3 million people move to urban areas every week. How will we meet the challenge?

Cities of the future won't just be incredibly populated, they'll also be smarter than ever.

  • Globally we are adding about 3 million people to urban areas each week. Over the course of the year, this number can be equated to roughly 50 Chicagos.
  • This influx of people could make everyday life in urban areas more chaotic than ever. We will need a new playbook for how cities can better handle this massive influx of people.
  • With such population surges, we can use citizen-centric data—computational power—to make the infrastructure of cities run smoother and more efficiently.

Scientists want to use mountains like batteries to store energy

Researchers propose a gravity-based system for long-term energy storage.

Credit: IIASA
  • A new paper outlines using the the Mountain Gravity Energy Storage (or MGES) for long-term energy storage.
  • This approach can be particularly useful in remote, rural and island areas.
  • Gravity and hydropower can make this method a successful storage solution.
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The future of the mind: Exploring machine consciousness

What if consciousness is just a blip in the universe, a momentary flowering of experience that is unique to life in early technological civilizations—but eventually vanishes?

  • The hard problem of consciousness, as coined by the philosopher David Chalmers, asks: Why must we be conscious? Given that the brain is an information processing engine, why does it need to feel like anything to be us?
  • The problem of AI consciousness is equally complicated. We know humans are conscious, but when it comes to AI, the question is: Could the AIs that we humans develop be conscious beings? Could it feel like something to be them? And how could we possibly know for sure, short of them telling us?
  • How might superintelligence render consciousness extinct? Over 6 chapters in this video, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider explores the philosophical problems that underlie the development of AI and the nature of conscious minds.
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MIT engineers unveil emissions-free cement

Electrochemical methods such as this could someday dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the planet.

Chiang et al.
  • Cement production accounts for 8 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.
  • The new method uses renewable electricity to generate heat for the mixing process, while an electrochemical technique allows for carbon dioxide to be captured and stored.
  • This method isn't likely to be implemented at scale anytime soon, but it's an "important first step," the researchers said.
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How are implicit biases holding us back?

Overcoming assumptions when it comes to gender and capabilities is the key to a successful society.

  • It's important to realize the implicit biases we carry regarding gender.
  • In school settings, women are less likely to be encouraged to pursue careers in STEM fields because it's assumed that men have greater math skills. This simply isn't true.
  • In the interest of a successful society, everyone should be allowed to pursue work based on their interests and skills.
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