Andrew Ng once said, “Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years”. Today, in fact, Artificial Intelligence is touching every field of life. From finance, marketing, health, climate to personal assistants, exercise coaches, and more. In reality, Artificial Intelligence is capable to help beyond our personal and business interests. It can help us understand our universe better and in turn in making our planet a better place to live in. Artificial Intelligence in Oceans is what we are talking about today.
The largest heavenly bodies of water on planet earth, oceans, constitute 70 percent of Earth’s surface. They produce more than half of the earth’s total oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, 50 times more than our atmosphere. How Artificial Intelligence in Oceans can help us in understanding the masses dwelling deep under the surface? The answer is it already has.
Artificial Intelligence techniques are helping researchers reach areas that are deep and full of data. Conventional data collecting techniques are not quite helpful here. Also, due to climate change species keep on changing their habitats that make the collected data invalid and no more useful.
Artificial Intelligence in Oceans, on the other hand, is helping in creating neural networks that are trained to detect specific species and their movement. This can help us in several ways. From protecting endangered species to controlling underwater pollution.
In 2018, Google partnered with the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop AI algorithms that would identify humpback whales in the ocean. A neural network was trained on a large number of recordings to identify the whale presence in the water. It also helped in identifying their population, especially in remote and unreachable areas.
Using these machine learning algorithms, Ann Allen, a research ecologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, studied the presence of humpback whales through their songs in oceans and also how their presence changed over the years. According to Julie Cattiau, a product manager at Google, Google has based the development of this machine learning model on the one used for recognizing audios in YouTube videos. This model was then trained to detect humpback whale songs in the oceans!
Similarly, Google helped Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans in real-time monitoring of endangered species of Orca with only 70 of them found alive.
Endangered North Atlantic right whale can be monitored through Artificial Intelligence in Oceans. Due to temperature change, the species have changed their location from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. During the migration, almost 30 whales died, 9 in the United States and 21 in Canada, since 2017. The reason for death was either getting hit by the ships or strangling in fishnets.
To protect the remaining whales, scientists must know where they are. The researchers use all sorts of data. From space satellites, radars, sonars, and more. This collected data from all sources is then being used to train predictive machine learning models. These machine models will help in making predictions regarding localities of endangered species for their better protection. Protection can be done through monitoring and planning fishing activities, shipping routes, etc. Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and the New England Aquarium are researching in this regard. Read at counting whales from space.
According to David Kroodsma, Global Fishing Watch’s director of research and innovation, “The oceans are a pretty exciting place to work in big data because there’s so much opportunity for improving data, which, in fisheries has historically been very poor, especially when you compare it with other extractive industries. Twenty percent of fishing is illegal, unreported or unregulated, What if we didn’t know where 20 percent of the forests were, or carbon emissions?”.
Illegal fishing is becoming a common practice. To control such illegal activities and to keep a population of species at a healthy level in oceans Artificial Intelligence in oceans can play its part. Global Fishing Watch is an example of such a platform revolutionizing ocean sustainability through machine learning, satellite data, and cloud computing. This is to support marine protection, restrict overfishing, and sustain species population through managed fishing.
Ocean pollution is another aspect to tackle. Recognizing harmful chemicals is another task for better sustainability of oceans. Machine learning algorithms are being trained to recognize and predict harmful waster in oceans. Non-profit engineering company Draper is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to collect plastics found underwater and study their properties. According to Dr. Hemami, “a fingerprint of specific chemicals and use that fingerprint to train the algorithm to identify kinds of plastic”. Although, Artificial Intelligence in Oceans is not fully deployed and working as many areas of ocean chemistry are yet to be touched such as ocean acidification, deoxygenation, etc. but Artificial Intelligence still holds promising results in these areas of research.
Oceans absorb a large amount of carbon dioxide from the earth’s surface that helps in maintaining the temperature of our planet. But this absorption, in turn, is making oceans more acidic. By knowing the amounts of carbon absorbed by the oceans we can better observe climatic changes. This will lead to better planning for climate change and its effect on living species populations whether on ground or underwater.
A researcher, Dr. Khatija, says, “With the oceans or the environment, it’s really easy for us to get stuck in this doom-and-gloom narrative. What I love about technology or the progress we’re seeing in A.I., I think it’s a hopeful time because if we get this right, I think it will have profound effects on how we observe our environment and create a sustainable future.”
In a nutshell, there is no denying the fact that Artificial Intelligence is bound to help us to better understand ourselves and our planet home. It is helping us evolve personally, emotionally, financially and is making us explore deeply our surroundings and environments. Artificial Intelligence in Oceans is just a small introduction to the whole new aspect of deep research and study through machine learning.