We already knew an artificial intelligence could reflect the racial bias of its creator. But San Francisco thinks the tech could potentially do the opposite as well, by identifying and counteracting racial prejudice — and it plans to put the theory to the test in a way that could change the legal system forever.
On Wednesday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced that city prosecutors will begin using an AI-powered “bias-mitigation tool” created by Stanford University researchers on July 1. The tool analyzes police reports and automatically redacts any information that may allude to an individual’s race. This could include their last name, eye color, hair color, or location. It also removes any information that might identify the law enforcement involved in the case, such as their badge number. Prosecutors will look at these redacted reports, record their decision on whether to charge a suspect and then see the unredacted report before making their final charging decision.
According to Gascon, tracking changes between the first and final decisions could help the DA suss out any racial bias in the charging process. If it works, it could finally bring some justice to America’s broken justice system.
While the conventional meat industry is a giant economic force today, a new report from the global consultancy AT Kearney doesn’t paint a bright future for meat producers—although Mother Nature will surely be smiling at the predictions featured in this report.
At the moment, the conventional meat industry raises billions of animals each year and turns over $1 trillion annually. But according to the report, most of the meat people eat in 2040 will not come from slaughtered animals. Instead, the consultancy group predicts 60 percent will bee either grown in vats or replaced by plant-based products that look and taste like meat. This is due to a number of factors.
First, faux-meat companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are taking the market by storm, with fast food chains already incorporating these options into their menus.
Secondly, other companies are working on growing meat cells in culture, to produce real meat without needing to raise and kill animals. No such products have yet reached consumers, but AT Kearney predicts cultured meat will dominate in the long term because it reproduces the taste and feel of conventional meat more closely than plant-based alternatives.
Another factor is that people are becoming more aware of the environmental effects of the meat industry, shifting instead to flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Whatever the factors may be, it’s encouraging to see that we’re starting to wean ourselves off meat.
Look down at your feet. Your shoes might seem innocuous, but they contain lots of forms of plastic, and often leather, giving them their own sizeable carbon footprint. As all companies try to limit their plastic use, shoe manufacturers are trying to design new shoes with lower embedded emissions.
Canadian shoe company Native Shoes is doing it by making a shoe that’s entirely biodegradable because every component is made from plant material. They’re new, appropriately named Plant Shoe is made entirely from durable and natural fibers, including pineapple husk for the toe and tread made from the fibrous vegetable jute, soaked in olive oil. With this new development, Native wants to push the conversation around what’s possible in creating sustainable footwear.
Numerous other brands, like Allbirds and Everlane, have pioneered sneaker-manufacturing tactics that are more sustainable than the traditional leather and rubber combination that’s known to be environmentally intensive. Everlane, for instance, sources recycled plastic bottles to make its sneakers, and Allbirds uses innovative eucalyptus fibers and sugarcane to form its classic runners. A new Adidas concept shoe can be shredded and fully recycled into a whole new shoe.
All these sneakers are impressive, but what makes the Plant Shoe so cool is that when it eventually wears down, it can be tossed in the compost bin, where, once they’re exposed to bacteria and natural composting agents, they will start to break down in around 45 days. And because the whole thing is made with no chemicals or synthetic additives, it won’t harm the planet as it does so.
The United Kingdom has just become the first major economy in the world to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Although the UK already had a 2050 target to reduce emissions by 80%, which was agreed upon by MPs under the Climate Change Act in 2008, that target is now amended to the new, much tougher, goal.
So, what does “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions entail? It means that emissions from homes, transport, farming, and industry will have to be avoided completely or – in the most difficult examples – offset by planting trees or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. The outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.
When you work in a team, emotions will inevitably rise up and can possibly affect the productivity of your team. But by acceptation your emotions and channeling them appropriately, you can help improve communication, be more compassionately direct, and foster a healthier workplace environment. Here are three research-backed techniques that will help you bring your emotions to work in a way that’s both productive and valuable.
First technique: adopt a leadership mindset. No matter your exact role on your team, adopting a leadership mindset can help put you in a place where you see your reactions as a determining factor for the group’s success. In a study out of Yale, researchers found that leaders who practiced emotional management were able to help their followers manage their own anger responses. Embracing this outlook can help us all use our emotions more mindfully in stressful situations.
