About the Series
Welcome to the third season of WILDLABS Tech Tutors, the series that answers the "how do I do that?" questions of conservation tech! Brought to you with the support of Microsoft AI for Earth, Tech Tutors is made for conservation tech beginners of all knowledge levels (and yes, even experts can still be beginners when it comes to tackling a new aspect of conservation tech or starting a new project.). Our Tech Tutors will give you the bite-sized, easy-to-understand building blocks you'll need to try new conservation technology, enhance your research, DIY a project for the first time, or simply explore the possibilities.
Taking place every Thursday, each Tech Tutor will present a 30 minute tutorial guiding you through an aspect of conservation tech, followed by a 30 minute live Q&A session with the audience.
What do you gain as a Tech Tutors participant? You'll leave each episode with the confidence to build on the skills discussed in these tutorials, and you'll have an ongoing opportunity to learn and collaborate with other members of the WILDLABS community! The connections made through the past seasons of Tech Tutors have led to real projects and results, and our third season is set to introduce you to even more new ideas and community members who are ready to start something new!
Can't make it to an episode this season? Don't worry! You can find every tutorial after it airs on our Youtube channel, and you can collaborate and ask questions in each episode's thread on the WILDLABS Tech Tutors forum.
Meet Your Tech Tutor: Lily Xu, Harvard University
Lily Xu is a PhD student studying computer science at Harvard University. Her research applies machine learning and game theory to environmental conservation. She has focused on the prevention of illegal wildlife poaching; her work on predictive models to prevent poaching is being deployed to 800 protected areas around the world on the SMART conservation software, in collaboration with the SMART partnership and Microsoft AI for Earth.
You can learn more about Lily's work on her website: https://lily-x.github.io/
We asked Lily...
What will I learn in this episode?
We will discuss how machine learning can help with conservation area management to predict high-risk areas of poaching and illegal logging. We'll focus on the Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS), an AI system developed for poaching prevention, looking at the algorithm behind PAWS, challenges such as data uncertainty, and ongoing deployment in the form of field tests and integration with SMART conservation software. We'll also explore some best practices for bridging the research-to-practice pipeline to build effective collaborations between computer scientists and conservation experts.
How can I learn more about this subject?
Check out our PAWS webpage for more details about PAWS.
You can also explore the following resources:
- Microsoft AI for Earth API is used to bring PAWS to production-ready status by enabling the system to run effectively on the cloud, essential particularly for use in low-resource areas where computing power is limited.
- Mongabay article: Where to patrol next: ‘Netflix’ of ranger AI serves up poaching predictions
And the following papers might be informative:
- Illegal Wildlife Poaching Prediction and Patrol Planning Under Uncertainty with Field Test Evaluations
- Enhancing Poaching Predictions for Under-Resourced Wildlife Conservation Parks Using Remote Sensing Imagery
- Dual-Mandate Patrols: Multi-Armed Bandits for Green Security
If I want to take the next step, where should I start?
If you work at or with a conservation site and are interested in using AI-generated predictions to help inform your patrols, please reach out, particularly if you are already using the SMART platform to record and monitor your patrols.
What advice do you have for a complete beginner in this subject?
You don't have to do it alone and you don't need to know it all! PAWS has been developed through close collaborations between AI researchers, conservation biologists, conservation managers, rangers on the frontlines, and software engineers.
Are you ready to learn with Lily? Watch Lily's episode on Youtube here.
Learn more about our upcoming Tech Tutorials
Visit the series page on WILDLABS to find the full list of WILDLABS Tech Tutors.