28 Sep, 2020
Unsurprisingly, Sustainability and Artificial Intelligence are topics at the forefront of technological development. As more and more organisations and individuals become aware of their impact on the environment, the more innovative among us will be looking for ways to improve the situation. For some experts, AI has proved itself to be the most viable way towards a large-scale shift towards sustainability across business models.
The first major firms to start down this path must also be mentioned, as tech titan Microsoft and energy giant Shell have kickstarted the movement with a first-of-its-kind partnership. The partnership is a part of wider initiatives from both parties to bring down carbon emissions and move towards a carbon neutral state of affairs, no small feat for corporations of such size and stature. Microsoft, in particular, has made a pledge to become fully carbon neutral by 2025, and by all appearances, the use of AI and IoT will play an important part in their journey over the next 5 years.
To examine current projects before speculating on what AI’s role may become in the future, AI has been mainly focused on Shell’s most unsustainable project, energy production. In this field AI has been used to compute the most efficient adjustments and parameters to reduce carbon emissions by as much as possible, never an easy task when dealing with natural gas production and distribution. This is an aspect which will of course appeal to many businesses, as making manufacturing and distribution processes more efficient will be of great use to many a business.
Something that will be of more appeal to workers rather than executives will be the impact that Artificial Intelligence is having on work environments that deal with hazardous materials and locations. Leveraging on similar machine learning and cognitive computing technologies, it will aim to make the workplace more efficient and sustainable for the workers inside it. These changes will improve workplace safety across the board, and better the sustainability of the workforce and worksites.
With a promising start already under its belt with the Microsoft-Shell partnership, the use of AI in the move towards sustainable business doesn’t look to be slowing down one bit. More energy providers will be tempted by Shell’s success with more efficient and sustainable supply chains, aspects which will improve firms’ reputations as well as their bottom lines. In its sector, Shell has been a leader in innovation for the past century, and their foray into the exciting new-ish world of Artificial Intelligence is just another example of this.
For the developers of the AI, this is also a very promising situation to find themselves in. The benefits of their technology are being displayed on the largest possible stage, and it all seems to be going swimmingly. The whole situation will also do wonders for sustainability and ethical business within the tech sector, as businesses will learn that a focus on the environment does not in fact spell disaster for a business’ finances. Many in the sector will be quick to follow Microsoft’s example, and their influence should not be overlooked. We’re firm in our belief that AI and sustainability can do much for each other, and that this is only the first of many projects to come. Sustainability in business isn’t just an advantage, it’s a necessity, and AI can be the key to taking many more businesses across that line.