Jerry Salsini

Major: MS Marketing
Graduation: August 2020

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Giant web service companies Microsoft, Amazon and Google come together with international organizations such as the The World Bank Group, United Nations and the Red Cross to catch famine risk early in developing nations by using big data analysis and artificial intelligence. Recently World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim stated that modern-day famine is a “collective failure of shameful proportions”. Just last year 20 million people met famine conditions in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, with most of these regions tackling other conflicts in rise of famine. Famine Action Mechanism or FAM, lead by the World Bank seeks to provide early warning signs to identify food crises that could become famines, and build such coalitions for pre-arranged funding and early famine intervention. In the 2017 crisis, FAM used the artificial intelligence tool Artemis in predictive famine forecasting, to save the central African regions from further conflict and hunger. Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a recent statement “Artificial intelligence and machine learning hold huge promise for forecasting and detecting early signs of food shortages, like crop failures, droughts, natural disasters, and conflicts…” Such data takes into account a combination of diverse approaches, such as predictive models and anomaly detection in calculating outcomes as per region. Even outcomes outside the scope of hunger alone, such as identifying some famines are by design through powerful political agendas, basically “starvation for political and military aims”. Leaders met on October 13th in Bali for the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings, determining further initiative to end global famine, World Bank Group President Kim stressed the need for the World Bank Group’s support on applying partnerships between public and private sectors in an optimal fashion for famine efforts. In an interview Kim stated that Microsoft, Amazon and Google can help by aggregating crucial data in “Everything from floods and droughts to the status of particular crops to migration, movement of people.” It should be no surprise that already developed infrastructures by Microsoft, Amazon and Google would help prevent or even cease famine, in the United States these same companies have invested billions in data centers linked to their satellites and cloud services to predict oncoming hurricanes, as Google Cloud has invested more than $1.2 billion in North Carolina data centers. One could say that Microsoft, Amazon and Google of course all have a stake in developing technogical in-roads in these crisis filled, famine stricken nations. In helping to stabilize these regions, the big tech companies create a future customer base, but as for now let’s look to think that Microsoft, Amazon and Google is investing in human capital and not only monetary capital.
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