AI and Global Warming
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
No one can deny that global warming crisis is considered a serious threat to mankind. Each year, the global temperature gradually increases. Plants, animals and corals are not able to survive in this world. Besides, the global warming crisis has caused more frequent and more serious natural disasters; whether it is drought, storms, floods and wild fires.
In the year 2019, it was considered the hottest year in the history of all mankind causing by the El Nino and the climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of United States of America (NOAA) revealed that the month of June in 2019 was the hottest month in the world during the past 140 years, with the temperatures rising about 1°C (usually June’s average temperature is around 15.28°C). It is time that we must be conscious and collaborate to solve the global warming problem!
Many of those in IT community have noted that the technology that humans have invented and are currently in the global interest – “Artificial Intelligence” or so-called “AI” would be a knight in white horse that comes to help solve global warming?
AI is a program or computer system that is designed to calculate and make intelligent decisions on behalf of humans. Moreover, AI can increase its intelligence by learning from information. At present, there are making practical use of AI in many applications, such as, SIRI program on iPhone that interacts with users, the applications for forecasting stock or oil price in advance, agricultural productivity systems, patients’ health care systems, and many more.
Microsoft Company recognizes the importance of AI and is confident that AI will be a game changer in managing this global warming problem, therefore, it has invested a budget of US$ 50 million for a period of five years, establishing the project “AI for Earth” to fund researchers in more than 10 countries around the world, emphasizing on the development of AI for weather forecasting, biodiversity researching, and water management and cultivation.
Furthermore, there was another example of success using AI to help reducing global warming, DeepMind. It’s a subsidiary of Google, which found its world reputation by creating AI program called “AlphaGo” to defeat the South Korean Go board game champion; Lee Sedol many years ago. DeepMind uses AI to reduce the electricity consumption of the cooling system in Google’s data center. The data center is very large and has many computer servers that consume tremendous amount of electrical power. DeepMind used the past information about electrical usage of the data center to train AI system to work more efficiently. The results showed that “AI reduces electricity usage by 40%”
The advantage of DeepMind’s AI is that it can quickly receive data on electricity usage from thousands of sensors through the network. By using human to track and process this large amount of data instead of the AI, it probably requires a lot of personnel which will result in an increase of the amount of data being communicated among each person in the network, and consequently slowing down the process leading to the inability to effectively reduce electricity usage. Thus, if other data centers around the world use DeepMind’s AI technology, it might considerably help reducing global warming caused by the data centers.
Apart from the AI mentioned above, we can also use AI to tackle global warming in many other ways, such as giving a thorough understanding of the current situation of the problem, accurately forecasting future events, producing new materials containing low carbon which makes the business to be more efficient. These things will have better effect on global warming as a whole. With this regard, in June 2019, there was an effort from a group of AI researchers from the world’s leading universities, IT giant companies and research agencies have jointly proposed directions to use AI at the international academic seminar, ICML 2019 Workshop, focusing on the use of AI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving, developing, increasing the efficiency of electrical systems, transportation, building construction, industrial and land development. Moreover, researchers have suggested ways to use AI for adaptation to combat climate change by using AI to create accurate climate models to predict the risk and to plan for disaster management that affects human lives and well-beings
In conclusion, it can be seen that AI has started to play a role in managing global warming which we can only hope that AI will discover a more effective way to manage global warming. However, everything in the world has two sides. The same rule applies for AI which has both advantages and disadvantages. Using it must be in balance. An obvious example is AI may be vying for human works so humans must adapt to work with AI system which will gradually play a major role in the future. Meaning that, we must use AI as a labor-saving tool and assist us in doing other works more efficiently than what humans are capable of. But we have to adjust ourselves, develop working skills and do the tasks that AI cannot do, such as, works involving creativity or the tasks that depend on social skills. Importantly, each of us has a role to play in order to solve or reduce global warming. Do not let it be the responsibility of an organization or just one person alone.
We have to help with what we can do, such as deleting unused digital data which will help reduce data storage at the data center. With many people join forces together this will expand to billions of people, which will definitely slow down or solve this problem. Since the global warming problem becomes more critical everyday if we do not take any actions, our children, our grandchildren may not be able to continue living on this earth or may face great hardships. We, as humans, born and live in this world, must help each other to pass on a better environment, not a worse one at least for the future generations.
Article by Prof. Dr. Boonserm Kitsirikul
Autobiography (One of KBO Earth team)
Prof. Dr. Boonserm Kitsirikul is a lecturer at the Department of Computer Engineering, Chulalongkorn University
– Ranked number 1 to be awarded the scholarship for Bachelor, Master and Doctorate Degree at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan.
– Researching on AI-Artificial Intelligent and Machine Learning during the course of Doctoral Study
– Was one of the first Thai to have published works in major international conferences in the field of International conference on Machine Learning and AAAI (Conference on Artificial Intelligence)
– Is a professor at the Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University after graduating PhD. As well as teaching AI course, publishing the “Artificial Intelligence” book that has been used as a reference in many universities in Thailand, and starting the first Machine Learning course in Thailand more than 20 years ago.
– Over 100 research papers of his were published in international academic journals and international conferences.
– Was appointed by the King to be the first Thai Professor in Computer Engineering in 2006.