FORBES: Formidable Human-AI Relations Can Accelerate Sustainability Efforts

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and similar digitalization solutions are modifying the way the world’s most influential companies and industries — as well as entire cities — function every day. When working in harmony with humans, AI and other automation systems have the potential to make huge impacts on economic growth across the globe, going so far as to support solving humanity’s most critical roadblocks, from streamlining energy production to improving grid systems and achieving more sustainable operations for nearly every major industry on Earth.
As the CEO of an AI company making advanced digitalization software products and solutions, the paradigm of enabling people and AI to work together on achieving more sustainable operations is always top of mind; its importance cannot be curbed. As we move into the future, I’m confident there will be plenty of jobs for both humans and AI so long as they are able to function in conjunction with one another.
Of course, humanity will likely need to understand and accept that meaningful modifications are inevitable during transition periods. It will be necessary for many to develop proficiencies and adaptable skill sets that only a human mind could perform. Flexibility around the ever-progressing capabilities of AI will be vital. The minute that humans and machines find the groove in the role they play with one another, that marriage of unlimited creativity and seamless functionality should bring about an era that propels us beyond all limits to solve some of our world’s most important challenges, including the climate crises.
Small transformations across big industries may trigger substantial strides.
AI is advanced enough to work in harmony with humans, combining powers to fast-track large-scale efforts to make real change when it comes to environmental sustainability, resource preservation and waste reduction. From more intentional identification of potential emission impacts across energy operations to making entire cities smarter and more efficient, AI is already taking names when it comes to substantial results.
One major company taking significant steps in accomplishing this goal is BP, which is partnering with Microsoft and targeting to become net-zero by 2050. The energy giant also underscored ambitions for the near future, stating in a press release: “By the end of the decade, it aims to have developed ‎around 50 gigawatts of net renewable generating capacity—a 20-fold increase on what it has ‎previously developed, increased annual low carbon investment 10-fold to around $5 billion, and cut oil ‎and gas production by 40%.”
Additional instances of how AI initiatives are confronting climate issues include:
  • Implementation of AI and ML to improve energy production in real time.
  • Automation of downstream operations to boost plant efficiency by 8% to 12%.
  • Improved grid systems to enhance forecast ability and performance, allowing for more deliberate renewable energy strategies.
  • Transportation and navigation optimization through AI and ML apps like Google Maps and Waze, alongside other vehicular data-collection solutions, to reduce emissions and pollution by relaying pertinent vehicle efficiency, traffic and other similar congestion data to consumers.
  • The use of robotics at the edge, equipped with AI-infused chips, to keep our environment healthy through the prevention of catastrophic equipment failure and leaks by autonomously detecting fissures, deterioration, leaks or other potentially devastating failures within an oil pipeline, refinery or otherwise.
The trust problem and explainability solution.
According to an article from Earth.Org: “The field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is flourishing thanks to large investments, and big companies with heavy ecological footprints can use it to make their activity more sustainable.” However, one of the biggest obstacles hindering AI’s pathway to solving some of our most important issues equates to a lack of trust impacting the adoption and implementation of the technology.
Most AI tools tend to operate in opaque black boxes where human users cannot perceive how they arrive at conclusions, answers and recommendations. These solutions often just spit out a remedy with no explainability, traceability or auditability — hardly building confidence. Increasing the opportunities for AI to amplify the talents and capabilities of people requires their trust. Otherwise, the ability for both parties to most effectively work together to solve our most important sustainability problems becomes severely limited.
Enter cognitive AI. This type of explainable AI works transparently, revealing the reasoning behind its recommendations in a straightforward manner and readily showing relevant humans the comprehensive data behind its decision-making process through clearly readable audit trails. AI should not be a substitute for human input but rather used as a tool for humans to make more confident decisions. In order for humans to trust AI, the solutions must not hide their processes within black-box functionality. Explainable AI explodes the black box to grant that essential, trust-building clarity.
The balance of knowledge-based cognition and digitalization is what can enable decision makers to identify unexpected opportunities and take immediate action in critical scenarios. Resulting process enhancements would likely result in superior communication, reinforced cooperation and streamlined enterprises where everything operates more economically and sustainably. When working in conjunction with humans, cognitive AI can grant the ability to monitor everything on a more holistic level. Stakeholders can then elevate procedures to both obtain additional value while shrinking waste, thus decreasing carbon footprints and sprinting nearer to net-zero targets.
AI of the future: A solution with indelible results.
Working toward a lower carbon outlook will demand that moves be made around operational efficiency, improved production tactics and minimized waste. The significance of a global initiative around a more sustainable world cannot be downplayed. As a software company making AI of the future, our responsibility to confront this challenge head-on by pioneering sustainability-first solutions that keep humans in the loop is of the utmost importance.
AI will be a critical utility when it comes to technologies that support businesses, industries and cities in attaining vital net-zero objectives. When AI proves itself as an explainable, human-trustable solution that works in harmony with people, a limitless capacity can be unleashed for unraveling some of our most complex obstacles in attaining a more sustainable tomorrow for our planet and its inhabitants.