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New Zealand AI to Save the Amazon Rainforest

Despite the fact that humans are capable of saving the planet from other environmental threats such as global warming, the globe continues to be negatively impacted.

Nonetheless, technology has been one of the pillars on which activists and scientists depend to save the world. For instance, there are currently environmental and sustainability projects using AI and big data to prevent forest fires and monitor wildlife. In fact, humans may become completely reliant on AI to monitor CO2 levels, calculate carbon footprints in real-time, and predict natural disasters.

A New Zealand analytics company had implemented the next generation of crowd-driven artificial intelligence in collaboration with a leading global research institute to power AI algorithms designed to help us better understand our planet.

The project began with over 44,000 satellite images, more than 38,000 of which have now been classified by volunteer users from 80 countries worldwide. The resulting data – covering more than 135,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest so far – is being used to train AI algorithms, helping them better understand how to identify those features in satellite imagery and differentiate them from similar features.

Because image analysis is an important first step in the accurate assessment and projection of deforestation, the company encourages people to see what technology cannot see by examining and reporting on images of smaller incremental forestry incursions around the world.

When users launch the app, they will see an aerial image of a rainforest section divided into nine squares. They will then be asked to choose which of those squares, if any, exhibit signs of human development – for example, roads, which are often created by illegal logging operations to transport machinery in and trees out. After classifying one image, the user can proceed to classify as many as they want.

By using image data from this ecologically diverse territory, the computer vision model is given a variety of examples, so it can eventually learn to detect human impact anywhere in the Amazon rainforest. Citizen data scientists have also started classifying more recent images to identify where new human impact is occurring.

The companies are targeting the app at a wide range of casual and professional users ranging from students and classrooms to engineers. As for the research institution, the exercise is a proof of concept for broader applications of AI in ecological concerns around the world.

AI plays an important role in achieving not only environmental but all other Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – from ending hunger and poverty to achieving sustainable energy and gender equality to protecting and preserving biodiversity.

Moreover, artificial intelligence has the potential to accelerate global efforts to protect the environment and conserve resources by detecting energy emission reductions, CO2 removal, assisting in the development of greener transportation networks, monitoring deforestation, and predicting extreme weather conditions.

Environmental companies in New Zealand have been developing a wide range of technologies to address sustainability issues. A New Zealand company has created an AI-based solution for the country’s carbon forestry. An article from OpenGov Asia reported that the device, CarbonCrop, is a tech-enabled solution developed by the company. It enables landowners to identify the extent of their carbon forestry opportunity without incurring any upfront costs or responsibilities. The product uses machine learning and remote sensing technology to identify, monitor and enhance forest carbon stocks and restoration alternatives. Furthermore, rather than a regulated approach, the company provide a consensual alternative for action.

In contrast, this global collaboration between research institutes, companies, industries, governments, and charities must begin for the best interest of the planet’s future quality of life. The possibilities are limitless. Data, AI and humans can collaborate to build these informative networks that will protect the planet and bring it back from the brink of global disaster.

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