News  |    |  September 12, 2019

AI can help us fight climate change. But it has an energy problem, too

News article by Annette Ekin.
Published in Horizon: The EU Research and Innovation Magazine.

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help us fight climate change – but it also comes at a cost to the planet. To truly benefit from the technology’s climate solutions, we also need a better understanding of AI’s growing carbon footprint, say researchers.  

AI is changing the way we work, live and solve challenges. It can improve healthcare, protect elephants from poachers, and work out how broadband should be distributed.

But it could be most valuable as a range of applications helping humanity fight our biggest threat – climate change. AI can strengthen climate predictions, enable smarter decision-making for decarbonising industries from building to transport, and work out how to allocate renewable energy.

AI’s relevance as a climate change fighting tool comes at a time when there are increasing ethical concerns linked largely to a data-hungry form of the technology called machine learning, where computer systems analyse patterns in existing data to make predictions and decisions. Machine learning applications have raised concerns about creeping public surveillance, intentional misuse, privacy, transparency and data bias that can lead to discrimination and inequality. [ . . . ]