environmental sciences

Express delivery: use drones not trucks to cut carbon emissions, experts say

The Guardian - Business

Tue 13 Feb 2018 11.00 EST Last modified on Tue 13 Feb 2018 11.01 EST Drones invoke varying perceptions, from fun gadget to fly in the park to deadly military weapons. In the future, they may even be viewed as a handy tool in the battle to fight climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions from the tra...

pg-Causality: Identifying Spatiotemporal Causal Pathways for Air Pollutants with Urban Big Data

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Many countries are suffering from severe air pollution. Understanding how different air pollutants accumulate and propagate is critical to making relevant public policies. In this paper, we use urban big data (air quality data and meteorological data) to identify the \emph{spatiotemporal (ST) causal pathways} for air pollutants. This problem is challenging because: (1) there are numerous noisy and low-pollution periods in the raw air quality data, which may lead to unreliable causality analysis, (2) for large-scale data in the ST space, the computational complexity of constructing a causal structure is very high, and (3) the \emph{ST causal pathways} are complex due to the interactions of multiple pollutants and the influence of environmental factors. Therefore, we present \emph{p-Causality}, a novel pattern-aided causality analysis approach that combines the strengths of \emph{pattern mining} and \emph{Bayesian learning} to efficiently and faithfully identify the \emph{ST causal pathways}. First, \emph{Pattern mining} helps suppress the noise by capturing frequent evolving patterns (FEPs) of each monitoring sensor, and greatly reduce the complexity by selecting the pattern-matched sensors as "causers". Then, \emph{Bayesian learning} carefully encodes the local and ST causal relations with a Gaussian Bayesian network (GBN)-based graphical model, which also integrates environmental influences to minimize biases in the final results. We evaluate our approach with three real-world data sets containing 982 air quality sensors, in three regions of China from 01-Jun-2013 to 19-Dec-2015. Results show that our approach outperforms the traditional causal structure learning methods in time efficiency, inference accuracy and interpretability.

Multi-Period Flexibility Forecast for Low Voltage Prosumers

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Near-future electric distribution grids operation will have to rely on demand-side flexibility, both by implementation of demand response strategies and by taking advantage of the intelligent management of increasingly common small-scale energy storage. The Home energy management system (HEMS), installed at low voltage residential clients, will play a crucial role on the flexibility provision to both system operators and market players like aggregators. Modeling and forecasting multi-period flexibility from residential prosumers, such as battery storage and electric water heater, while complying with internal constraints (comfort levels, data privacy) and uncertainty is a complex task. This papers describes a computational method that is capable of efficiently learn and define the feasibility flexibility space from controllable resources connected to a HEMS. An Evolutionary Particle Swarm Optimization (EPSO) algorithm is adopted and reshaped to derive a set of feasible temporal trajectories for the residential net-load, considering storage, flexible appliances, and predefined costumer preferences, as well as load and photovoltaic (PV) forecast uncertainty. A support vector data description (SVDD) algorithm is used to build models capable of classifying feasible and non-feasible HEMS operating trajectories upon request from an optimization/control algorithm operated by a DSO or market player.

Drones and AI help stop poaching in Africa


Several organizations are already using drones to fight poaching, but the Lindbergh Foundation is taking it one step further. The environmental non-profit has joined forces with Neurala in order to use the company's deep learning neural network AI to boost the capabilities of the drones in its Air Shepherd program. Neurala taught its technology what elephants, rhinos and poachers look like, so it can accurately pinpoint and mark them in videos. It will now put the AI to work sifting through all the footage the foundation's drones beam back in real time, including infrared footage taken at night. The AI's job is to pore over these videos and quickly identify the presence of poachers to prevent them from even reaching the animals' herds.

The Morning After: Friday, March 17 2017


The second man to set foot on the moon thinks colonizing Mars is humanity's destiny. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut, may now be 87, but he's keeping his mind focused on the next space frontier. For decades now, he's thought about how to get astronauts to Mars, becoming more vocal about his plans in recent years. He's also a fan of virtual reality as a medium to communicate his vision: He partnered with NASA to build a Mars Hololens experience last year, and now he's hosting a 10-minute VR experience that walks you through his vision of how to get to Mars. Now it's up to CongressTrump's budget proposal means big cuts for NASA, climate change programs The president's proposed 2018 budget has been revealed.

Technology could DESTROY humanity claims Stephen Hawking

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Technology must be controlled in order to safeguard the future of humanity, Stephen Hawking has warned. The physicist, who has spoken out about the dangers of artificial intelligence in the past, says a'world government' could be our only hope. He says our'logic and reason' could be the only way to defeat the growing threat of nuclear or biological war. We are living through the most dangerous time in the history of the human race, according to Professor Stephen Hawking. 'Since civilisation began, aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages,' he told The Times. 'It is hard-wired into our genes by Darwinian evolution.

It's Time to Take the Gaia Hypothesis Seriously - Facts So Romantic


Can a planet be alive? Lynn Margulis, a giant of late 20th-century biology, who had an incandescent intellect that veered toward the unorthodox, thought so. She and chemist James Lovelock together theorized that life must be a planet-altering phenomenon and the distinction between the "living" and "nonliving" parts of Earth is not as clear-cut as we think. Many members of the scientific community derided their theory, called the Gaia hypothesis, as pseudoscience, and questioned their scientific integrity. But now Margulis and Lovelock may have their revenge. Recent scientific discoveries are giving us reason to take this hypothesis more seriously. At its core is an insight about the relationship between planets and life that has changed our understanding of both, and is shaping how we look for life on other worlds.

Terrifyingly, Google's Artificial Intelligence acts aggressive when cornered


A new fertility technique allows doctors to replace defective DNA found within a mother's egg with the DNA from another female donor. The result is a baby born with the DNA of two mothers. The first three-parent baby may potentially be born around Christmas of 2017. A new fertility technique allows doctors to replace defective DNA found within a mother's egg with the DNA Scientists will discover the truth behind "dark matter" Dark matter, a mysterious type of matter that makes up a little more than a quarter of the universe, is several experiments away from being detected. Dr. Katherine Freese, an expert in the field of dark matter, says 2017 may be the year "the 80-year-old dark matter puzzle will finally be solved."

Five technologies that will change how we live


Since the early 2000s, the cost of sequencing a human genome -- determining the precise order of nucleotides within DNA molecules that defines who we are -- has dropped sharply. A genome that cost $100m to sequence in 2001 can today be sequenced for roughly $1,000. This plummeting cost, along with the shortened timescales for sequencing DNA, has led to a revolution in biotechnology: gene hacking, or the ability to turn genes on and off, and to manipulate biology to our advantage. The most radical branch of this new technology is "gene editing" -- a process by which our DNA code can be cut and pasted using molecular "scissors" for a variety of applications, including curing diseases such as cancers and HIV. Until recently, swapping the code was an arduous process.

The 10 biggest threats that could one day wipe out humanity


How humanity will meet its end is a an endless source of fascination in science fiction. But scientists claim many of the scenarios depicted in films - such as an asteroid strike and killer robots - may not be as far fetched as you might think. Now researchers at Cambridge University's Study of Existential Risk (CESR) have come up with a list of 10 threats that may some day trigger an apocalypse. Humanity faces an uncertain future as technology learns to think for itself and adapt to its environment. Artificial Intelligence, disguised as helpful digital assistants and self-driving vehicles, is gaining a foothold and it could one day spell the end for mankind if allowed to develop without strict controls.