ESSC research scientist to be panelist at European Innovation Festival in Milan

Africa Flores is at the inaugural “Fast Company” European Innovation Festival in Milan, Italy.

Michael Mercier | UAH

Africa Flores, a research scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Earth System Science Center (ESSC), is a panelist at the inaugural "Fast Company" European Innovation Festival July 9-10 in Milan, Italy.

Flores will participate in a conversation with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky on the role technology will play in efforts to preserve nature. The panel will discuss whether smart machines might do a better job protecting wildlife and the planet than humans.

"We rely heavily on the power of computers and satellite data to monitor and manage natural resources. But not only on that, we also rely on field observations and human intervention, we try to understand how decisions are made on the ground and how our data and products can help to inform those decisions," she says. "So it will be an interesting panel, and an opportunity to explain the research, and work we do at UAH and SERVIR."

Her selection as a panelist follows her selection earlier this year for Microsoft and National Geographic AI for Earth Innovation grants to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to help understand and protect the planet.

"I'm excited about meeting a very different community outside the academic sphere, but that is also working from different dimensions how to better conserve and use sustainable our natural resources," Flores says.

The conference brings together 300 business and creative leaders for two days of urgent conversations around the human and technological potential presented by emerging super-intelligent machines. "Fast Company" is a magazine and website focused on innovation.

The event at the Gucci Hub, a renovated Caproni airplane plant, will bring a nuanced and sophisticated conversation about machine learning to Europe and explore all facets of the societal impacts of deep learning machines, including the potential for advancing the health of humanity and the planet.

Confirmed speakers include Julian Birkinshaw, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the London Business School; Jessica Brillhart, an immersive VR artist and founder of Vrai Pictures; Riccardo Sabatini, data scientist for Origins Biosciences; Alec Ross, the technology policy expert who served as director of innovation for Hillary Clinton during her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State; and Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci.


Africa Flores

Jim Steele