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Call for Proposals: Evaluating the Impact of AI on Poverty, Health, Energy and Climate SDGs

Call for Proposals: Evaluating the Impact of AI on Poverty, Health, Energy and Climate SDGs

Deadline: 01-Apr-2024

The Future of Life Institute is calling for proposals for research evaluating in detail how artificial intelligence (AI) has so far impacted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to poverty, healthcare, energy and climate change, and how it can be expected to impact them in the near future.

This current request for proposals is part of FLI’s Futures program, which aims to guide humanity towards the beneficial outcomes made possible by transformative technologies. The program seeks to engage a diverse group of stakeholders from different professions, communities, and regions to shape their shared future together.

This research can examine either cases where AI is intended to address respective SDGs directly, or where AI has affected the realisation of these goals by its side effects. Each paper should select one SDG or target, analyse the impact of AI on its realisation up to the present, and explore the ways in which AI could accelerate, inhibit, or prove irrelevant to, the achievement of that goal by 2030. They acknowledge that AI is a broad term, encompassing systems that are both narrow and general with varying degrees of capability. Hence, for the purposes of this RFP they encourage using this taxonomy as a guide for exploring and categorising AI’s current and future uses.

  • Level 0: No AI
  • Level 1: Emerging
    • equal to or somewhat better than an unskilled human
  • Level 2: Competent
    • at least 50th percentile of skilled adults
  • Level 3: Expert
    • at least 90th percentile of skilled adults
  • Level 4: Virtuoso
    • at least 99th percentile of skilled adults
  • Level 5: Superhuman
    • outperforms 100% of humans
The SDGs
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remain the most broadly supported repository of high-priority problems for the world to solve, especially with regards to poverty, health, energy and climate-related challenges. The centrepiece of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, the 17 SDGs constitute an ambitious hope for a better world, but also, for their purposes, a set of concrete measurable targets against which to assess the extent of progress in the four defined areas. For clarity, the goals directly relevant to those focuses are 1 (Poverty), 3 (Health), 7 (Energy) and 13 (Climate).
  • The goals are interconnected. Solving one may involve or assist the solving of another. According to the UN, the goals “recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve the oceans and forests.” Indeed, a 2020 paper written by Vinuessa et al. analysed the effect AI could have on all of the goals. It concluded that while AI could have both positive and negative impacts on the SDGs, the net effect of AI would be positive.
Filling a Gap
  • As noted in the overview analysis by Vinuesa et al, “self-interest can be expected to bias the AI research community and industry towards publishing positive results.” As a result, they lack objective, independent analysis of the impact of AI thus far. Given that AI is rapidly being integrated into all aspects of society, this gap in the research community now needs filling.
Sample Proposal Titles
  • These samples are to get researchers thinking about various approaches. The selection of SDGs does not imply a preference for those particular goals in the research proposed.
  • SDG 1
    • How has AI been affecting the implementation of social support systems?
    • What data do they have to suggest how AI will impact the goal of reducing poverty by half in 2030?
    • What is the risk that general-purpose AI will significantly increase poverty by then?
  • SDG 3
    • How has AI affected the goal of decreasing maternal mortality?
Evaluation Criteria & Project Eligibility
  • Proposals will be evaluated according to the track record of the researcher, the quality of the evaluation outline, the likelihood of the research yielding valuable findings, and the rigour of the proposed projection method.
  • Grants applications will be subject to a competitive process of external and confidential peer review. They intend to support several proposals. Accepted proposals will receive a one-time grant of $15,000, to be used at the researcher’s discretion. Grants will be made to nonprofit organizations, with institutional overhead or indirect costs not exceeding 15%.

For more information, visit FLI.

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