Podcast series explores how AI can help solve society’s toughest challenges

A podcast series sponsored by Microsoft on how artificial intelligence is helping people solve previously intractable societal challenges launches Monday, Feb. 4, on This Week in Machine Learning and AI. The six-episode “AI For the Benefit of Society with Microsoft” series highlights how AI breakthroughs are advancing work in environmental sustainability, precision medicine, accessibility and life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Hosted by Sam Charrington, the podcast episodes cover technologies and people using AI to pinpoint communities that are at risk of famine before it strikes, help children with autism get additional communication tools, fight climate change through sustainable forest management and develop chatbots to efficiently connect refugees with legal services. They also explore cross-cutting themes around AI and ethics, including how to account for bias in data, ensure new technologies work for the broadest range of users and build a culture of responsible innovation.

Episodes will be available on the following dates at the This Week in Machine Learning and AI website and on Spotify, iTunes and Google Play.

  • Feb. 4: AI for Humanitarian Action (podcast, transcript)
    With Justin Spelhaug, Microsoft general manager for Technology for Social Impact
  • Feb. 6: AI for Accessibility (podcast, transcript)
    With Wendy Chisholm, Microsoft principal accessibility architect, and AI for Accessibility grantee InnerVoice
  • Feb. 8: AI for Earth (podcast, transcript)
    With Lucas Joppa, Microsoft chief environmental officer, and AI for Earth grantee SilviaTerra
  • Feb. 18: AI in Healthcare (podcast, transcript)
    With Peter Lee, corporate vice president, Microsoft Healthcare
  • Feb. 20: Fairness in Machine Learning (podcast, transcript)
    With Hanna Wallach, principal researcher at Microsoft Research
  • Feb. 22: Human-Centered Design (podcast, transcript)
    With Mira Lane, Microsoft partner director–ethics and society


Jennifer Langston writes about Microsoft research and innovation. Follow her on Twitter.