AI for Social Good (DAH/Harvard University)

AI for Social Good Tokyo Event 2017.3.6-7

AI for Social Good (DAH/Harvard University) Since 2016

AI in Asia 

The goals of this project are to:

  • build capacity within the Asia-Pacific region on thinking through the implications of AI;
  • engage with a community of established experts and thought leaders in this space, as well as unearth new talent and the next generation of thinkers, products, services and other related actors in the AI ecosystem in Asia;
  • support more critical discourse on the benefits and potential of AI, whilst being pragmatic about addressing and regulating the associated challenges and risks;
  • identify a set of areas for future research from a legal and policy perspective – for example, in relation to economic benefits, policy levers and incentives, social and ethical implications, liability and accountability, enhancing security and trust.


1. Hong Kong: The flagship event was meant to highlight the large strides that are being made in AI research and applications, while also looking to the future and mapping the road ahead. Participants will think about the “big picture” questions triggered by AI, such as in relation to:

  • the key drivers (economic, social and technological) that will stimulate the adoption, growth and impact of AI developments
  • the sectors that will be the most stimulated (health, transportation, energy, manufacturing, financial services, retail, education, urban living, culture and lifestyle)
  • the impact of automation on labour and employment market, particularly in Greater China and South Asia
  • the specific role and forecasted impact of AI and Machine Learning on developing countries and next generation markets (such as India, Southeast Asia)
  • policy levers and government support for kickstarting and supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in AI and ML
  • overcoming challenges while safeguarding trust and ethical standards, security and privacy, user confidence and safety
  • fostering research, investment and entrepreneurship in this space.

The idea was to introduce these themes at a high level, to get a conversation going, but to develop them further across the series. The first event was a broad regional endeavour, with a wider mix of disciplines and expertise, but the remaining two are intended to be much more focussed, with tighter curation of experts and participants.

2. Seoul: The Seoul event has the tentative title “AI – Ethics, Economics and Societal Impact”. It is intended as a deep dive into ethics, responsible development, and socio-economic impact. It will highlight the common challenges that come up in the the fields of machine learning, natural language processing, integrative AI and related processes, especially the more social and ethical concerns that are raised as these techniques are advanced. Seoul might also be a good base to integrate the “playful” aspects of AI (which usually play a role in future on-boarding and legitimisation of more critical uses), and the relationship between seemingly innocuous games and real advancements in the technical capabilities of expert systems. By looking at gaming and entertainment, as also more critical sectors such as health and transportation, issues around user safety and ethical standards can be discussed across the spectrum of diverse uses that AI can be put to. By looking at real life uses and the socialisation of AI into everyday experiences – rather than just research scenarios – the workshop can draw out key factors for responsible development. It will also focus on the need to address challenges as the use of AI becomes widespread in emerging economies, many of which have less sophisticated legal frameworks and institutions to secure accountability, privacy, security and consumer protection.

3. Tokyo: Given the use of domestic robotics and sophisticated healthcare solutions for an ageing population, as well as the high levels of social adoption amongst youth, Japan would present the ideal venue to focus on the potential benefits of AI. Having already had a deliberation on ethics, privacy and security in Seoul, we could use the learnings from that event to inform and shape more “blue sky thinking” in Japan. In other words, focus on how to minimise harm while optimizing beneficial outcomes. We have agreed on the tentative tagline “AI for Social Good: Harnessing the power of technology for solving problems at scale”. We would expect to include themes such as increasing personalization, targeted healthcare solutions, energy efficient infrastructure, and perhaps even link to its role in powering Smart Cities and other urban planning endeavours.

Berkman family for “AI for Social Good” Tokyo event @waseda university

Great international speakers for “AI for Social Good” @Waseda university