Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A climate activist explains how AI technology will solve all the world's problems. However, the author glosses over some of the limitations of current generation AI technology.
How artificial intelligence can advance the strategy of climate change
Bernard Marr contributor
Jan. 4, 2021 at 12:16 p.m. EST
Slowing down climate change is an urgent matter. If we fail, our world will face a greater crisis than we have experienced due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. When artificial intelligence (AI) technology helps solve a problem, problem solving can be done faster and often would have taken longer to resolve before humans discovered it. Could Artificial Intelligence Advance Climate Change Strategy? Yes, and it already does.
AI can accelerate our response to climate change
There's no time to waste: atmospheric CO2 is the highest ever (even if home orders for COVID-19 have dropped significantly), the average sea level is rising (3 inches in the last 25 years alone) and was 2019 the hottest year in the history of the world's oceans. …
Improve energy efficiency
According to the Capgemini Research Institute, artificial intelligence should improve energy efficiency by 15% over the next three to five years. Machine learning supports efficiency in power generation and distribution …
Optimize the development of clean energy
In the Amazon Basin, hydropower dam developers have usually developed one after the other without a long-term strategy. …
Corporations, governments, and executives often use AI solutions to reduce waste. Whether AI is used to reduce energy waste from buildings …
Make transportation more efficient
Another quarter of global CO2 emissions come from the transport sector. AI is already the technology that powers autonomous vehicles …
Tools to better understand the carbon footprint
They say "knowledge is power" and when it comes to mitigating climate change, AI can help develop tools that individuals and companies can use to understand their carbon footprint.
Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/01/04/how-artificial-intelligence-can-power-climate-change-strategy/?sh=722ad9553482
Can artificial intelligence really do all of this?
The following is a demonstration I created of something that AI is good at and that solves optimization problems. In this case, the AI solves the problem of the “traveling salesman” using an evolutionary algorithm.
If you imagine that all the blue dots are cities, the AI will quickly try to find the shortest path for a traveling salesperson who has to visit all cities, much faster than a human – although the AI also makes mistakes that a human directly makes can recognize away, but the AI tries to identify and correct. The persistent loops that sometimes appear on the line are errors that the AI was unable to identify.
This is very similar to what happens in your navigation system when you ask it to find a route to a destination. The navigation system is an excellent aid to navigation – but we have all been in situations where the navigation system was giving us directions that were just wrong.
AI will help improve transportation in the future. It can be used to unpack and improve congested roads, or to correct poor waterway planning, inefficient building heating, or a variety of other problems. All of these are optimization problems, just like the traveling salesman problem – something AI is really good at – although a human would still have to review the AI solutions to identify and reject faulty solutions.
AI will not solve the big problems in climate policy anytime soon, such as preventing power outages with a network that is mainly fed from temporarily renewable sources. Such a solution, even if possible, would, in my opinion, require a level of creativity and understanding of the problems that is well beyond the capabilities of current generation AIs.
As I said earlier, for all their wonderful abilities, AIs are currently just insect-level intelligences, at best they have an insect-level understanding of the problem they are supposed to solve. Like termites building a mound or ants building a nest, AIs can provide remarkable looking solutions to complicated problems.
But we all know what happens to insects when they encounter a problem they can't understand – they splash into the windshield. Or in confusing white surfaces, like the Tesla pictured at the top of this page in the accident.