Put AI to Work
April 15-18, 2019
New York, NY
Please log in

Leveraging AI for social good

Jack Dashwood (Intel), Anna Bethke (Intel)
4:55pm5:35pm Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Location: Sutton South

Who is this presentation for?

  • Data scientists, AI experts, and those working at social-good organizations



Prerequisite knowledge

  • General knowledge of AI applications and terminology

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to utilize existing AI techniques to help those most in need


There’s a growing desire to bring autonomous algorithms and systems into all aspects our daily lives to make our jobs, chores, and downtime easier and more enjoyable. At the same time, there are many individuals in our society who are impoverished, in danger, gravely ill, or otherwise generally requiring assistance. AI can help this situation by detecting bacteria in water quickly and accurately, identifying children who are at risk of being a victim of sexual trafficking or exploitation, helping a doctor identify cancer and diseases more quickly, and developing drugs in a more cost-efficient manner.

AI is not limited to helping people in need. We can use AI to study and protect wildlife, help restore historical landmarks, and monitor our planet. AI is being used to increase crop production with a reduced amount of resources, to help feed a planet of more than 7 billion. It can also be used by first responders to study our cities and our surrounding environments to plan for and respond to disasters, saving countless lives in the process.

Jack Dashwood and Anna Bethke discuss a variety of technical projects at Intel that have enabled social good organizations and provide guidance on creating or engaging in these types of projects.

One example of AI for social good is the TrailGuard camera, a smart camera device that utilizes deep learning based workloads to detect poachers in wildlife reserves such as the African Grumeti. Improving dramatically upon classical motion sensors thanks to modern object detectors, the TrailGuard camera is able to avoid common false positives such as animals moving through the camera frame, but correctly flag humans in off-limits areas of the reserve.

One major challenge of these “camera traps” is the risk during installation and maintenance. Conservation staff are at risk any time they are in the field setting up or maintaining these devices, in addition to the risk that the location of these camouflaged devices being exposed during this work. To minimize risk due to frequent maintenance, Resolve decided to implement its deep neural networks on the ultralow power Intel Movidius Myriad 2 vision processing unit with the hopes of taking battery life from an approximate two months to a targeted 12 months for the new design. In order to achieve this ultra-efficient design, Resolve and Intel engineering had to design a low-power hibernation mode in addition to an efficient sleep/wake capability in the device. Jack and Anna discuss the power saving design decision made to enable the device to operate on a battery while deployed in the wild for months at a time.

Miniaturizing the device was also crucial to successful camouflaging. Reduction of PCB design to just 4.5 inches long by 0.5 inches wide means the cameras can be convincingly embedded into tree bark and rocks without detection. Jack and Anna contrast early designs against the deployed design to show how new silicon solutions with dedicated inference capabilities are enabling much smaller form factors, with fewer components, and ultimately lower cost—crucial factors for nonprofits relying on the funding of other organizations.

Lastly, the TrailGuard program is growing in number of deployments around the world, and future versions are being developed to go beyond poacher detection but actually flag when rare species of animal make an appearance. Join in to learn about the data considerations of the black rhino for example, where image datasets of the creature are tightly held by governmental bodies trying to preserve this endangered species.

Photo of Jack Dashwood

Jack Dashwood


Jack Dashwood is a product marketing manager at Intel, which he joined as part of the company’s acquisition of Movidius in 2016; he continues to work in the Movidius Division of Intel’s Internet of Things Group. Previously, Jack worked in the field of augmented reality and commercial finance. He holds a BS, where he studied the complexities of the human vision system and cognitive processes, as well as a degree in finance and a master’s degree in global business from the University of Victoria.

Photo of Anna Bethke

Anna Bethke


Anna Bethke is a deep learning data scientist within the Artificial Intelligence Products Group at Intel, where she is the head of AI for Social Good. Her responsibilities include researching and designing fair, transparent, and accessible AI systems and establishing partnerships with social good organizations to enable their missions with Intel’s technologies and AI expertise. She’s an active member of the Intel AI Lab, developing deep learning NLP algorithms as part of the NLP Architect open source repository. Previously, she was a geospatial data scientist at MIT Lincoln Labs and Argonne National Labs and a senior data scientist at Lab41. Anna holds an MS and BS in aerospace engineering from MIT.