Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Fantasy problem meet fantasy solution.
Here’s how AI can help fight climate change according to the field’s top thinkers
From monitoring deforestation to designing low-carbon materials
By James Vincent Jun 25, 2019, 8:02am EDT
The AI renaissance of recent years has led many to ask how this technology can help with one of the greatest threats facing humanity: climate change. A new research paperauthored by some of the field’s best-known thinkers aims to answer this question, giving a number of examples of how machine learning could help prevent human destruction.
The suggested use-cases are varied, ranging from using AI and satellite imagery to better monitor deforestation, to developing new materials that can replace steel and cement (the production of which accounts for nine percent of global green house gas emissions).
But despite this variety, the paper (which we spotted via MIT Technology Review) returns time and time again to a few broad areas of deployment. Prominent among these are using machine vision to monitor the environment; using data analysis to find inefficiencies in emission-heavy industries; and using AI to model complex systems, like Earth’s own climate, so we can better prepare for future changes.
The authors of the paper — which include DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, Turing award winner Yoshua Bengio, and Google Brain co-founder Andrew Ng — say that AI could be “invaluable” in mitigating and preventing the worse effects of climate change, but note that it is not a “silver bullet” and that political action is desperately needed, too.
“Technology alone is not enough,” write the paper’s authors, who were led by David Rolnick, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. “[T]echnologies that would reduce climate change have been available for years, but have largely not been adopted at scale by society. While we hope that ML will be useful in reducing the costs associated with climate action, humanity also must decide to act.”
…Read more: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/25/18744034/ai-artificial-intelligence-ml-climate-change-fight-tackle
The new paper is available here.
While I’m concerned that the potential of AI is being somewhat over hyped, there is no doubt AI could be a significant labor saving device for grant seeking climate scientists.
For example, below is my personal contribution to climate AI – a random climate psychology paper generator (press the button to see a new generated climate psychology paper) which I offer for free to the climate community.
What do you think? Would it pass peer review?
Update (EW): Stephen Skinner highlights an excellent reason why black box AI solutions are potential sources of extreme embarrassment for researchers.