Website statistics for clubofamsterdam.com
January 2021 - October 2022:
Talin: It all began with the
frustration that there was no neutral and easily understandable content
for entrepreneurs when it came to the much talked about word digitisation.
So his goal was to provide as many people as possible with the knowledge
of what digitisation is and how they can do it themselves. Benjamin
Talin firmly believes that the majority of entrepreneurs who have not
yet done anything are simply afraid of doing something because of ignorance,
because knowledge is the basic building block for change. From this
goal, the platform MoreThanDigital.info was created. Originally still
with focus on Switzerland, it was then soon widely spread and many readers
read the simple contents also from Germany and Austria. So in July MoreThanDigital.info
was born to provide information in the DACH area, for everyone who needs
answers in the digital area.
Wade: I'm often asked 'what
is the next big thing in digital?' My answer is not a technology, but
the intersection of digital, ethics, and sustainability. To navigate
this next big wave we have produced a report in conjunction with the
Swiss Digital Initiative.
Gaga: "I know a Renaissance is coming, and the wrath
of pop culture will inspire you and the rage of art will empower you."
architecture could help the world avoid a soul-deadening digital future
Tim Gorichanaz, Drexel University,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
My first Apple laptop felt
like a piece of magic made just for me – almost a part of myself. The
rounded corners, the lively shading, the delightful animations. I had
been using Windows my whole life, starting on my family’s IBM 386, and
I never thought using a computer could be so fun.
Indeed, Apple co-founder Steve
Jobs said that computers were like bicycles
for the mind, extending your possibilities and helping you
do things not only more efficiently but also more beautifully. Some
technologies seem to unlock your humanity and make you feel inspired
But not all technologies are
like this. Sometimes devices do not work reliably or as expected. Often
you have to change to conform to the limitations of a system, as when
you need to speak differently so a digital voice assistant can understand
you. And some platforms bring out the worst in people. Think of anonymous
As a researcher who studies
technology, design and ethics, I believe that a hopeful way
forward comes from the world of architecture. It all started decades
ago with an architect’s observation that newer buildings tended to be
lifeless and depressing, even if they were made using ever fancier tools
While public awareness of
these issues is on the rise, it’s not clear whether or how tech companies
will be able to address them. Is there a way to ensure that future technologies
are more like my first Apple laptop and less like a Twitter pile-on?
Over the past 60 years, the
architectural theorist Christopher Alexander pursued questions similar
to these in his own field. Alexander, who
died in March 2022 at age 85, developed a
theory of design that has made inroads in architecture. Translated
to the technology field, this theory can provide the principles and
process for creating technologies that unlock people’s humanity rather
than suppress it.
As professions mature, they
tend to organize their knowledge into concepts. Design patterns are
a great example of this. A design pattern is a reusable solution to
a problem that designers need to solve frequently.
Design patterns facilitate
good design in one sense: They are efficient and productive. Yet they
do not necessarily lead to designs that are good for people. They can
be sterile and generic. How, exactly, to avoid that is a major challenge.
A seed of hope lies in the
very place where design patterns originated: the work of Christopher
Alexander. Alexander dedicated his life to understanding what makes
an environment good for humans – good in a deep, moral sense – and how
designers might create structures that are likewise good.
His work on design patterns,
dating back to the 1960s, was his initial effort at an answer. The patterns
he developed with his colleagues included details like how many stories
a good building should have and how many light sources a good room should
But Alexander found design
patterns ultimately unsatisfying. He took that work further, eventually
publishing his theory in his four-volume magnum opus, “The
Nature of Order.”
While Alexander’s work on
design patterns is very well known – his 1977 book “A
Pattern Language” remains a bestseller – his later work,
which he deemed much more important, has been largely overlooked. No
surprise, then, that his deepest insights have not yet entered technology
design. But if they do, good design could come to mean something much
On creating structures that foster
Architecture was getting worse, not
better. That was Christopher Alexander’s conclusion in the mid-20th
Much modern architecture is inert and
people feel dead inside. It may be sleek and intellectual
– it may even win awards – but it does not help generate a feeling of
life within its occupants. What went wrong, and how might architecture
correct its course?
