How Can AI be Used for Social Good? Key Techniques, Applications, and Results

Speaker Name: 
Milind Tambe, Professor of CS & Industrial and Systems Engineering, USC and Co-director of CAIS Center for AI in Society
Speaker Title: 
Eric Rice, Associate Professor of Social Work, USC and Co-director of CAIS Center for AI in Society
Start Time: 
Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 1:30pm
End Time: 
Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 3:05pm
UCSC - Engineering 2, Room 506
TIM280S Social Computing & Communities Seminar (Seminar on People, Technology & Society)

Discussions about the future negative consequences of AI sometimes drown out discussions of the current accomplishments and future potential of AI in helping us solve complex societal problems. At the USC Center for AI in Society, CAIS, our focus is on exploring AI research in tackling wicked problems in society. This talk will highlight the goals of CAIS and three areas of ongoing work. First, we will focus on the use of AI for assisting low-resource sections of society, such as homeless youth. Harnessing the social networks of such youth, we will illustrate the use of AI algorithms to help more effectively spread health information, such as for reducing risk of HIV infections. These algorithms have been piloted in homeless shelters in Los Angeles, and have shown significant improvements over traditional methods. This will be the major portion of the talk. Second, we will outline the use of AI for protection of forests, fish, and wildlife; learning models of adversary behavior allows us to predict poaching activities and plan effective patrols to deter them; we discuss concrete results from tests in a national park in Uganda. Finally, we will focus on the challenge of AI for public safety and security, specifically for effective security resource allocation. We will discuss our "security games" framework -- based on computational game theory -- has led to decision aids that are in actual daily use by agencies such as the US Coast Guard, the US Federal Air Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies to assist the protection of ports, airports, flights, and other critical infrastructure. These are just a few of the projects at CAIS, and we expect these and future projects at CAIS to continue to illustrate the significant potential that AI has for social good.

Milind Tambe is Founding Co-Director of CAIS, the USC Center for AI for Society, and Helen N. and Emmett H. Jones Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California(USC). He is a fellow of AAAI and ACM, as well as recipient of the ACM/SIGART Autonomous Agents Research Award, Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland security award, INFORMS Wagner prize for excellence in Operations Research practice, Rist Prize of the Military Operations Research Society, IBM Faculty Award, Okawa foundation faculty research award, RoboCup scientific challenge award, and other local awards such as the Orange County Engineering Council Outstanding Project Achievement Award, USC Associates award for creativity in research and USC Viterbi use-inspired research award. Prof. Tambe has contributed several foundational papers in AI in areas such as multiagent teamwork, distributed constraint optimization (DCOP) and security games. For this research, he has received the influential paper award and a number of best paper awards at conferences such as AAMAS, IJCAI, IAAI and IVA. In addition, Prof. Tambe pioneering real-world deployments of ''security games'' has led him and his team to receive the US Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation from the Commandant, US Coast Guard First District's Operational Excellence Award, Certificate of Appreciation from the US Federal Air Marshals Service and special commendation given by LA Airport police from the city of Los Angeles. For his teaching and service, Prof. Tambe has received the USC Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring award and the ACM recognition of service award. He has also co-founded a company based on his research, Avata Intelligence, where he serves as the director of research. Prof. Tambe received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Eric Rice is an expert in social network theory, social network analysis, and the application of social network methods to HIV prevention research. Rice is committed to community-based participatory research. Rice has an interest in conducting work on HIV prevention with high risk adolescent populations. He has worked closely with many community-based organizations over the past seven years, working primarily on issues of HIV prevention for homeless youth and impoverished families affected by HIV/AIDS. Rice has served as an external reviewer for Los Angeles County's Office of AIDS Programs and Policy and has conducted program evaluation and consultation with organizations working with homeless youth and high risk adolescents. His closest community collaborators are My Friend's Place, a drop-in center for homeless youth in Hollywood, and The Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital LA. Rice's current work focuses on developing an online social networking, HIV prevention program for homeless youth funded through a grant from National Institute of Mental Health. It brings social network theories and models to bear on the social problems faced by homeless youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS.