• The pandemic showed AI’s potential for accelerating progress towards the SDGs.

  • It has potential application in health, climate change, agriculture and transport.

  • But we must ensure artificial intelligence is employed in ways that are trusted, transparent and inclusive.


Copyright: weforum.org – “Why artificial intelligence is vital in the race to meet the SDGs”


Seven years have passed since world leaders met in New York and agreed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to resolve major challenges including poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change and health.

The pandemic undoubtedly diverted attention from some of these issues in the past couple of years. But even before COVID-19, the UN was warning that progress to meet the SDGs was not advancing at the speed or on the scale needed. Meeting them by 2030 will be tough.

Yet I remain optimistic. The pandemic demonstrated like nothing else the power of working collaboratively, across borders, for the benefit of society. It concentrated minds, funding and policy to accelerate research into virus detection, disease treatments, vaccines and manufacturing platforms.

The role of artificial intelligence in accelerating SDGs

It was a truly remarkable effort from the global community to develop effective vaccines within a year of the virus first being detected, and these and other treatments have dramatically reduced the virus’s fatality rate. This can be attributed to the brilliance, perseverance and creativity of scientists across the world. But they were not working alone: Artificial intelligence (AI) also played a key part.

The US company Moderna was among the first to release an effective COVID-19 vaccine. One reason it was able to make this breakthrough so quickly was the use of AI to speed up development. Moderna’s Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Officer Dave Johnson explains that AI algorithms and robotic automation helped them move from manually producing around 30 mRNAs (a molecule fundamental to the vaccine) each month, to being able to produce around 1,000 a month.

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Moderna is also using artificial intelligence to help their mRNA sequence design. Its co-founder Noubar Afeyan recently predicted during a visit to Imperial College London that immune medicine will see “large advances” in the coming years, and we can look forward to a future where medicine is more pre-emptive than reactionary.

“If we can catch disease early and delay it, at a minimum, we could have a lot more impact at a lot less cost,” he said. This is a great example of how AI can free up time for scientists to accelerate discovery and dedicate efforts to solving big challenges.[…]

Read more: www.weforum.org