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Plug and play or robot takeovers? How green businesses can harness 'disruptive' AI

Updated: May 21

Photo by Google DeepMind

Adopting cutting-edge tech could determine whether businesses achieve climate goals or not - BusinessGreen Intelligence investigates how and why firms should prepare for clean tech upgrades.


At the end of 2023 the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, launched a horizon scanning report flagging the 50 nascent technologies that could shape the rest of the century. The list took in everything from a "real-life invisibility cloak" and a three hour London-to-Sydney flight to factories in space and worm-like micro-robots.


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Charlotte Bloom, CEO and president of digital consultancy VSNRY and co-author of Winning Through Platforms - a collection of 50 case studies detailing how companies, including Apple, Nike, and Disney have all deployed new strategies - says there are three overarching ways companies could harness disruptive technology to achieve climate goals.


Firstly, off the back of many companies facing accusations of "greenwashing" their sustainability efforts, Bloom says firms are rapidly adopting disruptive technologies to "verify and validate" their work. 


"Blockchain has been the best way to achieve this to date," she tells BusinessGreen Intelligence. "For example, companies impacted by the New York Fashion Act like Mango, Tiffany, and LVMH, can't just have targets in place for reducing carbon. Instead, companies will have to track every item from its raw materials to its packaging to comply with the law - which is best achieved by embedding blockchain into their supply chain."


More recently, AI has also started to play a role in verifying and validating incredibly large datasets. "For example, companies can now connect to satellite imagery and detection-based AI services to monitor carbon and methane emissions from factories and communities that form part of their organisation," Bloom explains. The potential for extending this functionality is obvious, and is already being deployed by a growing number of businesses that have pledged to deliver zero deforestation but have previously struggled to deliver on their promises.


Bloom also highlights how automation is key to amplifying the impact of a company's existing sustainability work. "Robotic automation already helps companies replant forests 25 times faster than by hand," she says. "For example, AirSeed uses automated drones to plant seed pods at a rate of 40,000 per day - versus 800 per day that can be achieved manually." 


Finally, Bloom predicts that the intersection of AI, blockchain, and automation will enable corporate innovators to reimagine how they can achieve sustainability goals. "This isn't far off," she predicts. "Imagine being able to ask your AI-powered sustainability assistant for ideas on how you could take your existing initiatives and achieve your goals in three years instead of five. Then ask for advice on which blockchain and automation technology you can partner with to achieve it."


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Continue reading the full story at Business Green - click here.


Originally published at BusinessGreen.com

Business Green is Europe's leading source of information on the green economy and business, with over 3 million annual page views and >50% Board-level readership.

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