The technology should also be viable in the wild. DeepMind is developing a pre-trained version of its AI model that would need only “modest” hardware and little internet connectivity — important when a powerful computer and fast internet access could be disruptive to wildlife and expensive to deploy. The team hopes to validate its models soon by rolling them out in the field to gauge their progress in real conditions.
It could significantly improve conservation efforts if it proves successful. Many of the species in the Serengeti are vulnerable to a growing human influence, whether it’s farming, poaching or climate change. The machine learning system could not only track behavior and population distributions in detail, but provide data quickly enough that conservationists could respond in time to short term changes. AI is only one piece of a much larger puzzle here, but it could prove important.