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Environmental protection of the earth, entrusted to artificial intelligence

Environmental protection of the earth, entrusted to artificial intelligence

Environmental protection of the earth, entrusted to artificial intelligence

One of the typical preconceived notions people have about artificial intelligence is fear. It is because of the prospect that in the near future, artificial intelligence will take away people's jobs and one day destroy human civilization as well.

However, in fact, artificial intelligence is being used very usefully in the field of environmental science to protect the earth, such as climate change and the protection of various species. AlphaGo's father, Demis Hassabis, who had a century-old Go battle with Lee Sedol, said that his ultimate goal is to overcome the challenges of human society such as climate change modeling using artificial intelligence.

One of the representative examples of biological protection activities using artificial intelligence is the bird habitat analysis activity promoted by Professor Carla Gomes' team at Cornell University in the United States. According to the latest news article from the US environmental media 'Ensia', Professor Gomes' team launched an app called 'eBird' for such analysis activities so that ordinary citizens can record how many birds they have observed in their neighborhood. 
As a result, 300,000 citizens left a record of over 300 million observations in this app. By analyzing the observation records, observation data from the laboratory, and the results of previous research, the research team was able to analyze and predict how and when various birds mainly stay where and when the seasons change.

Such analysis and prediction were possible with a sophisticated model using machine learning algorithms used in artificial intelligence. The researchers plan to share the results of the analysis with environmental activists and policy makers to effectively use them to protect the habitats of birds. For example, a certain amount of compensation is provided to farmers who grow rice by predicting the migration route of specific birds, and water is left in the area so that the birds can eat it.

Track phytoplankton activity with artificial intelligence

Birds are one of the most vulnerable species to climate change on Earth. This is because they give birth to a small number of pups every year and are sensitive to climate change when their habitat is moved. Some birds lose their habitat as the tundra in the alpine region disappears, and in the case of some seabirds, their breeding island disappears as the sea level rises. Birds are excellent indicators of the health of the natural environment, and they are a species that provides important information about ongoing climate change.

If climate change and global warming continue, one of the greatest risks to humanity is oxygen depletion. According to a study published by researchers at Raster University in the UK in December of last year, if the sea temperature rises by 6°C, phytoplankton may become extinct and the oxygen in the atmosphere may be depleted.

Phytoplankton living in sunlight-permeable water produces 70% of the Earth's atmospheric oxygen through photosynthesis. As such, phytoplankton is a key resource for ecosystems at the bottom of the food chain and plays a key role in maintaining the composition of the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA researcher Cecil Rousseau is using artificial intelligence to measure and track the exact distribution of phytoplankton in the ocean. The data the researchers use to track plankton are satellite images taken by artificial satellites. Through this, the number of phytoplankton is identified and predicted how it will change in the future.

However, when NASA starts a project called Pre-Aerosol Clouds and Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) from 2022, more detailed data on climate change will be available. This is because, when more data is collected and analyzed by an artificial intelligence system through this project, it is possible to know in detail how each microorganism and plankton affect the concentration of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere.

Using artificial intelligence to monitor deforestation

A technology that combines artificial intelligence and cloud computing technology to analyze in detail the millions of satellite images taken by artificial satellites is called 'macroscope'. In other words, it is a technology that can distinguish whether it is a car or a truck by placing a specific object in the satellite image, where one dot is several meters or more.

The World Resources Research Institute (WRI) is working on a project to monitor and predict deforestation based on tens of millions of high-resolution satellite images in partnership with a big data startup 'Orbital Insight'. Using macroscope technology to analyze vast satellite imagery data to predict the most endangered forests by identifying signs of new road construction and deforestation in remote areas. The results of these forecasts will be provided to local authorities and will be used to prevent development activities that threaten the forest.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Queensland Institute of Technology in Australia are known to be developing an artificial intelligence drone that can observe and protect wild animals such as koalas from the sky. Equipped with a thermal camera, the drone can detect and transmit meaningful wildlife information by itself by artificial intelligence or analyze changes in sub-animal populations. If developed, these drones are expected to be of great help in planning the migration of endangered species or controlling species that are disrupting ecosystems.