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AI AND SDGs

Author: Mausam Parikh, V year of B.Com.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Institute of Law, Nirma University


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations with a universal call to action to help reimagine a better future for everyone by 2030.[i] The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for people and the planet and were thus adopted by all UN member states in 2015.[ii] Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ally that sustainable development requires to more effectively create, implement, consult, and plan our planet's future and sustainability. AI will, among other things, help us construct more efficiently, use resources more sustainably, and minimize and manage the waste materials that we generate, more properly.


The capabilities of AI – including automating routine tasks, analyzing big data, and bringing intelligence and learning to various processes – expand our capacity to understand and solve complex, dynamic, and interconnected global challenges such as the SDGs.[iii] Integrating AI and sustainable development will assist all sectors in designing a better planet that meets present demands while not jeopardizing future generations due to the climate change or similar big concerns.


A clear example of AI's contribution to sustainability is traffic management. Traffic congestion can be forecasted as well as alternative routes can be recommended by using Artificial Intelligence in urban mobility. AI could also be used to monitor the status of public transportation systems such as trains and public infrastructure, such as bridges, to detect potentially malfunctioning elements.


Other uses involve the integration of different forms of alternate sources of data, such as geospatial data, social media data, telecommunications data, internet search data, and vaccine data to better forecast patterns of transmission of viruses and diseases, or the use of an AI approach to optimize food delivery networks in areas facing natural catastrophes.[iv] AI can assist in anticipating dangers and opportunities by filling in information gaps, identifying patterns and correlations, and analyzing trends and can also help with situational awareness as well as knowledge. New kinds of effect analysis and prediction based on AI are also on the rise, which may help enhance impact as well as determine the best approaches.


AI can also pave the way for new types of smart service delivery, humanitarian as well as environmental operations, and revenue streams. Through peer-to-peer information sharing as well as remote learning, AI can facilitate individuals and societies to boost their skills and capacities. Sustainable development may leverage novel capabilities of artificial intelligence while minimising vulnerabilities via proper design and enforcement. Evolving AI applications can improve intervention agility and efficiency by automating operations, allowing human operators to focus on even more complicated operations (e.g., analysing huge volumes of data).


There is a growing number of AI applications in the environmental sector, including those within the energy (eg. smart grids), agricultural, and monitoring sectors and this is made possible by the recent advances in IoT hardware and the accompanying AI algorithms in vision and sensor fusion.[v] AI can help create electrified and even self-driving vehicles, as well as smarter infrastructure planning, resulting in large and necessary reductions in air pollution. Smart power grids that are AI-enabled can correlate and manage the demand for electricity with varied sources of renewable energy. Artificial intelligence can help in detecting diseases in plants and also target weeds and even farmers are now using AI forecasting models to predict upcoming weather patterns, thus enabling them to make better decisions.[vi] By measuring, forecasting, and modifying water efficiency, AI can ensure that more people have access to clean water.


Artificial intelligence can aid in the alleviation of poverty, the reduction of energy consumption, and the promotion of clean, inexpensive energy. AI may also scan mobile phone photographs to discern between a benign skin lesion and melanoma, possibly benefiting millions of people who live in rural areas and don't have convenient accessibility to dermatologists.


Hence, Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to transform a growing number of industries. In the medium and long term, artificial intelligence is predicted to have an impact on global productivity, inclusivity, ecological outcomes, and a variety of other sectors. While AI can generate a significant difference, achieving that potential will necessitate a massive escalation of its uses for the collective good and so to make AI-solutions a reality, governments, non-governmental organisations, charities, technology companies, and organisations that collect or generate massive volumes of data will need to undertake several concrete steps.


[i] AI + Sustainable Development Goals - AI for Good. Retrieved from https://ai4good.org/ai-for-sdgs/

[ii] AI for Global Goals. Retrieved from https://www.globalgoals.ai/

[iii] AI & the Sustainable Development Goals: The State of Play. Retrieved from https://www.sustainability.com/thinking/ai-and-the-sustainable-development-goals-the-state-of-play/

[iv] How Can AI Help in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?. Retrieved from https://www.valuer.ai/blog/how-can-ai-help-in-achieving-the-sustainable-development-goals

[v] Nathaniel, J. (2021). Role of AI in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://towardsdatascience.com/role-of-ai-in-achieving-sustainable-development-goals-7b7556ee0efa

[vi] Bellapu, A. (2021). Artificial Intelligence and Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://www.analyticsinsight.net/artificial-intelligence-and-sustainable-development-goals/