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We see only the top of the ‘iceberg’ when it comes to data. Only a fraction of this data is structured and currently used for further analysis.

In the midst of the massive and long-lasting digital revolution, it is hard to even comprehend the sheer volume of the energy that fuels it: data. Data is the fuel that drives the technology and processes that are changing our world. Without data, hardware and software are just a novelty, perhaps some things to make our lives mildly easier. As fossil fuels powered the industrial revolution, the digital revolution’s energy is data, and much of this potential fuel is still in the ground unseen and untapped.

It’s not that we can't get it out the ground, we only can’t get it out fast…


The Energy Act is now operative. This means that we need to switch from fossil fuels as a primary heating source to alternative renewables as soon as possible. To hit the goal of reducing our emissions by 40% before 2030 in The Netherlands alone, about 1.5 million homes need to be modified as they are currently heated by mainly natural gas-powered heaters. But how are we going to do that?

First, we need to look at how we got here. Natural gas has worked out very well for a long time. It has proven to be a reliable energy source with a high energy density. For years, all newly built houses in the Netherlands were connected to the Dutch gas grid. By getting the natural gas from Dutch soil (the Groningen gas field), residents could keep their homes cosy at a reasonable price.

On the surface, natural gas seems to be the perfect solution. However, there is a problem. Natural gas produces a lot of CO2, and that is precisely what we are trying to reduce. And, in the Netherlands, this is about more than just emissions. We also need to take into account the damage earthquakes have caused as a result of pumping gas from the ground in Groningen over the last several decades. These two reasons alone demonstrate the urgency of stepping away from natural gas as quickly as possible, not just in the Netherlands, but worldwide. …


Why?

The human brain is the most complex and powerful structure we have ever experienced. We still have so much to learn about it, yet there is also so much we can learn from it. For instance, we do know that the brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere, we believe, is responsible for analytical thought, including logic, language, and reasoning. Meanwhile, the right side handles tasks related to creativity, imagination, intuition, music, and art.

While this is a helpful differentiation, it is a drastic oversimplification. This is because both hemispheres are connected and continually work together on most tasks. The power of both sides working in tandem is found in some of the most unique functions of the mind, such as those moments of innovation when a new idea, solution, or path forward is created. While creativity appears to be the domain of the right hemisphere, true innovation, bringing new ideas to life, is a whole-brain process, calling on logic and imagination at the same time. …


In our journey to create Artificial Intelligence (AI) with more human characteristics, we have reached the point where were are copying some of the most challenging components like reasoning and creativity.

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Breakout played by a Deep Q-learning agent

In 2013 a London based startup called DeepMind published a groundbreaking paper called Playing Atari with Deep Reinforcement Learning on arXiv. By using a technique called Reinforcement Learning or Deep Q-Learning Agents, the authors were able to give AI models the power to create proper policies.

This addition was seen as a breakthrough as it made it possible for AI to play over 2600 Atari games without written instructions. One of those games was Breakout. It is a computer game that resembles a pixelated version of squash. …


This isn’t new footage from a supermassive black hole. It is, however, footage of a supermassive problem we might be able to fix with AI before it is too late.

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Forest change predictions using Deep Learning

Last weekend we participated in the largest Blockchain and AI Hackathon of the world: The Odyssey Hackathon in Groningen. Our challenge: find a scalable solution to preserve the habitat of wildlife in the tropical rain forest of Borneo.

Although we didn’t win the Hackathon, I am happy to say it was a very successful one! Everyone in the team did a fantastic job.

During our preparation sessions, we already had in our mind to BUIDL a forest change prediction algorithm. If we could predict rainforest change before it happens, authorities could act quicker and mobilize ground forces before the damage was done. …


As we’re chopping 18.7 million acres of forest each year, the equivalent of 27 soccer fields every minute, the earth suffers from heavy losses in biodiversity and its ability to absorb our CO2 footprint. Though even with multidisciplinary technologies, like blockchain and artificial intelligence, we can’t seem to stop it or even slow it down.

I am a practical guy. I believe in technology to solve problems, locally as well as globally. In this short essay, I share with you my first draft of a possible solution to the problem described above.

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Depleting the lungs of the earth. Source: Futurism

It begins with concept Nature 2.0, in which a new perspective on ecosystems is proposed. Approximately 8.7 million species interact daily with nature without the concept of ownership and this goes fairly well. The major problems we face today — global warming, depletion of resources, world hunger/poverty — are ownerless, but the consequences are interconnected and harm us all in the end. The human species is familiar with the concept of ownership. But what if we could implement a mechanism, one inspired by nature, that can fight these problems without having an owner? A self-sustaining ecosystem, ownerless and without conflict of interest. …

About

Thomas Schijf

AI Concept developer @ Hemisphere

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