Machine Learning HackFest 2019 at Google Philippines Shows the Positive Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is an emerging technology that Filipinos have yet to fully embrace. While most people see it as a disruptive technology that will take away jobs, the ML HackFest 2019 (Machine Learning HackFest 2019) held at Google Philippines proved that in the right hands, Artificial Intelligence can make the world a better place by helping NGOs (Non-Government Organizations).

The event is centered around “Machine Learning” – a subset of Artificial Intelligence where systems (or models) have the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without human help. This capability can help organizations like NGOs overcome data-related challenges due to lack of manpower and expertise.

NGOs are dedicated in collecting data to further their cause of making the world a better place. Many have decades of available data but lack the resources and know-how to process those data into actionable insights.

According to Justine Clemente, Senti AI’s research engineer and the head of the Data and Research Team for the ML Hackfest 2019, “There were numerous NGOs who were excited to partner with us but were not able to because their data was incomplete or not enough. We realized that many of them still need training and guidance about data collection, management, and storage so we’re also looking forward to working with them after the event.”

To help solve the issue, the Philippines’ pioneering Artificial Intelligence company, Senti AI and the country’s largest AI community, AI Pilipinas, partnered with the Philippines’ first 24-hour news channel, ANC, to organize the ML HackFest 2019 so Data Scientists, Machine Learning Engineers, and AI enthusiasts can use their skills to help NGOs with their data-related challenges.

The reverse-hackathon comprised of two challenges from DOST DATOS and Haribon Foundation.

The DATOS challenge required participants to create a Machine Learning model that can automatically identify bare land, agricultural areas, vegetation, vegetation, water, urban areas, clouds, and haze from satellite images of the Philippines. While the DOST-DATOS challenge is considered the most difficult, Team Gwapings comprised of Prince Javier, Jude Teves (of Asian Development Bank), and Marc Reyes (of Mynt) had no problem winning 1st place.

On the other hand, the Haribon Foundation challenge asked participants to create a model that can help identify the most suitable habitats for certain species. The winners of the said challenge are Nyssa Koh, Jero Santos, and Nas Dembrana from For The Women Foundation.

Meanwhile all participants were treated to gadgets, giveaways, and dinner all courtesy of the sponsors.

Considering the success of the event, Senti AI, the partners, and the teams will be discussing the next steps to push the projects into use after the hackathon.

“We really believe in the purpose of this hackathon so we want to make sure that the Machine Learning models created by the participants will not go to waste and will actually help the NGO partners.” says Ralph Regalado, CEO of Senti AI and Google Developer Expert for Machine Learning.

Also helping make the event successful are Google Philippines, rhipe Philippines, Monstar Labs Philippines, Squeeze PH, KitaMo,, Sagisag PH, Google Developer Group Philippines, Philippine Web Designer Organization, R Users Group Philippines, DevCon Philippines, and Ambidextr.

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