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7 November, 2018 - 14:41 By Briony Quested

Google calls on Cambridge AI community to help create social good

The 2018 SVC2UK summit kicked off in Cambridge last night with Trust, Tech & Transformation - a thought leadership talk introduced by Sherry Coutu which explored technology’s implications for humanity and the importance of ethics and trust in creating new tech platforms.

Guest speaker, Irina Kofman, COO of Google AI, invited academics, students and Cambridge entrepreneurs to join the Google AI Impact initiative which offers a grant fund of $25million for organisations with ideas on how to apply AI for social good. Kofman said: “It [AI] can have great power if we implement it correctly.” 

The Impact Challenge is a global open call for AI-based solutions to societal challenges. Successful applicants will receive support from Google’s AI experts, grant funding and more. Google said last week: “We’re looking for projects across a range of social impact domains and levels of technical expertise, from organisations that are experienced in AI to those with an idea for how they could be putting their data to better use.” 

Speaker Nicole Quinn, Investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners told the audience that we are in a fallow period in tech right now and asked: “what will be the next mass-adopted tech platform?” Quinn believes that it could be Voice given that one billion of the population is illiterate, and that there are 500 million of us already using Siri. She raised four areas of importance when creating the next mass-adopted tech platform: accuracy, discoverability, monetisation, and trust. 

Sarah Hunter, Director of Global Public Policy at X (formerly Google X) joined the debate to discuss the risks new technologies might create and how to mitigate them. Hunter said the goal is “to maximise the good and minimise the bad.” She identified three key areas for creating tech responsibly: ethical training; diversity in teams; and real-world contact. Fortifying the social good theme, Hunter called for “more humanity; more humility.”  

Co-founder of shift7, Susan Alzner – former Head of the UN Non-Government Liaison Service – asked how tech can accelerate the changes we need to see in society, and raised the issue of inadequate access to electricity and the Internet experienced by a large percentage of the world. shift7 collaborates with companies, philanthropists, civil society, public institutions, and entrepreneurs to address society’s most complex challenges. 

Alzner co-created the UN Solutions Summit to support entrepreneurs in the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Trust, Tech & Transformation was presented by tech entrepreneur Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of CognitionX - a dynamic AI advice platform whose advisory board includes Cambridge tech leaders Hermann Hauser and David Cleevely. The platform provides bespoke AI research reports, authored the 'London: the AI Growth Capital of Europe' 2018 report for the Mayor of London, and hosts the annual AI festival, CogX. 

Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK) is hosting its 2018 summit until 9 November 2018 with inspirational events hosted in Cambridge and London. Founded 12 years ago by Ellen Levy (Investor, Advisor and tech company exec), co-Chairs Reid Hoffman (Founder of Linkedin) and Sherry Coutu CBE (Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor), SVC2UK is a non -profit which supports the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by uniting investors, entrepreneurs, students and alumni to advance ideas and entrepreneurship. 

For the full event programme, visit

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