Many opportunities exist for AI to improve conditions for people in low-resource communities in a typical North American city—and, indeed, in some cases it already has. Understanding these direct AI contributions may also inform potential contributions in the poorest parts of the developing world. There has not been a significant focus on these populations in AI gatherings, and, traditionally, AI funders have underinvested in research lacking commercial application. With targeted incentives and funding priorities, AI could help address the needs of low-resource communities, and budding efforts are promising. Counteracting fears that AI may contribute to joblessness and other societal problems, AI may provide mitigations and solutions, particularly if implemented in ways that build trust in them by the affected communities.
Machine learning, data mining approaches
Under the banner of “data science for social good,” AI has been used to create predictive models to help government agencies more effectively use their limited budgets to address problems such as lead poisoning, a major public health concern that has been in the news due to ongoing events in Flint, Michigan. Children may be tested for elevated lead levels, but that unfortunately means the problem is only detected after they have already been poisoned. Many efforts are underway to use predictive models to assist government agencies in prioritizing children at risk, including those who may not yet have been exposed. Similarly, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) uses predictive models to identify pregnant women at risk for adverse birth outcomes in order to maximize the impact of prenatal care. The City of Cincinnati uses them to proactively identify and deploy inspectors to properties at risk of code violations.
Task assignment scheduling and planning techniques have been applied by many different groups to distribute food before it spoils from those who may have excess, such as restaurants, to food banks, community centers and individuals.
Reasoning with social networks and influence maximization
Social networks can be harnessed to create earlier, less-costly interventions involving large populations. For example, AI might be able to assist in spreading health-related information. In Los Angeles, there are more than 5,000 homeless youth (ages thirteen-twenty-four). Individual interventions are difficult and expensive, and the youths’ mistrust of authority dictates that key messages are best spread through peer leaders. AI programs might be able to leverage homeless youth social networks to strategically select peer leaders to spread health-related information, such as how to avoid spread of HIV. The dynamic, uncertain nature of these networks does pose challenges for AI research. Care must also be taken to prevent AI systems from reproducing discriminatory behavior, such as machine learning that identifies people through illegal racial indicators, or through highly-correlated surrogate factors, such as zip codes. But if deployed with great care, greater reliance on AI may well result in a reduction in discrimination overall, since AI programs are inherently more easily audited than humans.
 Eric Potash, Joe Brew, Alexander Loewi, Subhabrata Majumdar, Andrew Reece, Joe Walsh, Eric Rozier, Emile Jorgensen, Raed Mansour, and Rayid Ghani, “Predictive Modeling for Public Health: Preventing Childhood Lead Poisoning,” Proceedings of the 21th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 2015), 2039-2047.
 Senay Solak, Christina Scherrer, and Ahmed Ghoniem, “The Stop-and-Drop Problem in Nonprofit Food Distribution Networks,” Annals of Operations Research 221, no. 1 (October 2014): 407-426.
 Jordan Pearson, "Artificial Intelligence Could Help Reduce HIV Among Homeless Youths," Teamcore, University of Southern California, February 4. 2015, accessed August 1, 2016, http://teamcore.usc.edu/news/motherboard_news_ai_could_help_reduce_HIV.pdf.