Monday, November 23, 2015

Ocean Elders

This is something I stumbled across tonight while reading my LinkedIn feed. This organization was founded by some powerful people from many diverse backgrounds and stories, but I believe it is what this world needs. When people in power speak and stand up for something, people listen. I hope many people hear this...

Here is are some excerpts from the website, but I encourage you to look at it firsthand:

In collaboration with partners, OceanElders aims to achieve enduring impact at scale in ocean conservation and - See more at:

OceanElders is an independent group of global leaders who have joined together to serve as a catalyst in the conservation and protection of the ocean and its wildlife. These individuals use their collective influence, supported by science and data, to promote ocean conservation, pursue the protection of the ocean’s habitat and wildlife, and preserve its ecosystems and species biodiversity. - See more at:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Ocean Cleaning System! (#3)

A. Articles

B. Analysis
Boyan Slat is a 20 year old Dutch inventor, entrepreneur and aerospace engineering student who works on methods of cleaning plastic waste from the oceans. He designed a passive system for concentrating and catching plastic debris driven by ocean currents. This won a prize for Best Technical Design at Delft University of Technology and he has established a foundation — The Ocean Cleanup — to further develop and eventually implement the technology. Initially, there was little interest but, since his TEDx talk, How the Oceans can Clean Themselves, went viral, he has attracted thousands of volunteers and $2M of funding for pilot installations. He gave this TEDx talk when he was just 17 years old by the way!!!
I saw his TEDx talk a couple years ago, and decided to do some googling for this post. Turns out, he is deploying his first ocean cleaning system in 2016!! So exciting!

C. Bullet Answers
1. Global/National/Local/Personal Impacts
Global: The company said that within five years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, it plans to deploy a 100km-long system between Hawaii and California to clean up about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is big!!! This is important!! This is so dang exciting!!!
National: Is this technology going to be something that finally sets people over the edge? If we start seeing the massive amounts of plastic waste (physical evidence) will it finally get the message across to world about what we’re REALLY doing to our planet? Or will we ever change?
Local: Could something like this be created for lakes, i.e. Minnesota lakes?
Personal: I think this is such a magnificent invention and I’m so glad it didn’t die after his TEDx talk. The power of the internet and of the media is so apparent in this case. Who knows if this would have come to fruition if Boyan hadn’t given his speech on TEDx? Who knows if he would have gotten all those donations? This story makes me feel hopeful and proud of humanity, science, and perseverance.

2. Impact over time Short term/long term
Short term: The pilot program will be operational for at least two years in the proposed deployment location of Tsushima island in Japan, where approximately one cubic meter of plastic pollution per person is washed up each year. If the pilot program is a great success, hopefully more of these ocean cleaning systems will be created and deployed elsewhere.
Long term: What if there was an air cleaning system similar to Boyan’s invention? Air balloons that took all the toxins out and used those toxins for energy somehow? Wind farms that created energy while simultaneously taking pollution out of the air? If Boyan’s invention is a great success we could see more money going towards sustainability inventions and creation!

3. Positive Outcome: Clean oceans! A happier earth! Happier people! Less sickness!

4. Negative Outcome: What if the cleaning system does not work and therefor discourages people from ocean cleaning? Could it potentially hurt fish or coral reefs? Are there any other negative side affects of this machinery we don’t know about and won’t know about until it’s too late? That’s the danger of technology isn’t it…

5. Lens/Region of the Future : Super tech - Limit Tech, Bio-tech - Human Tech / Social Tech

Air and Wind Energy! (#2)

A. Articles

B. Analysis
Governor Jerry recently signed a new climate law that is extremely important. The law includes three concrete and legally binding clean-energy initiatives. One provision doubles down on efficiency, mandating a 100 percent increase in energy savings in California’s homes, businesses and factories — an ambitious goal that, by some estimates, could reduce statewide energy needs by nearly a third by 2030. Another requires utilities to purchase half of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030, with penalties for non-compliance; still another provides new incentives for utilities to install additional charging stations, the shortage of which is a major roadblock to what appears to be a growing appetite for electric vehicles.

