Jeffrey Sachs on the Power of Solar Energy

Question: Of all the alternative energies under research, what one are you most excited about?

Sachs:    There are many options for the world in energy ahead.  I think if we look out in the not so distant future, solar power is going to be a phenomenal promise especially in the poorest places.  Often, in the tropics, there’s plenty of sunshine and seemingly little else right now in terms of energy availability.  But with advances in concentrated solar thermal power, concentrated solar photovoltaics, there are tremendous, tremendous opportunities.  After all, the deserts of the world, the Sahara, the Atacama, the Mohave, the Gobi could provide enough electricity for vast populous regions of the world and do it in a clean and sustainable way, at least, sustainable for about 5 billion years according to the physicists.  We’d have a good, long-term, clean, safe energy system that could actually be the point of take-off for many of the world’s poorest regions. 

The deserts of the world could provide enough electricity for vast populous regions of the world and do it in a clean and sustainable way—at least until the sun explodes in 5 billion years.

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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Space hotel with artificial gravity will be in orbit by 2025

The Von Braun Space Station, based on the concepts of a controversial scientist, is moving ahead with construction plans.

Credit: on Braun Space Station.
Technology & Innovation
  • The Gateway Foundation is building a space hotel, based on the concepts of a Nazi and American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.
  • The space station is expected to be operational by 2025.
  • The company plans to assemble it in orbit, using robots and drones.
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Scientists find a new way to measure gravity

Researchers develop a novel method to measure gravity that can get much more information.

Credit: Sarah Davis / Victoria Xu
Surprising Science
  • Scientists use lasers that suspend atoms in air to measure gravity.
  • This method can be more precise and allow for gathering of much more information.
  • Portal devices using this technique can help find mineral deposits and improve mapping.
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