The Future is Now – Reshaping through AI

01 Jun 2017

In order for current and future generations to have a sense of comfort and enjoyment from nature, we must act now to build a sustainable future. There is still hope for mother Earth, with the power of AI and collaboration. Our fourth episode of GoImpact Chats, Richard Peers from Microsoft tells us what is being done through technology and partnerships, what is missing, and the next steps to a greener future. 

In our interview, Richard speaks of the data gap in bridging talk and action, and how Microsoft is positioning itself for impact with an internal carbon “tax” and externally with  AI for Earth. As we move from a brown economy to a green economy, it is important to incorporate technology and collect data relevant to pushing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

He gave an example of Silviaterra, a company that makes use of satellite imagery to help farmers plan their harvest by identifying suitable terrain and providing accurate projections of crop yields. Another company combines AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) approach, utilizing cloud technology to transfer and store data collected and AI processed insights. Both companies serve as examples of how businesses can leverage technology and bring meaningful insights from the data to reduce carbon footprint and water wastage in agriculture. 

Microsoft has been making a conscious effort to push environmental impact. Since 2012, Microsoft’s carbon offset program resulted in 3.3 million metric tons of carbon reduced or avoided, impacted 8.2 million people through community benefits, and protected about 5.1 million acres of forest. This carbon offset program is merely a demonstration of Microsoft’s commitment to a cleaner world. They are also dedicated to renovating their data centers to zero-carbon emission facilities as well as reducing their carbon footprint on their smart campuses. 

In 2017, Microsoft set aside 50 Million USD for their “AI for Earth” program that provides grants to anyone with an idea that meets their conservation goals empowered by AI. The grant offers participants access to the Azure platform and other Microsoft products, eliminating the barrier to get in touch with and utilize technology for a better future.

Richard also talks in depth about the need for integrated reporting in finance to enable data collection for smarter investment in the impact space. With proper data, companies can complete their ESG reporting more accurately to meet their corporate social responsibility requirements. 

To get to know more about Richard’s unique insights, and how Microsoft is helping protect our planet, tune in to our full episode.