We wanted to demystify artificial intelligence and open up the public discourse around the positive, ethical uses that can have a positive impact on people’s lives.
AI has enormous potential to transform the way that systems and services are provided across all areas of society, such as; local and national government, science, health, education, arts, climate action, transport, manufacturing, emergency services, academia and research.
Much of the public discourse about AI has previously focused on the benefits for the private sector. We wanted to change that by raising the profile of AI innovators helping improve social outcomes in communities across Scotland. If AI is to be used as a tool to improve our society, there must be focus on the intended and unintended impact on users, on addressing inequalities and not exacerbating them, on making technology that is open and accessible and to not entrench bias and discrimination within the technologies we create.
Through AI for Good, we showcased how AI can be used for real social impact in Scotland by supporting, profiling and amplifying the people and the projects that are doing it.
After an open call in November 2019, a panel of independent judges helped us to select seven projects to support. Each project received grant funding to develop their AI solutions from March 2020.
Over the next six months, Nesta worked with the grantees on a programme of tailored support including communications, design and user experience. Our report Powering Good: Insights from Nesta’s AI for Good programme was published in October 2020.
Scotland has a strong ecosystem of businesses, start-ups and researchers developing social purpose AI tools. There is huge potential for Scotland to use this technology to address a range of social issues in Scotland. To make this happen will require investment in socially-beneficial AI from the private and public sectors.
It is also vital that, in order to address inequalities and biases and ensure positive outcomes for everyone in society, AI technologies are developed and designed ethically in co-production with those affected by them.