How Technology is Helping with our Impact on the Environment

Technology is an ever advancing aspect of life, growing smarter and smarter with our passion and progress towards better artificial intelligence. With climate change an inevitable outcome of our society, our only choice is to ameliorate the severity of the change, by reducing our effect on the environment. Most countries in the world and much of the United States believes in the effects of global warming but meager efforts are being made to actually reduce our effect on the Earth. Even with the Paris Agreement, Syria sought to join the agreement to agree to make changes to be greener and help the environment, as everyone acknowledges this very real threat. This leaves the US as the only country in the World that did not sign on the climate deal. Because of the nature of our advancing technology, it is only natural that we would have it help in our efforts to alleviate our effect on the environment. There are already large scale technological efforts including Harvard University’s crop pollinating robobees as well as the prominence of driverless cars. The former is important too because bees have been dying at an alarming rate due to a disorder in colonies which could be correlated to climate change. Harvard’s robobees would solve the issue (especially in the event that the pollinating bees go extinct) by pollinating and ensuring that part of our environment is maintained. However, despite all these efforts at a greener tomorrow, the biggest and most important factor is each and every one of us, personally to watch our lifestyle. For example, we now have smart thermostats that use the internet to check the weather and adjust accordingly and are also linked to smartphones so they can be set on and off during set times of the day. Like if a family goes to work and school, heating or air conditioning is not needed between roughly 0700-1500, which saves a lot of electricity and heating bills. Amazon sells a lot of smart thermostats, many of which are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence. As such, changing the temperature is as easy as saying “Alexa, lower the temperature to 65 degrees please.” There is also smart irrigation systems, as to avoid over watering your plants when you decide to turn the sprinklers on in the summer. These smart irrigation systems like Skydrop, utilise the internet also, to check weather conditions and are set to work on certain times set by the user. Skydrop knows not to activate the sprinklers if it detects that it just rained the night before for example. Overall, technology is being used widely to combat issues we recognise as problems and gives us better accessibility for it. If more and more people invest in these technologies, not only will they save money in the long run, it will greatly help the environment, which is crucial for our future, our kids futures, etc.

Gene Therapy on the External Part of the Body

This semester, we have discussed the idea of injecting programmed/man made vectors into the body in order to help combat diseases and ailments. However, almost everything that has been discussed focuses on the inside of the body, such as diabetes, heart failure, and many other diseases. Despite the multitude of organs inside the body, most people do not associate skin as being an organ, let alone  being the largest organ in the body. This is one of the many reasons that skin is often less prioritized as an organ, and aside from putting sunblock on during the summer, some people don’t even think about their skin’s health or needs. For those with skin conditions such as junctional epidermolysis bullosa, gene therapy might be the answer to the question: do vectors and gene therapy work just as effectively on an external area? How will the body potentially reject it?

Unfortunately, the short answer is we just do not know yet. And we probably will not know for while. For treatment on the boy with junctional epidermolysis bullosa, his skin was extremely fragile and was expected to lead to more health problems throughout his life. The entire procedure was extremely expensive and tailored to his condition and genetic history. Yet, since it worked on him, the entire idea is currently batting 1.000 despite it only being tested on one person. The only definite going forward from this is that performing gene therapy on skin would have a distinct advantage since it is an entirely visible organ- a unique attribute that sets skin a part from anything other organ.

While some gene therapy patients pass away from the condition that they were originally trying to fight, the unfortunate truth is that some also pass away from the body rejecting the vectors in the system- and that makes perfect sense. Is every person’s body going to accept a foreign, man made substance that is manipulating the body from the inside? Of course not. Patients are monitored after undergoing gene therapy in order to see how the body is reacting from the gene therapy. During this process, blood, vital, and other tests are monitored to view how the body is behaving. Having the ability to visually monitor the organ is another asset in terms of detecting signs of the body rejecting the vector. Unfortunately, only time will reveal the effectiveness of this particular field of gene therapy. Here’s a video that explains how gene therapy is used for correcting skin sells:

There Is No Timeline For Machine Learning

Machine learning has the capability to transform our future and then some. Currently, humans are working towards building machines that learn from themselves which could ultimately become so good at teaching themselves that it could eventually eliminate the human aspect. In today’s society, machine learning is becoming more and more useful across many different industries. We know what is happening now, and what could possibly happen in the nearest future, but what about the future in general? This answer is a little foggy. It is extremely difficult to foresee what machine learning and artificial intelligence will be able to accomplish. There is an endless amount of opportunities and it is a technology that is not fully understood just yet. This means the implications and the endgame for machine learning and artificial intelligence is unclear.

