Reports  |    |  December 15, 2018

Notes from the AI Frontier: Applying AI for Social Good – Discussion Paper

Report written by By Michael Chui, Martin Harrysson, James Manyika, et al.
Published by the McKinsey Global Institute. 52 pages.


Artificial intelligence, while not a silver bullet, could contribute to the multi-pronged efforts to tackle some of the world’s most challenging social problems. AI is already being leveraged in research to tackle societal “moon shot” challenges such as curing cancer and climate science. The focus of this paper is on other social benefit uses of AI that do not require scientific breakthroughs but that add to existing efforts to help individuals or groups in both advanced and developing economies who are experiencing challenges or crises and who often live beyond the reach of traditional or commercial solutions. We assess the AI capabilities that are currently most applicable for such challenges and identify domains where their deployment would be most powerful. We also identify limiting factors and risks to be addressed and mitigated if the social impact potential is to be realized.

Table of Contents

  1. Mapping AI use cases to domains of social good
  2. How AI capabilities can be used for societal benefit
  3. Six illustrative use cases
  4. Bottlenecks to overcome
  5. Risks to be managed
  6. Scaling up the use of AI for social good

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