Microsoft’s AI for Earth!

Dear Commons Community,

I have just become aware of Microsoft’s AI for Earth grant program that was first launched in July 2017.  The program focuses on using artificial intelligence and other newer technologies such as cloud computing and drone surveillance to support environmental projects. Through this program Microsoft initially awarded  over 35 grants in more than 10 countries for access to Microsoft Azure and AI technology, for applications ranging from species abundance modeling to live poacher detection through drone imagery.  

The interest has grown such that Microsoft started making a deeper commitment to the program.  Explaining it as “more resources coupled with a long-term commitment,” The company is providing universities, NGOs and others with advanced training to put AI to its best use in developing applications.

“If you’re an environmental organization, or an individual environmental researcher or scientist, and you have a good idea of how you want to apply Microsoft’s tools to environmental science — we want to help you do that,” says Microsoft Chief Environmental Scientist Lucas Joppa. 

Right now, access to today’s AI technologies comes at a price and requires computational expertise that put it out of reach of many, especially individual researchers and small NGOs working on  environmental challenges. Through AI for Earth, Microsoft hopes to change that reality. It is investing $50 million over five years to put AI in the hands of individuals and organizations around the world who are working to protect the planet.

AI for Earth is focused on applying AI to four environmental risk areas — climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and water.

This seems like a worthwhile program and a prime example of beneficial AI applications.


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