AI is not as scary as you may think

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Google is using AI to predict floods in India and warn users

For years Google has warned users about natural disasters by incorporating alerts from government agencies like FEMA into apps like Maps and Search. Now, the company is making predictions of its own. As part of a partnership with the Central Water Commission of India, Google will now alert users in the country about impending floods. The service is only currently available in the Patna region, with the first alert going out earlier this month.

As Google’s engineering VP Yossi Matias outlines in a blog post, these predictions are being made using a combination of machine learning, rainfall records, and flood simulations.

Using artificial intelligence to better understand natural disasters is not a new area of research in itself. Numerous papers have been published on the subject, and trials are being run by both cities and companies like Microsoft and IBM to test and implement such models.