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Berkeley economics professor Anastassia Fedyk aids Ukraine through AI

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In collaboration with the AI for Good Foundation, Fedyk launched LifeForce to streamline aid to Ukraine through machine learning.


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JULY 24, 2023

Anastassia Fedyk, UC Berkeley professor of economics, has founded multiple organizations which aim to help Ukrainian citizens as the war against Russia continues.

Fedyk co-founded multiple aid groups, including nonprofits such as Economists for Ukraine, LifeForce and the Svidok platform. She has also helped fund construction of shelters on the ground in Ukraine that contain supplies to protect from bombardment and provide internet access.

Fedyk’s work began in February of 2022 when Russia first invaded Ukraine. Born and raised in Ukraine, Fedyk felt a need to support her homeland and be part of the fight against Russia.

“I could not stand by and watch an international bully violate a sovereign state, attempt to destroy its culture, and torture, rape, and kill thousands of people,” Fedyk said in an email.

Fedyk added that the best way to deal with such a “bully” as Putin is to set aside fears and stand up for what is right. Her conviction to support Ukraine inspired her to begin working on projects bringing aid and to establish economic sanctions against Russia.

According to a Berkeley Haas article, Fedyk partnered with campus economics professor Yuri Gorodnichenko to create Economists for Ukraine — a nonprofit which aims to end the war in Ukraine and help the country rebuild.

Fedyk also helped to launch LifeForce in collaboration with AI for Good Foundation, a digital platform which uses AI technology to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

LifeForce relies on machine learning, or AI, to identify what and where supplies are needed in Ukraine, as well as the quickest ways to get available resources there.

“It’s a platform that allows Ukrainians to input what they need — for example, insulin or baby formula — and we tell them exactly where to go to get what they need,” Fedyk said in the email.

The platform sorts through complicated data such as geolocation, inventory and operating hours to optimize deployment of aid workers and detect Russian attempts to block aid. Not only does this help Ukrainian citizens gain quick access to important resources, but Fedyk also claims LifeForce helps support the local supply chains and communities.

In April of 2022, Fedyk helped to create Svidok, a digital safe space in which Ukrainian citizens can share their experiences during the war with the goal of holding Russia accountable for its actions.

Fedyk said Svidok could be considered a digital diary, adding that most of the people using Svidok are teenagers sharing their experience with the war.

“This week we have stories such as a 14-year-old girl recounting the attacks on Odesa and a 13-year-old writing about her experience under Russian occupation,” Fedyk said in the email.

According to Fedyk, Svidok also helps to expose and document the war crimes of Russia.

As a campus professor of economics, Fedyk said her teaching closely relates to her work in Ukraine. The economic strategies she teaches aim to maximize value just as her organizations like LifeForce aim to maximize the efficiency of aid.

Fedyk added that her work has gained attention and support from Ukrainian and U.S. governments. Moreover, both LifeForce and Svidok have partnered with the Ukrainian government on regional and national levels, working with the Ministries of Transportation and Culture.

“When there is a crisis, what is needed are solutions — and those solutions can come from anyone who puts their mind to it, independent of wealth or political connections,” Fedyk said in the email. “So if you have an idea, don’t be afraid to go for it!”

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JULY 24, 2023