Many children want to be an astronaut when they grow up. They often dream about spaceships and time travels.
Saving the planet is a very abstract idea. After all, how could a single individual accomplish such a great goal? In movies they play with this concept by showing superheroes, e.g. people who are very good at fighting against evil aliens, with powers beyond humble human abilities.
In the other hand, keeping feet on the ground, solving poverty and environmental problems is not fancy. And these are, of course, extremely difficult problems to cope with. People who do this job appear rarely in movies and their stories remain almost unknown for the general public.
Some time ago I had a meeting with the Chief Operating Officer of an important manufacturing company where we were discussing about technical solutions, designed to decrease their energy, water, and raw material consumption while maintaining product performance. I was arguing that we should care more about eco-friendly economical activities, but he told me, we see this as an opportunity to be more efficient than our competitors, to survive in this competitive business.
The good news here is that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not necessarily in contradiction with generating a return on investment. Besides, SDGs could be a wonderful source of inspiration for applying and developing new technologies. When we read about the research currently done in this field, we can feel optimistic. See for example: “AI for Good — How Artificial Intelligence can Help Sustainable Development“.
However, we should encourage more people to embrace those goals. So, what do you want to be when you grow up? We need more children dreaming about actually saving our planet!
Dr. Gustavo Sanchez
Professor – Automation & Data Science
JK Lakshmipat University
JK Lakshmipat University is organizing an International Conference on the theme “Innovations in Technology and Management for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” to be held on Feb. 1-3, 2019 at JKLU Campus, Jaipur, India. More information available in this link.