Breakthrough Sessions: AI for Space

This track will focus on the areas where AI techniques can be applied to space datasets in order to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also the increasingly integral role that space and AI both have in protecting our planet and generating benefit for all humankind. 

Discussions will put emphasis on the potential for AI and space to unlock a new era of planetary stewardship – leveraging AI’s unprecedented capacities for prediction and rapid understanding of complexity on both a local and global scale. 

By evaluating the current state of play in AI and Space, the track will involve discussion of new opportunities for AI and Space, and how we can overcome barriers to deployment, real-time insight and equitable access to data. The track will identify projects related to SDGs where AI and Space fields can be combined to deliver a positive benefit to humanity and discuss opportunities for interdisciplinary cooperation to move forward in these areas. 

It will focus on facilitating discussions – around projects that will be presented – between the AI and Space community, policymakers, humanitarian organisations and potential collaborators, in an attempt to form a common consensus on how to approach issues such as data accessibility, trust, algorithmic inequity, accountability and use and misuse. 

Aims of Track:

  • Identify areas where there is a high potential for impact for AI in Space, for collective benefit and the potential partnerships and models that might enable progress
  • Facilitate an open discussion on the barriers to deployment of AI tools, and begin thinking about what is needed to overcome them
  • Find common agreement on requirements for data to enable beneficial AI in the Space sector
  • Take the first steps towards agreeing broad principles around governance for AI and Space
  • Identify selected projects or efforts that will spin-out of the track and begin to be realised 

09:00 – 10:30 – Session 1: Super-charging space science 

Room 3, Level 0, CICG

This opening session will share perspectives on how AI is supercharging space missions to have enhanced capabilities, and heralding a new era of scientific data analysis and knowledge discovery. But this AI era isn’t just about the tools; in this session, speakers will share cutting edge use-cases and shine a light on methodologies and emerging best practice, such as assembling valuable (space) data sets, working with scientific partners and building consortia to solve complex challenges. 

Key questions: 

  • Why space and AI?
  • Why there is even more space data available these days
  • SDGs that can be helped using space data 

Session host:

  • Anousheh Ansari, CEO, XPRIZE, Space Ambassador; first female private space explorer

Opening keynote:

  • Wenjian Zhang, Assistant Secretary-General, WMO


  • Jorge Del Rio Vera, Scientific Affairs Officer (Space Technology), Space Applications Section of UNOOSA
  • Mark Cheung, Astrophysicist, Lockheed Martin / NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory
  • Pierre-Philippe Mathieu, Earth Observation Data Scientist, European Space Agency
  • Romaric Redon, DataLab manager, AIRBUS Defence and Space, Airbus

10:30 – 11:00 – Coffee Break & Demo Stage

11:00 – 12:30 – Session 2 – Universal access to space and data

Room 3, Level 0, CICG

There is a huge potential for AI and Space tools to help in areas such disaster response, urban planning, and early-warning systems, but the issue of dynamic access to space data needs to be considered. How can we ensure that developing countries, and those most at risk, are able to benefit from AI and Space? Can we develop data-sharing agreements and standards to help deliver on this potential? How can we protect against algorithmic inequity? What do we mean by “AI ready” space data? This track will look at the public sector has to offer in regards to open source space data and what the private sector also offers and what this means for people who want to integrate both resources, such as Radiant Earth Foundations’ ML Hub initiative to develop and publish geographically diverse training dataset. Discussions will look to assess the impact of data access to both ‘understanding what’s possible’ and where protocols are required to ensure that AI outputs are accurate, transparent, and reliable. 

Key questions: 

  • What is a typical space + AI use case? 
  • How do you ensure space data is fit for purpose? 
  • Do you need a space agency to get hold of space data? 
  • How do you get the right datasets to the people who need them, when they are needed? 
  • Cost and resource implications – data cost, AI talent, compute etc 

Session host:

  • Krystal Wilson, Director of Space Applications Programs, Secure World Foundation


  • Andrea Bersan, Vice President Global Industry Business Development, Maxar Technologies (WGIC Member)
  • Bradley Gram-Hansen, AI researcher, University of Oxford
  • Einar Bjorgo, Director, Satellite Analysis and Applied Research, UNOSAT
  • Frédéric Pradeilles, Director of the Digital Solutions, Ground Segments and Operations, CNES

