Editorial: Innovative Artificial Intelligence

Presently, technology redefines what a necessity is as it adds more capability to tools that we need to function as a post-modern being. For instance, a real-time digital map that guides us to our next meal, a platform to provide us with endless information and many more are condensed into a smartphone with a humanoid voice that carries out these demands. The artificial intelligence industry is skyrocketing because it finds innovative ways to engrave itself into our daily lives.

What exactly is Artificial Intelligence? Artificial Intelligence is the development of computer functions that mirror human tasks such as visual perception, facial and voice recognition, as well as critical decision-making. Artificial Intelligence stems even further from smartphone development, as it boosts the efficiency of the medical industry to geographical analysis to start-ups. Listed below are three extraordinary ways in which Artificial Intelligence has enhanced our lives.

Vegan alternatives closely mirror meat products not only in appearance, but also in taste thanks to molecular duplication in plant material. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Calling for increased environmental benefits in Veganism

Veganism is a lifestyle that more people are adopting, either for its health or environmental benefits, or both. This calls for more variety in veganism to cater to a wider range of tastes and lifestyles. As of now, vegans are demanding more meat alternatives besides tofu and salad, for example, fully-fledged plant-based menus that are not limited to vegan burger patties and vegan bacon.

The reason why there has not been a large variety of vegan food is because the alternatives in supermarkets are lacking in taste and do not seem well-received by customers. Artificial Intelligence proposes a solution for this problem. The Giuseppe algorithm developed by the Not Company tracks the molecular patterns of meat and generates similar ones applicable to plant-based foods, calling for exponentially better tasting vegan alternatives.

The algorithm retains the sustainability of plants being used to produce these foods, as the quota and distribution of nutritional value in the plants are still available. As mass-farming of animals is often unethical and unsustainable due to agricultural practices and water usage, the creation of A.I. Giuseppe visualizes a healthier future for the environment and human beings.

A viable solution to vector-borne diseases that are difficult to control is AIME, an algorithm that predicts epidemic outbreaks. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Predicting medical epidemics and crises

The first ground-breaking result of Artificial Intelligence development in the past year would be the creation of the AIME (Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology). A 2016 Deloitte report on Artificial Intelligence Innovation reveals that this A.I. algorithm predicts the 400-meter radius of an epidemic outbreak from its epicenter, approximately three months before it occurs.

This invention can completely enhance the efficiency of medical supply allocation and medicinal development because it helps scientists confirm the conditions under which an epidemic germinates. Additionally, this allows for leverage to create fast-acting procedures to treat patients because we know when and where diseases start to spread.

On the logistics side, how exactly does this work? The algorithm uses epidemiological research on regional populations that have been impacted by disease and epidemics, tracking the wind frequencies, as well as the quality of shelter and medical care that those affected receive. Then, from this detailed data, the algorithm calculates a percentage chance for the outbreak of a similar case by recognizing the time span between each occurrence.

Artificial intelligence has completely transformed the ability for start up entrepreneurs to gain outreach. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

A start-up’s helping hand

Businesses in today’s market need online presence. However, a simple website that portrays block texts of descriptors does not suffice. Websites that are aesthetically-pleasing and trendy to evoke a professional personality are effective in catching the attention of consumers. However, not every entrepreneur has an artistic eye, nor the time and resources to create the perfect website at the beginning of their careers.

To combat this problem, algorithms such as ‘The Grid’ was created to make the building of the perfect website much more efficient, and this is achieved by utilizing a “layout filter”. This layout filter provides a back-bone structure of the site (text, picture and ad placements) to allow for the creative focus of a consistent theme throughout the site. It contains the function to automatically re-apply the changes made to one particular element onto others, with a wide variety of design techniques, for example, shading and shadows for a three-dimensional effect. A complex website design that once took days to complete can now be done and published in minutes, giving businesses an easier boost in outreach.

There is no denying that Artificial Intelligence has innovated and shaped our lives to be as convenient and comfortable as they are today.

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Efficient batteries could use blood molecule

The next generation of batteries could function on a molecule that transports oxygen in blood and could also work in an environmentally friendly way.

These batteries have recently emerged and are called Lithium-oxygen  (Li-O2) batteries. They could be a possible successor to lithium-ion batteries -the industry standard for consumer electronics- as they can function for a longer time period.

Once these batteries substitute the lithium-ion batteries electronic devices can run for weeks. For example electric cars could function four to five times longer than the current rate.

However, before this transition is made possible, scientists should find ways to make the Li-O2 batteries efficient for commercial use and stop the formation of lithium peroxide, a solid precipitate that coats the surface of the batteries’ oxygen electrodes. In order to make this possible a catalyst should be found which could efficiently aid a process known as oxygen evolution reaction, in which lithium oxide products decompose back into lithium ions and oxygen gas.

The Yale lab of Andre Taylor, associate producer of chemical and environmental engineering, has recognized the heme molecule as a better catalyst. The heme molecule was shown to improve the Li-O2 cell function by reducing the amount of energy needed to better the battery’s charge/discharge cycle times.

“When you breathe in air, the heme molecule absorbs oxygen from the air to your lungs and when you exhale, it transports carbon dioxide back out,” Taylor said. “So it has a good binding with oxygen, and we saw this as a way to enhance these promising lithium-air batteries.”

The lead author of the research Won-Hee Ryu a former postdoctoral researcher in Taylor’s lab said the the heme molecule makes up one of the two parts of hemoglobin, which is a carrier of blood in animal blood. Ryu also said in an Li-O2 battery, the molecule would lower the energy needed by the battery for the electrochemical reaction to take place.

