To cap our AI-focused Transform 2019 event, taking place July 10-11 in San Francisco, VentureBeat will recognize and award emergent, compelling, and influential work in AI through the inaugural AI Innovation Awards. We take pride in shining a light on innovation, and these awards, presented by Ople, give us a chance to do so in a new way. This series highlights the nominees in each of our five award categories: NLP/NLU, Business Application, Computer Vision, AI for Good, and Startup Spotlight.

The AI for Good award honors AI-driven technology, applications, and activism that protects human lives, fights injustice, and otherwise improves society. Among frequent reports of AI being used for malicious or banal purposes, more uplifting stories are also emerging — from AI researchers and professionals fighting for better legislation and oversight to AI technology that makes the world a safer place.

Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Raji

Debate around the ethical and technical issues facing facial recognition software will likely continue to escalate. Researchers like Joy Buolamwini, Timnit Gebru, and Inioluwa Raji have focused attention on the problems of algorithmic bias, particularly when it comes to gender and skin color. Amazon pushed back against their MIT study showing its Rekognition product exhibited bias against women and darker-skinned individuals, but the researchers have found support from dozens of AI experts.

Fast.ai

Fast.ai is democratizing deep learning, making crucial knowledge available to increasing numbers of people through free coding courses, software libraries, research, and other practical tools — like a consistent interface for different types of AI work. The company believes AI should be inclusive and accessible so more people can build on emerging technologies.

Allen Institute for AI

Since 2014, the Allen Institute for AI (AI2) has operated on the idea of conducting “high-impact AI research and engineering in service of the common good.” Founded in part by the late Paul Allen, the organization runs a residency program to help top engineers launch and run AI startups. It has also developed a game-like system that uses machine-to-human interactions to train AI in human common sense and much more. The Allen Institute prides itself on promoting diversity in researcher and engineering.

CrowdAI

CrowdAI uses satellite imagery, deep learning, and computer vision to generate actionable insights in the wake of floods and other disasters. Armed with the knowledge afforded by AI, officials can identify areas that are hardest hit and deploy resources where they’re needed most. CrowdAI also gives first responders a better idea of what they’re walking into, which can keep them safer in emergency situations.

The Transform AI Innovation award ceremony will be held on the evening of July 11 to wrap up Transform 2019.