In order to prepare for the emergence of this developed technology, it is important to imagine the craziest possibilities and be ready to implement what is necessary to adapt our society. One article, written by Cade Metz, talks about the possibility of artificial intelligence being able to create artificial intelligence on its own. This idea stems from the reality that only about 10,000 people have the skills and knowledge needed in order to produce such innovative technologies. Google is behind AutoML, which is already successful at building an algorithm that can identify objects in photos more accurately than programs built by human experts. Eventually, computers may be able to create Artificial Intelligence by using a more advanced machine learning. It is already happening, and it is only a matter of time before human experts and Artificial Intelligence work side by side on a daily basis.

Today in class, we had the pleasure of witnessing a presentation by Frank Diana, and one point he made really stuck out to me. He mentioned how many people question when they should start preparing for the era of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. The simple answer is now. The more complicated answer is that there is no official time to start preparing. This technology has already implemented itself into our lives without some of our knowledge. It is there when we are shopping, use a GPS app, use an entertainment service, and many other places. The thing is many people are infused with the convenience, therefore, they do not notice why or how it is happening. This means that those people are not prepared for the future of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Those who are educated in the subject are aware at how much guessing is going on. No one truly knows what is capable of happening or when it will happen. Most people will ask for a definitive timeline for the future, but the truth is, no one knows. This is either amazing, terrifying, or both. That is typically the way these revolutions happen. There are those who expect and accept change and there are those who simply ignore it. I found it amazing that machines and algorithms were able to learn from past mistakes but now there is Artificial Intelligence building those algorithms. It is simple mind blowing.

The main thing to take away from learning about machine learning is that development is nowhere near finished. There is still plenty to be discovered and the guessing game on time will continue. The key to the future is acceptance, the ability to adapt and a crazy imagination. This new revolution is happening and those who are aware will be better off than those who ignore it. Innovations, like Artificial Intelligence building its own algorithms, are popping up every single day and it will not slow down anytime soon.

Nuclear Energy Continues to Struggle

One point that our current president made very clear during his campaign is the decline of the coal industry. Increased environmental regulations and a decline in the price of natural gas have made burning coal impractical and inefficient. Another source of energy that is often overlooked is Nuclear energy. Nuclear power is struggling to expand its share of the market; an article in Axios, claims that the market share for nuclear power has hovered just below 20% for the past decade. Nuclear energy growth has been stagnant compared to the rapid growth of clean energy sources. Advocates of nuclear power have gave financial support to struggling nuclear power plants in New York and Illinois. People are reluctant to expand the use of nuclear energy because of the safety concerns present. Two of the most infamous nuclear reactor disasters occurred at Fukushima and Chernobyl. Many are skeptical and worried about the aftermath if an issue ever occurred at a nuclear reactor in the United States. However nuclear energy has become safer, more reliable and more efficient over the past two decades. Nuclear energy has extremely high energy outputs. For example, China is expanding their use of nuclear energy to supply energy to its immense population; over half of the nuclear reactors being built are in China. The major impediment for the growth of nuclear energy is cost and time; projects are slow and very expensive.

How Today’s Leaders Set Examples for Tomorrow’s Future

New technology has posed new challenges for existing companies, and now digital transformation is happening all around us. When it comes to innovation, existing companies are being beaten to the punch by evolving platform companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple. I think there are some great reasons as to why existing companies are having such trouble with growth, and it is not necessarily because of these technology companies taking all the business. Humans, not companies, drive digital transformation. If companies wish to be successful, a lot of success will come from great leaders and thinkers.

There are great leaders motivated to bring change to the world, and other leaders that hold their positions for power and simply do not care when innovations come along (until it effects them). The difference between these two leaders is productivity, and the leaders for change typically give out more positive results. I believe there are many leaders uprising to bring change to the world, and this is noticeable in digital transformation.

