Discussion about innovative research within the realm of data science is the focus of BIDS-CHAI Data Science Research Scholar George Obaido's new "Data Science Toolbox" series. Guest Lily Xu, a PhD student at Harvard University in Computer Science, discussed her work which included an eye-opening description of the snares poachers use in Uganda and how her work is being applied to reduce the number of snares.
High-stakes decisions from low-quality data: AI decision-making for planetary health
"Planetary health recognizes the inextricable link between human health and the health of our planet. Our planet’s growing crises include biodiversity loss, with animal population sizes declining by an average of 70% since 1970, and maternal mortality, with 1 in 49 girls in low-income countries dying from complications in pregnancy or birth. Overcoming these crises will require effectively allocating and managing our limited resources. My research develops data-driven AI decision-making methods to do so, overcoming the messy data ubiquitous in these settings. Here, I’ll present technical advances in multi-armed bandits, robust reinforcement learning, and causal inference, addressing research questions that emerged from on-the-ground challenges across conservation and maternal health. I’ll also discuss bridging the gap from research and practice, with anti-poaching field tests in Cambodia, field visits in Belize and Uganda, and large-scale deployment with SMART conservation software." -- Lily Xu