Motivated by this question,
Alexander conducted numerous experiments throughout his career, going
deeper and deeper. Beginning with his design patterns, he discovered
that the designs that stirred up the most feeling in people, what he
called living structure, shared certain qualities. This wasn’t just
a hunch, but a testable empirical theory, one that he validated and
refined from the late 1970s until the turn of the century. He identified
qualities, each with a technical definition and many examples.
The qualities are:
Levels of scale
Deep interlocking and ambiguity
Simplicity and inner calm
As Alexander writes, living
structure is not just pleasant and energizing, though it is also those.
Living structure reaches into humans at a transcendent level – connecting
people with themselves and with one another – with all humans across
centuries and cultures and climates.
Yet modern architecture, as
Alexander showed, has very few of the qualities that make living structure.
In other words, over the 20th century architects taught one another
to do it all wrong. Worse, these errors were crystallized in building
codes, zoning laws, awards criteria and education. He decided it was
time to turn things around.
By the mid-1990s, Alexander
recognized that for his aims to be achieved, there would need to be
many more people on board – and not just architects, but all sorts of
planners, infrastructure developers and everyday people. And perhaps
other fields besides architecture. The digital revolution was coming
to a head.
Alexander’s invitation to technology
As Alexander doggedly pursued
his research, he started to notice the potential for digital technology
to be a force for good. More and more, digital technology was becoming
part of the human environment – becoming, that is, architectural.
Meanwhile, Alexander’s ideas
about design patterns had entered
the world of technology design as a way to organize and communicate
design knowledge. To be sure, this older work of Alexander’s proved
very valuable, particularly to software engineering.
talk, Alexander remarked that the tech industry was making
great strides in efficiency and power but perhaps had not paused to
ask: “What are we supposed to be doing with all these programs? How
are they supposed to help the Earth?”
“For now, you’re like guns
for hire,” Alexander said. He invited the audience to make technologies
for good, not just for pay.
In short, this process involves democratic
participation and springs from the bottom up in an evolving progression
incorporating the 15 qualities of living structure. The end result isn’t
known ahead of time – it’s adapted along the way. The term “organic”
comes to mind, and this is appropriate, because nature almost invariably
creates living structure.
But typical architecture – and design
in many fields – is, in contrast, top-down
and strictly defined from the outset. In this machinelike
process, rigid precision is prioritized over local adaptability, project
roles are siloed apart and the emphasis is on commercial value and investment
over anything else. This is a recipe for lifeless structure.
Alexander’s work suggests
that if living structure is the goal, the design process is the place
to focus. And the technology field is starting to show inklings of change.
In project management, for
example, the traditional
waterfall approach followed a rigid, step-by-step schedule
defined upfront. The turn of the century saw the emergence of a
more dynamic approach, dubbed agile, which allows for more
adaptability through frequent check-ins and prioritization, progressing
in “sprints” of one to two weeks rather than longer phases.
And in design, the human-centered
design paradigm is likewise gaining steam. Human-centered design emphasizes,
among other elements, continually testing and refining small changes
with respect to design goals.
Yet there are some emerging
efforts toward this deeper end. For example, design
pioneer Don Norman, who coined the term “user experience,”
has been developing his ideas on what
he calls humanity-centered design. This goes beyond human-centered
design to focus on ecosystems, take a long-term view, incorporate human
values and involve stakeholder communities along the way.
The vision of humanity-centered
design calls for sweeping changes in the technology field. This is precisely
the kind of reorientation that Alexander was calling for in his 1996
keynote speech. Just as design patterns suggested in the first place,
the technology field doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Technologists
and people of all stripes can build up from the tremendous, careful
work that Alexander has left.
system is working. Here it is! Christy Wilhelmi of Gardenerd chats with
the CEO of HomeBiogas, Oshik Efrati, to ask him questions for you. We
chat about how the system has been working, rodent issues, maintenance,
converting stoves and more. We also cook eggs on Biogas!
