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When artificial intelligence comes to the aid of nature

  • JatinB 

Debates on environmental protection and the climate emergency are pervasive and at the heart of our concerns. While the countdown has already started and we are starting to live on credit on our planet, AI is a path considered by many institutions. The time is therefore ripe for solutions to resolve these environmental transition challenges. Thus, data collection, data analysis and decision support tools will have a central role to play in this fight against global warming.

Waste management optimized thanks to AI

To combat ecosystem pollution, more and more communities are using low AI based mainly on data collected by presence, movement, temperature or pollution sensors. For example, the city of Dubai has implemented a waste treatment process based on decision support algorithms, which will provide recommendations to reduce environmental costs. AI can also be used to recover waste dispersed in the wild.

In fact, operators can install an intelligent camera with visual recognition which automatically identifies any non-compliant object during the discharge of the skips, and sends an alert so that it can be removed before incineration. Veolia has notably implemented in its Amiens factory, Max IA a robot intended to increase the quantities of waste sorted and the quality of the selection. It recognizes the different categories of household waste through artificial intelligence.

Protect the oceans

Artificial intelligence is also mobilized to work for the preservation of the oceans. The Soft Robotic Fish project, set up by MIT researchers, aims to analyze the marine ecosystem through the observation of mammals living in water. To approach them without fear, a robotic fish is used and controlled remotely. It allows researchers to analyze the behavior of marine animals in the face of pollution in order to find adequate solutions without disturbing them, based on their ecosystem.

Robotics are proving to be a good tool in the fight against ocean pollution. The Ocean Cleanup initiative deploys 600-meter-long robots into the seabed. Unlike “Soft Robotic Fish” which analyzes waste, the objective through this system is to use floating robots capable of recovering up to 5 tonnes of plastic waste per month. Another project, called “The Plastic Tide”, mobilizes drones capable of locating plastic waste. This system is based on Machine Learning algorithms to fly over certain areas and identify ocean waste.

Preserve biodiversity

While in 40 years the number of wild vertebrate populations has declined by 60%, awareness of the role of biodiversity is urgent. Microsoft, which displays its ambition to act for the preservation of the environment, has just launched a new ecological challenge. The company co-founded by Bill Gate wants to put data and technology at the service of biodiversity by relying on the “Planetary Computer”.

This platform, equipped with computing capabilities and Machine Learning, will host and analyze environmental data, and make it available to all organizations making decisions that impact the environment. This network will be able to decipher a set of meteorological data, forest density, flood or earthquake risks, state of resources and various species under surveillance. For example, the Planetary Computer will combine satellite images with user data to forecast flood risks and thereby allow urban planners and farmers to take local action and anticipate risks.

Manage the natural resources

Today, we are engaged in a race against the clock to better manage the natural resources of our planet. In general, AI is not associated with environmental protection. We therefore see that in reality it can be very beneficial for humans. Some would say that if AI can help us clean up the earth, it pollutes itself. Yet the initiative

“Soft Robotic Fish”, set up by MIT researchers is a good example. Indeed, without AI, for the preservation of the oceans, recourse was had to the use of boats to which very polluting underwater vehicles were attached. With this robot, pollution is reduced thanks in particular to a lithium battery.

Final Thoughts

Faced with the environmental emergency, it, therefore, seems essential to use the best tools imaginable. And, optimizing the use of our resources is the value proposition of hundreds of artificial intelligence applications that bring finer predictions than current technologies. Whether it’s new technologies, more advanced algorithms, or the use of robots, artificial intelligence is giving rise to more and more projects to preserve the environment. However, this generalization of AI leads us to question its environmental impact, and the potential risk of a “rebound effect” that could worsen the current situation.