How AI and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand


Cover image for How AI and Sustainability Go Hand in Hand

AI enables the development of new technologies every day, and applying it to sustainability could be revolutionary. Many companies are seeking creative ways to improve their environmental, social, and governance (or ESG) goals, and leveraging AI provides many solutions.Increasing your organization's sustainability impact can also help boost your bottom line by saving money and increasing sales. Consumers are becoming increasingly cognizant of environmental and societal issues, which means that sustainability is vital to the success and longevity of your organization.

How AI Can Help You Meet Your Sustainable Development Goals

There are several ways AI can help your organization reach its ESG goals. AI can accelerate innovation by enabling faster research and development strategies. Researchers can easily access information using natural language processing (known as NLP) and text mining technology. This can drive progress for your company and achieve sustainable development goals.AI has increased productivity for organizations across the globe. They benefit from higher economic outputs that can lift people out of poverty and reduce pollution, raw material use, and even land use. Thus, improving productivity in these industries can have a major impact on improving their overall sustainability.Prevention and mitigation are other critical aspects. As we continue to see more disasters caused by climate change, deforestation, and even ecosystem pollution, it becomes increasingly important to adequately forecast potential problems and mitigate them. Predicting when misfortune will occur can help your organization prepare in advance.AI systems can help accelerate education and improve work conditions for workers at your organization. We know that AI systems cannot set goals and achieve creativity. Human input is still crucial when figuring out what problems must be solved. This allows organizations to direct algorithms to optimize specific areas.

Why You Should Leverage AI in Your Organization

AI can positively impact your ability to reach all your organization's sustainable development goals. A study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications found that AI technologies strongly impact nearly all of the 17 sustainable development goals. Although any new technology has the potential for negative impacts, the positive impacts significantly outweigh any harm they might cause.AI is necessary to deliver sustainable solutions and allow organizations to reach their sustainable development goals while reaping the economic benefits. A McKinsey survey showed that AI implementation offers significant benefits for organizations, including cost savings.

How AI Has Helped Organizations Reach Sustainability Goals

AI can unlock trillions of dollars for organizations across the globe. When AI is implemented and deployed with care, it can help achieve ESG goals, such as:

1. Data center cooling

Organizations across the globe utilize AI to save time and money and to help achieve their sustainability goals. Take Google, for example; implementing AI into their data centers allows them to make a few percentage improvements in power efficiency. This quickly translates into millions of dollars in savings each year. Additionally, they can operate their hyperscale data centers more efficiently, allowing for far larger outputs than local workstations.The company achieved this by training the DeepMind team on deep neural networks on data and enabling them to develop a more energy-efficient cooling system. This helped produce significant gains in energy efficiency and reductions in their carbon footprint and operating costs.

2. Livestock

In the agricultural industry, livestock farms are largely responsible for emitting a lot of carbon dioxide. Even though there are many efforts to create meat alternatives, it's not yet a reality to mass produce these. Right now, the focus is on reducing carbon emissions by making a few efficiency changes, which could result in more affordable nutrition.The animals in livestock farms require constant personal care from humans, which is a lot of manual labor. Beijing Unitrace Tech developed a facial recognition software that uses AI to monitor each animal's behavior and habits. The technology can also detect illnesses and unusual behaviors using a deep learning system. So far, this has only been developed for cows because pigs are more difficult to detect with facial recognition. Without the need for human intervention, this drastically reduces the time it takes workers to physically monitor their livestock.

3. Harmful speech detection

AI technology can monitor language and detect hateful and harmful speech patterns on social media platforms that use NLP. For instance, Facebook uses NLP to control harmful speech, including bullying, racism, and violence. Another major issue on Facebook is the spread of fake news, which leads to misinformation that destabilizes democracies.Facebook cannot use humans to moderate content that gets published, which is where NLP comes in. Facebook didn't stop there, though. Its research team also trained agents to sample novel training to prevent hate speech from spreading. Additionally, the system can self-supervise, meaning it can detect information outside the training data.It can feel impossible to meet your sustainable development goals manually. It is often not clear what to measure and how it relates to the issues society cares about. Leveraging AI is a key contributor to reaching your ESG goals. Not only will it save you time, but it will also help reduce your overall expenses.



Headshot of Tiago Ramalho

Co-founder and CEO

Tiago Ramalho

Tiago holds a Master's degree in Theoretical/Mathematical Physics and a PhD in Biophysics from Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich. After graduation, he joined Google DeepMind as a research engineer. There he worked on a number cutting-edge research projects which led to publications in international machine learning conferences and scientific journals such as Nature. He then joined Cogent Labs, a multinational Tokyo based AI start-up, as a lead research scientist. In August 2020 co-founded Recursive Inc, and is currently CEO.