Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It is omnipresent in our lives. Even when we don’t “see” it working, it “sees” us, “hears” us and is constantly learning from our behaviour.

When Netflix and YouTube recommend something for you to watch, they use your browsing history to recommend future watches learning from your past preferences. When Gmail finishes a sentence you start to type, it also uses AI to predict what you wanted to write out. I often find that if I Google a potential product to purchase, I start seeing advertisements related to that product on all the browsers and social media applications on my phone!

While the use of artificial intelligence has helped humans in many ways, the presence of these technologies pervading our lives has raised privacy and security concerns. There are certainly reasons to be cautious in the use of artificial intelligence, but, if used correctly, this technology has the potential to solve the most pressing problems the world is facing today.

AI can be vital in providing equitable solutions to problems of faced by marginalised groups globally. We all know how technology and artificial intelligence has made remote learning possible since the start of the pandemic. By expanding access to smart phones for low- income children, technology can enable learning for students who cannot attend school on campus. Remote learning through AI technologies can help reduce the drop-out rates, particularly for girls in middle-school in Pakistan and other developing countries.

AI is already assisting the management of the current global health crisis through its countless applications for remote medical consultations and contact tracing applications used by governments around the world. This year, MIT experimented with the use of robot doctors, like Dr Spot, for monitoring and treating Covid-19 patients in a contact-free manner, thus reducing the burden on healthcare workers.

I kept thinking how we could use AI to help communities in distress and those affected by years of conflict, especially children in conflict zones. My heart goes out to internally displaced people, refugee communities around the world and children in Palestine. In future, when I gain the appropriate level of skill, I would invent a cheaper version of an Apple Tag and give to all the children in Palestine, Syria, Kashmir and in other war zones, so that displaced families can find each other when calamities hit.

AI technologies have the potential to worsen global inequalities, but they also present a valuable opportunity to make this world more sustainable. The focus of our generation of young people should be to direct this technology away from just benefitting a select few, towards make a difference in improving the lives of people in distress.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 12th, 2021

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