First, lots of successful people are the ones that lead digital transformation. Digital transformation is making the world a more productive place, and the ones implementing change are the ones ahead of the curve. Even in small business settings, Tito’s Burritos allows you to place orders online, is it possible that option gives them an edge over the competition? Secondly, many, if not all of these people leading digital transformation, are also “self-made“, meaning their wealth is not inherited. They are self-made because of their brilliant accomplishments. Solely a genius will make his or her way to the top given motivation. Millions of inherited dollars does not make you a genius, it just puts you in a better position to succeed. Third, the leaders of digital transformation are determined to expand, their companies are notably the strongest growing in the world. Although these people have made it to the top on their own, they still persist for more, and continue getting smarter everyday. These are intelligent leaders, and they do not settle for anything less than more.

What does this all mean? It means people like you and I, people who came from normal middle class families, rose to the top. We are no different from the ones at the top but why are they in the position that they are in today and we are still down below? They hopped on trends and took them first. These leaders thought exponentially and came up with innovative ideas. As humans, we typically follow a trend of patterns and think in the same direction, but thinking outside the box helps when trying to be innovative. There are many humans with the potential of starting new trends, they just need to think differently in order to discover these trends. In the video below, Jeff Bezos explains what motivated him to startup Amazon.

Notably, Bezos mentions two key facts: the fact that books are widely popular and profitable, and web usage is expected to grow at a rate of over 2300%. Bezos took these two different facts and turned it into one brilliant idea, an online bookstore, bound to expand its services into what we know today as Amazon.

Like Bezos, us humans are capable of connecting the dots in order to come up with innovative ideas. In order to do so, it is important to keep track of trends and act accordingly. Ignoring the first wave of innovation will only make us unprepared for the second wave, and we must learn to adapt with changes in our society. Humans tend to go with the flow but this must end. If humans aspire to live in a world with digital transformation, they need to be five steps ahead of what is going on around them and expect the unexpected, plan for the inevitable.

Instant Audiences.

It seems like not so long ago that marketing firms dreamed of putting out a new IP and having an almost instant audience to flock to it. And as many of us know now, this has more or less become a reality. While not to the point of being an exact science like some would like it, websites like Amazon and Netflix have been using subtle suggestions to build profiles of each of their customers to do such a thing. These come in the form of things like “People who bought this also bought” and “If you liked this show, then you may like this.” We have all seen these on our computer, phone and TV screens more times than we can count and it is there for a reason. The reason is that they are building the aforementioned “profile” of all of their customers, this gives them a set of data, which allows them to gauge the probability of people who buy one product, buying others that are similar. And this is where the important part is, since companies like Amazon and Netflix have the chances of people going to another product that is similar in nature to a product they already consumed, it can be determined the chances of a new product succeeding. No longer do marketing firms have to do large amounts of expensive research and no longer to companies like Amazon and Netflix need to hire marketing firms, they just need to collect the data on their customers so they can see the built in customer bases for certain products or genres. And this is going to turn advertisement on its head, since no longer will companies need to spend so much on advertisement space/time on shows, movies or webpages for a wide variety of people. They can targets the ones who already in the customer base to let them know that there is something that is similar to something they already like, and they can target the people who liked something similar to the product that they are now selling.

 

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/04/25/top-six-digital-transformation-trends-in-media-and-entertainment/#1654eee26729

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/04/25/top-six-digital-transformation-trends-in-media-and-entertainment/#1654eee26729

How AI can Reshape the Energy Sector

In class, we have been extensively discussing artificial intelligence. Particularly, how it will impact society, what it is capable of, and the potential implications, At first, I never really thought anything of it. I definitely was not a believer. I saw it as robots that would never come to be in my lifetime. Soon after, though, I realized how far off I was. Artificial intelligence is most definitely the next big thing, I believe that we must carefully integrate into most areas of our lives, in order to optimize our daily functions. My particular area of focus is energy, and I believe there are many ways we can implement Artificial intelligence into our energy systems. Things like reducing emissions, increasing efficiency of our electrical system, with regards to transmission and distribution, and creating a smart grid. These are just a few ways artificial intelligence can improve our energy sector; the question that needs to be answered, though, is how?

