Concerned by the sharp rise in natural disasters around the world, a team of AI researchers at Mila is launching a website that lets people see the potential impact of climate change on any address, anywhere on the planet.
A different type of simulation
This Climate Does Not Exist invites users to project themselves into environments transformed by climate change. What would a place look like if it was hit by flooding, wildfires or smog? Using a complex algorithm, the site generates a realistic filter of the effects of climate change on any location in Google Street View.
“If nothing is done soon, we can expect major climate disturbances,” says Yoshua Bengio, Mila’s scientific director. “By showing images of how climate change could affect the places we hold dear, this website makes the risks of climate change that much more real and personal. We hope this will motivate people to take action to prevent the worst-case scenarios from coming true.”
The site uses a class of algorithms called generative adversarial networks, or GANs. Originally designed by researchers at Mila, GANs are now being used widely to generate highly realistic images. In this way, artificial intelligence is being harnessed in the global fight against climate change.
The project is the culmination of two years of work and has mobilized many specialists and collaborators under the direction of Yoshua Bengio, including lead researchers Sasha Luccioni, Victor Schmidt and Alex Hernandez-Garcia. It was made possible through financial and technological contributions from the National Geographic Society, Microsoft, BCG Gamma and Borealis AI. The team would also like to thank the Université de Montréal, Google and Climate Outreach for their support.
Artificial intelligence in the service of humanity and the environment
This Climate Does Not Exist is an initiative of Mila’s AI for Humanity branch. The project follows “open science” principles, meaning that all models and tools created are free and available for anyone to use.