Microsoft Is Launching $40 Million AI Initiative Improve Healthcare Worldwide
Microsoft says that the health of people and communities around the world has been improving, noting that the steep decline in child and maternal mortality is a key indicator of improvement. Despite that improvement, the company says that progress is not equal around the world, and there is a need to focus on societal issues such as reducing health inequality and improving access to care for underserved populations. The software giant believes that advancements in technology can help accelerate the scale of new solutions, and it is introducing the AI for Health initiative.
The AI for Health initiative is Microsoft's fifth Microsoft AI for Good program, which is a $165 million initiative to empower researchers, nonprofits, and organizations with advanced technology to help unlock solutions to challenges facing society today. The AI for Health initiative will focus on three key areas. The first is a quest for discovery that Microsoft says well accelerate medical research to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases. The second is global health insights; this will work to increase shared understanding of mortality and longevity to protect humans against global health crises.
The third is health equity, with Microsoft wanting to reduce health inequity and improve access to care for underserved populations. Microsoft notes that AI for Health is a philanthropic initiative that complements its broader work in Microsoft Healthcare. Microsoft plans to use its new AI for Health initiative to support specific nonprofits and academic collaboration with Microsoft's leading data scientists offering access to what it calls best-in-class AI tools and cloud computing along with select cash grants.
Microsoft notes that significant progress has been made in reducing child and maternal mortality rates, but cites an example of the inequity in healthcare. Microsoft says that Finland's child mortality rate is 43.7 compared to Somalians at 1899.2 per 100,000 live births. Microsoft hopes to use its technology for good across multiple fields. While there is great potential for AI to do good, some fear what AI could become. Last year Google CEO Sundar Pichai compared AI to a fire that had to be harnessed.