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Intel & Accenture Discuss Using AI to Save Coral Reefs – Interview Series

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We sat down (virtually) with Patrick Dorsey, the Vice President of Product Marketing, Programmable Solutions Group, Intel and Jason Mitchell, a managing director in Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology practice and the company’s client lead for Intel.

We discussed how on Earth Day 2020, AccentureIntel and the Sulubaaï Environmental Foundation decided to partner to use artificial intelligence (AI) – powered solution to monitor, characterize and analyze coral reef resiliency in a new collaborative project called CORail.

On Earth Day 2020, project CORaiL was announced, what was it about this project that caused you to take notice?

Jason Mitchell: Coral reefs are some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with more than eight hundred species of corals building and providing habitats and shelter for approximately 25% of global marine life. The reefs also benefit humans — protecting coastlines from tropical storms, providing food and income for 1 billion people, and generating US$9.6 billion in tourism and recreation annually. But reefs are being endangered and rapidly degraded by overfishing, bottom trawling, warming temperatures and unsustainable coastal development.  This project allowed Accenture and our ecosystem partners to apply intelligence to the preservation and rebuilding of this precious ecology and measure our success in a non-intrusive way.

 

Could you describe some of the technology at Intel that is being used in the underwater video cameras?

Patrick Dorsey: The underwater cameras are equipped with the Accenture Applied Intelligence Video Analytics Services Platform (VASP) to detect and photograph fish as they pass. VASP uses AI to count and classify the marine life, with the data then sent to a surface dashboard, where it provides analytics and trends to researchers in real time, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to protect the coral reef. Accenture’s VASP solution is powered by Intel® Xeon® processors, Intel® FPGA Programmable Acceleration Cards, an Intel® Movidius™ VPU and the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit.

 

Work is currently being undertaken on the next-generation CORaiL prototype. What advanced features will this prototype have compared to the current version of CORaiL?

Jason Mitchell: We are scaling our work in the Philippines with a next-gen Project: CORaiL prototype, which will include an optimized convolutional neural network and a backup power supply. We are also looking into infra-red cameras which will enable videos at night to create a complete picture of the coral ecosystem. These technology advances will allow our solution to scale to look at new use cases like: studying the migration rate of tropical fish to colder countries and monitoring intrusion in protected or restricted underwater areas.

 

Could you share some of the computer vision challenges that are involved in monitoring different fish populations in an underwater setting which may result in significant changes in lighting conditions?

Patrick Dorsey: A critical element of Project: CORaiL is to identify the number and variety of fish around a reef, which serve as an important indicator of overall reef health. Traditional coral reef monitoring efforts involve human divers manually capturing video footage and photos of the reef, which is dangerous and time-intensive and can disrupt marine life, as divers might inadvertently frighten fish into hiding.

 

CORaiL monitors coral reef health in the Philippines, are there plans on expanding to other regions?

Jason Mitchell: It’s still early days with this technology, so we’re currently focused on the reef surrounding the Pangatalan Island in the Philippines.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share about CORaiL?

Jason Mitchell: AI should be an added contributor to how people perform their work, rather than a backstop for automation. For Project: CORaiL, AI is empowering our engineers to achieve more and learn faster when it comes to growing the coral reef.  It empowers the solution to gather data in a non-intrusive manner, allowing the scientists and data engineers to gather data from the reef with minimal disruption to this fragile ecology.

 

What are some of the other ways AI is being used for Social Good?

Patrick Dorsey: At Intel, we are working with partners to use AI to curb anti-poaching of endangered animals, to map vulnerable populations, to help the quadriplegic community regain mobility and more. We are deeply committed to advancing uses of AI that most positively impact the world.

Jason Mitchell: Through our Responsible AI practice at Accenture, we help organizations implement governance frameworks and tools to ensure they’re deploying AI in a way that aligns to their corporate values and mitigates unintended consequences.

I would like to thank both of you for taking the time to explain why AccentureIntel chose to collaborate on this mission to save one of earth’s most precious resources. 

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Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital securities, and is a founding partner of unite.AI. He is also a member of the Forbes Technology Council.