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Artificial intelligence (Web3) (AI). Sustainability. With the help of new technology, old issues may be solved in novel ways that were previously impractical. Being a (slight) computer nerd, I am always motivated to see how forward-thinking organisations and people are utilizing cutting-edge tools like blockchain and artificial intelligence.

The benefits of Web3 and AI for the environment are not immediately apparent. In actuality, the prevalent story is that they did it harm: Bitcoin detractors are quick to point out the energy consumption required to mine cryptocurrencies, and AI is recognised to be one of the most taxing computational operations with a high need for energy. Electricity provided to the massive data centres that are exclusively used for improving a prediction model. These are reasonable complaints, but they don't take the entire picture into account. These technologies are crucial to improving the efficiency of businesses and can change people's behaviour to more sustainable patterns.

Web3 and the impact of sustainability

The usage of blockchain, which is well recognised for its application in supply chains, may actively promote sustainability. For instance, to stop deforestation, the biggest meatpacking company in the world, JBS, has created a blockchain network to track its livestock supply chain (deforestation is done to provide more grazing space for animals, in order to consequent negative effect on biodiversity and air quality).

The use of blockchain to solve supply chain management issues offers various benefits in terms of sustainability:

  • Efficiency: Companies can now complete financial transactions without third parties, reduce the time between order and payment processing, and further integrate the logistics flow.
  • Transparency: Customers and end users now find it challenging to confirm a product's provenance and environmental impact due to today's complicated supply networks. Blockchain increases supply chain transparency and helps to correctly report sustainable activities by guaranteeing data cannot be altered.
Carbon Chips

Several firms are concentrating on developing "carbon tokens," or blockchain-based tokens, that represent a share in a sustainability project or digitalized carbon credits that companies can buy to offset their emissions. One notable example is Flowcarbon, a business financed by the private equity firm Andreessen Horowitz that is developing a crypto currency for carbon credits that is intended to increase the liquidity, customer understanding, and transparency of carbon credits.

Similar models may be found in other projects like Toucan, JustCarbon, and Moss Earth. These tokens are purchased by businesses with significant holdings in carbon-negative assets like Bitcoin to reduce their environmental effect. For instance, River Digital Asset Management has unveiled "the world's first crypto asset portfolio that is carbon neutral."

Of course, these businesses encounter some significant issues. They may still be used for speculation and greenwashing because they are still connected to the DeFi ecosystem. According to a UN report presented at the most recent Cop27 climate summit, opposition to the concept of carbon offsets as opposed to genuinely cutting carbon emissions is rising. At periods of economic expansion, startups that include "blockchain" and "sustainable" in their proposals also frequently obtain more VC money, but it's crucial that these programmes actually make a difference.

Where the AI comes in

AI is already a developed technology that is applied in many different fields to automate procedures, spot trends, and delegate decision-making. Although machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) models are already being used in all industries in ways that are geared towards sustainability, there are also some fascinating new branches, such as generative AI, which develops original adaptations of text, images, or sound that it received as training data. Many noteworthy events from the recent years:

  • Autonomous cars reduce traffic congestion and air pollution
  • Power grids are optimized with AI and less energy is wasted
  • AI assists businesses in anticipating demand, which reduces waste.
  • AI improves weather forecasts , helping communities cope with climate change-induced erratic weather conditions and prevent damage
  • Computer vision-enabled drones tracking wildfires and ecosystem degradation in large natural areas
  • Help organizations identify sources of energy and resource waste in their operations
Web3 and AI are combined by Single.Earth to fight deforestation

Single. The Estonian company Earth employs a novel method of promoting sustainability by creating "merit" tokens that owners may acquire each time they sequester 100 kg (approximately 220 pounds) of carbon in their woods. Afterwards, you may acquire merit tokens for investment purposes and as a direct contribution to the fight against deforestation. The system's goal is to provide investments that are actually connected to ecosystems while also encouraging landowners to take care of their property since they may profit from a thriving environment. Single.Earth uses drones, geospatial engineering, machine learning, satellite data, and geospatial engineering to monitor these woods and ensure that the owners are carrying out their obligations. Prior until now, single.

Web3, AI, and sustainability are brought together

As we continue to consider how to build AI responsibly, we must make sure that the data we use to train our models is clean. Training AI on data sets that are replete with artificially created, fabricated, or altered inputs will not allow it to attain its full potential. This problem is addressed by blockchain's immutability and transparency, which also offers an unparalleled degree of "data integrity" and proof of data provenance. We don't want black box models or centralised data pools to be used to train our fundamental AI algorithms, especially when dealing with sensitive data like that gathered on sustainability.

In essence, Web3 and AI both help to better allow data and its potential for good. Further connections between the two will emerge as they both advance, including the transfer of AI-processed data to chains, the application of AI to already-existing chain data, and the execution of AI directly on blockchain network nodes at the edge. These fundamental technological setups will be used in sustainability more and more.