The Effect of AI on Environmental Sustainability

The environmental impact that we, as humans, have on the planet is massive. And it’s become abundantly clear that our weighty footprint is leaving a deep-etched mark on mother nature.

Whether it’s pollution, global warming, deforestation, or who we are as people – it’s clear that we’re causing major, irreparable damage to the Earth.

Yet, wreaking havoc on the precious, life-giving land around us isn’t enough. 

No. We even set our sights on the deep, vibrant ocean to devour and disfigure all that feeds and fulfills us.

And to make matters worse: We’re only getting heavier.

So We Need Solutions…

There’s certainly a great deal of innovation put into saving our planet

From plastic-eating enzymes invented in a lab, to satellites that spot methane leaks – there’s plenty of time, effort and resources spent on making our world a better place.

Just look at the amazing work done by the Chinese researchers that are working on solar panels that harvest energy through raindrops. You read that right.

Or what Swiss startup ClimeWorks is doing with Direct Air Capture, a carbon dioxide extraction tool that captures CO2 in the air that passes through it. 

All incredible stuff. With each one of these innovations capable of making a positive and noticeable impact on the environment.

But with red tape, regulations and legacy infrastructure acting as the biggest obstacles to the adoption of progressive technology, we end up pushing these antidotes away.

Technology Requires a Facelift

Most of the existing technological infrastructures that we have are inefficient and outdated.

What was built out more than a decade ago still stands today, but refuses to play with contemporary technology. 

Contemporary technology? It refers to the modern space of tech. It concerns the use of Cloud, IoT (Internet of Things), Machine Learning and Data Science. 

Simply put, Artificial Intelligence. 

And AI is fast becoming an extension of ourselves.

We calculate the most basic sums with our smartphones; we rely on the internet to function in nearly every way; and entertainment finds its way to us through the most accurate recommendations.

No. The Government isn’t monitoring your conversations. Machine Learning algorithms just want what’s best for you.

And the masterminds behind this powerful, new technology are hell-bent on making nearly everything scalable. To make everything better, faster, easier and far more resilient.

The stats speak for themselves:

  • In a 2019 survey by Gartner, enterprises that implement AI grew by 270 percent over 4 years and again tripled in that year.
  • Fortune Business Insights has predicted that the AI market will grow to upwards of $360.36 billion by 2028.
  • It is reported that more than 9 in 10 leading global businesses have ongoing investments in AI. 

So the technology exists and is growing at a rapid pace. It’s just a case of investment and backing from stakeholders.

But, How Can AI Help the Environment?

Artificial Intelligence has huge potential to help the environment and promote sustainability in a number of ways. 

In fact, it’s already being used to help with climate change, wildlife conservation, water and ocean health, as well as weather/disaster resilience.

A simple search online will present you with an ongoing list of benefits that AI offers to our Earth.

Self-Driving Cars and Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) 

Take for instance self-driving cars and autonomous electric vehicles. By using route and fuel optimisation, eco-friendly algorithms for sustainable driving and autonomous ride-sharing – there will be significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Agriculture, Food and Farming

Through AI-driven smart agriculture, water usage can be reduced, pesticides and fertilisers can be better monitored and used correctly, and resource usage can be optimised to cut back on waste. 

Rapid Disaster Response

AI has the ability to analyse and offer insights based on data captured from natural events (weather, earthquakes, etc.). With that, it’s able to identify weaknesses and improve on disaster prevention, which will end up saving many lives and animals. 

Energy Grid Optimisation

Predicting supply and demand for renewable resources becomes a whole lot easier with AI. With more accurate insights, things such as efficiency and load management, energy storage, and distribution channels will all be majorly improved upon.  

Looking at AI Through a New Lens

While robots and retrenchment might seem like the ultimate goal of artificial intelligence, we can assure you that it isn’t.

If anything, it will allow people the luxury of finding better solutions to new problems.

It will act to enhance and improve our lives, rather than detract from it. 

It will offer new innovations that can result in a healthier, better world for every creature that we share it with.

While we, as humans, can only do so much to combat the damage that we’ve caused, AI has the ability to scale our vast intelligence. The same intelligence that builds cities, operates the world we live in, and that made Rickrolling a reality.

We’ve only listed a few areas that AI can improve on the sustainability of planet Earth. If you’d like to learn about more – a simple online search will give you a litany of practical examples.

More on AI? Go Here.

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