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AI can be a powerful force for social good when we connect it with the human causes that need it.


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Lavin Exclusive Speaker

What if we brought the exponential power of AI together with the benevolent intention of social causes? As the founder of DataKind, JAKE PORWAY connects nonprofits, NGOs, and other social change organizations with AI engineers and data scientists willing to donate their knowledge to solve social, environmental, and community problems. In his charismatic talks, Porway shows how we can push AI to be a transformative technology that reflects the best, most diverse aspects of our humanity.

Using an international network that enables benevolent “matchmaking,” Jake Porway’s DataKind connects social causes (like a nonprofit looking to end homelessness) with pro bono automation experts (like engineers from Google). We’re already AI-optimizing our bodies, our cars, our homes, even the songs we listen to and movies we watch. Why not humanitarian efforts, too? Porway’s talks interrogate the question of how we can use this technology for social good, not just our personal needs. AI and automation aren’t business trends, he says, but a “shifting point in humanity.”

Having worked in The New York Times R&D Lab, and with groups like NASA, DARPA, and Bell Labs, Porway wants these swiftly advancing technologies to be used in the aid of social good. His funny, nimble, and insightful talks weave together fascinating stories of organizations working towards social good and the AI designers helping them do it more effectively. More than that, he outlines a world in which we can all conceptualize and act along these inventive lines.

Porway’s work has been featured in leading academic journals and conferences (PAMI, ICCV), the Guardian, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and he has been honored as a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Statistics from UCLA.

Speech Topics

Using AI for Social GoodAnd Empowering Others to Do It Too

We are incredibly good at using the exponential technology of AI to sell stuff, says DataKind founder Jake Porway. Amazon knows what you’ll want to buy and Alexa is fluent in the myriad TV shows you’ll want to watch. All this, amazing as it is, helps only one person: you. In this funny and provocative talk, Porway discusses DataKind’s MO to “matchmake” pro bono tech wizards with the humans who are trying to change the world by hand. Thanks to the connections DataKind has forged, there are now healthcare companies in developing nations who mobilize apps that source accessible food, water, and medicine. The AI we use to predict our Netflix queue can also be tuned to predict outbreaks, or healthcare chatbots. “Benevolent AI,” as Porway calls it. Whether you’re a small nonprofit trying to bring a better life to someone else, or a tech company looking to lend your skills to those who could benefit, this talk provides an exciting new way to think about the uncharted potential of AI, and what humans can do to bring it to (machinated) fruition.

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