World’s experts lay out 10 ways AI could help fight climate crisis

21 Jun 2019

Image: © hiroshiteshigawara/

Some of the world’s leading AI experts have listed 10 different ways the technology could be used to reverse our climate crisis.

There are various ways we as a species could try to reverse the centuries of harm that have led to the current climate crisis on our planet. On that note, several leading experts in their field have published findings online showing that one answer could lie within artificial intelligence (AI).

According to MIT Technology Review, the report was led by David Rolnick of the University of Pennsylvania but includes the thoughts of figures such as Andrew Ng, former Google and Baidu AI leader; Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO; and Jennifer Chayes, managing director of Microsoft Research.

While admitting AI is not a silver bullet to solve all of the world’s problems, it has identified 10 solutions that could have an immediate impact, as well as categorising other solutions into ‘long-term’ or ‘high-risk’ options.

These 10 solutions with an immediate impact include:

  1. Use algorithms to predict electricity demands globally
  2. Use machine learning to find new materials to store, harvest and use renewables
  3. Optimise how the freight industry is routed
  4. Improve battery engine management in electric vehicles
  5. Make buildings more energy-efficient
  6. Identify inefficient buildings from space
  7. Optimise supply chains for efficiency and reducing waste
  8. Introduce large-scale precision agriculture to reduce need for fertilisers
  9. Conduct better tracking of deforestation
  10. Create tailored prompts for the public to change shopping habits

Engineers showcase robot fish pumping with electronic blood

Researchers at Cornell University have create an impressive soft robot fish with some serious swimming power.

According to New Scientist, the lionfish-like machine can swim upstream at a speed of more than 1.5 body lengths per minute, or just 0.01kph, though the researchers said these slow speeds can be improved.

What is really eye-catching in these machines, however, is the power source. Internal flow batteries – consisting of two electrodes and a liquid electrolyte – move between them. As they move around, pumps in the robot’s tail, and dorsal and pectoral fins are activated.

Robert Sheperd of the research team said that the flow of the electronic ‘blood’ increases pressure in certain areas, allowing the robot to perform manoeuvres. This mechanism is similar to inflating a balloon – while it inflates one side of the robot’s fish tail, it causes the other to compress.

Its design means it can store large amounts of energy and it could swim non-stop for up to 36 hours.

Waymo announces autonomous car tech deal with Renault and Nissan

Alphabet’s autonomous car division, Waymo, is looking to expand its reach beyond its native US by signing a deal with some of the world’s largest car companies. According to Forbes, Waymo has announced new partnerships with the Renault-Nissan Alliance to create autonomous mobility services for France, Japan and more.

The agreement means the companies will research and develop commercial, legal and regulatory issues that will include ride-sharing services and delivery. The three companies will set up joint committees that will facilitate their new cooperation.

“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner,” said Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik.

“With the alliance’s international reach and scale, our Waymo driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan and other countries.”

Spending on smart speakers and other gadgets to surge

New data from Juniper Research has found that security tech will see smart home automation revenues exceed $57m by 2024, up from $18m in 2019.

Juniper’s new research found that the ‘do it for me’ model – where vendors offer advice, installation, maintenance and cloud storage on monthly or yearly subscriptions – is gaining ground. More players, such as Hive, Vivint Smart Home and TP-Link, now offer subscription packages that broaden the value proposition with extra cloud storage, devices or superior video quality.

The smart home is also attracting blockchain vendors that hope to solve interoperability and privacy issues hindering global smart home adoption. However, the report said that while blockchain could solve interoperability issues between devices, it would also create similar issues between different distributed ledgers and add a level of unnecessary complexity in the smart home.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic