AI for Social Impact Seminar Series - Stefano Ermon


Monday, September 28, 2020, 2:00pm

Join us from August 24 through December 14 at the AI for Social Impact Seminar Series. This seminar series will explore how artificial intelligence can contribute to solving social problems.

Artificial intelligence is poised to play an increasingly large role in societies across the world. Accordingly, there is a growing interest in ensuring that AI is used in a responsible and beneficial manner. A range of perspectives and contributions are needed, spanning the full spectrum from fundamental research to sustained deployments.

This seminar series will explore how artificial intelligence can contribute to solving social problems. For example, what role can AI play in promoting health, access to opportunity, and sustainable development? How can AI initiatives be deployed in an ethical, inclusive, and accountable manner?

Title: Measuring Economic Development from Space with Machine Learning

Abstract: Recent technological developments are creating new spatio-temporal data streams that contain a wealth of information relevant to climate adaptation strategies. Modern AI techniques have the potential to yield accurate, inexpensive, and highly scalable models to inform research and policy. A key challenge, however, is the lack of large quantities of labeled data that often characterize successful machine learning applications. In this talk, I will present new approaches for learning useful spatio-temporal models in contexts where labeled training data is scarce or not available at all. I will show applications to predict and map poverty in developing countries, monitor  agricultural productivity and food security outcomes, and map infrastructure access in Africa. Our methods can reliably predict economic well-being using only high-resolution satellite imagery. Because images are passively collected in every corner of the world, our methods can provide timely and accurate measurements in a very scalable end economic way, and could significantly improve the effectiveness of climate adaptation efforts.


Stefano Ermon (Stanford University)


Stefano ErmonI am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, where I am affiliated with the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment.

My research is centered on techniques for scalable and accurate inference in graphical models, statistical modeling of data, large-scale combinatorial optimization, and robust decision making under uncertainty, and is motivated by a range of applications, in particular ones in the emerging field of computational sustainability.