Despite the global attention and the expectations placed on it, the benefits of Artificial Intelligence will be limited to less than 50 per cent of humanity - those who are economically comfortable and are able to access it. More than half of humanity still lives under in poverty or near-poverty and the vast power of AI is not likely to affect their lives.
Unless we do something about it.
The premise behind what we are doing at Wadhwani AI is the belief that AI can help address the knowledge and expertise gap that limits progress in improving the lives of economically-challenged communities. Our mission is to develop and apply AI-based innovations and solutions for a broad range of societal domains including healthcare, agriculture education, infrastructure, and financial inclusion.
Currently, our work focuses on creating solutions for three problem areas:
Maternal and Child Health
In this age of AI, a key component of global public health is empowering primary health facilities and health workers with technology to improve maternal and child health.
Despite remarkable improvements over the past decade, enough significant progress has not been achieved on some problems. For example, low birth weight babies account for 48 per cent of newborn deaths. At Wadhwani AI, we are creating a smartphone-based anthropometry technology which will allow frontline workers to screen for low birth weight babies in rural homes. This AI-powered virtual weighing machine will provide accurate, tamper-proof, geo-tagged measurements on a smartphone. There is no need for additional hardware or data connectivity.
We currently have a preliminary proof of concept working in the simulation environment and are targeting field experiments starting August 2019.
More people die of tuberculosis than of HIV and malaria put together.
In 2016, there were 10.4 million new active TB cases and 1.7 million deaths worldwide.
It is estimated that as many as 50% of TB cases may go unreported and unknown.
In January 2019, Wadhwani AI became the official AI partner for India’s Central Tuberculosis Division. What works to our advantage is the fact that circumstances are conducive to our work – there already exist a centralised strategy and execution; dedicated government staff and budgets; support from organisations such as WHO; strong digital infrastructure, and multiple touch-points across a patient’s journey.
Now, we are creating technologies to address multiple challenges across the cascade of TB care, starting with:
(1) Case load estimation at the district level using a variety of risk and transmission factors to help identify missing cases
(2) Prioritisation of TB patients for health workers through stratification of the risk of drop-off from treatment
Cotton is one of the largest cash crops grown globally. It is India’s third largest crop after rice and wheat and 75% of it is grown by small-holder farmers who struggle with uncertainty in yield and income. One of the critical challenges they face is the inability to manage pests despite heavy usage of pesticide. Nearly 100,000 cotton farmers committed suicide in 2017-18 after a pink bollworm attack destroyed 40% of their yield.
At Wadhwani AI, we are working towards creating technologies that will help reduce crop losses through integrated pest management.
We have already developed algorithms that detect two major pests, and have completed field demos in partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative and the Government of Maharashtra.
We aim to develop a more comprehensive pest management tool ready for testing by October 2019.