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IAEA Teams up with ITU and UN Family to Promote AI for Good


The IAEA has joined the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and 37 other United Nations organizations to work together in identifying artificial intelligence (AI) applications that accelerate reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At the AI for Good Global Summit 2021, on 18 and 24 November the IAEA will host two webinars open to the public, which build and expand on the way in which AI applications, methodologies and tools can advance nuclear science, technology and applications across various fields.

The two webinars, AI for Atoms and AI for Nuclear Energy, will cover the ways in which AI can help foster innovation in nuclear science and applications, and in nuclear energy, as well as provide opportunities for further support for AI proposals made at a recent, first ever, IAEA meeting on the topic. These included the establishment of a knowledge-sharing platform – a Network on AI for Atoms – for coordination among cross-domain researchers aimed at the development of guidance in regulation, education and training, and sharing experiences, knowledge and good practices, and to formulate guidance on ethical issues that the convergence of AI and nuclear science, technology and application could give rise too. These include the need for AI applications to be inclusive, just and equitable and benefit the entire society.

AI refers to a collection of technologies that combine numerical data, process algorithms and continuously increasing computing power to develop systems capable of approaching complex problems in ways similar to human logic and reasoning. AI technologies can analyse large amounts of data to learn and assess how to complete a particular task, a technique called machine learning.

“AI can be a game changing technology, but it also comes with challenges, including concerns about transparency, trust, security and ethics,” said Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications. “Thus, AI technologies require strong international partnerships and cross-cutting cooperation, which is why we have partnered with ITU and the other UN organizations. We look forward to expanding and strengthening our cooperation.”

AI for Atoms

From nuclear medicine to water resources management and industry, AI has an enormous potential to accelerate technological development in many nuclear fields.

Experts already apply AI-based approaches to quickly analyse, for example, huge amounts of water-related isotopic data stored in global networks, such as Global Network of Isotopes in Precipitation (GNIP), maintained by the IAEA and the World Meteorological Organisation. The effective analysis of this data helps scientists better understand climate change and the impact it has on water availability worldwide.

AI could also contribute to combatting cancer. AI-based approaches are applied to boost diagnosis and treatment of cancer through improved image interpretation, more accurate treatment plans and precise tumour contouring as well as through adaptive radiotherapy – a radiation therapy process that adapts to internal anatomical variants of the individual patient. Machine learning plays and increasingly important role in medical imaging for the prediction of individual disease course and treatment response. AI will also play an important role in the IAEA’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative to help experts predict, identify, assess and contain future zoonotic disease outbreaks.

In fusion and nuclear science research, it enables prediction and control solutions necessary for sustained, safe and efficient facility operation.

The AI for Atoms event will take place on 18 November from 14:00 to 15:30 Central European Time, with experts discussing how AI-based approaches can advance cancer treatment, and how machine learning can become part of the clinical toolkit. It will provide an overview of how to optimize remediation of radioactive contamination in agriculture and accelerate progress in nuclear fusion and science research. It will also discuss a new domain of normative applied ethics at the intersection of AI and nuclear technologies and applications and provide an overview of potential ways to mitigate ethical concerns. Register for the event here.

AI for Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power generates about 10 percent of the world’s electricity, which amounts to more than a quarter of all low carbon electricity.

Nuclear power is a green and reliable source of energy which, in partnership with other clean energy sources, can help countries achieve net zero emissions. In order to be competitive as well as integrated into the mix of modern energy systems, nuclear power plants – in addition to being safe, reliable and sustainable – also need to be economical and efficient. AI-based approaches can contribute in these areas.

Thanks to rapid developments in computer technology and data analysis tools, the nuclear power industry is already benefiting from AI applications, such as machine learning and deep learning techniques, to streamline and optimize nuclear power plant operations and maintenance and supporting the development of new advanced nuclear power technologies.

The AI for Nuclear Energy event on 24 November will discuss how AI methodologies and tools can be applied for physics-based predictive analysis that can be used to perform design, manufacturing and construction optimization, operation effectiveness, improved new reactor design iterations, model-based fault detection and advanced control systems. Some of the key developers and nuclear power industry leaders in this area are invited to discuss the vision and path forward to Nuclear 4.0 with the help of AI. Register for the event here.

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