HomeBiogas is a world leader
in developing groundbreaking, simple to use biogas systems. Were
enabling people and businesses around the globe to turn their own organic
waste into self-made clean energy, on-site. HomeBiogas is serving thousands
of households, farmers, businesses, underserved communities, and those
seeking a more sustainable way of living with over 10,000 biogas systems
in over 100 countries around the world. Our prefabricated, fully off-grid,
patent-based systems offer modular options to suit each of our customers
needs, empowering them to live a healthier, more efficient, self-resilient
and sustainable life. Our vision is to promote sustainability, improve
lives, and create a positive impact on the environment by harnessing
our expertise in waste treatment and biogas systems.
Our mission is to empower
people and businesses to be change agents for the betterment of themselves,
society, and the environment, by developing innovative, easy-to-use,
practical, useful, and accessible biogas systems.
A Snapshot of our Impact
HomeBiogas is contributing
to 13 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
HomeBiogas systems are
designed for a circular economy while the systems themselves are made
out of 100% recyclable materials and the products shelf
life is 15 years.
124,891 trees were saved:
according to the world bank, the UN and FAO reports, between 2.4 and
3.5 million people worldwide do not have access to clean cooking energy
and technology. These people use open fires and rely on wood-based fuel,
including wood and charcoal for cooking.
70,080,000 liters of
water conserved: HomeBiogas toilet saves over 80%of water
with every flush compared to a regular toilet.
200+ systems installed
in schools around the world to educate the future generation on
a world without waste and renewable energy.
are today's energy
Keeping a sustainable lifestyle and creating your renewable energy is
a mission, yet it can also be fun and exciting!
From an easy-to-use device experience, and the excitement of watching
yesterdays leftovers turns into todays meal through the
professional cooking sense that makes you the chef in your home kitchen.
HomeBiogas generates up
to 600 liters of biogas per day, equivalent to 2 hours of cooking, transforming
organic waste into renewable energy. In simple terms you can
make an omelet with yesterdays potato peels.
Taking sustainable cooking to the next level
Sustainable cooking is all about choices. From the goods, we select
in the market to the usage of our kitchen appliances. The way we consume
food affects local sustainability, health, and the environment. Over
1.3 Billion tonnes of food goes to landfills every year; we must start
re-thinking our relationship with food.
We are sure you know the
basics learning your labels, preferring more plant-based foods,
local and seasonally grown, using the whole vegetable from stem to leaf,
cooking a whole chicken instead of pieces; you have already taken the
first step! But why stop there?
Using renewable clean energy
is probably the most obvious example of sustainability. HomeBiogas is
a waste-to-energy product that will change your life forever
producing a moderate flame heat that is perfect for delicious dishes
and enough energy for a full, well-cooked homemade meal.
Cook like a pro with green-energy flames
Ask 100 chefs what type of kitchen stove they prefer and 96% of them
will say gas. Gourmet cooks and chefs would never consider cooking with
anything other than live flames. Not only do they state it to be a far
better cooking experience, but also because gas ranges heat up much
faster, the flames work better with different cookware types, and its
easier to clean and maintain.
Watch how Momo, a professional
chef and sustainability ambassador, using the HomeBiogas system for
the first time.
Small Restaurants and
Imagine this: starting
today you have an appliance in your farm that does not only take the
manure of your farm animals but also turns it into renewable energy
and very rich liquid fertilizer for your crops! As simple as that. Up
to 6 hours of cooking gas and tens of liters of fertilizer EVERYDAY
found an answer thats good for the environment!
Kibbutz Yagur members were
surprised some months ago to see a large black container positioned
next to their longtime dining hall. It turned out to be part of a system
producing energy from food waste. Its meant to bring about a change
from the customary habit of many years: tossing food waste into the
garbage bins from which its then taken to a landfill.
Inside the dining hall,
leftover food is slid into special apertures adjacent to the dishwashing
machine. From there, and from the kitchen, food waste goes to a grinding
facility. The ground mixture then enters the black device set up by
Home Biogas. Inside, waste is broken down by bacteria in the absence
of oxygen. The outcome is gas, primarily methane, that can be used to
heat water for the dishwasher rather than be emitted into the air. An
additional liquid is also produced which is filtered, sterilized, and
Finding solutions for home
and commercial organic waste as an alternative to landfills is a mission
of vital environmental importance. Accounting for 44% of total urban
waste in Israel, organic matter is the primary source of the greenhouse
gas, methane, and liquids containing high levels of pollutants. Throwing
these materials into the green bins makes it harder to recycle other
waste components such as plastic and paper, which organic waste moistens
and pollutes. Recent years have seen exerted efforts at training the
public to adopt the habit of separating organic waste from other forms
and depositing organic materials in the brown bins, enabling these to
be transferred to gas and compost producing facilities at an industrial
Commercial system is compact waste to energy solution
installed in Yagur belongs to a new generation of equipment which can
be positioned adjacent to institutions serving a large number of people.
