What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘artificial intelligence’? You might think of killer robots or sentient humans – or maybe something less sensationalist, like machine learning or chess programs. Chances are, though, you’re probably not thinking about AI saving the world. At least, not the real world – Terminator 2 doesn’t count.
But you should be! Here are four examples of world-saving AI. They're no less exciting than time-travelling robots here to save the world, and unlike Schwarzenegger's sophomore appearance, they’re real, too. Here are our favourite picks of how AI is helping the world be a better place.
Bees are vital for our human survival – not just prosperity, but survival. 35% of the world’s food crops depend on bees! That’s why campaigns to save the bees aren’t being done by naïve lovers of our cute insect friends, but by concerned activists and scientists. Bees are being driven to extinction for a huge range of factors: climate change, urbanisation, pesticide use, predators, and a lot more.
So where does AI come in? Are artificially intelligent bee robots being created? Well, unfortunately not (yet), but AI is being developed and utilised for essential bee population analysis. Bee behaviours from hives all over the world are being recorded and uploaded to a central cloud for analysis under a new World Bee Project initiative. Then, AI algorithms are being used for essential analysis and prediction that's bringing bee populations back from the brink.
Check it out over on the official World Bee Project website!
If we zoom out from the beehives to look at the wider picture, climate change is a massive threat that you probably don’t need an introduction to. As you know, the planet is facing a host of disasters including rising sea levels, vital species extinctions, and extreme weather – what you might not know is that artificial intelligence is helping the resistance.
AI is en route to fulfilling 45% of the Paris Agreement by 2030 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16%. That’s absolutely massive. It’ll be achieved through a wide range of measures, from efficiency to analytics. In some cases, AI has already helped countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a huge 11% in only two years – and AI adoption is only just beginning.
If the world had rock-solid, reliable advance notice about COVID-19's disastrous impact even a month before it became unavoidably evident, we may not have been in the mess we are now. New Zealand’s frankly stellar response would perhaps have been more widely replicated, with countries locking down before the virus had a chance to spread.
AI nearly achieved that with the current outbreak, though the machine-learning technology is too new and hasn’t yet been approved as a reliable source of information by major health organisations. The AI startup BlueDot provided predictions about COVID back in December 2019 that, with the benefit of hindsight, were invaluable. In fact, Taiwan employed Bluedot with incredible results.
BlueDot may not have had the world’s attention, but it and companies like it are likely to in the future. COVID-19 may be the first in a new era of pandemics, so it may be that the same AI that helped Taiwan will be invaluable around the world.
World hunger has been an issue for a very long time and it’s not slated to get better anytime soon – in fact, with current progress it’s en route to getting worse. Solving world hunger isn’t simply a monetary issue, although that’s a huge part of it – it’s an information issue, too. That’s where AI comes in.
AI has cut through hundreds of thousands of studies to perform in weeks what would take years of manpower. The previously jumbled information spanning decades has been automatically sorted and used in a landmark series of studies.
It’s also helping aid get to those who need it most – AI like the Child Growth Monitor (CGM) is helping identify malnourished children in India and could be a big help for the UN’s goal of ending world hunger by 2030.
Feeling energised yet? Artificial intelligence may have ‘artificial’ in its name, but it provides real solutions to real (and massive) problems. Don’t put all your focus on the horror stories – AI deserves your faith and hope, too.
We’re using AI for our privacy-protecting search engine. Xayn solves something called the AI privacy dilemma – a catch-22 where the AI you’re using to search the web violates your privacy. Check it out!