AI and Environment 

Tanya Berger-Wolf, Computer Science, UIC
Thomas Theis, Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, UIC
Jeffrey Brauwn, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, UIUC
Eric Schauber, Illinois Natural History Survey, UIUC

Industry Partners: Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology, Microsoft, Wild Me

Community Partners: In development

Abstract:
Artificial Intelligence today is being applied to many societal challenging problems, yet, while environment is the domain most urgently in need of fresh, creative, interdisciplinary ideas and solutions, AI currently does not have a big contribution. With the availability of big environmental data coming from sensors, images, genomics, and crowdsourcing, the environmental challenges are ripe for AI approaches. The state of Illinois, spanning rural/agricultural and urban environments, with shared natural resources and being part of the global environment, is a complex system with unique challenges.  

This project will bring AI and environmental researchers, as well as business, non-profit, and government stakeholders and policymakers together to create a community to develop AI approaches to address pressing environmental issues and to create deployable solutions and actionable policy in the state of Illinois.

We will start with a tandem of workshops in Fall 2019 with the aim to creating a roadmap to assembly of common and reusable data and computational resources, generalizable methodologies, and end-to-end idea-to-deployment project groups. The first workshop will focus on articulating the challenges, questions, problems, and need gaps from the perspective of the environmental community of researchers and practitioners. The second workshop will focus on presenting the relevant AI approaches and adaptable examples, possibly from non-environmental applications. With these initial activities, we aim to catalyze a longer-term sustained interdisciplinary translational effort around AI and environment.