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TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT:WALKING SIDE BY SIDE  /
October 23, 2019
Viktoriya Polyarush Social Media Coordinator, an avid reader with the passion for technology.

Climate change and environmental threats are not considered to be overhyped anymore; moreover, one is aware that imminent consequences of these phenomena are posing a real risk. Hence, the advanced technologies are able to provide invaluable assistance. For instance, companies everywhere are building sustainable practices into their business models and utilizing the latest technologies in order to reduce their carbon footprints. All across the world, entrepreneurs and business moguls are seeking to promote the spirit of environmental consciousness into their respective enterprises. As technology advances, so too will our ability to counteract the damages the environment faces because of  the industrial age. Here are some solutions how technology can help the environment in the upcoming years:

Biotechnology will create more advanced models of genetic engineering

These new practices will allow agriculture scientists to harvest crops using less fertilizer and water. Not only will this reduce water waste and the environmental damage and toxicity of the land, it will also allow crops to be more nutrient-dense.

The worldwide web will provide a helpful hand

Wireless Internet and advanced technological applications such as retina interfaces will cut down on our tree decimation and forest clear-cutting and will decrease the need for the energy used to manufacture ink and paper. The Internet element is evident: the growth of the web is already ultimately cutting back on paper usage.

New “smart” technology

Smart tech will progress to the point that filters will be able to automatically adjust themselves to effectively treat water. Smart technology will also promote overall better environmental policies. The coming energy smart grid, for example, is expected to utilize wind and solar power to more efficiently generate energy for the world’s cities. Moreover, smart appliances will reduce the average household’s energy use.

More responsible manufacturing

Biodegradable and recyclable materials will become more common as companies which specialize in sustainable and green products will be more supported. This will reduce the use of non-biodegradable plastic and other materials whose manufacturing overloads the environment with emissions.

Cars will get even more eco-friendly

Car manufacturing will progress to include significantly less steel and more composites of materials like aluminum, magnesium, and titanium. Fuel efficiency will also progress, allowing cars to reach 80 miles per gallon. Hybrid and electric cars will become the norm, as will fuel-cell vehicles, neat ethanol vehicles, natural gas vehicles and automobiles which run on clean diesel and gasohol.

Increased tracking and monitoring

We can mention the myriad of smart devices, wearables, sensors, meters  – and the IoT that links this growing network of billions of devices. Location and spatial services are a hot area for tech investors and entrepreneurs. This practice can revolutionize transparency and accountability, real time, around how companies, governments and individuals behave with our water, forests, air, precious minerals, wildlife and oceans.

More experiences

The internet of information is bound  to move to one of experiences as augmented, mixed and virtual reality come of age. Those in the industry believe this whole area is a few years away from exploding. Technologists are working on the final ingredients to increase resolution, field of view, improve hand tracking and deeper immersion, as well as solutions for affordability. As the technology improves to enable an increasingly intimate social experience, the business case to fly for face to face meetings erodes and the impact on mobility more broadly could be huge.

 More decentralisation

It is enabled by 4IR technologies including IoT, AI, blockchain and 3D printing. Many decentralised solutions can have significant environmental and well as inclusivity benefits. For example, peer to peer renewable energy grids with intelligent virtual power plants or decentralized manufacturing with 3D printing reducing greenhouse gas emissions from distribution.

We can expect a wide variety of technology advancements in the coming years geared toward generating less adverse affects on the environment. These changes will enter all walks of life, from your average household to large corporations. Moreover, as the scale and urgency of the economic and human health impacts from our deteriorating natural environment grows, we have an opportunity to look at how specifically AI can help transform traditional sectors and systems to address climate change, deliver food and water security, build sustainable cities, and protect biodiversity and human wellbeing.

Distributed energy grids

AI can enhance the predictability of demand and supply for renewables across a distributed grid, improve energy storage, efficiency and load management, assist in the integration and reliability of renewables and enable dynamic pricing and trading, creating market initiatives.

Smart agriculture and food systems

AI-augmented agriculture involves automated data collection, decision-making and corrective actions via robotics to allow early detection of crop diseases and issues, to provide timed nutrition to livestock, and generally to optimise agricultural inputs and returns based on supply and demand. This promises to increase the resource efficiency of the agriculture industry, lowering the use of water, fertilisers and pesticides which cause damage to important ecosystems, and increase resilience to climate extremes.

Next generation weather and climate prediction

A new field of “Climate Informatics” is blossoming that uses AI to fundamentally transform weather forecasting and improve our understanding of the effects of climate change. This field traditionally requires high performance energy-intensive computing, but deep-learning networks can allow computers to run much faster and incorporate more complexity of the ‘real-world’ system into the calculations. In just over a decade, computational power and advances in AI will enable home computers to have as much power as today’s supercomputers, lowering the cost of research, boosting scientific productivity and accelerating discoveries. AI techniques may also help correct biases in models, extract the most relevant data to avoid data degradation, predict extreme events and be used for impacts modelling.

AI-designed intelligent, connected and livable cities

AI could be used to simulate and automate the generation of zoning laws, building ordinances and floodplains, combined with augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR). Real-time city-wide data on energy, water consumption and availability, traffic flows, people flows, and weather could create an “urban dashboard” to assist urban sustainability.

As a final remark, we are all responsible for the environmental changes. However, it is high time humanity started embracing the opportunity technology offers to save our planet for the future generations.