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Introducing the “What if?” 2023 Grand Challenge:  

Watering The Desert


The “What if?” AI Grand Challenge: Watering the Desert, invites the world’s brightest minds to tackle the pressing issue of providing reliable, up-to-date news to underserved communities affected by the decline of local journalism. These communities, often rural and low-income, face the challenges of news deserts and the spread of pink slime sites, leaving them vulnerable to misinformation and disconnected from critical information.

We seek innovative AI solutions to extend the reach of news coverage into these areas, addressing two specific scenarios:

  1. Communities with no existing news coverage, local newsrooms, reporters, or papers.

  2. Communities with struggling local newsrooms, limited resources, and possibly only one reporter responsible for covering multiple locations.


Our goal is to enhance news accessibility and availability without diminishing the human element of news coverage. We aim to use AI to:

  1. Identify relevant, timely information from diverse news sources for communities lacking local news access.

  2. Support local reporters, augmenting their capacity to cover multiple communities by providing real-time data and insights.

  3. Understand the unique demographics, needs, and interests of consumers in these areas.

  4. Monitor the pulse of local government and politics to help news outlets better represent these communities.

  5. Bridge the gap between isolated populations and the wider world, going beyond the limitations of social media algorithms and feeds.


Join us in leveraging AI to empower news-deprived communities, promote accurate information, and support a more informed and engaged citizenry while preserving the essential human touch in journalism.

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