IPO Sustainability Seminar fall 2022

IPO Sustainability Seminar fall 2022 “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning” by Dr. Priya L. Donti.

Date: 4 November 2022

Hello, my name is Tom. I hope everyone is having a great start to the new semester. It was a long time since I posted on this web blog. Today, I have some interesting news to share with you all.

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an online seminar hosted by Interdisciplinary Programs Office (IPO), Division of Environment and Sustainability (ENVR), and Division of Public Policy (PPOL), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

The topic of the presentation is “Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning” in which the speaker is Dr. Priya L. Donti, Co-founder and Executive Director of Climate Change AI and Incoming Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of MIT.

Everyone may aware, climate change is not far away, and there are now major concerns that require immediate action worldwide. In the beginning, the presentation gave me a background of climate change and how machine learning can be a powerful tool for tackling climate change when combined with policy, engineering, and other fields. Moreover, it also addressed how machine learning may assist in the resolution of high-impact problems by filtering decision-relevant information, optimizing sophisticated systems, and expediting scientific research.

As you may know or may not, Machine Learning (ML) is a branch of artificial intelligence that is widely described as a machine’s capacity to mimic intelligent human behavior. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are used to do complicated tasks in a manner comparable to how humans solve issues. There are two highlights that I found more useful and may apply to my current research. Firstly, I understand the concept of how machine learning can tackle climate change, as follows by the applications listed below:

  • Mitigation is the process of lowering or preventing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Adaptation means responding to the consequences of climate change since climate change is not a toggle switch.

Following what is machine learning and how it is applicable to tackle climate change, machine learning can additionally work in various fields such as electrical systems, buildings and cities, transportation, climate prediction, industry, and societal adaptation. The content of this presentation also introduced the responsibility of machine learning for climate action, specifically in terms of reducing data and model biases, enhancing credibility and accountability, emphasizing equity and climate justice, and avoiding greenwashing and techno-solutionism. Personally, this is a topic that caught my attention. Because my current research will try to utilize machine learning to assist in forecasting load demand growth in rural areas for a reliable operating system of microgrid system.

Furthermore, the essential point that I learned from this seminar is to know about the considerations and caveats of machine learning. It is necessary to comprehend your problems and how they are structured. It is preferable to identify where machine learning is applicable. Because machine learning is only one component of the strategy. Sometimes, many climate strategies may not require machine learning at all, and basic approaches can occasionally provide solutions.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to those who helped organize such a valuable seminar; it has been a joy to be a part of it. The seminar and discussion following the presentation were informative and enlightening. Anyone who is interested in climate change and AI may find further information or fresh updates at www.climatechange.ai.

Next week, there is another interesting presentation, entitled “Towards cleaner automobility: electric vehicle adoption in the Nordic countries” by Dr. Johannes Kester, Senior Research Associate, Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford. If you are interested, please feel free to find further information in the link below.

For details of next week’s presentation: https://calendar.hkust.edu.hk/events/interdisciplinary-program-office-ipo-sustainability-seminar-series-fall-2022-towards-cleaner