1. Most data competitions entail participants to solve an actual business task using gamification techniques to find the best solution within a short time frame. Being a good data scientist means having domain knowledge, so this is a great opportunity to dive into the subject area and understand how to use your knowledge to solve business tasks.

Here are 10 data science and AI competitions or competition platforms for you to take your skills to the next level in 2021, if you have suggestions for what to add to the list, please leave them in the comments.

2. Providing online access to all

FoondaMate is a WhatsApp chatbot that allows students in South Africa to access education material without a fixed or stable internet connection. Students can download notes, past papers and research without paying for data, since most mobile networks in SA don’t charge for WhatsApp usage. So, when schools were closed due to the pandemic, students were still able to keep up with their schoolwork.

2020 made the consequences of digital inequality extra salient. In 2021, the demand for creative ways to provide access to all will be higher than ever.


US startup Reef is on a mission to build ‘15-minute cities’ where everything people need can be found within a short walk or bicycle ride. To this end, Reef is transforming its real estate network of more than 4,500 parking lots and garages into neighborhood hubs. It’s partnering with other players for micro-fulfillment, e-bikes, pop-up clinics and urban farming.

We’re steadily moving towards people-first, car-free urban environments that prioritize wellbeing. In 2021, it’s high time to contribute to laying a foundation for this revolution. Opportunities include micro-mobility, urban farming and strengthening local communities.

4. Robots teach tech to seniors in Seoul

Technological frontrunners like South Korea aren’t immune to the digital gap between young and old, which has only widened as the pandemic increased our use of contactless technology. To narrow that divide, the Seoul Digital Foundation is employing robots to teach older adults to use KakaoTalk, one of South Korea’s most popular messaging apps.

Built by LIKU and running custom software, 220 robots will teach 3,000 participants at senior centers throughout Seoul, now through January 2021. Using spoken instructions, facial recognition and gestures, the small humanoid robots explain how to message grandchildren or share photos with friends. While using advanced technology might seem counterintuitive, robots have a distinct advantage: unlike most humans, they’re endlessly patient and will happily repeat instructions as often as needed.

In addition to robots, Seoul Digital Foundation also operates demo kiosks that let people practice using touchscreens for transactions, and offers digital literacy classes taught by humans. 

5. How explainable artificial intelligence can help humans innovate

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) has created computers that can drive carssynthesize chemical compoundsfold proteins and detect high-energy particles at a superhuman level.

However, these AI algorithms cannot explain the thought processes behind their decisions. A computer that masters protein folding and also tells researchers more about the rules of biology is much more useful than a computer that folds proteins without explanation.

One field of AI, called reinforcement learning, studies how computers can learn from their own experiences. In reinforcement learning, an AI explores the world, receiving positive or negative feedback based on its actions.

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