This is significant, as we increasingly need new solutions for the ever-emerging challenges that face mankind. The aim is to ensure technology keeps up with the new problems with which we must contend in the 21st century.

It’s exciting to see the ways in which emerging technologies can solve heretofore confounding problems, and accomplish heretofore Sisyphean tasks. It’s worth exploring how AI will help make our world a better place.

Let’s start with breathing. AI can be used to monitor air pollution, letting us know where the problems lie so that we can better formulate solutions. But that’s only the beginning. AI can also be used to reduce the harmful emissions pumped into it in the first place. This is especially urgent because air pollution is already a dangerous global crisis. Over 90% of the world’s population lives in a place that fails to meet World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. And while it may be easy to think of the consequences of this as a distant problem, it is already killing seven million people globally each year; and causing an untold amount of health problems.

How can AI contend with this? There are several ways.

AI makes autonomous vehicles possible. It not only helps them navigate, but it ensures that do so as efficiently as possible. According to a report by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, AVs can effect a 2-4% reduction in oil consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions annually over the next decade.

AI-enabled traffic lights will do their part too, adjusting to the flow of traffic to minimize driving time. Such a system is already being used at some intersections in Pittsburgh, where it has reduced travel time by 25% and idling by more than 40%.

AI will also make green energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines more viable (that is: more effective and efficient, and thus more cost-effective). Such improvements will ensure that such devices eventually become ubiquitous, thereby lowering society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Researchers have come to recognize that AI will help wean mankind off of its dependence on fossil fuels.

Another technology that will be enabled by AI is the smart grid. This will dramatically affect the way people receive and use electricity in their homes and offices. Smart meters save energy by allowing for two-way communication between the grid and anything that uses electricity, giving energy providers a better understanding of usage and the ability to make real-time adjustments for efficiency. Consumers can benefit from the real-time data too. Being notified about the increased costs at peak times may encourage them to adjust their usage to save money. And THAT will–in turn–save even more energy.

The next industrial revolution is already afoot. AI is ushering in a new era of technology that is faster, smarter, more adaptable, and more efficient. Google has used its progress in AI technology to improve its own energy efficiency. It has done this by leveraging DeepMind’s machine-learning capabilities to reduce the amount of energy needed to cool its massive data centers. The AI managed to cool them by 40%! This laudable accomplishment bodes well for solutions on a much grander (read: global) scale. Google’s progress on this front is a reminder that the potential of AI to clean up the environment is enormous.

According to a recent study by the Information Technology Industry Council, technology that is CURRENTLY available could–if used to its full potential–reduce energy usage in the U.S. by between 12 and 22%. That’s what we can ALREADY do; so imagine what our capability might be once AI technology improves appreciably in the near-future. As we’ve seen, AI can provide incredibly powerful tools that will enable us to monitor–and identify sources of–pollution faster and more accurately.

There can be no doubt that the renewable (a.k.a. “green”) energy sector is an ever-growing economic force on the global stage. AI is being integrated across major sectors of industry to solve problems. It is doing so by increasing the capacity of data analytics; and increasing the efficacy of decision-making when navigating highly complex systems. The more advances that are made in machine-learning, the more we will be able to transition to an environmentally sustainable societal model. That’s why it’s important to stay abreast of the latest breakthroughs.