This initiative comports with recommendations detailed in the policy
paper on handling organic waste, recently published by the Samuel
Neaman Institute for National Policy Research at the Technion and Haifa
University. A primary recommendation appearing in the paper is to encourage
localized waste handling rather than centralized, distanced operations.
The hope was
once that computers would help people to work smarter and more efficiently.
And that the advent of the network society, some ten years ago, would
increase people's options and thereby empower them. For example, by
collaborating effectively together, they could achieve things while
sidestepping old and existing management structures. So they would no
longer be held back by layers of management, hierarchy or bureaucracy.
In addition, knowledge and innovations would circulate much faster within
a network society and thus realise its potential. Technology would reduce,
or even eliminate, the friction between issues and solutions. And the
intermediate links in the value chain (retailers!) could disappear.
The five pillars of Digital
- Digital awareness:
the impact of the network- and information society, where technology plays
an important role, is enormous, and brings with it new rules. Digital
awareness is about what this requires of us as people and organisations
in terms of knowledge levels, attitude and behaviour. And how we should
organise things differently where necessary.
- Digital hygiene: in effect an extension of social hygiene. Employees
should agree, preferably at team level, what digital tools they should
use, when and how. As well as how to clean up their digital clutter, prevent
digital scams, best organise backups, handle passwords, etc.
- Digital skills: an estimated 90% of computer users need to brush
up on their digital skills. This will save a lot of time and so increase
effectiveness. Sparing people a lot of digital stress and freeing up hundreds
of hours a year.
- Personal knowledge management: the latest generations of digital
tools let employees 'capture' their knowledge much faster and share it
more effectively with colleagues. An application like Notion, an online
whiteboard like Miro, or note-apps like Evernote and Roam Research are
all tools that help you 'liquify' your knowledge.
- Personal growth through technology: most knowledge workers want
to continue developing themselves, preferably through lifelong learning.
This contributes to and enhances their sustainable employability, and
technology can really help here.
Please note: the relative importance of the various pillars varies per
knowledge worker, depending on their position, role and responsibilities.
So while for a programmer, digital skills will outweigh digital awareness,
the opposite is true for their CEO.
WorldRiskReport 2022 is published in cooperation with
the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV)
of the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany.
revised WorldRiskIndex 2022 shows:
Very high disaster risk for the Americas and Asia, Germany no longer
at low risk
Berlin, September 8, 2022
- The global hotspots of disaster risk from natural hazards are in the
Americas and Asia. This is shown by the WorldRiskIndex 2022, published
today by Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and the Institute for International
Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at Ruhr University Bochum (IFHV) as
part of the WorldRiskReport 2022. The index, which has been published
annually since 2011, has been completely revised conceptually and methodologically
for the 2022 edition. The WorldRiskIndex calculates disaster risk for
193 countries and thus 99 percent of the world's population; the Philippines,
India and Indonesia have the highest risk, followed by Colombia and
Mexico. Germany ranks 101 in the global midfield - and is no longer
in the lowest of the five risk classes as in the past.
"Floods, heat waves
and droughts are increasing seriously, and climate change is also having
a massive impact on the assessment of risks. For a country's risk of
an extreme natural event turning into a disaster, natural and climate-related
exposure forms the first part of the equation. The second part is what
is known as the vulnerability of society. This vulnerability is the
factor of risk that can be directly influenced," explains Peter
Mucke, executive director of Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and project
manager of the WorldRiskReport 2022 with the focus topic "Digitalization".
"Thanks to the availability of new data, the new WorldRiskIndex
draws a more precise and differentiated risk picture. In this context,
digitization provides important foundations for prevention. Digital
data and systems expand the range of what is possible for authorities
and relief organizations in the event of a disaster."
now comprises a total of 100 indicators instead of the previous 27.
