We are facing a massive demand for sustainability as global trends are telling us that we need to prepare for a significant climate change. Overconsumption and population growth lead towards a significant discharge of key resources for both the society and the economics. The situation shows that general conditions in the industries are changing, and a greater demand for long-term and lasting sustainable business models are pushing forward.

Today, innovations are becoming faster, more efficient and more widely accessible than ever before. Technologies are becoming increasingly connected, as we can see merging of digital, biological and physical platforms. This gives us an exceptional opportunity to address the environmental challenges and restructure the process of how we tackle them.

The technology

The creation of artificial intelligence (AI) have a significant influence on our society. It is changing the way we work, the way we live and the way that we interact. AI is a term for computer systems that can sense their environment, think, learn, and act, in response to what they sense, in their programmed objectives. AI is currently helping us diagnose diseases, develop clinical pathways and much more. It is acting in an increasingly more autonomously way and at the same time as it becomes broader in its use.

As both businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and governments looks forward to deploying and scaling AI for generating a strategic advantage, there is important to use the opportunity to apply AI to the challenges regarding the changing environment. The technology will further introduce several new approaches that can be used to protect and sustainably handle the ocean. In this way, we can further generate new solutions and opportunities for today and in the future.

What have been done?

One existing example is the company “the Plastic Tide”. They have developed drones that creates maps of the plastics areas in the ocean and on the shoreline. The maps are built up by AI, and through continuous feedback and learning, trained to see the difference between plastics and other materials that looks like plastics. It is done by taking photos from the drones, which further are sent to machine-learning algorithms. This builds up an open source map where you can see the plastic pollution. Later, this can make it easier for future planning where they easily can guide for essential clean-ups.

AI can also be used for decreasing the air pollution in a city by incorporating data from smart meters and the Internet of Things (IoT). This is done to forecast the amount of energy that are demanded for a specific area. In China, for example, IBM’s “Green Horizon” project have developed a system that uses AI to forecast air pollution, track down where the pollution comes from and produce possible strategies to deal with the pollution. This will in the long-run benefit the earth, as air pollution is one of the main reasons for the climate change.

The climate change makes the temperature rise significantly, and this affects a lot of the earth’s surface. Agriculture is particularly disturbed by this. Through algorithms and continuous learning, AI could improve the production and determine when to water the crops. If we combine this information and the information from the drones, we can determine at which time to plant, spray and harvest the corps. Resulting, we will increase the efficiency, increase the yields and lower the use of fertilizer, pesticides and water.

What can be done?

PwC showed a significant opportunity to connect AI to the earth in a report they launched at Davos this year. Here, they outlined some of the game changing approaches which we should address to reduce the climate change. Some of the AI applications, that possibly will exist in the future are:

  1. Autonomous and connected electric vehicles
  2. Smart food systems and agriculture
  3. Cleaver disaster response, better climate predictions
  4. Robotic fish to fight pollution in the ocean
  5. Monitoring & detection of illegal fishing activities
  6. Real-time monitoring and management of household water supply 

AI will progressively get smarter and develop new ways of thinking every year. It is accelerating human knowledge and innovation while exploring an intelligence that humans don’t have. As we live in an interesting and innovative time, we make it possible to tackle our planet’s challenges with evolving technologies, such as AI. Let’s make this technology save our planet.

Thea Marie Gravdal

Author Thea Marie Gravdal

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