Microsoft and National Geographic to award AI grant for scientific research

Microsoft and National Geographic to award AI grant for scientific research

Microsoft has joined forces with non-profit National Geographic Society to use artificial intelligence (AI) to advance scientific exploration and research on critical environmental challenges.

The new US$1 million AI for Earth Innovation Grant programme is designed to encourage people to find ways to harness data and technology to develop solutions to help combat some of the world’s biggest environmental issues. Award recipients will gain financial support, access to Microsoft cloud and AI tools, and inclusion in the National Geographic Explorer community. They will also subsequently become affiliated with National Geographic Labs.

“National Geographic is synonymous with science and exploration, and in Microsoft we found a partner that is well-positioned to accelerate the pace of scientific research and new solutions to protect our natural world,” said Jonathan Baillie, chief scientist and executive vice president at the National Geographic Society. “We will enable outstanding explorers seeking solutions for a sustainable future with the cloud and AI technologies that can quickly improve the speed, scope and scale of their work as well as support National Geographic Labs’ activities around technology and innovation for a planet in balance.”

The AI for Earth Innovation Grant programme will provide financial support for five to ten projects that use AI to advance conservation research toward a more sustainable future. The grants will support the creation and deployment of open-source trained models and algorithms, which will be available to other environmental researchers to coordinate a wider effort and increase the potential successful solutions.

“Microsoft is constantly exploring the boundaries of what technology can do, and what it can do for people and the world,” said Lucas Joppa, chief environmental scientist at Microsoft. “We believe that humans and computers, working together through AI, can change the way that society monitors, models and manages Earth’s natural systems. We believe this because we’ve seen it – we’re constantly amazed by the advances our AI for Earth collaborators have made over the past months. Scaling this through National Geographic’s global network will create a whole new generation of explorers who use AI to create a more sustainable future for the planet and everyone on it.”

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