MIE Distinguished Seminar Series: Using AI for Social Good – Key Research Challenges, Applications, and Results

Date(s) - 13/10/2017






Speaker: Milind Tambe
Affiliation: University of Southern California
Location: MC 102
Date and time: October 13, 2017, 2-3 PM


Discussions about the future negative consequences of AI sometimes drown out discussions of the current accomplishments and future potential of AI in helping us solve complex societal problems. ¬†At the USC Center for AI in Society, CAIS, our focus is on advancing AI research in tackling wicked problems in society. This talk will highlight the goals of CAIS and three areas of ongoing work. First, I will focus on the use of AI for assisting low-resource communities, such as homeless youth. Harnessing the social networks of such youth, I will outline our advances in influence maximization algorithms to help more effectively spread health information, such as for reducing risk of HIV infections. These algorithms have been piloted in homeless shelters in Los Angeles, and have shown significant improvements over traditional methods. Second, I will outline the use of AI for protection of forests, fish, and wildlife; learning models of adversary behavior allows us to predict poaching activities and plan effective patrols to deter them; I will discuss concrete results from tests in a national park in Uganda that have led to removal of snares and arrests of poachers, potentially saving endangered animals. Finally, I will focus on the challenge of AI for public safety and security, specifically for effective security resource allocation. I will also briefly discuss our “security games” framework – based on computational¬† game theory – which has led to decision aids that are in actual daily use by agencies such as the US Coast Guard, the US Federal Air Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies to assist the protection of ports, airports, flights, and other critical infrastructure.¬† I will also highlight a number of other projects at CAIS, and we expect these and other future projects at CAIS to continue to illustrate the significant potential that AI has for social good.

Speaker biosketch

Milind Tambe is Helen N. and Emmett H. Jones Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California(USC) and the Founding Co-Director of CAIS, the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, where his research focuses on “AI for Social Good”. He is a fellow of AAAI and ACM, as well as recipient of the ACM/SIGAI Autonomous Agents Research Award, Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland security award, INFORMS Wagner prize in Operations Research, Rist Prize of the Military Operations Research Society, IBM Faculty Award, Okawa foundation award, RoboCup scientific challenge award, and other awards including the Orange County Engineering Council Outstanding Project Achievement Award, USC Associates award for creativity in research and USC Viterbi use-inspired research award. Prof. Tambe has contributed several foundational papers in Artificial Intelligence in areas such as intelligent agents and computational game theory; these papers have received over a dozen best paper and influential paper awards at conferences such as AAMAS, IJCAI, IAAI and IVA. In addition, Prof. Tambe pioneering real-world deployments of security games has led him and his team to receive meritorious commendations from the US Coast Guard Commandant, LA Airport Police, and the US Federal Air Marshals Service. For his teaching and mentoring Prof. Tambe has received the USC Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring award; to date he has graduated 25 PhD students and mentored 10 postdocs. Prof. Tambe has also co-founded a company based on his research, Avata Intelligence , where he serves as the director of research. Prof. Tambe received his Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.