#68. Marc Andreessen's blog on why AI will save the world | 🔥Canada's wildfire smoke | ☀️largest floating solar farm in NA
PLUS: CNET's AI policy | Stable Diffusion-powered anime QR codes | AI-powered flood prediction | national climate change lab | Volvo EX30 Tesla Model Y rival debut | Volvo double-decker EV buses to UK
🤖 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seen as a potential boon for all aspects of human life, enhancing education and job performance, and driving economic growth, scientific and artistic breakthroughs.
Fears about AI destroying society are often based on moral panic, exploited by two groups: 'Baptists', who sincerely believe in AI regulation to prevent disaster, and 'Bootleggers', who gain from such regulations, often for personal benefit.
Extreme fears of AI causing humanity's downfall are irrational and baseless; such views are criticized for being non-scientific, driven by conspiracy theories and fear-mongering.
The author counters fears of AI-induced job loss, asserting that technological advancement leads to economic growth and job creation, and suggests that total AI labor replacement could trigger massive productivity growth and consumer welfare.
Concerns about AI leading to wealth inequality are deemed overstated; technology creators are incentivized to make products widely accessible, and AI diffusion can lead to a more equitable distribution of value.
Despite potential misuse of AI and authoritarian control, such as seen in China, the risks can be mitigated with existing laws and defensive AI use; regulations shouldn't hinder AI innovation but instead maximize societal defensive capabilities in collaboration with the private sector.
AI: The Undiscovered Country
A (very!) brief overview of AI law &
how to integrate ChatGPT in your workflow
By Marc Hoag
Presented by the Beverly Hills Bar Association
June 13, 2023, 12:30pm - 1:30pm PDT
1.0 hour CLE credit
Tech outlet CNET is refining its AI policy following controversy over using AI systems to generate articles; moving forward, articles will not be entirely AI-written, and product reviews will be conducted by humans. AI may be used for data sorting, story outlining, and explanatory content generation.
CNET has revised previously published AI-generated stories that led to backlash due to factual errors or possible plagiarism. The articles now include an editor's note indicating the involvement of AI in the earlier version and subsequent updates by a staff writer.
Red Ventures, CNET's parent company, uses AI across its brands and websites to generate SEO-targeted articles and drive affiliate marketing profits through reader interactions, such as opening a bank account or signing up for a credit card.
CNET's AI policy changes occurred shortly after the outlet's editorial staff unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East, voicing concerns over the use of AI systems, lack of management transparency, and worries about editorial independence.
CNET employees have reported pressure to modify their work to satisfy advertisers and were asked to contribute to ads for Red Ventures clients, causing frustration and leading to efforts to resist these practices.
Other notable news outlets, such as BuzzFeed and Insider, have also started to employ generative AI models for story creation, including quizzes, travel guides, and SEO headlines.
A Reddit user named "nhciao" has generated artistic QR codes using the Stable Diffusion AI image-synthesis model; despite being artistically rendered, these codes can still be scanned by smartphone camera apps.
QR codes have versatile applications due to their capacity to store a large amount of data; this includes advertising, product tracking, and digital payments.
Stable Diffusion, the AI model used, was released last year and is capable of generating images based on text descriptions and transforming existing images, a technique called "img2img".
The QR codes' artistic designs were created by feeding existing codes into Stable Diffusion and using a tool called ControlNet to maintain the QR code data's positioning while synthesizing an image around it.
This technique leverages the innate error correction capability of QR codes, which allows a certain percentage of the code's data to be restored if damaged or obscured, thus permitting modification without rendering the code unreadable.
The experiment suggests potential for blending digital art with marketing, transforming mundane QR codes into unique and aesthetic pieces of art, and may inspire a new trend of artistic QR codes.
🤖🔥🤯 COOL AI TOOLS, APPS, VIDEOS, PODCASTS, LINKS, AND MORE!
🌡️ CLIMATE CHANGE & CLEAN ENERGY
Approximately 75 million people from the Midwest to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are experiencing an unhealthy smoky haze drifting down from Canadian wildfires, prompting "code red" air quality alerts in cities like New York and Philadelphia.
As a result of the smoke, New York City had the worst air quality in the world as of Wednesday afternoon, prompting flight restrictions at LaGuardia and Newark airports and cancellation of school activities.
CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray anticipates this could be a recurring issue throughout the summer due to Canada's wildfire season and a prevailing weather pattern which channels smoke towards the U.S.
Human-induced climate change, which has intensified hot and dry conditions that fuel wildfires, is considered a contributing factor. It is reported that carbon pollution from the world’s largest fossil fuel and cement companies is tied to millions of acres burned in Western U.S. and Canada.