Second technique: reframe problems as challenges. Expressing your emotions can be particularly difficult when a problem comes up that feels like a crisis. Rather than get overwhelmed by feelings of stress and frustration when a problem arises, reframe that problem as a challenge. When you appraise problems as a challenge, you can better concentrate on the task at hand and consider the steps you have to take succeed.
Third technique: try a deep breathing exercise. Instead of suppressing feelings when you’re stressed, take a moment to accept them, and do a simple breathing technique that will help re-center your mind and help you return to your team with a new perspective.
In the world of positive news, IKEA’s name pops up quite often. Just last week, we wrote about a new line of IKEA homeware that is being made using waste straw from rice farmers in India who typically burn it, which contributes heavily to air pollution. And the week before, we ran a little story on how IKEA will soon introduce a vegan version of its famous meatballs to its menus.
Now IKEA is back with another great initiative as it teams up with a company called Little Sun to bring power to people all over the world. The project, which is being called “Sammanlänkad” (Swedish for “connected”), will try to reach the billion people who have limited or no access to power by creating a collection of products powered by the sun.
To do this, the company is producing a line of products that will feature functional pieces of furniture like lamps and ceiling lights that will contain a removable battery, or energy store, which can be charged by solar to be used as a light source when needed. Sammanlänkad’s product lineup will also include solar panels that are small enough to hang in a window, designed to charge portable electronics like laptops and phones. The energy stores made to fit within a larger device will be roughly the size of a palm. Although the products are currently in the prototype phase, IKEA expects to launch the line of products in 2021.
The clean energy revolution is on the verge of a tipping point. That’s the verdict at least after a new report found that the renewable energy sector had slightly more installed capacity than coal in April.
That means US power plants can produce more energy from clean sources than coal for the first time in history, according to the nonprofit research group Sun Day Campaign. The report backs a separate report which found that the renewable energy sector was projected to have generated more electricity than coal in April—albeit those changes were partially driven by seasonal issues.
At the same time, America has drastically cut back on its appetite for coal. Since peaking in 2008, US coal consumption has plunged 39% to the lowest level in 40 years. The milestones come despite the White House attempting to prop up the coal industry by cutting environmental rules.
Lately, it seems like the global push for going green isn’t only being driven by concerned citizens, but also by big shots in the corporate world.
Take US retailer Target, for example, that has recently pledged to take a major step forward by committing to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The goal — which applies to all of Target’s domestic operations — will help power its stores, distribution centers, and offices more sustainably and responsibly. There is also an interim objective of sourcing 60 percent of the firm’s electricity from renewables by 2025.
The company plans to achieve its goals by investing in massive wind and solar projects and is also looking to install solar rooftops at 500 of its locations by 2020. This is a remarkable initiative considering that currently only 22 percent of Target’s electricity is covered by renewables.
In a stunning breakthrough for the environment, scientists have figured out a way to convert CO2 into a variety of plastics and fuels, paving the way for low-cost carbon sequestration and eco-friendly manufacturing for chemicals.
The research team managed to successfully develop ‘living factories’ of light-powered bacteria that eat CO2 and nitrogen and turn them into biodegradable plastic, fuel, and biodiesel. The researchers used light activate to activate the cells of bacteria which, in turn, consumed CO2 and nitrogen without needing an energy source to carry out the biochemical conversion. Red wavelengths were used to trigger the microbial to consume CO2 to produce plastic, while green wavelengths caused them to consume nitrogen to produce ammonia.
The team envisions an ideal future in which homes and businesses would pipe their CO2 emissions into holding ponds where microbes would convert them.
Lab-grown meat has been getting a lot of attention these days, with multiple companies working on developing a type of meat that is sustainable, ethical and better for the planet. But what about lab-grown dairy? Well, it appears, there’s good news on that front too.
Enter Perfect Day Inc., a California-based start-up, which has managed to recreate the proteins found in good old cow’s milk, without using any animals to do so. The company developed a form of genetically modified microflora that produces both whey and casein – the major proteins found in cow’s milk. Perfect Day says their product is the exact same as the protein found in cow’s milk. Conventional milk is approximately 3.3 percent protein, of which 82 percent is casein and 18 percent is whey. The other main elements are water, fat, and carbohydrates.
The company suggests that its dairy protein is vegan and lactose-free while providing the same high-quality nutrition as conventional dairy protein. This could have significant appeal for consumers, who will be able to find the product on grocery shelves within a few years.