As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, we have at our disposal a new toolset that can, if purpose driven, transform our ability to urgently address our environmental and social challenges

Leveraging AI to Leapfrog Sustainability Gains
May 29, 2019

 As Greta Thurnberg says, climate change needs us to “act like our house is on fire – because it is”. Canada’s transition to a circular, climate positive economy depends on galvanizing courageous leaders from business, government and civil society and collectively investing in meaningful solutions that can leapfrog us towards sustainability.

As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, we have at our disposal new digital Artificial Intelligence (AI) toolkits that can, if purpose driven, enable us to guide our environmental and social challenges, or if left without regulatory and sustainability frameworks, AI can accelerate our planetary degradation.

The Academy for Sustainable Innovation, an organization committed to educating leaders on sustainability, is hosting Dr. Cindy Gordon, a leading expert in AI, as well as the founder and CEO of SalesChoice, as a keynote speaker at its Breakthrough Leadership for Transition Seminar. Dr. Gordon will be discussing the power of purpose driven AI to address our most pressing global challenges. She will share current applications, envision possibilities on the horizon and discuss the factors that will enable AI to realize its potential for positive impact and ensuring AI is For Good.


I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gordon about the power of AI for good and came away with 3 key insights.

1. “AI is the new oxygen”

As the ability to create and enable machines to imitate intelligent human behaviour at a scale never before seen, AI will permeate everything in business and our society as we know it today. It is being used today to predict everything from the impact of climate change on species to the impact of our warming oceans on coral reefs. It can be used tomorrow to develop closed loop learning systems that sustain our environment.

2. We need large data sets that provide a micro and macro level understanding of our environmental and social challenges

“Today 60% of the worlds datasets are not representative of the world’s diverse population and have data bias so cleaning these data sets will require regulatory reviews to ensure predicted outcomes can be trusted”. How might we create mechanisms and leverage trends like citizen science to democratize and enable data access, so we meaningfully leverage AI?

3. We need leadership across sectors and jurisdictions

“We are running low on time and need to put aside political views” to understand the core challenges that we are facing, and leverage AI with the goal of solving these systemic issues. “While highly populated developing markets like China, India, South America and Africa must step up more to protect mother earth and millions of species from further decline, Canada’s leadership role is key: despite a lower population and relatively limited impact, Canada can and must set a role model set of behaviours to guide other nations forward.”

I am looking forward to Dr. Gordon’s keynote session and hope you will join us.
Learn more about the Breakthrough Leadership for Transition Seminar.