03 FEBRUARY 2023


Net-zero and sustainability are the future. Artificial intelligence is the vehicle to get us there.

The advancements so far in smart cities and alternative energy sources are providing a fascinating glimpse into what society and the environment could look like sooner than we think. The technology that’s going to truly revolutionize large-scale sustainability and make a net-zero future a reality is artificial intelligence. Specifically, here are a few AI trends likely to make waves in 2023.

The ‘Cooling Down’ of AI

A few years ago, every major business, technology, and lifestyle publication was lauding (or lamenting) how AI is coming off the movie screens and into more parts of daily home and work life. In 2023, expect a “cooling down” of AI. It’s no longer a novel idea and so far, Earth hasn’t become a lawless wasteland out of “Terminator.” The curiosity (and fear) stage of AI is mostly over, but technologists may hit more ceilings with the capabilities of AI.

As industries scramble to tailor AI to their niche needs, technologists must not be afraid of failure. There will be fewer and fewer instances of rousing AI successes because the technology will be challenged and molded to achieve much more than sorting simple data.

To succeed, projects with hefty budgets and teams with boundless patience are likely to be the most productive. AI solutions take time to perfect, and luckily mathematical frameworks — like graphical and hybrid modeling frameworks — are at a point where they can consume data and equations simultaneously. As a result, more guaranteed and more clean-cut solutions are possible. But again, it’ll take time, and in the AI game, time is money … and lots of it.

Materials Discovery, Decarbonization, and Battery Innovation

Just because the hype around AI is cooling down, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a quiet year. 2023 is set to be instrumental in the fight against climate change, especially in decarbonization advancements. Back in 2021, IBM was already using generative AI (the same technology behind online AI art generators) to accelerate the discovery of carbon dioxide-absorbing materials. More research is needed to find widely applicable solutions to carbon accounting. Generative AI’s aptitude for materials discovery will be a key partner in solving the crux of our generation: sustainability.

Battery innovation, such as those used in electric vehicles, will benefit from the sped-up research and development process. The cost of most EV models prohibits families and company vehicle fleets from

going electric; however, the faster innovation happens with the help of gen AI, the more widespread and less expensive EVs may become.

Renewed Urgency on Clean Energy

Another aspect of sustainability poised for evolution in 2023 is alternative energy. The urgency for such sources is not only spurred on by successive natural disasters but the energy crisis left in the wake of geopolitical conflict. Skyrocketing family energy bills, particularly in Europe, are putting even more public pressure on large-scale, clean energy solutions. Eliminating the use of natural gas as political leverage is the additional societal benefit (in addition to the obvious environmental boon) of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro energy advancements.

Intelligent Infrastructure and AI Data Collection to Solve the Water Crisis

Where there’s water, there’s life. In parts of the world, water is disappearing, and the life that relied upon it is either migrating or disappearing with it. Water infrastructure greatly benefits from AI in a few ways. First, AI can be introduced at the very beginning of the water infrastructure design process to create water-friendly and secure blueprints. Whenever the infrastructure springs a leak, AI-powered sensors or AI-informed sensor placement can help crews pinpoint and patch leaks quickly.

AI excels at data collection, and there’s a lot of data to be collected, sorted, and interpreted to find patterns in water consumption. For example, every degree (or half a degree) a thermometer ticks up or down affects the amount of water needed to water plants. AI can determine the optimal amounts needed to keep crops alive while using the least amount of water to do so.

AI to Tide Over Oil and Gas

While cleaner energy means continuing to enter the market, oil and gas companies can leverage AI to maximize the efficiency of energy production and operations. For example, oil and gas recruiters can leverage AI to bring in a new class of brilliant engineers; there’s currently a gap between experienced senior technicians on the cusp of retirement and the employees who must take their place. AI can aid in sourcing candidates and repairing the reputation of oil and gas that often repels exceptional talent.

Additionally, to continue to power the world as efficiently as possible, AI can aid in accurate monitor readings. Inaccurate readings become a problem when oil and gas companies report on their scope 1 and scope 2 emissions. When companies don’t have the best technology to report on their emissions accurately, the company overpays – thus depleting funds that should be invested in technology to improve readings. AI and automation can break this cycle by providing accurate readings, freeing more funds for technology advancement, and making oil and gas more efficient.

One Year Closer

Earth is fragile. The time is now to hand operations over to AI-powered hands to cradle the planet into a net-zero and sustainable era. Carbon neutrality is possible, and 2023 will bring technologists closer to finding widespread and accessible solutions to usher in a greener future.