The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the European Green Deal
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative technology with the potential to address some of the world's most pressing challenges. One such challenge is the global environmental crisis, which demands innovative solutions to mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity, and promote sustainable development.
The European Green Deal, a comprehensive action plan by the European Union (EU), aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. AI plays a pivotal role in this endeavour, offering tools and insights to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future.
AI Applications for Environmental Purposes
Enhanced Decision-Making: AI provides better information for relevant decision-making. Enhanced scientific knowledge about the environment is crucial for understanding and addressing environmental challenges. AI technologies can play a role in various data streams, such as:
- Continuous delivery of data by remote sensors on Earth observing systems.
- Aggregation of individual scientific observations into larger curated community data resources.
- Investment in long-term ecological monitoring networks.
- Deployment of automated and inexpensive sensor networks.
- Data captured by citizens.
Earth Observation (EO): The EU's EO programs, such as Copernicus, produce vast amounts of environmental data. The combination of AI and EO can produce information relevant to environmental planning, decision-making, management, and monitoring of the progress of environmental policies. Examples include:
- The Digital Twin of Planet Earth project combines digital infrastructure with EO data and AI-enabled applications to provide an accurate representation of Earth's changes.
- The Big Earth Net project uses neural networks for land cover classification from Sentinel-2 imagery, which is essential for monitoring agriculture and forestry.
- The Extreme Earth project uses deep learning to predict extreme natural events and provide tools like water availability maps for agricultural areas.
AI for Earth Initiative: Microsoft's "AI for Earth" initiative provides open-source tools, models, infrastructures, and data related to land cover mapping, species classification, camera trap image processing, geospatial datasets, and nature conservation data.
Challenges and Opportunities: While AI offers immense potential, challenges remain. Data preparation, integration of physical principles into algorithms, ground-truthing of data, and development of datasets for AI training are complex and time-consuming. The lack of training datasets for EO applications is a limiting factor, and the potential of AI in EO is considered largely untapped.
The European Commission's activities in AI and EO are vast and evolving. The intersection of AI and EO is a key area of AI applications for visual diagnostics and an emerging field for deep learning. Hybrid modelling approaches, coupling physical process models with data-driven deep learning algorithms, could be the future.
In conclusion, the synergy between AI and the European Green Deal offers a promising pathway to a sustainable future. By harnessing the power of AI, the EU can achieve its ambitious goals, ensuring a greener, cleaner, and more prosperous Europe for all.
Source: European Parliament