Dozens of robots, including several humanoid ones, will take center stage at a conference organized by the U.N. technology agency in Switzerland this week to showcase their potential to help it reach increasingly improbable global goals. Set in 2015, the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) aim to improve human life and the planet by 2030including eradicating poverty, reducing hunger, ensuring access to education, and ending discrimination against women and girls.
The SDGs are integrated-they recognize that achieving one goal depends on progress in other areas and that sustainable development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Countries have also committed to prioritizing progress for those who are furthest behind. But the global economic slowdown caused by the pandemic has weakened countries’ ability to meet their commitments, making it harder for them to achieve their SDGs.
And while a global recession could weaken countries’ efforts to reduce pre-pandemic income inequality, it will also increase the need to address climate change and other systemic challenges. This will make it harder to meet the overarching goal of “leave no one behind” and to fulfill other vital SDGs, including reducing extreme poverty, providing adequate food and water, creating safe and affordable energy, and addressing gender equality.
But the SDGs remain a crucial roadmap to a more equitable, safer, and sustainable world. The success of meeting them will require creativity, know-how, and technology from all sectors of society.
At the event, known as A.I. for the Benefit of All Mankind, the U.N.’s science, technology, and innovation arm will showcase some of the latest robotic advances, including robots that can help deliver emergency aid to remote villages. It will also highlight how the U.N. is using A.I. to help address some of its most pressing issues, such as predicting where food and water will be scarce, identifying where people are sliding towards hunger, and diagnosing diseases.
“You have the inflection point where material science, battery life, network connectivity, A.I., and machine learning will converge to make robotics more accessible than they are now,” said Mr Gadelha. Currently, the U.N. uses A.I. in many ways, for example, in its “Hunger Map” project that pools data to identify areas where nations are sliding towards hunger and developing remote-controlled trucks to deliver emergency aid in danger zones. The World Health Organization is working on a benchmark system to ensure that A.I. disease diagnoses are accurate.
The University Robotics Club is a student organization whose members participate in international robotic competitions. The group is seeking to recruit like-minded students interested in joining. The club meets Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Scott Engineering Center Room 318.
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