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AI for Good Seminar Series

Mondays at 4:30 pm | Hewlett 200 | Winter Quarter 2020

The AI for Good seminar series has concluded. We invite you to watch all seven sessions on the ICME AI for Good Playlist on Youtube or read session recaps on the ICME News page.

How can AI address climate change?  alleviate poverty? predict natural disasters? cure diseases?

How can AI be invulnerable to bias? respect ethical boundaries? protect privacy?

The AI for Good Seminar Series (CME 500) explores ways artificial intelligence can benefit society and our planet. In weekly talks, leaders from academia, industry, and NGOs, who are at the forefront of using AI for social good, showcase AI applications that are forging positive changes in healthcare, the environment, education, technology, government and more.  Speakers discuss how challenges regarding fairness, bias, privacy, ethics, etc. are beginning to be addressed.

Interested students will have access to supplemental materials such as mini case studies and Jupyter notebooks. Students of all academic backgrounds and interests can register for this 1-unit credit/no-credit course (CME 500). No prerequisites. Space permitting, this series is open to Stanford faculty, staff, and ICME partners.  Students may register via Axess.

Click here  to be added to the AI for Good and ICME AI Seminar Series mailing list.

Opening Session: Is AI a Force for Good?

January 6, 2020 - 4:30pm

Our first session considers the central question of how AI can be a force for good and lays the framework for the entire series. As we explore how artificial intelligence can address some of the world’s most vexing issues, we will pair the positive outcomes with crucial awareness of potential unintended consequences. Our panel will discuss considerations to be made to ensure this new era will help humanity and not harm it.

  • Rob Reich - Professor of Political Science and Director, Ethics in Society at Stanford University
  • Margot Gerritsen - Professor of Energy Resources Engineering and Senior Associate Dean, Stanford School of Earth
  • Sharad Goel - Founder & Executive Director, Stanford Computational Policy Lab and Assistant Professor, Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University
  • Panel Moderator: Scott Penberthy, Head of Applied AI, Google

AI for Nonprofits | Google AI Impact Challenge

January 13, 2020 - 4:30pm

Breakthroughs in technology often have humble origins. Through it's Google AI Impact Challenge grant program, lends a helping hand to nonprofit innovators and social entrepreneurs who are using the power of AI to address social and environmental challenges. This session will feature a panel of Google AI Impact Challenge Grantees who are using AI and machine learning to tackle issues affecting the environment, educational equity, at-risk youth, and mental health.

  • Heejae Lim - Founder and CEO, TalkingPoints
  • Grace Mitchell - Data Analyst, WattTime
  • Nick Hobbs - Senior Data Scientist, The Trevor
  • Panel Moderator: Mollie Javerbaum -

AI for Earth and the Environment

January 27, 2020 - 4:30pm

How can AI and machine learning be leveraged to mitigate the impact of human activities on earth’s natural systems?  Hear how data science tools and strategies are being used to safeguard our water supply, feed the worldwide human population, and promote greater biodiversity and global sustainability. Join Lucas Joppa and Stefano Ermon in a conversation with Gretchen C. Daily, Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford.

  • Lucas Joppa - Chief Environmental Officer, Microsoft
  • Stefano Ermon - Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University
  • Gretchen C. Daily - Professor of Environmental Science and Director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford.


AI for Government

February 3, 2020 - 4:30pm

AI promises to transform how government agencies work.  Where will it have the biggest impact?  What are some challenges around transparency, privacy, bias, and accountability? This talk will go beyond the headlines and share highlights of a just-completed report on AI in the US Government.

  • Daniel E Ho - Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab) at Stanford University
  • David Freeman Engstrom - Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, Stanford Law School


Marzyeh Ghassemi

AI for Healthcare

February 10, 2020 - 4:30pm

Marzyeh Ghassemi, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Medicine, University of Toronto

Improving health requires targeting and evidence. Marzyeh tackles part of this puzzle with machine learning. This session will cover some of the novel technical opportunities for machine learning in health challenges and the important progress to be made with careful application to domain. She will also walk through the danger of applying methods without a robust understanding of the domain, and potential downstream uses.

Megan Price

AI for Human Rights

February 24, 2020 - 4:30pm

Megan Price, Executive Director, Human Rights Data Analysis Group

As a team of data scientists, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) partners with human rights advocacy organizations to identify questions that can be answered and arguments that can be strengthened using data science.  Dr. Price’s talk will highlight how data science and AI methods and tools are being used to tell stories, build cases, and answer important questions about the human toll of conflicts in Syria, Mexico, and Guatemala. She will also address the potential harm that can be done when relying on incomplete and imperfect data such as predictive policing of drug use in Oakland.

The Future of AI: What Comes Next?

Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 4:30pm

Due to precautions Stanford is taking to inhibit the potential spread of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), in-person attendance to this talk is limited to Stanford students, faculty, and staff. 

We invite all others to watch via Livestream or Facebook Live on the ICME page.

Location: CEMEX Auditorium

Beyond today’s plans for driverless cars and workerless factories, what will the future of AI really look like? Which sectors and nations will be affected the most?  What core tenets should be set to ensure AI works for all of humanity?  This session will be a conversation about the longer term impact of the AI era, and an inside look at the new Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI), with John Etchemendy, Co-Director of HAI and Stanford's Provost Emeritus and Professor Russ Altman, the host of Stanford Engineering's "The Future of Everything" podcast.

John Etchemendy - Provost Emeritus, and Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Co-Director, Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence Initiative, Stanford University.

Russ Altman - Kenneth Fong Professor of Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine, Biomedical Data Science and (by courtesy) Computer Science at Stanford University. 


Session details and speaker bios

AI for Everyone | A Multi-Disciplinary Approach

March 9, 2020 - 4:30pm

Due to coronavirus-related precautions being taken to limit travel and large gatherings, this talk has been canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.

How do we ensure AI solutions are designed to work for all – regardless of race, gender, ability, or background? Within the promise of artificial intelligence lie a number of difficult questions and challenges. A multi-disciplinary approach, one that has people from a variety of backgrounds involved in designing the solutions, is needed. In their talks and joint Q&A, Timnit and Omer will address challenges around data collection and algorithm development regarding bias, fairness, accountability, differential privacy and ethics.


Timnit Gebru, Research Scientist and Technical Co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team

Omer Reingold, The Rajeev Motwani Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.



Thank You

The Stanford Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering (ICME) graciously acknowledges that financial support for this series is provided by Google.

This series is presented in collaboration with the following Stanford co-sponsors:

Stanford GSB

Stanford Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering

Stanford Computational Policy Lab

Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society