12:30 – 14:00 – AI for Good UN Partners meeting, Lunch & Demo Stage

AI for Good UN Partners meeting

*Invitation only

“Telecom Area” Level -1, CICG

14:00 – 15:30 – Session 3 – It’s a matter of trust

Room 3, Level 0, CICG

Development of resilient infrastructure, access to technology, and improvements in disaster risk reduction fall under a number of SDGs and could all benefit from AI and Space. How can we ensure that these benefits are shared with the largest number of people, while reducing the risk of negative impacts from badly-trained AI, algorithmic inequity, drift? The potential for good from new technologies is often misunderstood, and stories of misuse may provoke fear, but carefully thought out governance models can assist in building trust and acceptance of these technologies. Should there be a global agreement on standards for AI and Space? How do you get people trust something if they can’t explain it? From policy, to data, to AI deployment, trust plays a role in the success (or failure) of initiatives in a multitude of different ways. This session will identify areas where trust is essential to progress and look at the steps that can be taken to meet the need for trust at a policy-level, through to the ensuring that AI outputs are accurate, transparent, and reliable. 

Key questions: 

  • What do we mean by trust? 
  • How can you trust the “black-box”?
  • How does the community better explain itself? 
  • How do you ensure that AI + space products don’t drift? 

Session host:

  • Julien Cornebise, Director of Research, AI for Good, Element AI


  • Alison Lowndes, Artificial Intelligence DevRel EMEA, NVIDIA Ltd 
  • Neil Gaikwad, Doctoral Student, MIT Media Lab
  • Samuel Harper, Head Global Business Systems, World Wildlife Fund
  • Yarin Gal, Professor, University of Oxford 

15:30 – 16:00 – Coffee Break & Demo Stage

16:00 – 17:30 – Session 4 – A new era of collaboration

Room 3, Level 0, CICG

In this final session, we will discuss the remaining barriers for space and AI to super-charge a revolution in sustainable social development. How the combination of AI and remote sensing technologies can help decode the impact of the Earth’s physical processes on human societies, institutions, and policies – but only if we enable the baseline infrastructure. 

The need for consortia comes into particular focus around SDG 13 and the imperative to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. While it is well understood AI can be applied to the wealth of Earth observation data, making progress on SDG 13 may require a strategy of open data and AI frameworks, key to fostering a collaborative environment to translate scientific measurement into substantive societal and positive environmental impact. 

Key questions: 

  • How do we move forward with AI and Space rapidly for mutual benefit? 
  • What do we mean by collaboration? benchmarking? standards? 
  • Who should lead? 
  • Can we develop a “self-governing” AI partnership and what would be its north star? 

Session host:

  • Mariarosaria Taddeo, Research Fellow, Deputy Director, Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford 


  • Alessandro Donati, Artificial Intelligence and Operations Innovation Manager OPS-OS Directorate of Operations, ESA – ESOC
  • Andrey Ustyuzhanin, Head of joint CERN-Yandex Research & Education programs, Head of Laboratory at National Research University
  • Manuel Garcia-Herranz, Chief Scientist, UNICEF
  • David Jensen, Head of Environmental Cooperation for Peacebuilding, Co-Director of MapX, Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, Policy and Programme Division, UN Environment
  • Hamed Alemohammad, Chief Data Scientist, Radiant Earth Foundation 

18:30 – 20:00 – Performances: AI pushing the limits of Artistic intelligence

Palais des Nations, Room XX (Salle des droits de l’homme), E Building, 3rd Floor – Door 40

Artists around the world have taken up the topic of Artificial Intelligence to explore and reflect our very own identity in the face of the coming change. As part ofthe AI for Good Global Summit 2019, the cultural event AI pushing the limits of Artistic intelligence will present leading international artists working at the intersection of performance arts and AI.

Moderated by LJ Rich, Inventor, BBC Click Presenter, the evening explores how man and machine could come together to augment the boundaries of human creativity and genius.


  • Reeps One, Award-winning vocal and visual artist
  • Christian “Mio” Loclair, Creative director at Waltz Binaire, new media artist, computer scientist and choreographer
  • Robozee, Dance performer

The event is free but space is limited. All attendees are kindly requested to register here

20:00 – VIP evening reception

VIP evening reception


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