Swedish Embassy Exhibit Highlights Uses of Artificial Intelligence

WASHINGTON — Artificial intelligence for good is the subject of a new exhibit at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, showing how Swedish companies and organizations are using AI for a more open society, a healthier world and a greener planet.

Ambassador Urban Ahlin said at an embassy reception that Sweden’s broad collaboration across industry, academia and government makes it a leader in applying AI in public-interest areas such as clean tech, social sciences, medical research and greener food supply chains. That includes tracking the mood and health of cows.

Fitbit for cows

It is technology developed by DeLaval, a producer of dairy and farming machinery. The firm’s market solution manager in North America, Joaquin Azocar, said the small wearable device the size of an earring fits in a cow’s ear and tracks the animal’s movements 24/7, much like a Fitbit.

The tags send signals to receivers across the farm. DeLaval’s artificial intelligence system analyzes the data and looks for correlations in patterns, trends and deviations in the animals’ activities to predict if a cow is sick, in heat or not eating well.

A trained veterinarian, Azocar said dairy farmers being alerted sooner to changes in their animals’ behavior means they can provide treatment earlier, translating to less recovery time.

AI helping in childbirth

There are also advances in human health applications. The developing AI Pelvic Floor project identifies high-risk cases of pelvic floor injury and facilitates timely intervention to prevent or limit harm.

It was developed by a team of gynecologists and women’s health care professionals from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital to help the nearly 20% of women who experience injury to their pelvic floor during childbirth.

The exhibition “is a great way to showcase the many ways AI is being adapted and used in medicine and in many other areas,” said exhibition attendee Jesica Lindgren, general counsel for international consulting firm BlueStar Strategies. “It’s important to know how AI is evolving and affecting our everyday life.”

Green solutions using AI

The exhibition includes examples of what AI can do about climate change, including rising sea levels and declining biodiversity.

AirForestry is developing technology “for precise forestry that will select and harvest trees fully autonomously.” The firm says that “harvesting the right trees in the right place could significantly improve overall carbon sequestration and resilience.”

AI and the defense industry

Outlining the development of artificial intelligence for the defense industry, the exhibit acknowledges the controversy.

“There are exciting possibilities to use AI to solve problems that cannot be solved using traditional algorithms due to their complexity and limitations in computational power,” the exhibit states. “But it requires thorough consideration of how AI should and shouldn’t be utilized. Proactively engaging in AI research is necessary to understand the technology’s capabilities and limitations and help shape its ethical standards.”

AI and privacy

Exhibition participant Quentin Black is an engineer with Axis Communications, an industry leader in video surveillance. He said the project came out of GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, a European Union policy that provides privacy to people who are out in public whose image could be picked up on video surveillance cameras.

The regulations surrounding privacy are stricter in Europe than they are in the United States, Black said.

“In the U.S., the public doesn’t really have an expectation of privacy; there’s cameras everywhere. In Europe, it’s different.” That regulation inspired Axis Communications to develop AI that provides privacy, he said.

The Axis Live Privacy Shield remotely monitors activities indoors and outdoors while safeguarding privacy in real time. The technology is downloadable and free, he said.

Black explained the four quadrants shown on a display monitor. One window of the monitor displayed privacy with a full-color block-out of all humans, using AI to distinguish the difference between the people and the environment.

Another window showed masking of just the person’s head. A third window showed pixelization of the person’s entire body and the immediate environment surrounding them. And the final window showed blockage of the environment, so “an inverse of the personal privacy,” Black explained.

“So, if it was a top-secret facility, or you want to see the people walking up to your door without a view of your neighbor’s house, this is where this can this be applied,” he said.

Tip of the iceberg

Molly Steenson, president and CEO of the American Swedish Institute, said, “I think that AI is on everybody’s thoughts, and what I appreciate about the House of Sweden’s approach in this exhibition is highlighting a thoughtful, scientific, business-oriented and human-oriented perspective on AI in society today.”

Although AI and machine learning have been around since the 1950s, she said it is only now that we are seeing “the contemporary upswing and acceleration of AI, especially generative AI in things like large language models.”

“So, while large companies and tech companies might want us to speed up and believe that it is only scary or it is only good, I think it’s a lot more nuanced than that,” she said.

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