Robots Now Planting Trees - Can AI Fix Climate Change? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Robots Now Planting Trees - Can AI Fix Climate Change?

Robots have become a part of everyday life, from manufacturing to medicine. One Estonian company has used robot technology for an enjoyable cause - planting trees.

AI technologies can assist businesses in identifying sources of their carbon footprint. But these solutions only work effectively when utilized appropriately.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is an area of computer science which allows machines to imitate human behaviors and decision-making more closely than ever before. By learning to recognize patterns in vast amounts of data, AI can take on increasingly complex tasks - be they playing games, operating autonomous vehicles, processing language or anything else.

AI technology may still be in its infancy, but its adoption has grown rapidly over the past decade thanks to consumer-oriented applications like voice assistants from Amazon and Apple and shopping cart software programs that make shopping online simpler. More sophisticated AI has also been created that predict weather trends and financial forecasts as well as streamline production processes and eliminate redundant forms of cognitive labor.

More recently, researchers have been exploring new AI solutions to combat climate change. Projects using this AI include improving hazard forecasting for regionalized long-term events like sea-level rise as well as immediate extreme events like hurricanes.

Other artificial intelligence applications aim to protect natural resources and lessen environmental impact by reducing fossil fuel usage, increasing renewable energy efficiency, and supporting agriculture practices. AI should be seen as one tool in fighting climate change; all stakeholders must collaborate together in reducing emissions using appropriate tools and policies in order to reach our collective goals.

Can AI Fix Climate Change?

If AI is to aid us in combatting climate change, it must differ from the profit-driven, biased amplifying and misinformation spreading algorithms that dominate social media. To do this effectively, climate AI could rely more on broad-based input from networks of engaged participants rather than data-driven and self-serving input it currently receives; such an AI subset known as climate AI could serve as the impetus for emergency action that differs significantly from what has occurred thus far.

One way AI could do that would be through speeding up and improving scientific research. AI is capable of quickly processing huge volumes of unstructured data like pictures, graphs and maps and running digital experiments at a fraction of the time it would take humans. This can help scientists solve complex equations more quickly while understanding our atmosphere better - opening up many doors towards combatting climate change.

Green energy technologies may also benefit from being created more rapidly, including energy storage materials that reduce dependence on fossil fuels and new ways to harvest solar power. Furthermore, this may spur efforts to establish natural carbon sinks such as forests or wetlands or technological solutions for artificially extracting carbon from the atmosphere.

Research indicates that AI could reduce emissions by 5-10% by 2030 through scaling current proven technologies and applications, according to studies. That is a huge step in the right direction but more steps still need to be taken.

Can AI Plant Trees?

Many greenhouse gases are released by vehicles and power plants; however, an even greater portion comes from destroying trees, peatlands and other plant life that have captured carbon over millions of years through photosynthesis. By monitoring and protecting these natural carbon sinks we can reduce how quickly carbon is being released back into the atmosphere.

Engineers at UVic have come together to develop the TreeRover robot and turn their idea into reality. Created by engineering undergrads Nick Birch and Tyler Rhodes who spent their summer tromping through slash piles and fighting blackflies in Canada's forests to replant them with seeds for new forests to grow in, during an entrepreneurial co-op work term and setting up their invention as a company to commercialize it.

The robot can quickly recognize specific issues and respond with effective solutions. It uses its cameras to scan trees before initiating conversations with users about diagnosing problems such as disease or nutrient deficiency issues. Additionally, alerts may be sent out warning of threats such as insects, storms or drought.

For larger scale reforestation efforts, the robot can plant trees at an impressive rate of 120 seedpods per minute - enough to reduce deforestation at an astonishing rate equivalent to 27 football stadiums every minute, according to UK company Dendra who plan on using this technology to regreen Earth.

Can AI Help Us Adapt to Climate Change?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already proven its worth by sending natural disaster alerts in Japan, monitoring deforestation in Amazonia, and designing greener cities in China - but these achievements only mark its debut! AI provides all stakeholders -- policymakers, NGOs, corporations and investors -- a more informed data-driven approach towards building a greener future.

Implementation can empower them to take more decisive actions, like rapidly deploying renewable energy or developing flood protection measures. Furthermore, it can improve hazard forecasting both for long-term events like sea-level rise as well as more immediate localized events like hurricanes.

Climate-change adaptation technologies could become increasingly valuable tools over time, due to their capacity for scale and reach. But they come with their own environmental footprint - such as powering huge data centers full of powerful computers consuming vast amounts of energy - raising concerns among environmental activists who worry about its influence on climate change as a whole.

AI for the Planet Alliance was recently formed to accelerate and establish best practices that drive responsible innovation and AI's use in combatting climate change. They plan to publish reports, launch innovation challenges and bring together global communities for action. But even cutting-edge technologies cannot solve climate crises alone; strong leadership must come from across sectors with support from cutting-edge innovations like AI.

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