C. Bullet Answers
1. Global/National/Local/Personal Impacts
Global: Sadly, the United States is falling behind when it comes to wind energy initiatives. Right now California is making great strides to catch us up with other western countries, like Germany and Norway for example. The United State’s media is broadcasted around the world, and we set the tone for many countries. For those countries that aren’t putting their focuses towards wind energy, the USA could possibly be setting an example for them.
National: Clearly California is the most forward thinking state when it comes to wind energy, and they are setting the tone for other states that are falling behind them. We need to look up to California and follow in their footsteps so we don’t leave more CARBON footsteps!
Local: Our wind energy accounts for 16% of electricity generated in the state. This is not awful, but it’s not great either.
Personal: I would love to see more wind farms and be able to tell my kids about them, and how they help the earth.

2. Impact over time Short term/long term
Short Term: Job creation! We could create new jobs within the USA for new wind farms. Wind farms could be used as an artistic installation. We could paint different things on the wings or even allow artists to paint on the wings, this creating something beautiful from the metal machinery.
Long Term: Less pollution! Better breathing! Increased health! Less medical debt!

3. Positive Outcome
Wind energy doesn’t produce atmospheric emissions that cause acid rain or greenhouse gases.

4. Negative Outcome
Some people could lose jobs at power plants and it could increase taxes for some.

5. Lens/Region of the Future : Super tech - Limit Tech and Human Tech / Social Tech.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Artifical Intelligence Forecast (#1)


“How Robots Mess With Our Minds” is an article written by Alexander Reben. Reben is the creator of the Blabdroid, a robot Reben sent to various places around the world to interview people. The idea was to create a documentary with the various interviews and see what answers they Blabdroid would receive. Reben and his partners quickly discovered that people were engging with the robots on a level that they would have never expected. People were engaging with these robots for on average 30 minutes, and revealing very personal things to the robots.
The article goes on to talk about how humans can very easily give personality and “enthropomorphise” inanimate objects. For example: some soldiers are known to mourn their bomb-disposal robots, and owners of Aibo dogs in Japan have staged funerals for their robotic pet dogs. This raises the question, how will this affect our future when AI inevitably becomes more human-like?

This article makes me think of movies like “Her” and the new one that came out this year “Ex Machina,” movies that are addressing the very questions so many people are having. Could we possibly “fall in love” with our machines in a sense? As the philosopher John Campbell says: “One of the possibilities this opens up is automating aspects of our emotional lives where we usually depend on other people for sympathy and support. Rather than relying on your partner to listen to the problems you’ve had at work all day, why not explain them to a sympathetic robot that makes eye contact with you, listens with apparent interest, making all the right noises, remembers and cross-indexes everything you say?”

Population goes down because we start “falling in love” with our machines, and stop reproducing as much?
The USA is typically very advanced and ahead of it’s time when it comes to technology. What happens when we are one of the firsts to create social robots? Will the rest of the world follow? Will our society crumble or flourish?
Do our friend groups get smaller and less engaging once social robots take those places?
Personally: I go to my friends a family often for my problems. What happens once a robot starts being more engaging, and offers better advice than my friends and family?

Impact over time:
I visualize a world similar to “Theodore’s” (Joaquin Phoenix’s character) in “Her.” He walks around with his “robot girlfriend” in his headset and tells her about his troubles and life. He is going through a divorce and finds refuge in talking to “Samantha” the robot about his troubles. It’s understandable to see how this appealing because “Samantha,” much like a therapist, is an unbiased entity there to help you. Would it be that strange to see “robot therapists” in our future? Right now we are seeing apps and online chat rooms that help people struggling with depression and anxiety. I could very well see this idea expanding into psychology and therapy in the future.

Positive outcome:
If robotic therapy became the norm, we could see a more mentally stable world because therapy would become affordable for those who don’t have the money to afford it, and/or convenient for those who don’t have the time to go to a therapists office during their busy schedule.

Negative outcome:
We see a less social world. People become so used to talking to robots about their problem they forget how to socialize with people that aren’t programmed to “make eye contact with you, listens with apparent interest, making all the right noises, remembers and cross-indexes everything you say,” as Campbell puts it.

And in conclusion, I think this paragraph of the article sums it up wonderfully:
Once we accept a machine is alive, any relationship we form with it will be on the same level as any other living thing. Thus, robots are truly alive in our minds; which is perhaps more significant to the future of human-machine relationships than any Turing test. A robot doesn’t need to convince us it is human – we’re ready to believe it already.