19 June 2018
I interviewed Syrian-American refugee advocate Rana Novack, who is using AI to help predict new waves of migration — so the world can help before disaster strikes.
Mass migrations are part of our modern reality: The number of people forcibly displaced from their homes, by war or persecution, ballooned to 68.5 million people in 2017, according to the UN. Many of these people stay somewhere in their home countries, but a large group — some 25.4 million people by 2017 — have been forced to leave their countries altogether, officially becoming refugees. And “a reactionary response is just not the smartest way to deal with it,” says refugee advocate Rana Novack (TED@IBM Talk: How we’ll predict the next refugee crisis). That’s why she’s helping to develop a computational model in order to predict migrations between countries in a given year. If it works, the software could provide a potentially life-saving advantage to policy makers, humanitarian groups and national governments: the ability to plan ahead for a refugee crisis — before it happens.