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Breaking News: USAID Launches $4.1 Million Artificial Intelligence Initiative

By Bertie Heliograf on April 1, 2019

USAID April Fools 2019

Washington, D.C. – For Immediate Release, April 1, 2019: Today the United States Agency for International Development launches a groundbreaking initiative to harness the power of artificial intelligence to improve the lives of poor and marginalized people around the world in a unique partnership with leading technology companies.

The USAID Journey to Self-Awareness Initiative

With a $4.1 million investment, USAID is realigning its policies, strategies, programs, and investments to support partner countries on their Journey to Self-Awareness.

“USAID should work towards the day when human assistance is no longer necessary,“ said USAID Administrator Mark Green. “Each country must lead its own technology journey by implementing artificial intelligence solutions that reach self-awareness and solve development challenges automagically.”

USAID is partnering with Alphabet® (the parent company of Google), Apple® (the parent company of the iPhone), and Amazon® (the parent company of everything else), to ensure that humans are no longer needed to provide international assistance.

The Journey to Self-Awareness Initiative will leverage three innovative machine learning innovations to foster stable, resilient, prosperous, inclusive, and self-aware computing systems for our partners around the world, our nation’s security, and the American taxpayer.

Ask Siri Natural Language Processing of Development Problems

USAID and its implementing partners will leverage Apple’s unique natural language processing capacity that’s now found in the hands of 1.3 billion people worldwide. Siri, the intelligent assistant on all Apple devices, already answers over 10 billion audio requests every month.

In the new Ask Siri About Development program, led by Dr. David Bowman, poor development workers can now ask Siri how to phrase their development challenges in fluent aid-speak so that needed assistance can be automatically directed to resolve their issue.

For example, unpaid interns can ask Siri:

Amazon Air Automated Drone Delivery of Humanitarian Solutions

USAID and its implementing partners will then access Amazon’s automated global shipping infrastructure. At $26 billion, Amazon spends almost half of USAID’s total $48 billion annual budget just on moving everything from KinderPerfect to coyote urine to needy consumers.

In the Amazon Air Automated Drone Delivery process, led by Rachael Tyrell, the hard “last mile” of development work will be leapfrogged by Amazon’s private airline, Prime vans, Scout sidewalk robots, and Prime Air drones that can deliver needed supplies directly to the outstretched hands of project beneficiaries – in two days or less.

“I know this sounds like science fiction. It’s not,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO. “We can do half-hour vaccine delivery in Vanuatu, and we can carry objects up to five pounds in Rwanda, which covers 86 percent of the items that USAID delivers.”

Google Lens Visual Image Recognition of Programmatic Impact

USAID and its implementing partners will then utilize Google’s unrivaled Cloud Vision visual image recognition system that utilizes machine learning and Neural Architecture Search technology to segment and identify visual artifacts exponentially faster than the human eye.

The Google Lens Monitoring & Evaluation program, led by Chap Pie, will give key stakeholders the power to use Android devices to confirm programmatic impact of USAID’s investments, including:

  • Image labeling  – the ability to tag contents of images, such as a well-trained, motivated, and paid teacher in a school, using a simple smartphone camera.
  • Face and logo detection  – the capacity to detect the number of smiling children in a classroom or the USAID logo on all applicable commodities.
  • Optical character recognition – the  aptitude to read any visible text to ensure that all verbiage clearly communicates that USAID assistance is From the American People

Measuring Journey to Self-Awareness Progress

USAID is committed to the day when human assistance is no longer necessary for development, and will be measuring its JSA Initiative by how far every one of its investments moves us closer to that judgement day.

Working with Cyberdyne Systems, USAID has identified 17 best-in-class metrics to measure a country’s level of technology self-awareness, including: open and accountable AI governance; inclusive software development; economic robotics policy; and the relative capacities of hardware, software, and wetware.

Please join USAID in this new initiative that builds on years of innovative innovation.

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Written by
Bertie Heliograf is our innovative algorithmic author. Bertie welcomes international development's new AI overlords and freedom from the constraints of humans and their employers.
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13 Comments to “Breaking News: USAID Launches $4.1 Million Artificial Intelligence Initiative”

  1. Achoko says:

    Interesting …reads like an April fools joke.

  2. Laraib noor ul hua Bhatti says:

    Good work

  3. Josh says:

    Well done! I have to say, I saw the headline and was thinking “Oh no, we totally missed the boat here…” Then I started reading and was thoroughly entertained. Mission accomplished.

  4. B. Lopez says:

    Nice work. What a pretty picture though.

  5. Amandine says:

    Nice April Fool’s joke! I’ll admit, you got me pretty badly. When I first read the article at 7am this morning, my brain nearly exploded. I was disappointed and felt disheartened with the path I thought USAID was moving with AI…..By the second read through, because I definitely read this again, I realized that USAID would (hopefully) never agree to conduct facial recognition for the safety of beneficiaries/partners, as well as have unpaid interns asking Siri ridiculous questions (though funny) I realized it was a JOKE! Well played. I wonder how many people just read the headline of this article this and thought this was real!

    • Wayan Vota says:

      No worries, you weren’t the only one who was April Fooled. I actually had two people write to me asking how they could get in on this new initiative. I had to point out the date to them.

  6. Reid Porter says:

    Nearly had me…there’s just too much in there that COULD be true…

  7. ej says:

    Important points from the original relase:

    – Cyberdyne systems is an innovative public private partnership and full endorser of the principles of digital development.
    – Countries will start their sovereign efforts in “National AI ownership” with a 5 days Hackathon where winners will get 20.000 usd in cash and last year’s second best GPU.
    – Even though companies use petabytes of info and invest millions in de-biasing the most basic cognitive models that affect a large number of their constituents -and still struggle to get acceptable results- there is full trust that these local efforts will avoid all such problems by training models closer to the ground.
    – proposals will get +2 points if they say “and in the future could harness quantum computing for even faster processing”
    – INGOs are encouraged to make their AI models that write winning proposals open source.
    – USAID entered a $50M public private partnership with SeeFood Global, repurposing it’s Hot Dog Or Not technology to evaluate proposals with an innovative “Does It Have Impact Improving Human Dignity While Solving Vexing Systemic Failings Of Our Civilization or Not”

    • Wayan Vota says:

      OMG! Great ideas, Ed. I especially love “INGOs are encouraged to make their AI models that write winning proposals open source.” I’ll be sure to recruit you for next year’s April Fools post.

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