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AI & Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are 17 interlinked global goals, set up by the United Nations (UN) to achieve a better and more sustainable development for all of us on this planet. 

AI has the potential to play a significant role in achieving the SDGs

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to accelerate our journey in reaching the SDGs. We have seen plenty of examples of how AI and related technologies made incredible impacts in the fields of healthcare, energy, agriculture, retail, telecom, transportation etc… However, we have hardly seen the impact of AI in the social and environmental spheres yet. With SDGs in place, we will now see several such applications. Not only SDGs, but several top tier companies are also now considering sustainability as seriously as their balance sheet.  

It might be overwhelming to write about all the way AI can help the 17 SDGs. Let me discuss one application for each of the first 3 goals and keep the rest for upcoming blogs.  

No Poverty

Poverty is the state in which people or community lack resources for the minimum standard of leaving. Stanford University economist Marshall Burke used satellite images from day and night of different regions and developed a classification algorithm for marking regions in different scale of poverty. This is definitely the right first step for eradicating poverty, to identify where it is present and at which scale. Movement of resources can be done accordingly.  

Zero Hunger

We, in this plant, are not running out of food. There are places with abundance and places with the scarcity of food. Efficient routing of food is the solutions. The money to purchase the food is not a concern here. AI techniques are extensively used to identify countries and regions of excess food, followed by efficient routes to ship it to the locations where that requires the most. 

Good health and well being

Applications of AI that we generally see in health care are mostly at the higher end of the spectrum. Robots performing surgery. On the other hand, AI is helping to map the groundwater quality and how it is changing over time. For many places in Asia and Africa, groundwater from wells and ponds are consumed directly. That makes healthcare and well being of people there directly connected with the weather they consume. Early detection of groundwater quality degradation detection helps regional governments to act and take the right measure to protect the water quality or provide people with community filter systems.

I hope these three applications are inspiring and show how AI can make a strong social impact. Let’s use AI to improve the quality of life on this planet.