Beyond AI: The Need For Solutionists In Creating A Sustainable World


$7 trillion dollars. $7 trillion dollars is the conservative estimate by the United Nations each year in our shortfall to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.) That’s an absurd number! How are we ever going to bridge this gap to create a better world for us all? Well, we have two things going for us. First, we can leverage technology like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, drones, etc. to help. We’ve seen this through program’s like Ocean Alliance’s SnotBot, where they’re using drones and deep analytics to assess whale health, and by extension, ocean health. Second, and perhaps our most important resource, is people, who are committed to social good and social enterprise. People like Gabrielle Hull, co-founder and co-CEO of EQ, are committed to making a difference and being a Solutionist.

Gabrielle was born in Ireland and then lived in United Kingdom, Northern California, Toronto and finally arriving at Stanford to start college to study English and History. Her unique experiences and exposure to different cultures (and perspectives) really helped her to understand the world as a whole. She’s had great success in software, venture capital, online music, but perhaps her greatest success is trying to make a difference.

Remembering a time when she took her 13-year-old son to dinner, Gabrielle recounts that he had tears in his eyes and was greatly worried about global warming. “I had the desire every parent has to tell their kids that everything will be okay,” she recounts. “I realized that wasn't a great answer... I really wanted to take action and be part of the solution. Kids really get at the heart of the problem.” It’s this attitude that has led Gabrielle to be a full-time crusader for social good and inspire a younger generation to take action. “Our planet is at a critical moment in time,” she states. Doing her part, along with EQ, they will be hosting a global solutions summit, EQ Presents: Planet Home, Sept. 13-15 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

EQ is focused on making people Solutionists for a subset of the SDGs: EAT, MAKE, MOVE, LIVE. They focus not just on the problems but solutions that people can use. EAT, MAKE, MOVE and LIVE will be at the core of EQ Presents: Planet Home, which will bring together more than 6,000 attendees for a three-day experience focusing on gathering the world's top environmental change-makers across culture, technology, economics and public policy. “EQ takes solutions that exist and exposes people to the new innovations that they can use in their everyday lives,” Gabrielle excitedly proclaims. “At EQ, we do this through music and art, which helps motivate people to get involved and start to make changes in their lives.”

Consider EAT which focuses on food systems like production and security. Consider Evolv Technologies, using AI to develop “recipes” to improve crop production with fewer resources. That’s something that can be applied to everyone. How about MAKEMcKinsey published a paper on how AI will accelerate the circular economy by facilitating new product development that could reduce waste in just the food industry by $127B a year in 2030! This is the power of EQ as Gabrielle explains, “we've built a framework that simplifies into solutions that we use every day. Making it relatable to everyone so that we can all make better decisions on how we EAT, MAKE, MOVE and LIVE.”

In trying to make a difference, though, it takes more than just technology and inspired people like Gabrielle. Motivating people into action, even just small actions is critical. Small steps add up to big ones. Where to start? Gabrielle provides great advice, "creating inspiring moments lead to change."

The intersection of Art + Sustainability + Technology is at the center of EQ and creates something special. Art is the motivator for behavioral change. (Think about how music, movies, paintings, etc. evoke emotion and influence our thinking.) Sustainability is the social good we want to achieve. Technology is the tool that helps drive our efforts. “Having people from all these different backgrounds is helping us to make better decisions as an organization and come up with better decisions,” asserts Gabrielle. Very true, and it’s a model we can all benefit from in using. While people look to developing technology tools like SnotBot, EQ is helping to spread the word on how we can use these types of tools and inspire people to make a difference.

“I think this challenge is also our biggest opportunity,” Gabrielle says. It’s very true... to help us all understand how we can leverage Art + Sustainability + Technology, and how we can become Solutionists. With people like Gabrielle and EQ leading the charge, it inspires hope, and hope is what gets us started.


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Neil Sahota (萨冠军), contributor, is an IBM Master Inventor, United Nations (UN) Artificial Intelligence (AI) subject matter expert, and Professor at UC Irvine. With 20+ years of business experience, he works with clients and business partners to create next generation products/solutions powered by AI. His work experience spans multiple industries including legal services, healthcare, life sciences, retail, travel and transportation, energy and utilities, automotive, telecommunications, media/communication, and government. Moreover, Neil is one of the few people selected for IBM's Corporate Service Corps leadership program that pairs leaders with NGOs to perform community-driven economic development projects. For his assignment, Neil lived and worked in Ningbo, China where he partnered with Chinese corporate CEOs to create a  leadership development program.