Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Despite increasing global consensus about the urgency of reducing emissions since the 1980s, they continue to rise relentlessly. We look to technology to deliver us from climate change, preferably without sacrificing economic growth.

Our optimistic—some would say techno-utopian—visions of the future involve vast arrays of solar panels, machines that suck carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere, and replacing fossil fuels for transport and heating with electricity generated by renewable means. This is nothing less than rebuilding our civilization on stable, sustainable foundations.

Meanwhile, society is increasingly being shaped by machine learning algorithms: automating occupations, performing tasks from diagnosing illnesses to serving up adverts, and nudging people into different behaviors. So how can AI help in the fight against climate change?

“In many ways” is the answer. Just as tackling climate change involves practically…
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