The AI Impact Challenge was announced at the AI for Social Good event, which aims to seek knowledge and creativity from non-profits, universities and other organisations outside the corporate and profit-driven Silicon Valley. 

Google has pledged $25 million to go towards grants for successful applications, in an attempt to spark new technology to benefit environmental science, healthcare and wildfire conservation. AI is already being used for such issues, such as tracking whales to protect them from environmental and wildlife threats. Other instances where AI has been successful include the use of predicting floods and identifying areas of forestry that are susceptible to wildfires. 

The announcement of the competition is after a public pledge made by Google in early June. The pledge was for the company to never research or develop AI weaponry and all product development would have to follow a set of ethical principles. These principles meant that Google was not allowed to work on AI surveillance that would go against “internationally accepted norms” and that any conducted research would need to follow international law and human rights.

Jeff Dean, the head of Google’s Brain AI division spoke on the importance of the AI Impact challenge:

“This has been in the works for quite some time. We’ve been doing work in the search space that is socially beneficial and not directly related to commercial applications,â€