Hackernoon logoAI for the Earth: Ushering in a Sustainability Revolution by@durenayab

AI for the Earth: Ushering in a Sustainability Revolution

Dur-e-Nayab Hacker Noon profile picture


Content Writer at InvoZone

“As a technologist, I see how AI and the fourth industrial revolution will impact every aspect of people’s lives.” –Fei-Fei Li

Is artificial intelligence (AI) really as evil as some people think it is? Or is it something more useful; a tool to save the planet?

The news of the declining conditions of the health of Earth does not come as a surprise anymore. It’s something that we’ve been listening since the past few years. 

According to the Global Environment Outlook report published by United nations, the condition of Earth started to decline since the first global outlook was released back in 1997. UN scientists say, "Time is running out to prevent the irreversible and dangerous impacts of climate change.” 

Damages that have been done up till now are somewhat treatable, but they will become irreversible if we don’t start to work towards sustainability right now. 

Since AI has opened doors for so many possibilities, can it also help reverse these conditions and increase sustainability? 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution 

Industrialization provides humans with endless opportunities, but let’s not forget that it is also a major factor that contributes to environmental problems such as:

  • climate change
  • deforestation
  • air pollution
  • water pollution
  • loss of biodiversity and more. 

Today, there is enough scientific evidence to support the claim that Earth's systems are under stress like never before. The economic and human development models that were once created to improve human conditions are also playing a part in putting the future of human life at stake.

With the global temperature rising dangerously and the ice sheets shrinking at a fast pace, one can’t help but question how the Earth will survive in the coming years. 

Sophisticated information technologies are causing major shifts in the values, cultures, opportunities, and economies of societies. On the lighter side, technological advancements are becoming more effective, quicker and easily accessible as the fourth industrial revolution gains momentum.

This has also made it possible to make use of innovations to help address the existing environmental issues and harness the societal shifts that the fourth revolution will bring along. 

Out of all the technologies that will be accompanying the fourth industrial revolution, we can expect AI to have the most effect, spreading throughout different industries and being heavily incorporated into our daily lives. The fusion of advances in AI, machine learning, and IoT are expected to act as the powerhouse of the fourth industrial revolution. 

AI, People, and Planet 

AI is already revolutionizing different industries and transforming our daily lives. When combined with other technologies it can help fuel some major breakthroughs. As researchers, scientists, businesses, and industries continue to put in efforts to scale these advancements, we are also presented with the opportunity to make use of them to revert the environmental damages and avoid the ones lined up for the future. 

The rapid increase in the use of AI is changing the way we live, work and interact. It enables human capabilities – understanding, planning, perception, reasoning, and communication.

In just a few years of its development, we have been successful to create smart solutions to problem such as inaccessibility of education, transport, healthcare facilities, and more. 

However, AI security is also something that has been gaining increasing significance as AI becomes more autonomous and its use increases. Some of the major risk factors that are joined with AI include unemployment, creativity loss, bias, high costs, and more.

Though these problems are serious and require proper attention, they occur at the same time as technological evolution and unparalleled opportunities, which brings forward the ability to completely disrupt or alter the current approaches. 

We are living in exciting times; it wouldn’t be wrong to say that AI combined with other technologies has the potential to solve some of the biggest problems that the world is facing.

For instance, machine-learning-enabled electric cars are helping eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, deep learning applications are allowing researchers to study climate change more effectively, AI-enabled systems are increasing the use of smart agriculture and most importantly smart meters and the Internet of Thing is helping create livable cities with better urban planning. 

Conclusion: If Done Right, it Could Bring Forth a Sustainability Revolution 

Although AI trends offers limitless opportunities and possibilities that we can tap into, there’s also a chance that if not handled properly, it can speed up the deterioration of the Earth’s environment.

The only way to keep things under control is by harnessing AI systems today, so their evolution is followed by a significant positive impact on the environmental conditions and as few complications as possible. 

So, how exactly do we make sure that AI does not become dangerous to human existence in the future?

The ultimate solution to this concern is “by developing safe AI.”

By ensuring that the technology that is being created is aligned with the values of humanity, guaranteeing secure applications of the innovations. It is also important that the machines that are created are, and will remain friendly, calling for the essential need for sophisticated international and national structures to govern the new AI-enabled digital economy.

It high time we start debunking AI myths, and start looking towards the brighter side of this technology.


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