from the world's big
Kenya launches Africa's largest wind farm
Lake Turkana Wind Power is expected to produce enough electricity to power 330,000 local homes.
- The new wind farm is located in a remote part of Kenya with strong winds.
- Kenya is leading Africa in terms of renewable energy and hopes to soon cease its reliance on fossil fuels altogether.
- Globally, China represents the biggest market for wind power.
Kenya has launched Africa's largest wind farm, a move that should bring the nation closer to its ambitious goal of 100 percent green energy by 2020.
Lake Turkana Wind Power includes 365 turbines in northern Kenya near Lake Turkana, a remote area with strong winds. It's estimated to produce about 310 megawatts — or enough electricity to power about 330,000 local homes — contributing approximately 15 percent of the nation's total power supply.
"Today, we again raised the bar for the continent as we unveil Africa's single largest wind farm," said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. "Kenya is without doubt on course to be a global leader in renewable energy."
One major benefit of Lake Turkana Wind Power is that it's expected to lower costs of electricity for many of the nation's 52 million people. That's mainly because the wind farm will sell electricity to Kenya Power & Lighting Company Ltd — the nation's biggest utility company — at a fixed price. Lake Turkana Wind Power cost about $700 million to develop, and was paid for by an international consortium of lenders and producers, including the Danish Climate Investment Fund, which was established to invest in renewable energy projects in developing nations.
Carlo van Wageningen, co-founder and board member of Lake Turkana Wind Power, said the new wind farm is a "perfect example of a PPP, which is a private-public partnership."
The beautiful sights and sounds of Africa’s largest wind energy power plant, generating 310MW at full capacity & co… https://t.co/ev05mPxYBz— Nzioka Waita (@Nzioka Waita)1563546688.0
Kenya's renewable energy sector is by far the strongest in Africa. The nation currently generates about 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily hydropower and geothermal. Kenya ranks 9th in the world for its geothermal power generating capacity of up to 700 megawatts, according to the Renewables 2018 Global Status report. Lake Turkana Wind Power isn't the continent's only wind farm — other large-scale farms are currently operating in Morocco, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Globally, China is leading the way in wind power. In 2018, the nation "installed an additional capacity of 21 Gigawatt and has become the first country with an installed wind power capacity of more than 200 Gigawatt," reads a report from the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). "It has re-taken the growth path after a not-so-strong year in 2017 when a comparatively modest 19 Gigawatt were installed. China continues its undisputed position as the world's wind power leader, with an accumulated wind capacity of 217Gigawatt."
The U.S. has the second largest wind power market, and soon will likely become the second nation to reach an installed capacity of more than 100 Gigawatts, according to the WWEA.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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A study of the manner in which memory works turns up a surprising thing.
- Researchers have found that some basic words appear to be more memorable than others.
- Some faces are also easier to commit to memory.
- Scientists suggest that these words serve as semantic bridges when the brain is searching for a memory.
Cognitive psychologist Weizhen Xie (Zane) of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) works with people who have intractable epilepsy, a form of the disorder that can't be controlled with medications. During research into the brain activity of patients, he and his colleagues discovered something odd about human memory: It appears that certain basic words are consistently more memorable than other basic words.
The research is published in Nature Human Behaviour.
An odd find
Image source: Tsekhmister/Shutterstock
Xie's team was re-analyzing memory tests of 30 epilepsy patients undertaken by Kareem Zaghloul of NINDS.
"Our goal is to find and eliminate the source of these harmful and debilitating seizures," Zaghloul said. "The monitoring period also provides a rare opportunity to record the neural activity that controls other parts of our lives. With the help of these patient volunteers we have been able to uncover some of the blueprints behind our memories."
Specifically, the participants were shown word pairs, such as "hand" and "apple." To better understand how the brain might remember such pairings, after a brief interval, participants were supplied one of the two words and asked to recall the other. Of the 300 words used in the tests, five of them proved to be five times more likely to be recalled: pig, tank, doll, pond, and door.
The scientists were perplexed that these words were so much more memorable than words like "cat," "street," "stair," "couch," and "cloud."
Intrigued, the researchers looked at a second data source from a word test taken by 2,623 healthy individuals via Amazon's Mechanical Turk and found essentially the same thing.
"We saw that some things — in this case, words — may be inherently easier for our brains to recall than others," Zaghloul said. That the Mechanical Turk results were so similar may "provide the strongest evidence to date that what we discovered about how the brain controls memory in this set of patients may also be true for people outside of the study."
Why understanding memory matters
Image source: Orawan Pattarawimonchai/Shutterstock
"Our memories play a fundamental role in who we are and how our brains work," Xie said. "However, one of the biggest challenges of studying memory is that people often remember the same things in different ways, making it difficult for researchers to compare people's performances on memory tests." He added that the search for some kind of unified theory of memory has been going on for over a century.
If a comprehensive understanding of the way memory works can be developed, the researchers say that "we can predict what people should remember in advance and understand how our brains do this, then we might be able to develop better ways to evaluate someone's overall brain health."
Image source: joob_in/Shutterstock
Xie's interest in this was piqued during a conversation with Wilma Bainbridge of University of Chicago at a Christmas party a couple of years ago. Bainbridge was, at the time, wrapping up a study of 1,000 volunteers that suggested certain faces are universally more memorable than others.
Bainbridge recalls, "Our exciting finding is that there are some images of people or places that are inherently memorable for all people, even though we have each seen different things in our lives. And if image memorability is so powerful, this means we can know in advance what people are likely to remember or forget."
Image source: Anatomography/Wikimedia
At first, the scientists suspected that the memorable words and faces were simply recalled more frequently and were thus easier to recall. They envisioned them as being akin to "highly trafficked spots connected to smaller spots representing the less memorable words." They developed a modeling program based on word frequencies found in books, new articles, and Wikipedia pages. Unfortunately, the model was unable to predict or duplicate the results they saw in their clinical experiments.
Eventually, the researchers came to suspect that the memorability of certain words was linked to the frequency with which the brain used them as semantic links between other memories, making them often-visited hubs in individuals's memory networks, and therefore places the brain jumped to early and often when retrieving memories. This idea was supported by observed activity in participants' anterior temporal lobe, a language center.
In epilepsy patients, these words were so frequently recalled that subjects often shouted them out even when they were incorrect responses to word-pair inquiries.
Modern search engines no longer simply look for raw words when resolving an inquiry: They also look for semantic — contextual and meaning — connections so that the results they present may better anticipate what it is you're looking for. Xie suggests something similar may be happening in the brain: "You know when you type words into a search engine, and it shows you a list of highly relevant guesses? It feels like the search engine is reading your mind. Well, our results suggest that the brains of the subjects in this study did something similar when they tried to recall a paired word, and we think that this may happen when we remember many of our past experiences."
He also notes that it may one day be possible to leverage individuals' apparently wired-in knowledge of their language as a fixed point against which to assess the health of their memory and brain.
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.