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Aligning AI with Sustainable Water Management Goals

After reading my column on "Artificial Intelligence (AI) and water," a follower of La Hora commented, "Humans don't have money to supply water to arid areas, but they have money to search for water on Mars. The question is: Is there intelligent life on Earth?"

Billions of dollars are being moved around the world to win the endless competition for dominance in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), an AI capable of performing multiple complex intellectual tasks beyond the combined human capabilities of all people. Half of the world's AI experts warn of the dangers of out-of-control AGI. This is where "alignment" becomes critical to human goals.

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Alignment, a field initiated by Russell (circa 2014), involves designing and programming AI in such a way that it is aligned with human values and objectives.

What are those human values and objectives related to water that could serve as a reference for AGI development? We must start with global water-related consensuses.

Numerous international conventions held in the last four decades can serve as a reference: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Agenda 21 (1992), the UN Convention on Desertification and Drought (1994), the Kyoto Protocol (1997), the Millennium Development Goals (2000), the Paris Agreement (2015), and the Sustainable Development Goals -SDGs- (2015). All of them have clear references to water-related issues in human life and on the planet.

In my opinion, the SDGs, also known as Agenda 2030, are the best starting point for defining human values and reference objectives for aligning AI with objectives that link water to human, economic, and planetary development.

Since "water is everything, friends," there is no single objective for water in the SDGs.

From the perspective of water and human development, we find the most referenced of all: Goal 6, "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all."

Goal 11, "Sustainable cities and communities," clearly has a component of availability and hydrological planning coupled with territorial planning.

There is also Goal 2, "Zero hunger," linked to access and sustainable use of water for agricultural production (irrigation) and hygiene for food preparation.

From an economic perspective, there is Goal 7, "Affordable and clean energy," which includes hydropower. In addition, there is Goal 12, "Responsible production and consumption," related to the production of goods and services through sustainable water use.

Finally, there is Goal 14, "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development," Goal 15, "Life on land," and Goal 13, "Climate action," in which hydrological cycle action, protection of natural resources in basins, and adaptation measures to climate change with a water perspective (droughts and floods) must be taken.

But many of these water objectives do not have the necessary investments.

It is in everyone's interest for AI to align with these water objectives to improve society and the planet. The role of water experts trained in various spheres of artificial intelligence will be crucial during the automatic testing and validation that will allow AI advances to align with these objectives.

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