There has been a lot of hype on the advantages and pitfalls of AI and how its impact can and will be seen across all areas of society such as social media, design, business, and gaming to name a few. Many are arguing that the power of AI is so potent it could eradicate the need for human effort but it’s worth examining how it is contributing to meaningful human endeavors such as the conservation of our precious planet and its natural wonders including The Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of species of marine life and is the world’s largest coral reef system; but rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and increasing waste and contamination are damaging the reef.
Humanity is at a tipping point. It is clear that human effort is required to face the climate and conservation crisis. Premiering on June 5th is the Stan Original Documentary Revealed Reefshot which follows the incredible work of Andy Ridley, CEO and Founder of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, and his passionate team as well as the other key stakeholders in the fight to save our reef.
This brilliant documentary outlines a people-powered conservation model which empowers everyday citizens around the world to take meaningful action and to be part of the solution.
The Great Reef census movement was formed to galvinize people into action to help find a solution. Every year an array of people from flotillas of dive boats, tourism vessels, superyachts, fishing charters, tug boats and island operations take part in capturing tens of thousands of survey images from hundreds of reefs across the Great Barrier Reef.
This joint effort has significantly helped document reef images and once collated – using the AI team at Dell Computers – the data is then used to enable scientists to extract meaningful information from it such as which reefs need more support.
The documentary in particular highlights Crown of Thorn starfish which impacts around 40 percent of the coral loss of the reef, because of these shots from the Reef Census movement, outbreaks of these starfish can be much more effectively managed.
Google partnered up with CSIRO and the Kaggle data science community to also develop AI technology to help scientists such as the ones studying the Great Barrier Reef to analyse underwater images. A machine learning model was trained to identify Crown of Thorn Starfish and create a map with GPS location of all the different starfish, so divers could go out and quickly suppress the outbreaks. A test was run with a human with a Go Pro, the human detected one Crown of Thorn Starfish and the object detection modelled picked up 20. This AI technology is far less time consuming and helps with the efficiency of reef conservation.
“We believe AI technology has the potential to help research into other environmental challenges around the world,”
Google said in a statement about the tech used for the Great Barrier Reef.
Whilst human effort is essential for conservation, we can still be educated and empowered to play our part for the environment. AI could continue to be a game changer in the speed and effectiveness of which it is done.
Watch this video below about how you can help the charity, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef
You can also watch an early video on GameChangers.com.au filmed shortly after Andy Ridley launched Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.
All images by photographer Nicole McLachlan for Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef