6.1 The History of AI in the Environmental Sciences (Core Science Keynote)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 3:00 PM
Sue Ellen Haupt, NCAR, Boulder, CO

Advances in computing and the increasing volumes have data have enabled the rise of modern Artificial Intelligence (AI). Envisioned by Vannevar Bush shortly after World War II and spurred by Alan Turing and Claude Shannon in the 1950’s, AI began to show some promising initial results. Despite an “AI winter” in the 1980’s, AI became recognized as a useful tool for making progress in a multitude of fields.

The environmental sciences possess a host of interesting problems amenable to advancement by intelligent techniques. AI began to be applied in the environmental sciences to solve problems there as well, beginning in the 1990s. We will review a few of these early applications and how they have impacted these sciences. We will discuss the types of applications that have been most prevalent and how they have evolved over the past decades, including topics in weather forecasting, probabilistic prediction, climate applications, optimization problems, image processing, and emulating processes in models. We will finish with a look at where AI as applied to environmental science appears to be going in the future and some thoughts on how they might be best blended with the physical / dynamical modeling approaches to further advance our science.

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