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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Recommended


Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

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"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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