AI is already helping cool a warming planet. But these companies want to go even further.

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.

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