AI for Good blog

Harnessing AI for Global Good: An Interview with Frederic Werner

Global Summit

by Alexandra Bustos Iliescu

In the lead-up to the much anticipated AI for Good Global Summit, Frederic Werner, the Chief of Strategy and Operations at AI for Good, ITU  shared his insights in an interview with by Lisa Thee of Launch Consulting Group. In this episode of “Navigating Abroad,” Werner discusses the important role of the Summit to identify and scale-up AI solutions for positive social change.

“AI for Good is more relevant than ever,” Werner explains, reflecting on the initiative’s growth since 2017.

Werner detailed the evolving focus and increased relevance of the AI for Good initiative amidst the rapid advancement of AI technologies like generative AI.

A significant addition to this year’s summit is the introduction of AI Governance Day, on 29 May 2024. Werner described this new focus as critical to the future of AI, noting the significant move from principles towards global implementation of regulations to ensure AI’s beneficial use.

“We’re adding an extra day [on] Day Zero called AI Governance Day,” he noted.

Discussions dedicated to global AI governance will explore the recent surge in global efforts to craft AI policy, regulation, and governance frameworks. The event is set to bring together  75+ ministers, leaders from 20+ UN agencies, 40% of participants from  developing countries, plus civil society members, and top experts from AI industry and academia who aim to forge pathways to transform dialogue around AI governance into impactful action.

This year, the AI for Good Global Summit will not just focus on scalable solutions to global challenges, but also note the importance of addressing potential unintended consequences of AI technologies.

A dedicated workshop, Detecting deepfakes and Generative AI: Standards for AI watermarking and multimedia authenticity, will tackle the problem of misinformation and the role of standards to identify machine generated content online.

Learn more about the workshop here:

Growing the community of AI innovators

He emphasized the potential for AI to drive positive social change and underscored the importance of collaboration and community involvement.

Werner elaborated on ITU’s efforts to foster global engagement through the Neural Network, an online platform that hosts numerous events and has cultivated a vast community from 183 countries.

“We’ve built a community now of about 25,000 people and that’s growing at a rate of about 2 to 300 a week,” said Werner, showcasing ITU’s commitment to inclusive and widespread AI education and collaboration.

This year, the summit will also feature an impressive array of over 90 demos and exhibits, including robots, drones, and brain-machine interfaces from world-leading innovators. These showcases are designed to highlight AI’s vast potential to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing a vivid look at the practical applications of cutting-edge AI technologies in various fields.

Discover some of the demos coming to the Summit:

The 2024 Summit will highlight the transformative potential of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs), also known as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). These technologies are set to revolutionize healthcare by aiding recovery from neurological injuries, treating conditions like epilepsy and depression, and enhancing neuro-prosthetics with advanced sensory inputs. Bitbrain CEO Lopez emphasized the summit as a “fantastic opportunity” to exchange first-hand research and development insights and to discuss policy and ethical guidelines related to these emerging technologies.

AI for Good Innovation Factory, the UN-based startup pitching/acceleration platform

Accelerating SDG-Driven Solutions At the forefront of accelerating and supporting AI for SDGs is the AI for Good Innovation Factory. This global competition, organized by the ITU, helps startups grow and scale their innovative AI-powered solutions. Throughout the year, winners of the pitching sessions on the Neural Network receive a prize package that includes a spot at the AI for Good Innovation Factory Grand Finale at the AI for Good Global Summit 2024. This platform provides an opportunity for these startups to scale up their solutions globally with the support of international organizations, global tech giants, and investors.

Discover some of the finalists coming to the Summit:

Canvas of the Future with Shutterstock

The “Canvas of the Future” contest, initiated by ITU’s AI for Good platform in collaboration with Shutterstock, is a unique competition that challenged AI artists and enthusiasts to use their creativity and technological skills to envision and depict a sustainable future. Entrants had to create innovative artworks that interpret the UN SDGs through the lens of AI. The winner of this contest will be announced at the AI for Good Global Summit 2024 in Geneva on May 30-31, offering a significant platform to showcase their vision to world leaders and innovators focused on sustainability.

Frederic Werner’s discussions over the past years emphasize a consistent and strategic approach to leveraging AI for global good. By focusing on inclusivity, practical applications, robust governance, and groundbreaking technologies like BMIs, the ITU’s AI for Good initiative under Werner’s leadership seeks to utilize AI’s potential not only for innovation but also for sustainable societal transformation. These annual summits, enriched with Werner’s insights, serve as critical milestones in the global discourse on AI, aiming to align technological advancements with human-centric goals and values.

Be sure to register for the AI for Good Global Summit here.

TSB International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

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