It's no secret that our planet is struggling with the pressures humans are putting it under. Discarding plastic in oceans, burning fuels and using an abundance of petrol are only some of the ways we're melting the ice caps and thinning the ozone layer. Warnings from experts are becoming more severe and many organisations are working on methods to help combat global warming. Microsoft has just announced that they are broadening their AI for Earth program and 'investing $50 million over the next five years to put artificial intelligence technology in the hands of individuals and organisations around the world who are working to protect our planet.'

With advances in artificial intelligence, we can learn more and more about the planet and are able to identify elements such as the conditions of the oceans, the well-being of wildlife, and the pollution levels of the air to help us make informed decisions on how to reduce this. AI can be trained 'to classify raw data from sensors on the ground, in the sky or in space into categories that both humans and computers understand'.

Making Our Cities Smart

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region released the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong in December 2017, with the vision to build Hong Kong into a world-class smart city. Victor Lam, CIO at The Government of Hong Kong who is speaking at the Machine Intelligence Summit in Hong Kong this June 06 - 07 is currently using artificial intelligence to make Hong Kong more sustainable. Big data, machine learning and AI all play an important role to support the vision, and the Government are taking measures to facilitate the development of big data analytics and artificial intelligence in the Government and the industry.

In Germany, mobility and transport company PTV is working to create sustainable mobility solutions, and recently shared their views on 'how cities can optimise their existing ecosystems for mobility and make them fit for the future.'

Raquel Urtasun, Head of Uber ATG explained at the Deep Learning Summit in Montreal that improving and rolling out autonomous vehicles will help improve sustainability and especially benefit overcrowded cities. Individuals will no longer have to drive, and therefore it will be unnecessary to have one vehicle per household (if not more). 'When I think about cities today, I can’t help but see all of the parking spaces and garages dedicated to our personal vehicles. I am excited for a future where we can begin to transform those parking structures into green space, new businesses, and more.'

Saving Our Oceans

There are countless images circulating online of plastic washed up on beaches, articles about wildlife dying as a result of our littering, and even plastic appearing in seafood that we eat. 'The amount of plastic ending up in the ocean is set to treble within a decade unless action is taken, a major report has warned.' A recent report from the government explained that plastic is one of a number of environmental issues facing the world's seas, along with rising sea levels and warming oceans, and metal and chemical pollution. The report found there were "major opportunities" for robotics, artificial intelligence and automated technology to fill gaps in understanding of ocean science.

A team at MIT have developed a Soft Robot Fish called SoFi, to help scientists analyse and monitor marine life. These kinds of robotic fish could be essential to understanding and protecting creatures in danger of disappearing from our oceans threatened by human activity and climate change. The aim of the robot is also to explore marine life further and the team hope that it may help them uncover more mysteries from the depts of the underwater world.

Making Use of our Waste

In the UK alone, the average household produces more than a tonne of waste every year, and on average each individual throws away their body weight in rubbish every 7 weeks. This is only increasing, and unless we act soon, the damage to our planet will be irreversible.

As a method of tacking this, The Dubai Municipality (DM) has developed its 'Wasteniser' to help energise waste with AI. The project, overseen by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), aims at converting the city's solid waste into a source of energy. Dawood Abdul Rahman Abdullah Al Hajiri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said: "We must face the challenges and strive to meet the project's strategic goals, which seek to make Dubai the first and only city in the world to use artificial intelligence in transporting and processing waste to generate clean and sustainable energy."

The transformative power of AI is evident and we're seeing countless industries being transformed such as healthcare diagnostics, drug discovery, education, privacy and security, and environmental sustainability is set to be next. AI is the new electricity and the fourth industrial revolution is here, promising to help create sustainable outcomes for the planet.