Pinoy Artificial Intelligence competition helps agriculture, nature conservation

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AI Philippines ML Hackfest
The AI community gathered at the Google Philippines office in Taguig for the first ML Hackfest. Photo from Sent AI.

An artificial intelligence (AI) competition in the Philippines was staged with unique objectives – to find ways for machines to help agriculture and nature conservation.

The AI contest dubbed as the first-ever “Machine Learning Hackfest (ML Hackfest)” was staged by the country’s pioneering AI Company, Senti AI, at Google Philippines in BGC.

The main goal of the hackathon was for participants to test their machine learning skills and use them to help the Philippines become a better place.

The ML Hackfest had contestants create ways for machines to help the cause environmental group Haribon Foundation for nature conservation as well as help the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to address climate issues that affect agriculture.

Team Gwapings won 1st place in the challenge of DOST-DATOS 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. It is also considered the most difficult challenge.

The For The Women Foundation won the challenge of the Haribon Foundation to create a model that can help identify the most suitable habitats for certain species.

RAJ Mariano from Accenture In The Philippines (leftmost) with the ML Hackfest Winners: Jero Santos, Nam Desembra, Nyssa Michelle Kho, Jude Teves, Prince Joseph Erneszer Javier, Marc Reyes (left to right). Photo from Senti.

“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.

Machine Learning, the center of the event, is a subset of Artificial Intelligence where systems (or models) have the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience.

In the event, Data Scientists, Machine Learning Engineers, and AI enthusiasts used their skills to help Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) with their data-related challenges.

The rationale of the contest partnership with NGOs is anchored on the fact that the groups dedicated in collecting data to further their cause of making the world a better place have available data spanning decades but lack resources and know-how to process those data into actionable insights.

Justine Clemente, Senti AI’s research engineer and the head of the Data and Research Team for the ML Hackfest 2019, said that numerous NGOs were not able to partner with Senti AI due to lack of data, and he believed that these NGOs still needs to undergo training and guidance about data collection, storage, and management. However, he said that they are looking forward to work with them after the event.

The Machine Learning Hackfest 2019 was held on November 18, 2019, during the PH Startup Week 2019 with participation from the country’s biggest AI Community, AI Pilipinas.

De La Salle University had also used machine learning to help patients as it developed wearable robots to assist physical therapists

Filipino technological innovations have been celebrated in contests around the world, among them, the National Robotics Team’s gold win at the FIRST LEGO League Open in Turkey and multiple awards at the FIRST LEGO League in Texas.

This year, Cebu and Quezon City public schools are set to represent the Philippines at World Adolescent Robotics Competition 2020.

SEND congratulations in the comments below to the AI community of creators in the Philippines for making technology work towards a better society!

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