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Climate change is world’s biggest problem

Climate change is world's biggest problem

Since leaving Google, Eric Schmidt has focused his energy on tackling major global problems — and there is, he says, no urgency like climate change.

“If we don’t tackle climate change, we’re really going to be toasts,” Schmidt, Google’s former CEO and chairman, told CNBC Make It. “If you look at the rate of melting in the Antarctic ice sheet as well as in Greenland, it’s very concerning.”

In 2017, Schmidt left the CEO position at Google and launched a charitable initiative, Schmidt Futures, to support research 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 those ice sheets melt, it will take “a million years for them to recover,” said Schmidt, 66. “So we’re really endangering our grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.”

According to research published in January 2021, the world now loses 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year – a 60% increase from the 1990s – and it is expected to get worse, experts warn. Harvard researchers calculate that global sea levels could rise by about three feet over the next 1,000 years if the Antarctic ice sheet collapses.

Schmidt, who was hired by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2001 to provide some “big oversight” for the web’s growing search engine, knows all about the engineering work needed to revolutionize industries: He’s been CEO of Google since 2001 Until 2011, helping turn a young Silicon Valley startup into a global tech giant.

Schmidt says that in the event of climate change, the energy industry needs some major changes. The problem, he adds, is that most individuals and companies focus on short-term issues. “But the fact of the matter is that [climate change is] It’s quite a challenge, and it’s well worth our time.”

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

“Putting AI is 10% where it’s going,” he says, citing “big language models” — which underpin the latest generation of AI-powered chatbots — as a first step toward general intelligence in computers, where people can talk to them. .

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

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

“This is the future,” he says.

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