When you think of artificial intelligence, the first image that likely comes to mind is one of sentient robots that walk, talk and emote like humans. But there’s a different kind of AI that’s becoming prevalent in nearly all of the sciences. It’s known as machine learning, and it revolves around enlisting computers in the task of sorting through the massive amounts of data that modern technology has allowed us to generate (a.k.a. “big data”).
One of the places machine learning is turning out to be the most beneficial is in the environmental sciences, which have generated huge amounts of information from monitoring Earth’s various systems — underground aquifers, the warming climate or animal migration, for example. A slew of projects have been popping up in this relatively new field, called computational sustainability, that combine data gathered about the environment with a computer’s ability to discover trends and make predictions about the future of our planet. This is useful to scientists and policy-makers because it can help them develop plans for how to live and survive in our changing world. Here’s a look at just a few.
Source: Erin Biba, Ensia, April 26, 2016