging AI, data can be easily gathered from different climate satellites. With AI analyzing and interpreting this data, determining rainwater accumulation, runoffs, predicting drought cycles, and finding higher-yield water sites has become easy.

In more developed areas, aging public utility infrastructures create safety risks and concerns for citizens. Technologists and scientists are investing in determining how IoT and AI sensors can monitor public utility networks to help governments build effective data-driven maintenance cycles. In this way, limited resources can be optimized through AI-enabled preventive maintenance and repair. The most crucial part is that the resources are better planned are used efficiently based on AI-driven data.

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Using AI data insights to tackle addiction

Addiction is both a social and an economic crisis as more than 130 people die from drug overdose every day. The U.S. has confirmed spending $78.5 billion trying to fight drug addiction every year. AI has helped to identify the factors that increase the odds of addiction, such as the socioeconomic or psychological factors that influence human behavior. AI insights are used to develop solutions for healthcare providers like hospitals, government agencies, insurance companies, and firms within the industry to treat patients with more accurate future predictions.

IBM Research is tackling this challenge under the “Science for Social Good” with the support of IBM Watson Health. The program developed biometric tracking for users similar to other fitness tracking apps. Throughout the duration of the treatment, AI software powered by Watson helps to monitor biometrics impacted by drugs and food being used, as well as other behaviors such as breathing exercises, to evaluate the responses and feedbacks. AI can determine the data against collective patient behavior from a broad set of personas to explain triggering factors. Insights derived from the collected data can be used to push patients towards improvement. These insights can also prevent addiction from taking hold.

Improving higher education for students

When students drop out of college, it’s mostly due to the lack of the tools or resources necessary to succeed. Researchers are aiming to change it. With AI, it is possible to predict what study aids, tools, and support might give students a higher chance of passing their classes, utilizing cognitive systems paired with technologies like IBM’s Watson. On the other hand, universities are leveraging AI to mine data from student essays, professorial testimonials, and other structured and unstructured sources to help evaluate and improve courses to provide academic advising for students. Better quality education and highly aware students will, in the future form a competent workforce for industries.

A lot of AI use cases were traditionally limited, based on specific input-based problems with relatively measurable outcomes. Solving issues like opioid addiction, water crisis, or reducing dropout rates will have direct and indirect benefits for firms.

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Every company can now add its bit of good to the world through its AI initiatives for bringing a positive change in society. Sharing technical knowledge and capabilities across private and public corporations, tech firms, and government agencies for the greater good will help firms go a long way.