Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos tours the facility at the grand opening of the Amazon Spheres in Seattle on Jan. 29, 2018. Amazon's Jeff Bezos said it counts more than 100 million paying members for Amazon Prime, the delivery and content business that's at the heart of its sales growth. The CEO and founder, in his annual letter to shareholders, said last year more members joined Prime than in any previous year. Prime subscribers spend a lot more on Amazon -- $1,300 per year on average -- compared to about $700 for non-Prime members, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. "One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up," said Bezos. We didn't ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday's'wow' quickly becomes today's'ordinary'. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something's in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well.
The home of the future looks an increasingly attractive place to live this week, after millions of households received the unwelcome news that their energy bills were going up again. Switching supplier is one quick fix to rising bills. But in the long run, industry players say the answers may lie in a coming revolution in how we use energy in our homes, turning them into mini power stations and reducing our reliance on energy companies such as British Gas and EDF. For consumers, cost and convenience will be big factors. For energy firms, there is a chance to rebuild trust and transform themselves from mere suppliers into more profitable service companies.
Google announced in a blog post that it now purchases more renewable energy than it consumes as a company. Google began these efforts in 2017, with the goal of purchasing as much renewable energy as it uses across its 13 data centers and all of its office complexes. To be clear, Google is not powering all of its energy consumption with renewable energy. It's matching what it consumes with equal amounts of purchased renewable energy. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed, it buys a kilowatt-hour from a wind or solar farm built specifically for Google.
Nasa has found an entire solar system with as many planets as our own. The discovery of a new planet around the Kepler-90 star, which looks like our own sun, means the distant solar system has a total of eight known planets. And those planets look like those in our own neighbourhood: rocky planets orbit close to the star, with gas giants further away. The star and its family of planets were already known about, having been detected by the Kepler space telescope. But the breakthrough came when astronomers found the new world, which was done using Google's artificial intelligence technology.
We recognize Earth as the blue planet, but it's not the only ocean world in our neighborhood. Oceans may be concealed beneath thick crusts of ice on moons orbiting Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, and on the dwarf planets Pluto and Eris. Saturn's moon Titan even boasts liquid seas right on its surface, although they are full of methane rather than water. If anywhere in our solar system holds signs of life, it is likely to be these frigid worlds. Scientists are determined to explore the distant seas of Titan and Jupiter's moon Europa, and are designing ice-gripping rovers and submarines to take the plunge into their mysterious depths.
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. From the start, they have also made significant efforts to do this in a way that doesn't deplete the world's natural resources. The company has been fully carbon neutral since 2007 and ten years later they are hoping they have achieved the next major goal – drawing every watt of energy they use for their business operations from renewable sources. Kate E Brandt, their lead for sustainability, spoke to me about some of the ways they have been tackling this ambitious challenge while she was visiting London to speak at the Economist Sustainability Summit 2018. She told me "We set a goal in 2012 that we wanted to purchase 100% renewable energy for our operations – so it's a longstanding commitment.
Uncertainty analysis in the form of probabilistic forecasting can provide significant improvements in decision-making processes in the smart power grid for better integrating renewable energies such as wind. Whereas point forecasting provides a single expected value, probabilistic forecasts provide more information in the form of quantiles, prediction intervals, or full predictive densities. This paper analyzes the effectiveness of an approach for nonparametric probabilistic forecasting of wind power that combines support vector machines and nonlinear quantile regression with non-crossing constraints. A numerical case study is conducted using publicly available wind data from the Global Energy Forecasting Competition 2014. Multiple quantiles are estimated to form 20%, 40%, 60% and 80% prediction intervals which are evaluated using the pinball loss function and reliability measures. Three benchmark models are used for comparison where results demonstrate the proposed approach leads to significantly better performance while preventing the problem of overlapping quantile estimates.
Living on the water could become a breeze if this concept yacht is ever launched. Plans for a stunning 50-foot-long (15-metre) luxury houseboat that includes an aquatic parking spot for planes have been unveiled by engineers. The £150,000 ($210,000) 'HydroHouse', which can serve as a pier for boats and yachts, has two electric engines powered by a huge bank of solar panels on its roof. Designed by Russian naval architect Maxim Zhivov, customers could use the craft as a permanent residence or a holiday home. Living on the water could become a breeze if this concept yacht is ever launched.
How materials for computer chips, solar panels, and batteries are developed looks to be in the early stages of a radical change. The same goes for research related to areas like superconductors and thermoelectrics. The new possibilities created by machine learning in materials science. "This is something that is set to explode in people's faces, as it were. Within the last five years, there has been a huge growth in materials science research teams using AI/machine learning techniques.