Scottish tech companies use artificial intelligence to protect the natural environment


THEY have long been viewed with suspicion, fueled by the mistaken belief that they would take over the world.

But now, rather than being seen as a threat, artificial intelligence is being used as a force for good by health trusts, software giants, and app developers who use technology for the benefit of society.

Edinburgh satellite company Space Intelligence has partnered with the Scottish Wildlife Trust to use artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret large volumes of satellite data and map wildlife habitat to help restore, connect and protect Scotland’s natural environment.

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The project is under development but will use satellites, both radar and optical, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency to collect the information.

Murray Collins, Managing Director of Space Intelligence, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust wants to work with partners to understand where the last pieces of natural forest are located along rivers.

“This information is not readily available or up to date. What we can do is take satellite data and analyze it with artificial intelligence to map where the remaining forest is.”

When ready for testing, test sites will be analyzed and opportunities to link remaining areas of forest and woodland identified to create wildlife corridors along rivers.

This project is the first of its kind in Scotland and Mr Collins will link with similar initiatives in the UK to share knowledge as it develops.

He said: “This project will allow our partners at the Scottish Wildlife Trust to revolutionize the way they map and analyze wildlife habitat and plan for the future. Working together, we will lay the technological foundation to help protect, restore and connect vital elements of Scotland’s natural environment in response to the ecological crisis and climate emergency.

The Pioneer Project is one of seven Scottish projects that have received a £ 105,000 award to champion the use of AI to solve social problems.

The AI ​​for Good program, run by the Nesta Innovation Foundation, aims to showcase Scottish talent and demystify artificial intelligence.

Each of the seven winning projects received £ 15,000.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are using AI to develop a prosthetic limb that increases the user’s abilities to control their limb, reducing some of the focus and brain power needed to perform daily tasks, such as than grab a pen or catch a ball.

Another Edinburgh institution, Heriot-Watt University, will use AI to tackle gender stereotypes in smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, mostly modeled as young women, in designing and testing new characters and adapting conversational assistants’ responses.

A group from the City of Glasgow College are using AI to create voice profiles for regional Scottish accents to support adult learners using an adult literacy speech recognition app.

A partnership between tech company Voxsio, NHS Forth Valley and Stirlingshire youth groups is developing Allichat, an AI-powered chatbot for young people to discuss mental health issues.

Technology will help young people start a conversation about their mental health and can personalize advice and help individuals better understand their own issues.

Bishopbriggs-based technology company Red Star AI works to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diabetes, predicting the risk of hospitalization and non-response to standard therapies, using forms of AI called Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to analyze discharge letters and clinical notes from 110,000 historical diabetic patients.

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Together with the University of Edinburgh and Datalab, the Blackwood housing and care organization is applying machine learning to data from smart energy meters in its homes to monitor changes in behavior, such as not turning on the kettle as usual in the morning and generate alerts so people can check on residents.

Adam Lang, Director of Nesta in Scotland, said: “AI has enormous potential to improve the lives of people in Scotland and solve social issues, from chronic health issues to how we deal with our climate emergency.

“At Nesta, we want to showcase some of the incredible work being done right now to harness this powerful technology for the good of society and help change public perceptions about AI and how it can be used. The seven projects supported by this fund are prime examples of the Scottish innovation ecosystem.


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