Artificial Intelligence (AI), as a technology, is becoming as pervasive as mobile phones. It is going to touch the lives of most human beings on Earth in the next few decades. We are going through a period of technological revolution that is unprecedented in the history of Earth. Here is a technology that holds the promise of positively affecting the lives of all living beings, if used in the right way.
Planet Earth, which happens to be the only known habitable planet in our knowledge, is also undergoing unprecedented changes due to the explosion of human population. It has lead to large scale depletion of natural resources and has also lead to significant long term climatic changes. Never before in the 4.5 billion years of the history of Earth has one species been so successful that it gets to decide the future of this planet. This brings in tremendous responsibility on us to choose a better future of Earth and its inhabitants. As Carl Sagan described in the Pale Blue Dot, “It is our responsibility to ‘preserve and cherish the pale blue dot”.
AI and Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most significant problems that we are dealing with. If we cannot manage it well it will bring upon large scale destruction and suffering to all of Earth’s inhabitants.
“Climate change is a huge problem, and it absolutely needs to be solved.“Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft and the Gates Foundation
Rising level of carbon dioxide has raised the temperature of Earth really fast within a short period of time. Much of our climate models are going to be outdated soon, unless we factor global warming into them. This will help us in predicting temperature changes on Earth in the future that will help us take proactive action to mitigate its effect.
Cloud Brain is such a system that will make it possible to tighten up the uncertainties of how the climate will respond to the rising level of carbon dioxide.
Melting of Ice Caps
The ice caps in both the poles, glaciers, snow peaks of mountains have been melting fast. On March 13, 2019, Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.78 million square kilometers (5.71 million square miles), the seventh lowest in last 40 years.
This is going to cause a large scale increase in sea levels, floods and depletion of water resources and trigger natural disasters.
It is of utmost importance to proactively predict the melting of ice using artificial intelligence so that we can plan ahead of time and deal with these challenges.
Rising Sea Levels
The fast melting of ice will have the maximum impact in quickly raising the sea levels throughout the Earth. Majority of human population resides in big cities in coastal areas. People living in the most populated and wealthiest cities of the world that contribute significantly to the world economy and employ a huge population run the risk of getting flooded. However, there is hope. AI will be able to help forecast flooding in these cities and make us better prepared to deal with it.
AI and Natural Disasters
What is the use of technology if it cannot help us prepare and face the challenges posed by natural disasters. Throughout the history of the Earth, civilizations have been wiped out because they were caught by surprise and were unprepared.
Not only can AI help in forecasting natural disasters but also use chatbots to help in emergency response that help and guide humans at the center of such disasters to save lives and property.
This will help us to proactively plan for these disasters and avoid loss of life and property.
Earth is constantly bombarded by asteroids of all sizes. In the living history of humans we are lucky not to be a subject to a catastrophic impact. Off late, technology has been able to track Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that can potentially be dangerous and give us an early warning. We are now going through a period where the rate of asteroid impact has been increasing. However, help is at hand with models that can predict the trajectory of NEOs.
AI and Sustainability
Earth is the only ‘living’ planet we have in the vast emptiness of space. So, conserving its resources is of utmost importance for the future of all species. In the last few decades we have seen widespread depletion of forests and drinking water and also, the extinction of animals that have inhabited Earth much before us. We are now living through the sixth mass extinction period of Earth.
Forests are the harbingers of life and cover one third of Earth’s surface. They stabilize climate, regulate the water cycle, and provides habitat to thousands of life forms on Earth. We are losing forest cover at an alarming rate in all countries. Saving our forests is now possible using Artificial Intelligence.
Wastage of drinking water continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing us.
We live in one of the most technologically advanced eras. However, we do not have a feasible solution to produce artificial drinking water. AI can come to rescue not only to help in conservation of water, but also find newer sources of water on Earth.
Earth is facing a mass extinction of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods (insects and arachnids), fish, crustaceans, corals and other cnidarians, and plants. Human civilization has had a negative impact on most living things who have inhabited Earth much before us. We are now using AI to assess and predict the health and behaviour of species and ecosystems, as well as the threats they face.
Governments, research organizations and technology companies are coming together to use artificial intelligence and IoT to provide a better future for Earth.
Microsoft’s AI for Earth is an ambitious program to use AI to save Earth. AI for Good Foundation is helping out with its climate change program. Google is doing its bit too with Deep Mind. IBM is also working on saving Earth with AI. Kaggle has hosted a competition to understand Amazon rainforest through AI enabled satellites.
AI has tremendous promise to participate in creating a sustainable future for all species living on Earth. It will help humankind to proactively prepare for challenging situations and deal with these challenges with courage.
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