Today, Microsoft has announced a new partnership with National Geographic that will be aimed at providing financial support to research projects that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to advance environmental conservation.
For this purpose, a new "$1 million AI for Earth Innovation Grant" program has been introduced. Grants will be offered to between five and 15 recipients, providing them financial support and access to Microsoft cloud and AI tools. Furthermore, the recipients of this award will be affiliated with the National Geographic Labs and be included in the institution's explorer community as well. Projects that are aimed towards research on biodiversity conservation, agriculture, climate change, and water are going to be considered.
Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist and Executive Vice President of Science and Exploration at the National Geographic Society, believes that the newly announced program will enable explorers to pursue their quest to a sustainable future at a much quicker pace. He also expressed confidence in Microsoft as a partner, terming it "well-positioned to accelerate the pace of scientific research and new solutions" in order to conserve the environment.
Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Scientist at Microsoft, commented on the tech giant's efforts towards advancing AI, noting:
"Microsoft is constantly exploring the boundaries of what technology can do, and what it can do for people and the world. 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."
The Redmond-based firm has made notable steps towards boosting the spread of AI in the past few months, teaming up with cloud services provider Nordcloud, expanding its cooperation on AI with Xiaomi, and most recently, acquiring California AI firm Bonsai.
Those wanting to apply for a grant can do so here. Applications can be submitted until October 8th, and the selected recipients will be announced later in December.