The United Nations has predicted that the number of extreme wildfires will increase 14% by 2030 and 30% by 2050, suggesting that adaptation to this reality is necessary.
Despite the current situation, air quality in industrialized countries like the U.S. has improved significantly since 1980, largely due to public safety laws; however, these improvements have not been sufficient to halt the climate change-driven threat to air quality posed by wildfires.
Norwegian climate tech startup, 7Analytics, is utilizing AI and machine learning to predict floods and minimize damage. Their main product, FloodCube, uses vast quantities of terrain and land use data to predict how a future flood will unfold with metre-scale accuracy.
Unlike other companies in the field, 7Analytics offers high-resolution data and constantly reprocesses data to account for physical changes in the landscape.
The system provides predictive insights that alert governments, businesses, and insurers to potential floods 72 hours in advance, which allows for necessary protective measures to be taken.
7Analytics has already secured contracts with the Municipality of Bergen, Skanska, and Total Energies, and after securing €2.5m in its first funding round, it plans to expand its customer base in Europe and the U.S.
There is growing acknowledgement of the importance of investing in climate adaptation technologies. However, in 2021, only 10% of all climate finance was allocated to adaptation measures such as flood and wildfire prevention, resilient agriculture, and clean water supply.
7Analytics is preparing for its Series A funding round next year, with plans to expand its offerings to predict other natural hazards like landslides.
President Biden is requesting $35 million from Congress to start planning for a new national lab aimed at studying the impact of climate change on underprivileged communities. This lab would be part of the 17 labs run by the Department of Energy (DOE).
The proposed lab is planned to be located at one of the 104 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the U.S., institutions known for providing educational opportunities to Black individuals historically denied from other universities due to race.
Despite HBCUs producing approximately 30% of all Black scientists and engineers, they rank low on the list of U.S. universities receiving federal research funding. The proposed lab aims to address this disparity.
The new lab would focus on issues impacting communities that are "marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution," aligning with the Biden administration's Justice40 initiative that seeks to direct 40% of federal investment benefits to these disadvantaged communities.
Concerns have been raised regarding the cost of building the necessary computing capacity and management expertise required for a national lab, particularly within an institution that has traditionally received little federal funding.
Should the requested funding be approved, a series of community workshops would likely be organized to gather input on the lab's structure and operations, followed by solicitation of proposals from eligible institutions to build and operate the lab.
🚗 AUTONOMOUS & ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Volvo has announced the EX30, a small electric vehicle (EV) with a starting price of $35,000, available for pre-order in the United States and other selected markets. The vehicle is set to hit the streets in 2024.
The EX30 will be available in two configurations: a rear-wheel drive (RWD) model and an all-wheel drive (AWD) model. The AWD model, with a total horsepower of 422, can go from 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds, making it Volvo's fastest accelerating car ever.
Other specifications include a weight of around 4,000lb, a 69kWh battery, and a DC fast charge rate of 153kW. Volvo claims that the battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in just over 26.5 minutes.
In addition to the standard EX30, Volvo will also offer an off-roading AWD variant, the EX30 Cross Country.
While the EX30 will not qualify for U.S. federal tax credits as it is manufactured in China, it can still be leased with the tax credit going to the lease holder, making lease prices potentially attractive.
An 8.9 megawatt (MW) floating solar farm, the largest of its kind in North America, has been launched in Short Hills, New Jersey.
Owned and operated by NJR Clean Energy Ventures, the solar farm spans 17 acres of the Canoe Brook reservoir.
The solar array consists of 16,510 panels, which generate enough clean energy to power approximately 1,400 homes annually.
The floating solar farm will cater to around 95% of the power requirements for New Jersey American Water’s Canoe Brook Water Treatment Plant.
Floating solar technology involves PV panels attached to rafts, with the water keeping the solar panels cool, thus improving efficiency. The technology also reduces water evaporation to almost zero.
Stagecoach, one of the largest bus operators in the UK, has ordered 150 double-decker and 39 single-decker electric buses from Volvo Buses. This is the largest electric bus order Volvo Buses has ever received.
The electric buses will be operational in Stockport and London from late 2023 and in 2024. The majority of the double-deckers and some single-deckers will serve Stockport, a town near Manchester.
19 of the single-decker Volvo BZL Electric buses are designated for London, with plans to increase this number in the future.
The new order will be in addition to another 55 Volvo electric buses previously ordered by Stagecoach, some of which are already operational in Scotland and Cambridge.
Volvo Buses has recently increased its production capacity to meet the growing demand for electric buses, with the first buses from its expanded production expected to be delivered in early 2025.
🎉 THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY!
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