ITU Blog: How ‘computational sustainability’ uses AI to protect the planet: 3 use cases

Artificial Intelligence (AI) does more than make our technology smarter, it also protects the planet.

Consider the work of researchers in the field of ‘Computational Sustainability‘ – a field of AI research making us better stewards of life on Earth.

Despite being a relatively new research field, Computational Sustainability has already helped fight wildlife poaching, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, understand poverty, manage wildlife populations, and protect biodiversity. Each of these contributions address one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The collected progress of AI is addressing all SDGs, but I will highlight three specific cases.

RELATED: Preparing for an AI-driven society

SDG13: Climate Action

A core tenant of Computational Sustainability is balancing the environmental, economic, and societal needs for a sustainable future. Nowhere is the need for balance more apparent than in making energy production decisions. Renewable energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect us from climate change, but renewables like wind power cannot increase output whenever consumers increase their electricity demands.

How can we rely on wind power if we cannot choose when the wind blows? Computational Sustainability researchers solve the problem by predicting everything from wind speeds to squirrel interference in power distribution. With these improved predictions, it is possible to idle dirty power plants without risking shortfalls in power generation.

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