Google has announced the launch of a new programme which aims to encourage the use of AI technology to create positive change in society.

The search engine giant is backing its new AI for Social Good programme with a $25 million pool of grant funding.

The company says it will be applying AI to a wide range of problems and partnering with external organisations to work toward solutions.

"For the past few years we've been applying core Google AI research and engineering to projects with positive societal impact, including forecasting floods, protecting whales, and predicting famine," said Jeff Dean, senior VP of Google AI and Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org, in a joint statement.

They added: "We want people from as many backgrounds as possible to surface problems that AI can help solve, and to be empowered to create solutions themselves.

"So as a part of AI for Social Good, we're also launching the Google AI Impact Challenge, a global call for non-profits, academics, and social enterprises from around the world to submit proposals on how they could use AI to help address some of the world's greatest social, humanitarian and environmental problems."

The Google AI Impact Challenge comes with funding through the company's philanthropic division from a $25 million pool along with credits for use of Google Cloud services and consultancy services from Google's AI division.

The pair stressed that those applying don't need to be AI experts. Proposed projects will be selected by a panel of experts early next year.

"We're excited to see what new ideas nonprofits, developers and social entrepreneurs from across the world come up with—and we're looking forward to supporting them as best we can," they said.