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When most people think about artificial intelligence (AI), androids are probably the first things that come to mind.

Or possibly their Roomba.

But according to the World Economic Forum, AI refers to computer systems that “can sense their environment, think, learn, and act in response to what they sense and their programmed objectives.”


As AI becomes more sophisticated, its uses have multiplied. These days, AI is used for everything from interpreting location data in smart phones to autopilots on commercial airlines.

Now, the Global Climate Action Summit and Tech Mahindra have come together to discover ways in which AI can help solve the earth’s biggest problem: climate change.

On September 13, at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California, the organization announced it’s teaming up with Tech Mahindra, a leading provider of digital transformation and business solutions, to launch AI4Action, the first global Artificial Intelligence (AI) challenge aimed at delivering solutions for climate change.

The competition will challenge students in four major cities – San Francisco, New York, London and New Delhi – to come up with creative, AI-powered applications over the next year that will help to tackle climate issues impacting the environment.

“This challenge mobilizes some of the brightest minds, utilizing the most advanced technology, to imagine – and pursue – solutions to the climate crisis that do not even exist today,” California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement.

While the challenge aims to help develop new ways in which the power of AI can be harnessed to cool a warming planet, the technology is already being used in creative ways to help the environment.

AI is currently being used in Australia by The Yeild, a Tasmanian ag-tech company, to use analytics to produce real-time weather data — down to field level — helping growers to reduce their use of water while also increasing their yield.

In India, famers are using a similar type of AI technology to provide information on applying fertilizer and how to prepare the land.

AI is also useful for managing renewable energy sources. Major energy companies are using AI to predict consumer energy usage to better manage power fluctuations and energy storage.

Climate models can also be drastically improved with the implementation of AI.

“This could be a real game-changer for climate prediction,” Professor Pierre Gentine, from Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, said in a statement. “Our study shows that machine-learning techniques help us better represent clouds and thus better predict global and regional climate’s response to rising greenhouse gas concentrations."

The potential for AI to help the climate change crisis inspired Microsoft to commit $50 million to its AI for Earth program over the next five years. Its goal is to transform air, water, and land condition data and convert it into actionable intelligence.

Organizations such as Tech Mahindra, the Global Climate Action Summit, and Microsoft are a vital flank in the war against climate change. While most organizations are implementing known solutions such as renewable energy, it’s imperative that we push ourselves to find new solutions that just may be on the other side of the technological horizon.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


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