Microsoft aims AI at Earth's sustainability sphere

Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping us drive and navigate the streets better and identify faces on social media better, but "there's not a galvanizing force to direct those same technologies at critical sustainability problems," said Josh Henretig, senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft. 

In July, the company launched a program called "AI for Earth," a $50 million grant to advance sustainability around the globe. Microsoft already has several lighthouse projects, for example using AI to help farmers produce more using fewer resources, or monitoring biodiversity in species. 

The new program will open the AI programs to researchers and environmental organizations who will be able to focus new technology capabilities on the world's sustainability problems.

"We hope that anyone will be able to take advantage of these tools," he said.