In particular, the inclusion of indicators on how populations have been
affected by disasters and conflicts in the past five years, as well
as on refugees, displaced persons and asylum seekers in the new index
- also against the backdrop of the major global migration movements
- results in a significantly more accurate representation of the realities
of life in many countries," explains Daniel Weller from IFHV. "In
addition, the 'exposure' component has been significantly expanded:
while earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts and sea-level rise were
taken into account in the previous WorldRiskIndex, tsunamis are now
added, and a distinction is made between coastal and riverine flooding."
involves students, staff
and academics working to advance sustainability in and beyond higher
education. The Green Office Model, a student-led and staff-supported
sustainability platform, is at the core of this movement.
Our vision is that higher education institutions become catalysts
for sustainability; our mission is to institutionalise sustainability
in higher education. Read more about our vision, accomplishments and
development opportunities here.
is a service for experimentation,
which explores how citizens, businesses and city authorities can work
together to create digital solutions to urban challenges. What is Experimentation
as a Service? OrganiCity facilitates a service for anyone in the city
to experiment with data.
The OrganiCity team is made up of innovation and data specialists, academics
and city authorities from across London, Aarhus and Santander.
The sudden leap in fidelity of artificial intelligence (AI) art
production has been made possible by advances in deep learning
technologies, in particular natural language processing and generative
In essence, a user can input a text description and the algorithm auto-translates
this into a cohesive image.
– or MJ as it is known to its passionate
users – is perhaps the most seductive technology for its
painterly output and poetic interactions. The charm begins from the
very first moment, with the command line prompt “/imagine”.
MidJourney founder David
Holz has said users find their text-to-image interactions
to be a “deeply emotional experience” with the potential for it to be
therapeutic. He said:
There’s a lot of beautiful stuff happening.
MidJourney plays with genre and form, using existing principles that
have long informed media arts practice, such as non-linearity, repetition
and remix, to exploit
suggested the algorithm’s purpose is to “augment our imagination”.
My first image requests were whimsical queries, nocturnal flights of
fancy, gentle tentative casts into the virtual spirit world.
As it turns out, my melancholic prompts were unnervingly well-suited
to the algorithm’s default aesthetic.
Magic lurks within the algorithm too. Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and
chief scientist at OpenAI, describes
the process as “transcendent beauty as a service”.
Artist and theorist Lev Manovich has poetically described his interactions
with MidJourney as akin to working with a “memory machine”.
The recognition it is a service but also a metaphysical experience
is a new way of thinking about tools of automation.
The technical process can be an imprecise science in which slippages
and overlaps are inevitable. As Manovich recognises, MidJourney remixes:
something from real history and popular stereotypes – real knowledge
and fantasies. But we should not blame it, because we do exactly the
same, all the time.
The MidJourney Bot is hosted on the social platform Discord
creating an intoxicating cascade of generative screen works.
It is an inherently communal
experience. The image stream also functions as a site of
shared creation. If another user’s composition catches your eye, you
can co-opt their prompt – or the image itself – and refine it according
to your own aesthetic preferences.
This collaborative remixing is what makes the MidJourney Discord channel
as much a social experiment as a scientific one.
research into the darkening aesthetics of digital media means
I am somewhat predisposed to spotting dystopian visions. The MidJourney
Discord channel is certainly a seductive rabbit hole for voyeurs of
Ghastly cyborg futures and post-nuclear wastelands would seem to be
de rigueur for the AI prompt engineer. I regularly see prompts
citing the retro-futurist nightmares of artists such as HR Giger and
Zdzislaw Beksinski and the cinematic tendencies of David Lynch and Andrei
As Bowie crooned on the cyber-noir album Outside, itself a chronicle
of art world depravity: “there is no hell, like an old hell”.
Users are also finding ways to apply the technology in a moving image
context. Notable efforts include a generative fashion
demo, morphing amoebas narrated by a synthetic
David Attenborough, Fabian Stelzer’s crowdsourced narrative
and Drew Medina’s mesmerising fractal film Monsters.