The first way mentioned is overall efficiency. This efficiency described has to do with output, supply, and demand. We waste tons of energy each year due to inefficient and non optimal output. This is a trend that cannot continue, but artificial intelligence may hold the solution. Technology can be developed through code and algorithms, along with a database of studies, that can accurately predict the optimal output, and maximum efficiency of our solar farms, and other sources such as wind, gas, and electric. This trend is not hype, though, companies like IBM have already invested in predictive artificial intelligence that will improve the efficiency of our electric transmission and distribution systems.These predictive models that are being developed wont just help with efficiency, though. They will also help with security, grid management, and optimal consumption. Researchers have found, that these intelligent machines can help reduce wasted energy by 46 percent. A truly astounding number. Ai integration wont just help advance new forms of energy either. They will also help with the traditional sources such as oil. An example that can be found is in Texas, Oil companies are trying to implement artificial intelligence to find optimal drilling points, to get the most out of each drill. This is truly fascinating, and clearly shows that AI is not all about futuristic, and the mindset of 100 years from now. It is very real, and has real world applications that could change things for the better. We can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, stop wasting electricity, and efficiently use our resources. This is not a huge proposal, or something that is impossible. It will require extensive research and diligent development, but within a few years this a very realistic proposal.

 

In researching how artificial intelligence can potentially be implemented into our energy sector, I am all for it. I believe this would solve the crisis of climate change, by reducing emissions, increasing efficiency, and cut down on wastes. In doing this we would have a secure optimized energy sector, rather than one based off of ineffective models, and human intelligence. Clearly this approach has not worked, but artificial intelligence may be the answer we have been looking for,.

Will the Future Increase the Education Gap?

Education is increasingly becoming the topic of many candidates in recent elections. Why is that someone may ask, have we not we achieved a good education for everyone in America by 2017? The National Education Foundation does research on how to close the achievement gap, they have come up with a  few points to combat the education gap. The multiple points are: Enhanced Cultural Competence, Comprehensive Support for Students, Outreach to Students’ Families, Strong District Support, Access to Qualified Staff, and Adequate Resources and Funding. These points are very important to note, but what happens when education becomes disrupted by major technology. The very rich neighborhoods in big cities will have AI teachers will inner city schools are just now being caught up to smart boards at best. Education throughout this semester has been about what will change, but in this post I wanted to focus on reality right now and how much of a difference this will make for students who are not being prepared for the future. The isolation of African Americans and Latinos has been a major problem in the past but is slowly becoming better. Since 2000, with little notice, the gap between both African American and Hispanic students and whites has narrowed in the 4th and 8th grade tests in math and the 4th grade reading test conducted for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s common yardstick of student performance. On 8th grade math, the gap since has narrowed for Hispanic but not black students. That’s a significant improvement from the 1990s when African Americans and Hispanics failed to gain ground on most of those tests. As a country and individuals who make up this country, we need to do a better job of creating opportunities for everyone. Education should not become a trickledown effect, technology needs to be made readily available to everyone or the gap will just become bigger.

AI and Quantum Computers Influence

AI as we know are here, but for one mere robot to look and live among us is another. I just find it weird to have a robot that has become a citizen of Saudi Arabia to be comfortable for everyone. How could it be that their technology advancements has lead to Sophia the robot with being a citizen that has been checked for all flaws so quickly. Their is a long way to go with AI and quantum computing but each and every technological company around the world wants to be the one to make the breakthrough first; rather then making a strategic plan to make sure these computers are ready to go into the world. Sophia the robot is not only intelligent in numerous areas, but is also capable of emotion, facial expressions. Sophia the robot is a self learning machine and if this is not enough to creep you out I don’t know what is. We have just given the foundation of computational research a human platform with a human identity to live with us. However, what does this mean moving forward for our world with robots leaving in it. Does this make humanity safe with them, what problems does this solve? I just think it is to soon to release something into the world knowing their are complications that can arise but as always is taking into effect later. What will a typical day look like for an AI living a human life will they have a profession in a desired career path, will they have an income, or would they have a household as well. Having Sophia declared as an citizen means where actually moving way faster than expected and with one robot already living like an human what will the future look like.

Quantum Computers is surely coming up faster than we know too because every company wants to be the first to announce an actual working quantum machine. Quantum computing is set to take over the world and become the master mind behind everything. Microsoft has made a breakthrough into general quantum computing moving them closer to the answers how to master the quantum computers. Microsoft plans to build a quantum computing ecosystem that is based on Freedman’s field of math and branch of physics seemingly mystical its early pioneers invoked philosophy and spirituality. Microsoft experts believe quantum computing innumerable practical benefits.That allows scientists to do computations in minutes or hours that would take a lifetime of the universe on even most advanced even most classical computers we use today. Microsoft has the same views as any company about what we will expect to have accomplished if these computers are online and fully functional. Quantum computing has some time to go before being released into society because their is only one shot you get to impress the world with a computer that can manipulate human intelligence and current data to make it into something new. Moreover, quantum computing can be a good thing with good intentions for humanity depending on the nature of its use or purpose to help the economy become stronger. As well as making significant changes the world making it a better place for everyone.

