Microsoft Hackathon results in AI and sustainability collaboration to rid plastic from rivers and the ocean – Stories

Dan Morris, AI for Earth program director, says a very powerful outcome from the hackathon was that AI for Earth taught The Ocean Cleanup so much about machine studying. “The real value was teaching them through interaction with data scientists and engineers at Microsoft,” he says.

This 12 months, The Ocean Cleanup was named an AI for Earth grantee for its work.

“Using the AI for Earth grant, we’ve been able to set up and run the machine learning models,” De Vries says. “Having the assets at our fingertips has tremendously accelerated the technical progress, by taking away sensible issues and letting us deal with the event.

“It allowed us to develop the vision that this is something we can do, not just for one river, but eventually for rivers across the globe.”

Robin de Vries, proper, of The Ocean Cleanup works with a Microsoft Global Hackathon workforce member in 2019.

The Ocean Cleanup is extremely admired, significantly within the Netherlands, the place the group has been an emblem of delight for years, even earlier than they turned extra well-known internationally, says Harry van Geijn, a digital adviser for Microsoft within the Netherlands. Van Geijn is among the many Microsoft staffers there who’ve volunteered to assist The Ocean Cleanup with regards to laptop and associated assist.

While its workers is comparatively small with round 100 staff, “they have this cause that they pursue with great tenacity and in an extremely professional way,” van Geijn says. So a lot in order that “When I ask around for someone at Microsoft Netherlands to do something for The Ocean Cleanup, half the company raises their hand to say, ‘I want to volunteer for that.’”

Drew Wilkinson at Hackathon
Drew Wilkinson on the 2019 Microsoft Global Hackathon in Redmond, Washington.

Wilkinson, who grew up within the sizzling, dry local weather of the Arizona desert, frolicked at sea as a volunteer for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a nonprofit, marine wildlife conservation group.

In 2018 at Microsoft, he and one other coworker began an worker group, Microsoft’s Worldwide Sustainability Community, which has grown to greater than 3,000 members globally. The group focuses on methods staff might help the corporate be extra environmentally sustainable. Wilkinson now’s a neighborhood program supervisor for the Worldwide Communities Program, which incorporates the worker group he co-founded.

Wilkinson sees the difficulty of plastics within the ocean as a fairly solvable downside and is happy concerning the work that has been accomplished, the work that he spurred with an e mail.

“I’m not a scientist, but it doesn’t take a lot of science to understand that our fate on the land is very much tied to the ocean,” he says. “The ocean is the planet’s life support system. Without a healthy ocean, we don’t stand a chance either.”

Top picture: Some of the plastic and trash picked up onto the conveyor belt of The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor 002 on the Klang River in Malaysia. Photo credit score: The Ocean Cleanup.

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