Climate Change Is The World’s Biggest Problem

Since leaving Google, Eric Schmidt has focused his energy on solving big global problems – and none, he says, are as urgent as climate change.

“If we don’t tackle climate change, we’ll really be raising a toast,” said Schmidt, former CEO and chairman of Google. CNBC does. “If you look at the rate of melting in the Antarctic ice sheet as well as in Greenland, it’s quite concerning. »

In 2017, Schmidt stepped down as executive chairman of Google and started a philanthropic initiative, Schmidt Futures Contracts, to support the search for big ideas in areas such as artificial intelligence, biology and energy. Over the past five years, he says, he’s learned that climate change isn’t just a long-term problem..

Once these ice caps melt, it will take “a million years for them to recover,” says Schmidt, 66. “So we are really putting our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren at risk. »

According to research published in January 2021, the world is now losing 1.2 trillion tonnes of ice every year – a 60% increase from the 1990s – and the situation is only expected to get worse. warn the experts. Harvard researchers’ calculations predict that global sea levels could rise about three feet over the next 1,000 years if the The Antarctic ice sheet is collapsing.

Schmidt, who was hired by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 to provide “adult supervision” to their growing web search engine, knows all about the engineering work it takes to revolutionize industries: He was CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, helping turn the young Silicon Valley start-up into a giant world of technology.

In the case of climate change, the energy industry needs major changes, Schmidt says. The problem, he adds, is that most people and businesses focus on short-term issues. “But the fact is that [climate change is] a great challenge, and something well worth our time,” he says.

Ideally, he says, artificial intelligence can play a vital role in tackling climate change in the future. Schmidt Futures is already using AI to improve climate modeling research through a program called Virtual Earth System Research Institute (VERSI). And last year Schmidt co-wrote a book, “The Age of AI”, as a roadmap of what the future of technology could be.

“The AI ​​situation is 10% where it’s going to go,” he says, citing “big language models” – which power the latest generation of AI chatbots – as the first step towards general intelligence. in computers, where people can talk in conversation with them.

“Imagine the perfect AI system that helps you,” says Schmidt. “He knows you. He travels with you. It’s on your phone…and you trust it.

The goal, Schmidt says, is for this AI system to help you come up with ideas and create suggestions to improve people’s lives.

“It’s the future,” he says.

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Climate Change Is The World’s Biggest Problem

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