AI for Social Good


In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has taken great steps in terms of technology development and effective usability. For example, from recommendation systems to speech recognition mechanisms, from predictive health tools to driverless cars, from systems such as IBM Watson and Google DeepMind to the rise of thousands of startups specializing in IA-based solutions.

Most of the actors operating in this growing market segment focus on the development and dissemination of technology as an end in itself. Despite its infinite potential, only some are concerned with directing its application to the human, social, civic and public dimensions.

Nesta Italia recognizes the value and the challenges associated with this emerging technology and for this reason launches the AI for Social Good project which aims to stimulate debate on the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence, involving citizens, practitioners and experts in a discussion that must continue beyond the borders of this initiative / over this initiative.

The project is structured in three phases:

  1. Call for Visionary Ideas to collect visionary proposals on artificial intelligence applications that have the potential to improve our society;
  2. AI for Social Good event aimed at stimulating the comparison and fostering connections between the world of emerging technologies and the social sector;
  3. Practical experiments (starting in 2019) of artificial intelligence technologies at the service of the social sector, in partnership with local actors and at the city level.



For several months Nesta in the United Kingdom has played a pivotal role in exploring the possible scenarios concerning the impact of artificial intelligence on society with research projects (eg Confronting Dr Robot), programs aimed at understanding how to maximize the benefits of IA for the community (eg Collective Intelligence Grants) and in-depth sections dedicated during events of international scope such as the FutureFest (ie FutureFest Forward – AI and Creativity Future).

Nesta Italia, with the AI for Social Good project, has the following objectives:

  • identify original ideas in the four areas of our interest (Education, Health, Art & Culture and City) that use AI to generate a positive impact on the community;
  • disseminate information on the main trends, opportunities and challenges of the AI, emerged from the applications for the Call for Visionary Ideas and the subsequent event;
  • concretely experiment some of the proposed solutions and measure the value that they generate for the citizens, with the ultimate aim of promoting the dissemination of the most promising solutions.

In the view of our mission, we have the responsibility to support and promote a positive approach to technology, to spread knowledge about the challenges and opportunities associated with it and to involve as many actors in debates that affect the present and future of our country.

We are in a historical phase characterized by rapid changes, in which artificial intelligence plays an important role in rethinking the way we work and interact with machines, how can we ensure that this technology brings wellbeing for the community? With this project, we want to begin to outline possible answers to this fundamental question.

Next steps

The Call for Visionary ideas opens on September 20th 2018. Participants can send their applications by and no later than 12.00 a.m. on October 22nd 2018. The Call provides at least one winner for each of the four areas of interest of Nesta Italia (Education, Health, Art & Culture and City) which will be awarded a cash prize of €2.000.

A jury of experts will select the three best proposals for each of the four areas indicated in the Call. The promoters of the ideas will present on November 16th at the Futureland event promoted by Talent Garden, during which the jury will decide the winners.

In mid-December 2018, the “AI for Social Good” event will be held in Turin, a day of discussion with international speakers, experts and innovators, involving both panels and workshops. This people will have the aim of exploiting the great value of the collective intelligence present in the working groups to suggest possible ways of practical implementation of the AI winning proposals (the winners will be given the opportunity to conduct a workshop).

Finally, thanks to the suggestions emerged at the end of the “AI for Social Good” event, to the projects collected during the Call, to the acquired knowledge and to the consolidation of a network of experts, starting from the spring of 2019 we will begin practical experimentation of applications of artificial intelligence for social good in order to start collecting data on the benefits (and not) of these technologies and assessing the value generated. If, as desired, the impact generated is positive, we will be ready to support the diffusion of the solution in other similar territorial contexts.


The initiative AI for Social Good is promoted by Nesta Italia, the innovation foundation.