Fraiday 6: AI for Good

Fraiday is the monthly meet-up for professionals who are AI-curious. We have a simple format: involving beers, a theme, lively debate and a group picture.

Fraiday #06 AI for Good 29-09-2017 photo by Mike Breeuwer 19

On 29 September we gathered at the Startup Village to hear from an all-star at the 6th edition of Fraiday. YouTube celebrity Siraj Raval, Jan Kees Schakel from Sensing Clues and Rutger Hofste from the World Resources Institute took the stage to shine some light on the ways that NGO’s are using Machine Learning to improve the world.

The stacked containers of the Startup Village at the Amsterdam Science Park provided the decor for this Fraiday. As people gathered at the bar in anticipation of the speakers it quickly became clear that Fraiday’s turnout is steadily increasing. 85 AI enthusiasts came to hear how they could make a difference.

Aigency’s CEO Jim Stolze started the evening by introducing the AI for Good initiative. With the help of the SIDN Fund, Aigency started a matchmaking initiative between NGO’s and AI talent. This will enable NGO’s to harness their data and leverage the insights that can be uncovered from this data.

Siraj Raval at Fraiday #06 AI for Good photo by Mike Breeuwer8First up as speaker was Siraj, he started his talk with the ways that you can self educate as AI curious person. Perhaps counter-intuitively, Google should not be your starting point. That role is left for Github. Later he harped on the grand potential that the combination of Blockchain and AI can have for the world. “The infrastructure we’re building right now. Is gonna have a millionfold impact.” In this scenario, cryptocurrencies allow for everyone to get paid directly for the data they provide. Blockchain also prevents one person from gaining absolute power based on the data set that he or she controls. A very important point, because as Siraj said: “Absolute power is still absolute power. Regardless of the wielder of that power.”

Jan Kees Schakel at Fraiday #06 AI for Good 29-09-2017 photo by Mike Breeuwer17Jan Kees Schakel from Sensing Clues introduced an example of AI helping the world. In this case that meant the results of a wildlife hackathon, where AI has been used to protect wildlife from poachers. It turns out that humans are pretty noisy creatures due to the tools that they bring. Sound Intelligence Systems made up an early warning network that gave authorities intelligence of the moves that poachers were making.

Is there any better way to start of your talk than giving away jars of Nutella? It is no surprise that Rutger Hofste made some Fraiday-friends during his intro by doing so. Still, he had quite a serious topic to discuss. Palm oil, one of the ingredients of Nutella, is in fact damaging to the environment due to the enormous plantations that are necessary to produce it. Luckily, now that satellite imagery has been made available by NASA and ESA, AI developers can help map the extent of the damage done and hold those responsible accountable.

After all of this educational content it was time for some drinks and snacks. The Coffee Virus provided some delicious rolls, and someone ordered a couple of pizza’s. It was really cool to see that conversations went on until after closing time. The pictures of the day are on Aigency’s Facebook page. Make sure to take a look!

Next Fraiday, we’ll be exloring the ways that AI can be used in a business context. Want to stay up date? Make sure to Follow, like and subscribe on Twitter, Facebook and Meetup.

Jamal Zyat
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Jamal Zyat
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