Our planet and our environment are under pressure. We need to use our ingenuity and compassion to sort it out. Drastic climate change is happening, and we must act like we’re the ones who are responsible, because we are.
Businesses and individuals are already using methods and technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to figure out a sustainable future for us all. Many organisations are adopting these practices, today.
Why and how companies can use AI for the environment
AI can impact any industry, any business and any aspect of environmental preservation:
With speeches from teenage activists, like Greta Thunberg; protests from civil disobedience groups, like Extinction Rebellion, and shocking documentaries on Netflix, like David Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet’, in the news recently, you’ve probably got the message: yes, our house IS on fire.
…but let’s not talk about them, for now. Provocateurs want a reaction, so let’s choose to be proactive instead. Here are three examples of businesses that ARE taking responsibility by using AI automation for the environment:
Microsoft: ‘AI for the Earth’
We’ve previously written about the ways Microsoft has been investing in AI and how they’ve pledged 50 million dollars towards their ‘AI for the Earth’ initiative.
‘The biggest technological advances don’t do one thing, they do everything, or they contribute to everything. That is the potential and promise of AI – that it can help us solve big societal problems. And certainly, the climate of the planet is one of the biggest.’ – Brad Smith, Microsoft President and CLO
Within this effort, several organisations and projects are now using AI to analyse large, unstructured data sets from nature, including:
- SilviaTerra: Uses AI automation to monitor forests and create tree-level maps.
- FarmBeats: Increases farm yields with modelling and localised predictions.
- Project Premonition: Interprets insect disease-carriers and protects biodiversity.
United Utilities: AI for energy efficiency
As the first water company in the UK to introduce large-scale artificial intelligence into its systems in 2018, United Utilities portends things to come. Following a 12-week trial that demonstrated energy savings of 22 percent, they are currently making AI integral to their operations long-term.
Shell: developing clean fuels
Shell is using predictive maintenance to reduce the risk of oil spills that are harmful to the environment. And they are using AI to further the field of fusion science, a method that will hopefully provide clean energy globally. Not bad for a big oil company.
The future of AI and the environment
Intel’s 2018 study shows that 74 percent of respondents are optimistic about the use of AI to solve environmental problems. Some organisations are investing in a big way. And, just like you would recycle or use LED bulbs, many responsible businesses can make small changes by using AI tools to minimise their environmental impact.
You can’t fix what you can’t see. A great place to start is utilising AI to track your business’s energy use and use of materials in order to gain insights to inform your decision-making. We’ve seen companies such as NHS Scotland or Associated British Ports (ABP) use AI to this effect, with dramatic results.
So whether you’re making big waves or small waves, AI can help you ensure those waves don’t contain any straws.