How Can Artificial Intelligence Help the Environment?

From reducing the resource consumption in agriculture to increasing in-home energy savings, artificial intelligence is becoming more advanced and more accessible for the everyday user. While many are still skeptical towards the idea of having AI play a large role in our everyday life, there is some invaluable potential technology can play a role in helping save the planet. Let's discuss some of the ways in which AI technology can help fight climate change and create a sustainable society.

Cities and Transportation

The most common way people typically think about applying artificial intelligence to the transportation sector is self-driving cars. While there is a large potential in this field, AI can also contribute to sustainability within the transportation sector. Ride-sharing services, route and traffic optimization, and predicting delays in areas to reduce wait time are all ways in which public and private transportation sectors are looking into optimizing transport.

Home Improvements

There are lots of ways we are told to individually make changes that will help the planet. Unfortunately, sometimes they can be unrealistic or expensive, so people shy away. However, with the application of AI to certain home improvements, it can benefit the environment and reduce utility bills without inconveniencing anyone. Consider Ecobee, a thermostat company that uses machine learning to optimize energy use. It considers weather forecasts, humidity, current electricity costs, and even patterns of when people are home to determine how to heat rooms. The same technology is also being applied to light fixtures and air conditioning to reduce energy consumption up to 80%, by effectively predicting when and where people need their utilities to operate.

Resource Management

Agriculture is infamous for its water usage, depletion of nutrients, and overall resource consumption - as much as 70% of global water consumption comes from the agriculture sector! Meanwhile, certain uses of fertilizers have thrown the nitrogen cycle into disrepair. However, we can all agree that this industry is critical for human survival, and therefore more sustainable practices need to be considered. In order to create a sustainable society, combined with reaching the demands of a growing population, new technology must be incorporated. The good news is that some places such as India are already doing just that. "Smart agriculture" involves automating data collection and making optimal decisions to reduce environmental impact.

For example, AI can be used to analyze farming conditions such as the soil moisture, nutrient content, temperature, and trends concerning drought or flooding. This can allow for the detection of diseases in crops and deciding how much water, fertilizer, or pesticides need to be used on crops. Agriculture is just one industry that has been proven to benefit from the use of AI, however other industries that currently pose a threat to the environment may also be able to follow in these footsteps.

Weather and Climate

When it comes to predicting the weather, we use enormous data sets from thousands of stations and sensors to try to decode and find patterns. While this has been a huge challenge for humans over time, it might be a perfect opportunity for AI to shine. As data storage capacities of computers continue to grow, the analysis of weather and climate data is becoming more and more useful. Predicting climate anomalies and modeling for natural disasters is becoming more and more accurate with AI. With climate change affecting more parts of the world at greater extremes, this will undoubtedly make us much less vulnerable to environmental hazards.

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