Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Microsoft Invests $50M in “AI for Earth” Project

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Project Premonition received an AI for Earth grant and is using Microsoft Azure to monitor the ecosystem through mosquitos.

Microsoft has announced a $50 million (£37.56 million) investment in AI for Earth— its programme to use artificial intelligence to pursue   sustainability and humanitarian goals.

The tech giant launched the initiative — with an initial investment of $2 million (£1.5 million)— in summer 2017. Since then, the project has doled out grants to 35 companies across ten countries.

Recipients— chosen among companies focused on using AI to improve agriculture, water supply, biodiversity, and climate change— are given access to Microsoft’s platform Azure and other AI tools, besides the training to use it.

Among the awardees Microsoft highlights as “lighthouse projects” are a startup providing AI insights to farmers, a project to monitor changes to the ecosystem and wildlife population by tracking mosquitos, and an innovative mapping system.

The fresh investment, announced in Paris by Microsoft President Brad Smith on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, will allow to further support and expand the current projects, and fund new initiatives over the next five years.

“We’re impatient and a lot of partners are too,” AI for Earth’s chief environmental scientist Lucas Joppa told MIT Technology Review. “There isn’t enough money and resources for people doubling down on these issues.”

Joppa explained that, apart from helping small projects get some AI muscles, the initiatives is very valuable for Microsoft itself, which gets immediate, continual feedback on Azure’s effectiveness and shortcomings.

“Anytime we can stress-test the technology, the better,” Joppa said. The project also enables Microsoft to have access to a vast pool of visionary, goal-driven AI researchers and entrepreneurs.

Image via Microsoft AI for Earth



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