discussion / AI for Conservation  / 8 October 2021

AI for Conservation Office Hours: are you interested?

Hi Wildlabbers!

Let me introduce myself, I’m Lucas - I’ve just started interning at WILDLABS with a background in languages and Latin American Studies and I’m based in London. One of my first projects is assessing your interest in what could be a very exciting collaborative event! 

Over the past few weeks our team have plunged ourselves into the AI for conservation world while we’ve been reviewing all the applications for our first Fellowship Programme with Edge Impulse. 

While reviewing applications to the fellowship, we’re seeing a lot of people and projects who are grappling with similar issues, namely general applications of AI in conservation (rather than AI on the Edge devices - which is the focus of the fellowship). We know these challenges are shared by many in our community so it got us thinking. 

We’ve had a chat with Dan Morris and the Microsoft AI for Earth Team to see if they might be able to help and we’ve come up with an idea we’d like to try out. We’re sharing it with you to gauge interest (would this actually help you?) and get some feedback to shape this event(s). 


What we’re proposing: AI for Conservation Office Hours

An ‘AI for Conservation Office Hours’ virtual event, whereby we connect conservation folk who would find it useful to sit down with a Microsoft Data Scientist (i.e. an AI expert) to talk through their work and get some guidance. Dan and his team will matchmake on their side to make sure the data scientists you meet with will be well equipped to talk to you about your conservation challenges. 

There are two scenarios in which a Microsoft data scientist could help:

  1. A conservation person is thinking about using AI, and either wants to talk about what’s possible or what they should try first
  2. A conservation person is already doing some AI work, and has some results, but wants some ideas about what to try next

One of the first things the AI for Earth team will ask for when they talk about AI problems is sample data that communicates the gist of the problem… so be ready with some sample data!

We’re thinking of doing this as an ‘event’ (i.e. having conservationists in a virtual room together, probably organised by data type - camera traps/acoustics etc). Alternatively, we’ll matchmake and facilitate distributed 1:1 connections so you can have some dedicated time (roughly an hour) with a data scientist to talk through your specific problem. 

We’re looking to run this some time in October, and the time-zones can be flexible. 


What we need from you!

Your feedback will help us shape this event(s) so they’re useful for you. So we want to know - 

  1. Would this be useful - are you interested? 
  2. Would you prefer a small virtual room where there are a few other conservationists with similar data and challenges, or would you prefer to talk 1:1 with a data scientist? 
  3. Do you have any preferences with timing? This means both timezone and availability within October. 
  4. Do you have sample data you can bring along? 
  5. Any other comments/ideas? 

If you like this idea and want us to try it out, let us know! Send us a comment here with your answers or email me at [email protected]

Hi Wildlabbers! 

We're now going ahead with a small pilot of around ten 1:1 office hour sessions with Microsoft AI for Earth specialists. More details coming very soon.    

For the time being sign-ups are now closed, but thank you to everyone who has been interested. We will keep you updated on how the 1:1s go and whether there will be further sessions to sign up for later in the year. 



We've now wrapped our first run of AI for Conservation Office Hours and you can read my review of how it went and lessons learned here

Given the overall success of the programme, we're excited to announce that in early spring next year we will be coordinating a second round - so keep an eye out for further updates in the new year on the application and sign-up process. 

Also, we'd love to know whether you'd be interested in having a 1:1 so comment below and tell us what conservation tech challenge you would like to cover or how a session could help you in your conservation work. 

Many thanks,