The most meaningful assemblage I have come across is Gabriele Dente’s
SOLAR (the history of humanity drawn by machines), accompanied by a
highlighting the associated ethical and industrial implications of neural
Digital tools have long been enablers of speed, dexterity and adaptability
for designers and artists. Studio professionals in the MJ community
are already finding efficiencies in their workflows.
A startlingly beautiful example of the possibilities for design and
concept ideation come from architect and designer Cesare
His series “space-kangaroo” is evocative of a mode of conceptual design
thinking that blends aesthetics, functionality and fantasy.
Salvaggio has described the technology of the more photo-realistic
aspirations of the DALL-E platform as “a kind of spirit photography”
conjuring images replete with the ghosts and markings of past technologies:
the fading image, the decaying medium and the corrosive chemical reaction.
This ability of reconstituting the past and embellishing the outcome
with techniques of capture and display and procedural degradation makes
MidJourney especially fertile ground for “authentic” gestures of the
fabulous and the fake.
How much this sudden uptick of synthetic media will contribute to the
glut of misinformation online however is uncertain. How does the visual
historical record accommodate its synthetic mirror?
And so, tonight as the city sleeps I watch the feed and dream along
with the machine. I punch in another text prompt and wait impatiently
for my MidJourney Bot to conjure its response. All the while I’m wondering
as to the reach of the text into the algorithm’s code,
and to what extent it is, bit by bit, re-coding me?
Practical, proven strategies
for transforming your company from a digital dabbler into a full-fledged
Several years ago, digital
disruption inspired business leaders to rethink and redesign their business
model for the digital age. Next, they shifted toward the organizational
and cultural aspects of digital transformation. And there they stalled.
In fact, up to 90 percent of companies undergoing some form of digital
transformation are failing to meet their original objectives.
Written by a team of global
digital transformation thought leaders, Hacking Digital walks you through
the implementation phase by providing the practical advice and information
you need to ensure overall success. Equipping you to successfully navigate
your business through the entire transformation process, the authors
organize Hacking Digital into five thematic sections:
Creating a solid foundation
for digital transformation
Dealing with organizational
dynamics and culture
Meeting the external
challenges you'll inevitably face
Generating revenue though
digital products and services and business model renewal
the skills and capabilities required to be an effective leader in
a digital environment
How do you set up digital governance? How do you create successful digital
offerings? How do you manage the relationship between digital transformation
and IT? Hacking Digital answers these and all the other questions you
need to transform your company and seize the competitive edge for years
Michael Wade is
a Professor of Innovation and Strategy at IMD and holds the Cisco Chair
in Digital Business Transformation. He is the Director of the Global
Center for Digital Business Transformation.
Didier Bonnet is Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation.
He focuses on digital economics, digital strategy, disruptive innovation,
and the process of large-scale digital transformation for global corporations.
Tomoko Yokoi is a researcher and senior business executive with
expertise in digital business transformations, women in tech, and digital
Nikolaus Obwegeser is professor
and director of the Institute for Digital Technology Management at the
Bern University of Applied Sciences. His research and teaching focuses
on digital business transformation and innovation.
AI can also be used to
bolster efforts across climate research and modeling; climate finance;
and education, nudging, and behavior change, such as by powering personalized
tools to estimate an individual's carbon footprint or making recommendations
for environmentally friendly purchases.
Does AI affect climate change?
AI can be a powerful tool to fight climate change. AI self-driving cars,
for instance, may reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2050 by identifying
the most efficient routes. Employing AI in agriculture produces higher
yields; peanut farmers in India achieved a 30 percent larger harvest
by using AI technology.
How AI can be a powerful tool in the fight against climate change?
AI can be employed to help mitigate the climate crisis through the measurement
of emissions at both the macro and micro levels, through the reduction
of emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) effects, and through the removal
of existing emissions from the atmosphere.
How does AI reduce carbon footprint?
Predictive AI can forecast future carbon emissions based on current
data on carbon footprint. By providing detailed insight into every aspect
of carbon emission, AI tools and data optimization techniques can improve
efficiency in production, transportation, etc. thereby reducing carbon
emissions and cutting costs.
How does AI help energy efficiency?
