The Positive Impact of AI on Environmental Issues.

AuthorAndrews, Annie

The use of technology to solve environmental issues featured strongly at Microsoft's Future Decoded conference this year. It's a highly relevant topic. Multiple sources show that to slow the effect of climate change and continue to support an ever-growing population, we need to act now. Here, Annie Andrews, head of technology at Microsoft recruitment agency, Curo Talent, explains how.

It is a topic that will profoundly affect many aspects of the lives of the workforce of the future. During the Day I morning keynote, Dr Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer for Microsoft, gave businesses three priorities to consider. The first, minimise the risk of environmental issues to your business, minimise your contribution to the problem and focus on building scalable solutions that can help the world avert some of the worst environmental problems.

As technologies such as AI mature, there is an increasing potential for the technical world to be a real, genuine force for good.

Of course, Microsoft can't do this on their own, but they're making a great start. Step up some of the partnerships in Microsoft's "AI for Earth" initiative. It's a five year, $50m commitment by Microsoft in deploying Al tools to help change the way data is used for environmental solutions.

An informal poll of hands in one of Future Decoded's sessions showed very few businesses were beyond the experimental stage with Al. However, the partnerships exhibiting at the conference were pretty inspiring.

Al in the field.

Take "Wild Me" for example, who are using Al and data analysis to identify animal species that are on the verge of extinction. Computer vision and deep learning algorithms are used to scan and identify individual animals and species. Thankfully leopards can't change their spots, as images of their spots are now being used to tag them.

Or, look at Silviaterra, who are using satellite and other data to recognise and count tree canopies. This reduces the manual fieldwork needed to manage forests, enabling landowners and conservationists to make better decisions.

What next? How is the data used? Well, there are other unrelated businesses in existence using drones to plant trees in otherwise inaccessible places, potentially allowing a mass re-forestation.

These examples show the emerging power of technology to make a real, tangible...

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