SUSTAINABLE HUMANITARIAN TECHNOLOGIES FORUM
THE ROLE OF ROBOTICS, AUTOMATION, AND AI IN DEVELOPING ECONOMIES
Full-day Forum, International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 24, 2018
ORGANIZERS: RAJ MADHAVAN & DANIEL ASMAR
Humanitarian robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence technologies will play an ever-increasing role in global development, particularly in developing economies, in the coming years sooner than one might think or be willing to admit. We are already witnessing several instantiations of such applications in established domains ranging from manufacturing and defense to emerging areas such as disaster response, firefighting, and education, to name a few (for instance, see (RAS SIGHT)
for a listing of the projects being carried out under the auspices of the IEEE RAS Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology). The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of seventeen Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) that include building resilient infrastructures for sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation (Goal 9) to strengthening and revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development (Goal 17) among others.
Adoption of emerging technologies tends to be slow in developing countries due to reasons that are usually beyond GDP rates and standard of living indices. Whilst the potential of these technologies is for the most part undeniable, the challenge lies in making them reliable, cost-effective and easily accessible for the masses by taking into account socio-economic, cultural, environmental, and sustainability factors. Additionally, ethical, legal, and societal considerations of robotics, automation, and other emerging AI technologies are of paramount importance as the demarcation lines between individual privacy, safety, and security and those of the collective society get blurred without timely governance and regulation. To address these concerns, the Sustainable Humanitarian Technologies Forum will take on the above issues centered on the following three themes:
The Forum will bring together experts and thinkers from both technology and public policy domains. The format will consist of keynote addresses and regular presentations with a mini panel discussion after each thematic session covering the gamut of issues stemming not only from research, development, and deployment standpoints but also those from public perception of robotics, automation, and AI.
As a record of the Forum, we intend to capture key points from speakers, salient points from the discussions, identify missing gaps and future steps, and summarize them in a post-event White Paper to formulate action items.
FORUM KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
The role of Field Robotics in Food Production:
The cost reduction in robotic technologies is opening up various opportunities to support the need of emerging and developing countries. One of these is in food production and in particular producing nutritious food. There are a number of challenges including ICT education, economic justification, and a supporting technology ecosystem, all of which are required to form a sustainable outcome.
In this talk an overview of some of the agriculture robotics activities being undertaken at the ACFR in STEM, indigenous agriculture, and developing countries will be presented along with the challenges being faced.
Technology, Surgery, and Sustainable Development:
One of the key sustainable development goals promoted by the United Nations is good health and well-being. While impressive prgoress is being made worldwide in treating infectious disease, a larger fraction of human disease requires surgery. Unfortunately, more than five billion people on our planet do not have access to even basic surgical procedures. In this talk, I will discuss surgery in the devloping world, which has been recently called "the neglected stepchild of global health". While a multi-pronged, concerted effort is required to address this problem, technology must play a role. I will overview a few projects, some of which come from the medical robotics community, that are developing potential solutions that may result in increased access to surgery at lower cost with better outcomes.