AI and Machine Learning used to predict natural disasters

AI and bionic eyes are helping to contain raging wildfires

By Brian K. Sullivan

Only these eyes aren’t human. They don’t blink or take breaks, and guided by artificial intelligence they can tell the difference between a dust cloud, an insect swarm and a plume of smoke that demands quick attention. In Brazil, the devices help keep mining giant Vale working, and protect trees for pulp and paper producer Suzano.

The equipment includes optical and thermal cameras, as well as spectrometric systems that identify the chemical makeup of substances. By linking them to artificial intelligence, a small Portugal-based company working with IBM Corp. believes it can help tame the often unpredictable affects of climate change. Others are using AI to predict dangerous hail storms, and studying how it can help find victims in bad weather.

Along with analyzing the data from on site, the device’s artificial intelligence will weigh similar events captured by the system over time. It will also use IBM’s Watson supercomputer to visually evaluate what it sees and forecasts from its Weather Company to predict how the fire might spread.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning programs are being used in other weather and climate related applications as well. For instance, defense and aerospace giant Raytheon has begun to explore AI’s use to coordinate rescues in the aftermath of disasters, said Todd Probert, a vice president with the company.

Photo: Bloomberg Photo By Darryl Dyck