The AI for Good nominees for the Transform AI Innovation Awards

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To cap off our AI-focused Transform 2019 event, taking place July 10-11 in San Francisco, VentureBeat will recognize and award emergent, compelling, and influential work in AI through the inaugural AI Innovation Awards. We take pride in shining a light on innovation through that coverage, but these awards, presented by Ople, give us a chance to do so in a new way. This is the first of a series of articles highlighting the nominees is each of our five award categories: NLP/NLU, Business Application, Computer Vision, AI for Good, and Startup Spotlight.

This award is for AI technology, the application of AI, or advocacy or activism in the field of AI that protects or improves human lives or operates to fight injustice, improve equality, and better serve humanity. Every day, it seems, among reports of AI being used for malicious or banal purposes, more uplifting stories emerge. Sometimes it’s about AI researchers and professionals fighting a righteous fight for legislation and oversight, and other times it’s about applications of AI technology that makes the world a better place.

Joy Boulamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Raji

There is much debate about the ethical and technical issues around facial recognition software. These researchers focused in particular on the significant problem of algorithmic bias in identifying gender and people with darker skin in commercial products. One paper in particular focused on Amazon’s Rekognition FRS. Amazon pushed back against the accuracy of the research, but the researchers stood their ground and found support from dozens of AI researchers.

Fast.Ai is democratizing deep learning, making crucial knowledge available to increasing numbers of people through free coding courses, software libraries, research, and other practical tools like a consistent interface for different types of AI work. The company believes that AI should be inclusive and accessible so more people can build on these exciting new technologies.

Allen Institute for AI

Since 2014, the Allen Institute for AI (AI2) has operated on the idea of conducting “high-impact AI research and engineering in service of the common good.” Founded in part by the late Paul Allen, it’s run a residency program to train top engineers in how to start and run AI startups, developed a game-like system that uses machine-to-human interactions to train AI in human common sense, and much more. The Institute prides itself on a diversity of researchers and engineers.


CrowdAI uses satellite imagery, deep learning, and computer vision to generate actionable insights in the wake of significant events like floods and other natural disasters. Armed with the knowledge afforded by this AI, officials can identify areas that are hardest, thereby more intelligently deploying resources where they’re needed most. It also helps first responders have a better idea of what they’re walking into, which can keep them safer as they work.

The Transform AI Innovation award ceremony will be held on the evening of July 11 to cap off Transform 2019.

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