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“Explainable Artificial Intelligence bridges the gap between the data and the user. So, to increase the trust, the explanation has to come with the AI itself”.

If you want to know more about AI related to water, watch the interview to Dragan Savic, CEO at KWR Water Research Institute and Professor of Hydroinformatics at the University of Exeter.

Explainable AI bridges the gap between the data and the user. So, to increase trust, the explanation has to come from the AI itself.

Interview Transcription


1. No more, no less

There has been always the same amount of water available, there is no more, there is no less water on this planet. Most of that water is salty water, it’s in the seas and oceans, and a very small percentage is available in our lakes and rivers as groundwater. And then if we pollute some of those sources beyond the means of us treating it, then we are having less water. But we don’t require most of the water in our households that we flush down the toilet or use in the shower or we use in the washing machine… It doesn’t have to be drinking water quality. But I would say, everything, so far, we could recover.


2. Explainable Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence helps the user, so, it will not replace the user completely never, particularly in the water sector. It can be in manufacturing when we are repeatedly doing something, but in the water sector, every intervention is unique, almost unique.

Data mining tools, neural networks, and such. People say those are black boxes; black boxes because we cannot see how they work inside. 

Explainable AI bridges the gap between the data and the user. So, to increase trust, the explanation has to come from the AI itself


3. Water stewardship

I don’t know how people are aware even of their direct water usage at home. In various countries in Europe, it ranges from, say, 100-120 liters to 150-200 liters per person, per day. But that’s still way away from the number, from the water footprint that we use through products and services. So, if you buy a tomato from Brazil or buy it from Egypt, do they have the same footprint? Because then the scarcity of water plays a role. 

WWF has come up with stewardship, to look into how can private companies, utilities, businesses, commercial organizations. How can they take into account the local conditions where they use water for producing products; so that they can help to improve the sustainability of the water usage in the area. 


4. A regulated market

If you are talking about privatization there are various models for privatization: we have one model in the UK, where the companies are listed on the stock exchange and they have shareholders and they pay dividends; and then you have, for example, another model which in the Netherlands were all the drinking water utilities are private companies. But they are publicly oriented so they are not giving dividends to their shareholders.

It’s very important what is the type of regulation that is put in place; the key is that the regulation has a long-term view rather than a very short one.


5. The Blue-Green spaces

The European Union now has a “Green Deal” and I know that Green Deal involves water, but I would call it “Blue-Green” because blue is equally, if not more, important than green. And there’s a direct link, obviously, between sustainability and sustainable use of all resources, including water: reuse of water, recycling, reductional usage of water… all parts of that drive to mitigate the impact of climate change.


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