Science for Social Good

Applying AI, cloud and deep science toward new societal challenges.

 

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Applied science and technology can solve the world’s toughest problems

IBM's Science for Social Good initiative partners IBM Research scientists and engineers with academic fellows and subject matter experts from a diverse range of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to tackle emerging societal challenges using science and technology. Inspired by other successful philanthropic IBM initiatives that prioritize the giving of time and talent to governments and non-profits, Science for Social Good is built on the premise that applied science and technology can solve the world’s toughest problems; accelerating the rate and pace of solutions through the scientific method.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Cognitive disease hunter

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Cognitive disease hunter

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG3 – Good Health and Wellbeing

Infectious diseases are an increasing problem globally. Developing the ability to predict new or unexpected outbreaks remains one of the most difficult problems of modern times. Given that the majority of infectious diseases emerging in humans have mammal origins, it should be possible to learn the intrinsic features of pathogens that cross-infect humans and identify new infections before they emerge. The team plans to build a cognitive solution that reads biology publications and extracts relevant knowledge to power machine learning algorithms on a hunt for diseases.


Read blog: The Cary Institute teams with IBM Research to Address Zika

Learn more about the Cary Institute


St. John’s Bread & Life

Emergency food best practice: The digital experience

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Emergency food best practice: The digital experience

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG1 – No Poverty, SDG2 – Zero Hunger

In 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households. Every day, St. John's Bread & Life, an emergency food provider in New York City, serves more than 2,500 meals with extraordinary efficiency. The team plans to create a cognitive supply chain model of emergency food operations and share it via an API and interactive digital experience. This will allow Bread & Life to share best practices with food providers around the country and provide them with a first-of-a-kind digital outreach campaign to help inform the public about hunger in a way that registers, stays and changes behaviors.


Learn more about St. John’s Bread & Life


IBM Watson Health

Combating the opioid crisis

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Combating the opioid crisis

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG3 – Good Health and Well Being

Opioid abuse is among the deadliest population health crises in the United States. In most cases, this stems from a prescription. Understanding the patterns of addiction, learning evidence-based guidelines for responsible prescription and creating early warning systems are instrumental when battling new addictions. The team will couple advanced machine learning methods with the wealth of Watson Health Truven Health Analytics data to develop insights and make them available to providers, payers and public health officials to help curb the opioid epidemic.


Learn more about IBM Watson Health

Learn what IBM Research is doing to combat the opioid epidemic


International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology

Changing behaviors to conserve energy

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Changing behaviors to conserve energy

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG7 – Affordable and Cleaner Energy, SDG11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

World energy consumption is predicted to grow by 48 percent between 2012 and 2040. Technology solutions only address half the problem of trying to conserve energy. Behavior change is just as important. As multi-family affordable housing is retrofitted for energy conservation, it is also fitted with sensors that allow us to examine behaviors of the building residents to guide and evaluate any interventions that may be undertaken to encourage conservation. The team plans to build a solution for disseminating information about behaviors that reduce energy usage and measuring the impact of the intervention.


Learn more about International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology


Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis

Open innovation platform for scientific discovery

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Open innovation platform for scientific discovery

Sustainable Development Goals: SDG3 – Good Health and Well Being, SDG9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure

Technology has put us in a position where we can harness the power of many minds to solve a problem collaboratively. Yet new innovation platforms centered on discovery, understanding, knowledge sharing and exchange, poised with cognitive capabilities, are needed to engage stakeholders and subject matter experts in discussion and collaboration, and can help accelerate how we solve problems. To empower data-driven research on multiple sclerosis, the team plans to design a collaborative data science platform that understands source code of a data analysis program. Without user intervention, the system will be designed to compare analyses based on an ontology, recommend similar and complementary analyses, measure progress and summarize the activity on the platform.


Learn more about Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis


Biomimicry Institute

Ask Nature for Design Inspiration

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Ask Nature for Design Inspiration

Sustainable Development Goals: SDG9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

Life on earth presents elegant solutions to many of the challenges innovators and entrepreneurs face every day. For example, the pomelo fruit can strike the ground from heights over 30 feet without damage thanks to a composite and hierarchically organized peel structure. What might designers, architects, engineers or business strategists learn from this? The team plans to create a cognitive system that reads scientific publications to find innovative biological strategies that can offer inventors a new lens for helping them solve their product, service or system design challenges in novel and sustainable ways.


Learn more about the Biomimicry Institute


Echoing Green

Demystifying Social Entrepreneurship

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Echoing Green

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure

Social entrepreneurs start organizations with the admirable goal to tackle social, cultural or environmental issues. However, many are lost early in their journey due to lack of visibility into the space of sustainable development. Echoing Green, a funder of social enterprises, receives around 3000 applications per year and on average selects just over 1 percent for a two year fellowship that includes both financial and technical support. The collection of applications is a treasure trove of potential insights on the trends and successful characteristics of organizations achieving social impact. The team will analyze the collection to create a unique lens that helps prospective social entrepreneurs better direct their efforts and magnify the collective impact they can achieve.


Learn more about Echoing Green


Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners

Cognitive Financial Advisor for Low-Wage Workers

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Cognitive Financial Advisor for Low-Wage Workers

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG1 – No Poverty, SDG8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth

Three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet. Lack of cash between paychecks coupled with predatory lending is one of the leading causes of burdensome debt among low-wage workers. Neighborhood Trust provides financial empowerment programs, counseling services and automated technology applications to help clients change their financial future. Learning from data and experiences of past clients, the team plans to develop predictive models and decision support that allow Neighborhood Trust to offer personalized financial advice tuned to the unique situation of the client at hand.


Learn more about the Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners


Pardee Center for International Futures

Cognitive Policy Advisor

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Cognitive Policy Advisor

Sustainable Development Goals: SGG8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG9 – Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG17 – Partnership for the Goals

Long-term forecasting and global trend analysis can be used to help develop national policies that impact everything from economic growth to food production. The ability to identify cause-and-effect relationships with confidence is critical to this process. Despite significant attention, teasing out complex causal relationships from sparse, noisy and highly-correlated data remains an unsolved problem in machine learning and computational statistics. For example, today it is difficult to use data to answer such questions as "What makes countries more innovative?" or "Does increasing the number of women in the labor force lead to higher GDP?" The team will develop advanced algorithms that allow policymakers to address such questions with data in order to support operational decision-making.


Learn more about Pardee Center for International Futures


Literacy Coalition of Central Texas

Simpler Voice: Overcoming Illiteracy

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Simpler Voice: Overcoming Illiteracy

Sustainable Development Goal: SDG1 – No Poverty, SDG4 – Quality Education, SDG10 – Reduced Inequalities

757 million adults worldwide could not read this sentence, nor comprehend its complex construction even if spoken aloud2. The team will use cognitive technology designed to enable low-literate adults to navigate the information-dense world with confidence, on their own. The Simpler Voice project will parse complex texts such as product descriptions and manuals, extract and simplify the key messages and present them to the user in the form of pictures accompanied by short and simple spoken messages. The goal is to empower everyone to more fully participate in the world around them.


Learn more about the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas


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