Applied AI & AI in business /

17 ways to reach the UN's sustainable goals with AI

September 10/7 min read
  • Lisa Johansson
    Lisa JohanssonHead of Brand

With no more than 10 years to go to reach the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) from the United Nations, I wanted to bring light to AI as a problem solver. I hope these 17 examples will  give you a better idea of what AI can do to help us reach these goals!

According to a report by Max Tegmark, Anna Felländer, and eight co-authors, 79% of the SDGs could be enabled with AI (Vinuesa, R., Azizpour, H., Leite, I. et al., 2020). With a statement like that, I think the potential is pretty clear! But it won’t be easy. AI raises a lot of questions to be addressed before the path is entirely clear; like biased results if trained on biased data, energy consumption when training AI models, and political polarization with targeted marketing. But if we all spend time and effort on shaping regulations, ethical guidelines, sustainable solutions, and make sure AI solutions are thoughtfully quality checked and implemented - we have a chance to make the world a better place. For everyone.

Here’s what AI can do to help humanity reaching the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 01 / No poverty

With AI, we can learn to predict and prevent extreme climate-related events. To reduce vulnerability and exposure, also reducing poverty.

What if AI could predict wildfires?

SDG 02 / Zero hunger

To avoid having more than 820 million people going to bed hungry, we can let AI support the provision of food along the whole chain; from production to transportation to distribution.

SDG 03 / Good health & well-being

AI can act as decision support in healthcare. For instance, we’ve worked with radiologists to find ways of using AI to locate brain tumors. Read about it in AI to target and fight cancer.

SDG 04 / Quality education

To make sure everyone can access education is tricky for AI alone to solve. But once we get there, AI can help to personalize so young girls and boys get a chance to learn better.

SDG 05 / Gender equality

We still have huge problems with gender inequality. But AI can be a way of identifying unfair bias in systems - as long as the data you feed the system with, is unbiased. Biased data will only trigger inequalities.

SDG 06 / Clean water & sanitation

AI can increase water efficiency by measuring, predicting, and adjusting, to ensure access to clean water to more people.

What if AI could give more people clean water?

SDG 07 / Affordable & clean energy

AI can optimize energy production and better predict and adjust to circumstances and demand. So renewable energy production can be better than ever and the non-renewable sources eventually replaced. Here’s how we helped Tekniska Verken to optimize their energy production.

SDG 08 / Decent work & economic growth

AI can make work-life more safe, such as predictive maintenance of systems, plants, bridges. Work otherwise filled with risks, and not only dangerous but also time-consuming and expensive. Read more about how to use audio recordings in predictive maintenance.

SDG 09 / Industry, innovation & infrastructure

With AI, manufacturing can become faster, produce higher quality products, and create smarter distribution chains. Here’s how we helped BillerudKorsnäs to optimize their paper production.

SDG 10 / Reduced inequalities

AI can be used to spot inequalities in legal practices and regulations, to be able to create new and equal foundations.

SDG 11 / Sustainable cities & communities

AI can develop electric, and even autonomous, transportation, and support smarter planning of infrastructure so air pollution can be significantly and necessarily reduced.

SDG 12 / Responsible consumption & production

AI can do more and better with less - so inefficiencies in production can be reduced, quality improved, and logistics optimized. The only thing we really need to do ourselves is to change our mindset towards responsible consumption! Here’s how AI can be used to detect defect parts in production.

SDG 13 / Climate action

AI can be key in the electrification of transportation. And for every step in tech development, AI will be more necessary than ever, to enable sustainable solutions as a response to raised energy demand.

SDG 14 / Life below water

AI can be a lifeguard in keeping track of the status of marine resources, to help prevent and reduce pollution (like oil) in our oceans.

What if AI can be a lifeguard to our oceans?

SDG 15 / Life on land

With AI, desertification can be more easily detected. To help plan, prevent, and reverse trends by identifying significant parameters.

SDG 16 / Peace, justice & strong institutions

Corruption, bribery, and fraud can be detected and prevented with AI. Money that could be used to lift those who are living on not enough. Here’s how you can use AI to detect fraud.

SDG 17 / Partnerships

Partnerships. This is where you and I enter the picture. We need to do this together; across institutions, across countries, across academia and industry. 

And we need to act now.

Illustration from the United Nations.

Feel free to reach out to me at lisa@peltarion.com. And to avoid any ethical or societal risks, don’t hesitate to reach out to AI Sustainability Center!

/Lisa

Read, learn & do more

References

Vinuesa, R., Azizpour, H., Leite, I. et al., (2020). “The role of artificial intelligence in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”. Retrieved July 14, 2020 from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-14108-y

United Nations. “About the Sustainable Development Goals – United Nations Sustainable Development”. Retrieved July 14, 2020 from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

    • Lisa Johansson

      Lisa Johansson

      Head of Brand

      Lisa is the Head of Brand at Peltarion. She has a past from leading the brand at Koenigsegg, democratizing aviation in California, hands-on entrepreneurship and large scale Swedish industry. Academic background MSc in Engineering from Linköping University and Marketing Management from Harvard University.