Microsoft explains how its AI services are helping endangered species

Microsoft regards wildlife extinction as an important issue. The tech giant has aimed to raise awareness relating to the 'biodiversity crisis' in the recent past as well, teaming up with WWF to offer a related curriculum.

Now, Microsoft has detailed some of the ways its AI services are being utilized by conservationists to help endangered species. The highlighted tools and models are helping these scientists collect and analyze data in a better manner.

To start off, there's facial and pattern recognition tech that can be used to monitor population levels of lions. This involves the use of a deep learning architectures like convolution neural networks (CNNs) to classify the high-quality images captured, followed by a combination of OpenCV and the Caffe framework for actual facial recognition. In a similar manner, the power of Azure is being harnessed to identify the unique markings on a giraffe's torso many times quicker than was previously possible.

Azure tools along with AI have also been deployed by researchers to monitor human impact on grizzly bear populations. This involves usage of DNA sampling and GPS collars to track individual bears, in a bid to understand their relation with the overall population as well as their habitats. Moreover, machine learning models on Microsoft's cloud platform have assisted conservationists in obtaining data regarding the size and health of whales. This also makes use of CNNs, as was the case with the facial recognition of lions.

Moving on, ecologist Heather J. Lynch, as one of the awardee's of Microsoft's AI for Earth grant, is receiving support for her applications of AI that allow real-time tracking of arctic penguins. Generating estimates as to the population of this species is an integral part of her work, and computer vision has been utilized to search for hard-to-find markers in satellite imagery that have assisted her in this task.

Finally, the Redmond firm has highlighted the Elephant Listening Project, which received a grant from it last year. The initiative's main purpose is to protect the forest elephant species through the use of AI in the identification and analyzation of recordings of elephant calls. This helps create what is known as an "elephant dictionary", helping researchers not only comprehend elephant communication, but also coordinate their conservation efforts more based upon the information they uncover.

Environmental challenges are considered as one of the more important issues in modern times by Microsoft; you can learn more about how the firm's AI for Earth initiative is aiming to resolve these here.

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