Ideas Lab

Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Target Conservation Efforts

presented by Carla Gomes

The smart­phone is the ulti­mate exam­ple of a uni­ver­sal com­put­er. Apps trans­form the phone into dif­fer­ent devices. Unfortunately, the com­pu­ta­tion­al rev­o­lu­tion has done lit­tle for the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our Earth. Yet, sus­tain­abil­i­ty prob­lems are unique in scale and com­plex­i­ty, often involv­ing sig­nif­i­cant com­pu­ta­tion­al chal­lenges.

Teaching a Machine How to Imagine

presented by Tai Sing Lee

We can train com­put­ers to learn to rec­og­nize objects by giv­ing them mil­lions of exam­ples with the cor­rect answers. A human baby, on the oth­er hand, learns to rec­og­nize many con­cepts and objects all by them­self sim­ply by inter­act­ing with a few exam­ples in the real world.

Using Cryptography to Redefine Legal Contracts and Public Records

presented by Rabee Tourky

Can we have agree­ments or the mech­a­nisms for enforc­ing agree­ments between gov­ern­ments with­out hav­ing to appeal to the ambi­gu­i­ty of inter­na­tion­al law?

Language as a Signature of the Flexible Human Mind

presented by Mahesh Srinivasan

To under­stand human nature, I focus on human lan­guage and what it can reveal about how we think. Unlike oth­er ani­mals, humans can com­mu­ni­cate an infinite num­ber of thoughts through lan­guage. And one rea­son that lan­guage is pow­er­ful is because we can use each of our words flex­i­bly, with sev­er­al dif­fer­ent mean­ings.

Applying Algorithms to Minimize Risk

presented by Joshua Woodard

The United States plants more than 170 mil­lion acres of corn and soy­beans a year, more than any coun­try in the world. And the pri­ma­ry mech­a­nism in the US that we use to sub­si­dize agri­cul­ture is actu­al­ly called the Federal Crop Insurance Program. So, the crop insur­ance pro­gram in the US is also the largest such pro­gram glob­al­ly, with over $100 bil­lion in lia­bil­i­ties annu­al­ly. So it’s a very big pro­gram.

Imaging the Health of Our Planet

presented by Gabrielle Thomas

The inter­est­ing thing is not just fig­ur­ing out what one plant needs, but doing it on the scale of a mil­lion plants. This is where imag­ing can help. Capturing the detail, but from a dis­tance. Some farm­ers already used drones or oth­er air­craft to do just that. But the­se are not tools avail­able to all. I want to ask what if pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture could be a ser­vice acces­si­ble to any­one on the plan­et?

Mapping the Intricacies of Evolving Food Systems

presented by Graham MacDonald

In many coun­tries, the very abil­i­ty to eat a food like avo­cado is a direct ben­e­fit of inter­na­tion­al trade. We are eat­ing on an inter­con­nect­ed plan­et. Food trade now shapes land use world­wide and is reshap­ing the food sup­plies of many nations.

Building Resilient Cities Through Restoration of Fragmented Urban Ecosystems

presented by Andrew Gonzalez

Cities form a vast glob­al net­work con­nect­ed by flows of ener­gy, food, infor­ma­tion. This glob­al net­work is the chal­lenge of the 21st cen­tu­ry. How do we make more sus­tain­able cities, with small­er eco­log­i­cal foot­prints and more equi­table human well­be­ing?

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