opportunity to direct these advances towards addressing complex societal problems. In pursuit of this goal of AI for Social Impact, we as AI researchers must go beyond improvements in computational methodology; it is important to step out in the field to demonstrate social impact. To this end, we focus on the problems of public safety and security, wildlife conservation, and public health in low-resource communities, and present research advances in multiagent systems to address one key cross-cutting challenge: how to effectively deploy our limited intervention resources in these problem domains. We present case studies from our deployments around the world as well as lessons learned that we hope are of use to researchers who are interested in AI for Social Impact. In pushing this research agenda, we believe AI can indeed play an important
role in fighting social injustice and improving society.
Many economists argue that a national carbon tax would be the most effective policy for incentivizing the development of low-carbon energy technologies. Yet existing models that measure the effects of a carbon tax only consider carbon taxes with fixed schedules. We propose a simple energy system transition model based on a finite-horizon Markov Decision Process (MDP) and use it to compare the carbon emissions reductions achieved by static versus adaptive carbon taxes. We find that in most cases, adaptive taxes achieve equivalent if not lower emissions trajectories while reducing the cost burden imposed by the carbon tax. However, the MDP optimization in our model adapted optimal policies to take advantage of the expected carbon tax adjustment, which sometimes resulted in the simulation missing its emissions targets.
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Social media has become an increasingly important political domain in recent years, especially for campaign advertising. In this work, we develop a linear model of advertising influence maximization in two-candidate elections from the viewpoint of a fully-informed social network platform, using several variations on classical DeGroot dynamics to model different features of electoral opinion formation. We consider two types of candidate objectives—margin of victory (maximizing total votes earned) and probability of victory (maximizing probability of earning the majority)—and show key theoretical differences in the corresponding games, including advertising strategies for arbitrarily large networks and the existence of pure Nash equilibria. Finally, we contribute efficient algorithms for computing mixed equilibria in the margin of victory case as well as influence-maximizing best-response algorithms in both cases and show that in practice, as implemented on the Adolescent Health Dataset, they contribute to campaign equality by minimizing the advantage of the higherspending candidate.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, formulating targeted policy interventions supported by differential SARS-CoV2 transmission dynamics will be of vital importance to national and regional governments. We develop an individual-level model for SARS-CoV2 transmission that accounts for location-dependent distributions of age, household structure, and comorbidities. We use these distributions together with age-stratified contact matrices to instantiate specific models for Hubei, China; Lombardy, Italy; and New York, United States. We then develop a Bayesian inference framework which leverages data on reported deaths to obtain a posterior distribution over unknown parameters and infer differences in the progression of the epidemic in the three locations. These findings highlight the role of between-population variation in formulating policy interventions.
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Background: The COVID-19 outbreak has already caused significant mortality worldwide. As the epidemic accelerates, understanding the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 is crucial to informing national and regional policies. We develop an individual-level model for SARS-CoV2 transmission which accounts for location-dependent distributions of age and household structure. We apply our model to Hubei, China and Lombardy, Italy to analyze the impact of demographic structure on estimates for key parameters such as the rate of documentation and the reproduction number r0 for COVID-19 cases. We also assess the effectiveness of potential policies ranging from physical distancing to sheltering in place in Lombardy.
Methods: Our study develops a stochastic, agent-based model for SARS-CoV2 spread. A key feature of the model is the inclusion of population-specific demographic structure, such as the distributions of age, household structure, contact across age groups, and comorbidities. We use prior estimates of these demographic features to instantiate our model for two locations: Hubei, China and Lombardy, Italy. Furthermore, we utilize the data on the number of reported deaths due to COVID-19 in both locations to estimate parameters describing location-specific variation in the transmissibility and fatality of the disease (for reasons beyond demography). The range of the parameters in our model that are consistent with reported data are used to construct plausible ranges for r0 and the rate of documentation in each location. Finally, we analyze potential policy responses in the context of Lombardy. Our analysis traces out the trade-off between adoption of physical distancing across the entire population and policies that encourage members of a specific age group to shelter at home.
Results: Our estimates for r0 are comparable to the rest of the literature, with a range of 2.11–2.27 for Hubei and 2.50-3.20 for Lombardy, suggesting higher rates of transmission in the latter. Scenarios where the case fatality rates are higher in Lombardy than Hubei by a factor of 1-5 times appear plausible given the data (even after accounting for differences in age and comorbidity distributions). We estimate the rate at which symptomatic cases are documented to be at 10.3-19.2% in Hubei and 1.2-8% in Lombardy, indicating that the number of undocumented cases may be even higher than has previously been estimated. Evaluation of potential policies suggests that encouraging a single age group to shelter in place is insufficient to control the epidemic by itself, but that targeted "salutary sheltering" by even 50% of a single age group has a substantial impact when combined with adoption of physical distancing by the rest of the population.
Background: On March 24, India ordered a 3-week nationwide lockdown in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. While the lockdown has been effective, our model suggests that completely ending the lockdown after three weeks could have considerable adverse public health ramifications. We extend our individual-level model for COVID-19 transmission  to study the disease dynamics in India at the state level for Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh to estimate the effect of further lockdown policies in each region. Specifically, we test policies which alternate between total lockdown and simple physical distancing to find "middle ground" policies that can provide social and economic relief as well as salutary population-level health effects.
Methods: We use an agent-based SEIR model that uses population-specific age distribution, household structure, contact patterns, and comorbidity rates to perform tailored simulations for each region. The model is first calibrated to each region using publicly available COVID-19 death data, then implemented to simulate a range of policies. We also compute the basic reproduction number R0 and case documentation rate for both regions.
Results: After the initial lockdown, our simulations demonstrate that even policies that enforce strict physical distancing while returning to normal activity could lead to widespread outbreaks in both states. However, "middle ground" policies that alternate weekly between total lockdown and physical distancing may lead to much lower rates of infection while simultaneously permitting some return to normalcy.