Poaching and attacks from herders are threatening their existence, and the latest TV commercial from Microsoft showcases how its artificial intelligence software could help spot all the snow leopards that need saving.
Produced by its agency Dentsu Aegis Network, the 30-second spot is introduced by rapper and musician Common, who has been featured in the software giant’s TV ads since 2015. After a brief appearance amid a classical orchestra, the action moves to a subtitled video interview (conducted by Skype, presumably), with Koustubh Sharma, a senior regional ecologist with Seattle-based non-profit the Snow Leopard Trust.
As Sharma explains, cameras set up in regions where snow leopards remain are taking images in an attempt to identify them for conservation efforts. A machine learning algorithm developed by Microsoft engineers and run on the company’s Azure cloud service can automatically classify hundreds of thousands of photos in a matter of minutes.
“It gives us time to do better research, and save this threatened species,” Sharma says as the commercial ends.
The ad creative stems from an “AI For Earth” grant the Snow Leopard Trust announced it had received from Microsoft last year.
In a blog post, Microsoft noted that the project launched in the wake of a controversial decision to reclassify snow leopards as “vulnerable” as opposed to “high risk” of extinction, which the trust opposes.