Friday, 14.00-15.00 (Vista)

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Gabriel Krieshok, Peace Corps; Toni Maraviglia, Uptake; Neeran Saraf, Independent Consultant
Machine Learning and AI are poised to disrupt any sector that uses data to research, communicate, and learn. Join us for a panel discussion where you will learn about how machine learning and AI are disrupting MERL, hear case studies from two organizations (Uptake and making use of these new tools, and stay for our open Q&A where we will chat about hype cycles, ethics, accessibility, and the uncanny valley of chatbots.

Session Level:

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Session Details:

Machine Learning and AI are poised to disrupt any sector involved in using data to research, communicate, and learn.

This session will be a trend analysis of machine learning and AI in monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning in international development.

According to some estimates, by 2030 global GDP will increase by $15.7 Trillion due to the positive impact of AI, and that GDP will be 14% higher because of the technology’s contribution.

Machine learning is a narrower subset of AI that focuses on data analysis and building algorithms that reduce the need for human intervention.

Machine learning and AI will have (and already do have) tremendous impacts in financial services, retail, education, and healthcare.

This session will cover the basics of Machine Learning and AI, offer participants the opportunity to see machine learning in action, hear two recent case studies from organizations using machine learning, and analyze various aspects of AI such as hype cycles, ethical concerns, security, sustainability, and users.

This session is open to participants at all levels—no previous experience necessary—we will be bridging machine learning and AI to the MERLTech organizations, projects, and approaches.

By attending this session, participants will be able to gain a general orientation to machine learning and AI in the MERLTech space, hear examples of their use in the industry by two leading innovative organizations, and participate in a group discussion about the session topic and related issues.

Session Leads:

Gabriel Krieshok, Digital Strategist, Peace Corps. Gabriel Krieshok is an ICT consultant and digital strategist in Washington DC. He helped to create and then directed the ICT4D cross-sector initiative at the Peace Corps. He created the ICT4D Field Guide (, and founded ProprThings (, a 3D-printing company. More on Gabriel here, here, here, on Twitter @gabrielkrieshok and at the Peace Corps.

Toni Maraviglia, Lead, Uptake. Toni currently works for the predictive analytics company Uptake as a lead for their philanthropic vertical: beyond.uptake. Prior to Uptake she co-founded a pan-African education technology company called Eneza Education, which currently serves over 2 million students across Africa. More about Toni here, here, on Twitter @tisfortoni, at Uptake and at Eneza Education.

Neeran Saraf, Senior ICT Advisor, Independent Consultant. Neeran currently works as an independent ICT Strategist working with iNGOs and non-profits on the use of technology in development programs, M&E and KM and learning and technology strategy. Neeran is also advisor to Lore.Ai and her goal is to introduce the implementation of innovative technologies such as machine learning in the international development field. More about Neeran here.

Supplementary Materials:

Background Reading:

What Is Machine Learning and Why Does It Matter? – Gear Patrol

A.I. Experiments – Google

Chatbots in Africa – UXStudioTeam

I Made a Facebook Chatbot (And You Can, Too!)

AI’s PR Problem – MIT Technology Review

Future of Artificial Intelligence Economic Growth – Accenture

AI to drive GDP gains of $15.7 trillion with productivity, personalisation improvements – PwC