Dr Helen Mayfield – can artificial intelligence save the rainforest?

On Wednesday 3rd August we’re pleased to welcome Dr Helen Mayfield, who has a PhD in mapping science and comes from an IT background, with an active interest in conservation and environmental issues. Her broad research interests are in how computer science and technological advances can help us solve or better understand environmental problems.

Helen Mayfield

We are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological age characterised by mass extinctions and unprecedented pressures on our natural resources.  At the same time technology is progressing at full speed, providing us with a whole new set of tools to help us navigate this brave new world. Yet many environmental management practitioners still rely on the tried and trusted methods that they’re comfortable with.

Helen’s work looks at how we can use machine learning to help us solve environmental management problems. We aim to shed some light on artificial intelligence and demystify a few of the common machine learning techniques, discussing  how they might serve us better than the standard statistical models that are so commonly used (no formulas, promise!). To keep the balance we will also look at some of the pitfalls of techniques such as artificial neural networks to help us consider when NOT to use them.  Being both one of the biggest environmental threats we face, as well as a terribly complicated issue, deforestation analysis provides the perfect case study for doing this.  By taking advantage of the plethora of free datasets that are becoming increasingly available (just look at Google Earth!) we can test out some of these methods to see whether computers can indeed help save the rainforest.

Join us upstairs at theOld King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!


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