We believe artificial intelligence is a game changer and that there are few areas where AI can be more impactful than in helping address the urgent work needed to monitor, model and manage Earth’s natural systems. That’s what led us to first launch AI for Earth, a Microsoft program dedicated to putting AI in the hands of the individuals and organizations who are doing this important work.
Today, we’re expanding this work further through a new partnership with the University of Southern California Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (USC CAIS). Through our partnership, we will support early career research, enable AI researchers to translate their findings into applications others can use, build and maintain canonical environmental datasets, and foster this work and sense of community through an annual workshop.
USC CAIS brings incredible expertise, experience and academic excellence to this partnership. USC CAIS was founded with a mission to advance AI research to help solve the most difficult social problems facing our world, including global climate change and protecting wildlife. Over the past several years Microsoft and USC CAIS have collaborated on specific environmental AI projects, including a robust line of research around using game theory, machine learning and AI to improve wildlife conservation and prevent poaching before it happens. This new partnership allows us to include many more organizations and topics, incentivize the broader AI research community to work in this important domain, and provide an opportunity for direct collaborations between environmental and AI researchers and practitioners.
This work begins immediately, as the call for summer fellowships is now open through January 22. If you are a PhD student or junior researcher (postdocs, assistant professors, or other early career researchers in industry) interested in AI for conservation—particularly in the application of AI to protect endangered wildlife, plan conservation areas, prepare social responses to global climate change, conserve water and enable precision agriculture—we encourage you to review the information here and apply: https://www.cais.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/USC-CAIS-Summer-Fellowship-2018-final-rev-010518.pdf. The application process is relatively simple; submit your CV, two letters of recommendation and a brief personal statement that outlines your interest and research areas. Just remember to get them in before January 22nd! In addition, Microsoft will support a post-doctoral research position, starting Spring/Summer 2018, to focus on AI in conservation – those applications are also now open and can be found here: https://www.cais.usc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/USC-CAIS-Postdoctoral-Researcher-Positions-010418.pdf.
It’s clear that we’ll need expanded investments of time and resources, coupled with a great deal of innovation, to make the kind of progress the world needs in the time we have available. We’re excited about the potential for innovative and scalable solutions, driven by USC CAIS researchers and fellows from around the world, all working with Microsoft cloud and AI tools. We look forward to sharing more information about our new fellows and an upcoming workshop in the near future.