Microsoft is expanding its AI for Good program with a dedicated arm for humanitarian efforts. Known as AI for Humanitarian Efforts, it will focus on aiding disaster response children’s welfare, and human rights worldwide.
The company has pledged $40 million over a period of five years for the effort, which will go towards organizations and startups trying to make a real difference in the world. It will also aid through access to its technology, support, and partnerships.
“We believe that technology, like artificial intelligence (AI) combined with cloud technology, can be a game changer, helping save more lives, alleviate suffering and restore human dignity by changing the way frontline relief organizations anticipate, predict and better target response efforts,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith in a blog post.
A Mixed History
The executive also named a number of groups Microsoft is working with already, including Operation Smile and the Norwegian Refugee Council. In terms of human rights situations, AI for Humanitarian Efforts plans to use speech translation to enable the use of pro-bono lawyers, and more.
Of course, Microsoft has a lot to make up for when it comes to human rights abuses. In 2013, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the company had been part of the PRISM program since 2007. As part of the program, Microsoft allegedly let the NSA monitor data such as Emails, chat messages, Photos, VoIP, and login activity for a week without a warrant.
As well as its new AI-focused program human rights, the company will be addressing privacy issues with its push against the CLOUD Act. Despite conceding its court case due to the legislation, Microsoft is trying to get countries to broker agreements that will close privacy-violating loopholes.
The efforts will continue the work of the larger AI for Good program, which now has pledged a total of $110 million to fight climate change and help with accessibility issues. Ultimately, it’s a very strong commitment that could help millions of people while also giving the company some much-needed positive press.