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Responsible AI: Environmental Monitoring and Sustainability

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In the past year, we explored how Artificial intelligence (AI) could revolutionize health care and the responsibilities associated with emerging developments. In this new series on Responsible AI, we examine multiple ways in which AI is bringing us to a "new normal," and the potential applications of AI for good.

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Environmental Monitoring and Sustainability

Episode 04: In this new installment of our “Responsible AI” virtual series, supported by Hitachi, we will be addressing artificial intelligence as a tool for environmental monitoring. AI technologies have the potential to combat the serious issues posed by climate change by monitoring ecosystems, predicting wildlife migratory patterns, and optimizing shipping and trade routes to reduce industry’s carbon emissions. In this half-hour, we will discuss how AI is used to decrease the impact of different industrial byproducts on the environment. We will talk about the efforts to mitigate the effects of mining, identify and solve pollution issues before they become a problem, and detect violations of environmental regulations.  We will also touch upon the growing concerns about AI’s own carbon footprint and explore ways to transition to a “greener” AI.

Recordings from this series are archived on YouTube and made available on the AAAS website.


Bistra Dilkina is a co-Director of the Center for AI in Society (CAIS) based at the University of Southern California (USC). She is also an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Viterbi School of Engineering. Before coming to USC, Prof. Dilkina was at Georgia Institute of Technology and the co-director of the Data Science for Social Good Atlanta summer program. Prof. Dilkina is one of the junior faculty leaders in the young field of Computational Sustainability and has co-organized workshops, tutorials, special sessions at AAAI, and a doctoral consortium on Computational Sustainability. In 2019, she co-edited a book called “Artificial Intelligence and Conservation” (part of the “AI and Social Good” book series) published by Cambridge University Press. Her work spans discrete optimization, network design, and machine learning with a strong focus on applications in habitat and wildlife conservation, as well as disaster mitigation planning and community resilience. Prof. Dilkina received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cornell University in 2012.

Michael A. X. (Max) Izatt is the Chief Scientist for the Industrial & Applied Mathematics Team in the Insight & Analytics Division of the Digital Insights Group at Hitachi Vantara Corporation. He was trained as a theoretical chemist in the physical chemistry groups at MIT and Chicago where he focused on quantum wave packet dynamics of laser-induced surface chemistry. Izatt conducted optics research for particle-beam initiated excimer laser amplifiers in the Laser Projects Division of the Pulsed Power Research Group at Sandia National Laboratories before turning his attention to algorithmic trading of fixed income securities, commodities, and derivatives. After a break for business school in Champaign-Urbana, He launched CentraLytics Corporation at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he served as founder and principal financial mathematician. CentraLytics’ intellectual property was successfully acquired in 2014. At Hitachi, Izatt leads a team of mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who apply quantitative methods and Multiphysics for Use Cases such as Workplace Safety, Energy Demand Planning, Predictive Failure, Predictive Maintenance, and Equipment Platform Health across industrial sectors in manufacturing, agribusiness, mining, and oil & gas exploration and transportation.

Jessica Wyndham (Moderator) is the Director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program. She also serves as coordinator of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, a network of scientific, engineering, and health associations that recognize the role of science and technology in human rights. Her areas of expertise include the intersections of science, technology, human rights and ethics, the social responsibilities of scientists and engineers, and the role of professional scientific, engineering and health societies in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Articles from the Science Family of Journals

A new narrative for the ocean (Lubchenco and Gaines, 2019)

The global tree restoration potential (Bastin, et al., 2019)

Realizing the potential of digital development: The case of agricultural advice (Fabregas, et al., 2019)

A continental system for forecasting bird migration (Van Doren and Horton, 2018) 

Combating deforestation: From satellite to intervention (Finer, 2018)

Global hot spots of transshipment of fish catch at sea (Miller, et al., 2018)

The economics of fishing the high seas (Mayorga, et al., 2018)

Trophic signatures of seabirds suggest shifts in oceanic ecosystems (Gagne, et al., 2018)

Wealthy countries dominate industrial fishing (McCauley, et al., 2018)

Airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy to map forest trait diversity and guide conservation (Asner, et al., 2017)

Tropical forests are a net carbon source based on aboveground measurements of gain and loss (Baccini, et al., 2017)

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Joel Ericsen

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