Climate Change: Breeding Ground of Disease

Climate change has the potential to create an unprecedented refugee crisis by making areas of the world uninhabitable. Obviously, but is still should be mentioned, climate change affects the entire world. Whether it is extreme drought in Somalia, heatwaves in the Persian Gulf, hurricanes in Puerto Rico, or extreme snowfall across the East coast of the U.S., climate change is capable of uprooting where people may live, and in some cases has the potential to change where people are capable of living. As people relocate, they not only bring their belongings with them, but also any diseases they may be caring. Exposing a geographical area of people to a disease that they are not familiar with could be extremely dangerous. In some cases, exposure to a “new” disease may cause extreme discomfort, but in other cases may be fatal.

The most rapid spreading disease in the world is dengue fever. Dengue fever is often referred to as a “traveler’s disease” because many people contract it while visiting places with a tropical climate. Symptoms of the fever include fever, headache vomiting, skin rash, and muscle and joint pain. The skin rash, and muscle and joint pains often cause contortions, which earned the disease the nickname “break bone” fever. Usually the fever last up to a week, but has been fatal in come cases. Dengue fever is contracted by being bitten by mosquitos that carry the disease. Moreover, a mosquito can carry the disease by sucking the blood a previously infected person. With this mind, dengue fever is prevalent in Puerto Rico, which, due to Hurricane Maria, may have up to 3.4 million displaced persons. Regardless, if those persons were to seek refuge in the U.S. or anywhere else, some people will most likely carry dengue fever with them. It is important to note, it is not simply dengue fever that benefits from climate change, but all diseases that thrive in warmer temperatures. For example, diseases like malaria, “black fever,” and rat lungworm, and Lyme disease can survive in more areas as global temperature increases. Moreover, these diseases have the potential to infect more people because the carries are surviving for longer periods. Insect and parasites like mosquitos and ticks thrive in warmer temperatures, so as temperature increase they are able to survive for longer seasons and infect larger geographical areas.

Moreover, the issue of disease spreading due to climate change is heightened due to diseases hidden in ice. These diseases can come from a number of different time frames from as recent as 75 years ago to as ancient as 30 thousand years ago. The most dangerous diseases that are returning because of the melting ice caps are anthrax and zombie diseases. These diseases were once locked under something known as permafrost, which is ice that has not melted in at least two years. However, since the rate at which the ice caps are melting is faster than the rate at which they freeze, these diseases are released into the world when the older layers are re-exposed.

Anthrax is a very dangerous pathogen that derives from livestock and has not had a serious outbreak since 1941. However, when that last outbreak occurred, thousands of reindeer were infected with a specific strain of anthrax. When the reindeer died, the indigenous people buried them deep below the ice and worry of an anthrax outbreak was no longer needed. What the indigenous people did not know was that the bacteria was not destroyed and was preserved by the layer of ice that formed over the carcasses. Last year, the ice over those reindeer melted because of a heatwave over the summer, and the bacteria was able to transfer to the soil, the water, and other animals. Ultimately, this led to an anthrax breakout in Siberia. Anthrax cannot be cured with man-made medicines, so if an outbreak were to occur globally, scientists would need to find a natural solution similar to penicillin. This may also cause people to leave Siberia and if they come from the region where the anthrax is reemerging, they could potentially spread the virus to other regions.

The following is a video that further discusses climate change is helping disease spread:

The other diseases released are actually more dangerous than anthrax. Zombie diseases are diseases from thousands of years ago that we have yet to experience. These viruses are more durable and are much larger than the viruses around today. Currently, the permafrost with the human viruses is still buried beneath many layers, but scientists are extracting amoeba viruses from nearby layers and industrialists will soon mine below these layers for mineral and petroleum deposits that sit beneath many layers of permafrost. One disease in particular that biologists predict is within these layers is smallpox. Humanity has believed smallpox has already been eradicated, but it is highly possible that it is one of the many diseases lurking beneath the surface. As the permafrost continues to melt and expose older viruses and bacteria to us, we will need to adapt to these prehistoric diseases and the effects they will have on local agriculture and livestock.