Artificial intelligence monitors, collects information, controls, evaluates
and manages energy consumption in buildings and factories. It controls
energy usage and reduces it during peak hours, identifies and signals
problems, and detects equipment failures before they occur.
Can AI help Climate Change?
AI can help tackle climate change | BBC Ideas
DeepMind is Using AI to Tackle Climate Change
could help the world fight climate change
AI can help
us fight climate change. But it has an energy problem, too
HORIZON The EU Research & Innovation Magazine
intelligence (AI) technology can help us fight climate change
but it also comes at a cost to the planet. To truly benefit from the
technologys climate solutions, we also need a better understanding
of AIs growing carbon footprint, say researchers.
Data centres that store
and process algorithms use a lot of energy but there is little discussion
about their environmental impact. Image credit - 123net/Wikimedia,
licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
AI is changing the way
we work, live and solve challenges. It can improve healthcare, protect
from poachers, and work out how broadband should be distributed.
But it could be most
valuable as a range of applications helping humanity fight our biggest
threat - climate change. AI can strengthen climate
predictions, enable smarter decision-making for decarbonising
industries from building to transport, and work out how to allocate
AI’s relevance as a climate
change fighting tool comes at a time when there are increasing ethical
concerns linked largely to a data-hungry form of the technology called
machine learning, where computer systems analyse patterns in existing
data to make predictions and decisions. Machine learning applications
have raised concerns about creeping public surveillance, intentional
misuse, privacy, transparency and data bias that can lead
to discrimination and inequality.
It is part of a wider
ethics debate in the EU about how to use AI for the benefit of human
beings, the challenges that the technology poses and how best to tackle
‘We have to realise that
AI is, in fact, a piece of software that we people design,’ said Virginia
Dignum, a professor in social and ethical artificial intelligence
at Umeå University in Sweden. We must be responsible for how we use
AI, she says. ‘(It is) not some kind of magic that comes from outer
space and happens to us. No. We make AI happen.’
one issue that is only beginning to be discussed is the environmental
footprint of AI.
The algorithms that tells us, for example,
what to watch on Netflix tonight have an environmental impact, according
to Prof. Dignum. ‘AI uses a lot of energy,’ said the computer scientist,
who is part of a 52-person
expert group advising the European Commission on trustworthy
and ‘human-centric’ AI.
The storage, and particularly the processing,
of data to train algorithms – the ‘recipes’ computers use to make
calculations – in data centres or in the cloud across different centres
with rows of machines doing computations consume energy, she says.
For one algorithm to train itself on
whether an image shows a cat, for instance, it needs to process millions
of cat images. The ecosystem for information and communications technology,
of which data centres are a part, are comparable to aviation
in terms of fuel emissions.
‘It’s a use of energy that we don’t really
think about,’ said Prof. Dignum. ‘We have data farms, especially in
the northern countries of Europe and in Canada, which are huge. Some
of those things use as much energy as a small city.’
Although AI has been around for about
half a century, the question of environmental impact – and other ethical
issues - is only arising now because the techniques developed over
decades can now be used in combination with an explosion in data and
strong computational power, Prof. Dignum explains. ‘It’s time to start
thinking about doing AI in a more environmentally friendly way,’ she
AI might be part of the problem, but
it also has the potential to help us find solutions for climate change.
Professor Felix Creutzig, who leads a
working group called Land Use, Infrastructures and Transport at Mercator
Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin,
Germany, investigates ways to tackle climate change using data science.
He is part of a group of international researchers advocating for
climate change solutions using machine learning.
Prof. Creutzig sees vast
AI opportunities to ramp up the applications for targeted
climate change solutions at the street scale, or even building level,
that can be applied in cities. Urban spaces are of particular concern,
as theyll be home to more than two-thirds
of the worlds population by 2050 and are incredibly
Its cool to work with technologies
and to invest in low-carbon technologies, but to achieve anything
close to the 2
degree or 1.5 degree target (for limiting global warming)
we must reduce energy demands drastically and can achieve that by
improved spatial configurations, he said.
Improving spatial use can help address
issues such as urban heat islands, a phenomenon where urban environs
built of steel and cement store heat and warm cities. Thats
a key problem of our future, he said.
Greening cities or using wind channel
architecture to create ventilation are ways to help cities deal with
extreme heat that can be guided by AI.
