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  • Writer's pictureIrene Bratsis

Reflections on AI for Peace

I’ve often marveled at the ways AI can be used for good. The phrase itself, “AI for good” is ubiquitous in so many circles. People with data science, machine learning and deep learning skills that want to make a difference in our world eagerly look for ways they can apply their competencies in ways that give back, especially if their day job has nothing to do with AI for good. Often the companies that have money to shell out on lofty data science and machine learning engineer roles aren’t in it for philanthropy.

But I’m an optimist at heart. I believe we can, and that we really really should, find ways to combine the common good with these exciting new technical capabilities. For every initiative that uses the power of data to say, maximize ad revenue, there ought to be one that’s using the power of data to educate citizens, empower democracies and enable global peace. Humanitarian aid, peacebuilding and peacekeeping are areas that are laden with bureaucratic red tape; this is precisely why they’re ripe for the kind of revolution AI can enable, particularly if it’s powered by grassroots efforts. For further reading check out this report written in part by Branka Panic, Founding director of AI for Peace.

We’re now in the midst of our WAI Accelerate program, an accelerator focused on driving female participation in AI entrepreneurship and I’ve been interested primarily in choosing founders and researchers that are making strides toward the 17 Sustainable Development goals the United Nations has chosen. I look for speakers as part of my volunteering efforts for Women in Data and Women in AI and when I came across Branka’s profile, I was incredibly excited to talk to her.

Here was a woman with an extraordinary background: public policy from Duke, a consultant with the World Bank, a masters in international security and a bachelors in international relations. A woman after my own heart that was actually doing something to “be the change” she wants to see in the world.

We were so honored to have had AI for Peace represented in one of our recent Women in AI #WaiTalks in April. AI for Peace focuses on three major areas: human security, humanitarian action and human rights and democracy. Let’s take a look and see what Branka Panic’s organization is up to in these areas.

Human Security

AI for Peace’s aim is to leverage AI’s potential to protect human security and move away from focusing primarily on the safety of states to the security, protection and empowerment of individuals.

AI can offer an efficient response to a variety of human-security related issues and AI for Peace is stressing the importance of using ethical principles to guide the creation and application of AI systems in ensuring human security.They’re also researching potential security threats from malicious use of artificial intelligence technologies and proposing ways to forecast and mitigate these threats.

Humanitarian Action

AI for Peace supports and develops resilience, response, and recovery programs powered by AI that are designed for those affected by humanitarian emergencies.

Given that AI can help save more lives, alleviate suffering and restore human dignity by helping organizations to anticipate, predict and better target response efforts. The goal here is to raise awareness of AI actors in the humanitarian field and by taking a look at the ethical implications of their solutions and of the effects they could unintentionally inflict on vulnerable populations.

Human Rights and Democracy

This area is focused on maximizing the beneficial use of AI for the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy and minimizing the risks from intended and unintended development and uses of AI.

AI for Peace is recognizing and shedding light on positive applications of AI solutions that could help human rights organizations address human rights abuses, protect human rights defenders, and strengthen democracy. AI and related technologies are used to make predictions and decisions in criminal justice, law enforcement, housing, hiring, and education, often with a slew of consequences that erode human rights and if left unchecked, would have the impact to further eliminate the very human rights and liberties our previous generations have fought for.


Most recently AI for Peace, in partnership with Omdena, has launched an “AI Pandemic Challenge”, an initiative to support policymakers in identifying the most effective ways to minimize economic suffering and protect the health of some of the most vulnerable populations in this crisis. This is a challenge that’s open to a global community of more than 70 artificial intelligence and policy experts, from 21 countries on six continents, is collaborating to build AI models that reveal the direct and indirect impact of pandemic policies on the economic health of marginalized and impoverished communities.

You can check out AI for Peace’s reading list for further reading here.

Thanks again Branka for joining us. Looking forward to more collaborations in the future and wishing you all the success as your endeavors blossom and usher in a world we’d love to see.

Irene Bratsis

Women in AI, NYC



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