Prof. Creutzig is employing a method
called stacked architecture, which uses machine learning with traditional
mechanical modelling to, for instance, obtain insights into how buildings
behave when it comes to temperature or energy demand, to find the
best design for low energy use and high quality of life. These can
then inform urban planning and policymakers.
Precisely because AI has so much potential,
he also thinks its use should be combined with regulation, such as
on not storing unnecessary data or constraining its use, so that it
is targeted, efficient and doesnt cause a new problem. However,
he says that theres currently not enough research into machine
learnings environmental impact. Theres a lot to
explore, he said.
Basically it (AI) is a fuel of
application it can lead to a new energy use, said Prof.
Creutzig. And this would be the opposite of what we want to
have. The main example I'm thinking about is smart mobility and autonomous
driving because these are really driven by AI or will be modelled
For Andrea Renda, head of global governance
and digital economy expert at the Centre
for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Belgium, and also
a member of the expert
group advising the European Commission, AI needs to be
developed and deployed so it can meet societys needs and protect
the environment by saving more energy than it expends.
All of these (data-intensive techniques)
are extremely dangerous for the environment unless you can use those
techniques in a way that, while using a lot more energy, save a lot
more energy because they provide for more efficient solutions,
said Prof. Renda.
Both Prof. Renda and Prof. Dignum agree
that basic research into AI forms that are less data hungry than machine
learning, such as automated reasoning, should be an EU priority. This
would mean less use of personal data and energy consumption.
Prof. Dignum has been working with synthetic
data, which is not based on real examples. It could be used
to generate, for example, images of broken bones not based on sensitive
patient data in order to train an algorithm on what to spot in an
X-ray. This data can then be discarded so that its not stored.
Some researchers in the US have also
proposed that AI research should include reporting on computational
costs of training algorithms to enhance transparency.
To make sure AI is used to help, and
not hinder, our society, Prof. Renda says its time to merge
the two big debates of today. One is on digital technology and
the other one is on sustainable development, and in particular the
environment. If we use the former to save the latter, I think we will
have made the best possible use of the resources that we have,
he said. Otherwise we're just wasting time.
already early I startet
questioning the status quo and combining this with my love for technology
and computers. With 13 I started my first company by doing what I loved
and helping lots of people with my passion. 15 years after my first
start-up I can now say that I founded more than a dozend start-ups and
venture. Honestly to say also three failed big but these taught me a
lot about how companies can succeed and what crucial factors are. Now
as an associate professor, as a consultant and serial founder I am still
following my passion to disrupt industries, give my knowledge and help
others with their change.
Giving everybody access to Digital, Digital Transformation, Innovation
and new Technologies
#bethechange The chance for Entrepreneurs in the Digital Transformation
One of my pure passion projects began mid 2017 when I realized that
there is no business relevant source for easy to understand and actionable
content around one of the most important topics of our new business
world. Digitization, digital Transformation, Innovation, Blockchain,
IoT, Design Thinking and many more words are used each and every day
but nobody really explained it in a easy way or also in a way so people
could start using this technological revolutions.
This led to the creation
of MoreThanDigital and the platform morethandigital.info to connect
knowledge from experts with the real-life businesses to help them prepare
for their own future.
Now as the biggest digital
initiative in the German speaking countries, there will be a strong
focus on helping the businesses and society to be prepared for the changed
world of digitalization, Innovation and new technologies. And mid of
2018 I decided to focus my efforts on developing MoreThanDigital, help
governments in understanding the implications of this change but also
advise organization on how to be more impactful.
With the #bethechange movement
we created a movement where companies, organizations, states and also
individuals get together to make a difference and to help our society
and our business world to prepare for these changes. Each and everyone
can be part of #bethechange if they are willing to share their knowledge,
to support businesses and to take a leading role in explaining digitization,
innovation, digital transformation, new culture, new business models
and many more topics for each an everybody.
More Than Digital |
with Daniel Jordi
Ben shares how he looks at everything he builds as a collaborative effort
and how he involves co-contributors in his projects. He also shares
how he makes sure that financial contributors and partners are in alignment
with the bigger vision of his ventures and the purpose behind them.