The researchers said their discovery could help in the reduction  amount of animal waste disposal.

“We’re using a biomolecule that traditionally is just wasted,” said Taylor. “In the animal products industry, they have to figure out some way to dispose of the blood. Here, we can take the heme molecules from these waste products and use it for renewable energy storage.”

A new design could bring Internet access to the entire globe

More than three billion people don’t have Internet access across the globe – imagine connecting to the web just by attaching a thin panel to the back of a tablet.

Professor George Eleftheriades and his team in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have created a metamaterial surface – an engineered material not found in nature. This surface focuses electromagnetic waves into a concentrated beam optimizing the way antenna works.

The work was originally published in the journal “Nature Communications.” The prototype is an inexpensive, thin antenna similar to a patterned ceiling tile allowing the transmission of a signal, such as broadband internet directly from space.

“The beams that come off of this surface are like lasers – we can send this energy very far, maybe even all the way to a satellite in orbit,” said Eleftheriades in a statement.

Cavity-excited Huygens’ metasurface antenna. (Courtesy of: www.Nature.com)

Cavity-excited Huygens’ metasurface antenna. (Courtesy of: www.Nature.com)

A typical satellite requires a tripod-shaped structure at its centre, helping maintain a certain distance from the surface to focus beams. The satellite therefore results in a bulky and large set up.

The leading-edge technology in the new design makes a thin, flat and uniformly illuminated antenna compared to a bulky rooftop satellite dish.

“With this design, we’ve optimized the way the antenna works to overcome the traditional compromise between the size of low-profile aperture antennas, and the strength of their beams,” said Eleftheriades.

Currently their structure is two centimetres thick, and their goal is to design a thinner and more sharply focused panel.

“Many companies are working toward providing Internet to the rest of the world,” explained Eleftheriades. “They’re looking for low-cost, low-profile, antennas to communicate with statellites, and they have to be portable. We think this design is a step toward that.”

Architects reimagine future of Vancouver in exhibit

Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver is a timely and provocative exploration of the future of Vancouver as a response to the mounting concern on the changes taking place in the region, shifting the dialogue  from real estate  to the future state of the city.

Thus, Urbanarium Society in partnership with the Museum of Vancouver (MOV)  will bring  an exhibition that will feature 20 different scenarios of Vancouver’s future landscape, while engaging the public to discuss four exceptionally pressing issues:  housing affordability, residential density, ease of transportation and quality of public space.

The exhibition will take place from Jan. 21 through May 16, 2016 at the MOV. Organizers at the museum expect to welcome a few thousands attending Your Future Home throughout its duration.

Urbanarium is a non-for-profit educational organization, created 30 years ago by architect and planner, Ray Spaxman, who was  inspired by  a then-newly opened planetarium in Toronto. He  envisioned  a place where people can  gather and have discussions about the future of the city and the region, as well as  exhibitions, lectures and workshops,  where visitors can learn about design and urban planning.

After some inactivity, in 2013 Spaxman and  a group of architects,  planners and volunteers —  including, renowned Vancouver-based architect  Richard Henriquez, chairman of the board of directors–  revived Urbanarium.  Still a virtual space, Urbanarium’s website was launched a year later.

“This  is by far, one of our  most ambitious programs yet, along with the debate series,” says  Jamaican-born Henriquez in a phone interview. He arrived first in Manitoba as a teenager  in the late 1950s, but has called Vancouver home since 1967.

This exhibition aims  to expose the city’s  issues and “get people thinking about the choices that might have to make in the future as time goes on”.

Henriquez  is the founding partner of Henriquez Partners Architects, recipient of numerous accolades, and the creative force behind iconic estructures, such as the Gaslight Square, the New Westminster’s Justice Institute of BC and the Sinclair Centre.


Your future home exhibition will feature  a 1,400-square-foot model, a sort of a real estate “sales centre,” advertising new condominiums.

“Except that instead of showing off one building, we are showing off the whole city. (…) It’s a miniature model of Vancouver, ” Henriquez explained.

This model will include photographs, infographics, animations, dramatic models, panoramic images relating to Vancouver’s downtown and suburban neighbourhoods. Visitors will have the opportunity to discuss the future scenarios, offer feedback and propose new solutions.

 Image courtesy of Richard Henriquez.

Image courtesy of Richard Henriquez.

The second part introduces about 20 different scenarios focused on ideas  about ways to improves  the city in the future. “They have to do with  affordability, public open space, transportation  and increasing density, which is a big concern for a lot of people.”

Some of the case studies will also include the Arbutus Lands redevelopment, the  expansion of the CPR line to Marpole, possible changes in  Granville Island, and new ways of  heating buildings in the Downtown area and sustainability issues.

One of the future scenarios will feature a 2,500-foot vertical city as a three-dimensional model, a representation of Granville Street turned on end to run vertically, to be displayed in the “Urban Grid.’ It’s a lesson about  scale and people’s  changing notions of scale over time.

Among the various topics, high sky home prices is certainly the most urgent issue in Vancouver. “There  is a lot of pressure from outside people to get housing,”  says  Henriquez.  A foreign investor can buy six or eight apartments at a time  – most likely to remain empty.

“Vancouver is like a bank (…)  It’s a safe place to park money.”  Henriquez says he thinks it’s the federal government’s responsibility to look into this matter.

On a municipal level,  the City of Vancouver and developers are working together to create affordable  housing in the benefit of low-income individuals.  Developers are allowed to build condominiums at a higher density than usual, in exchange the City will get 20% of the suites for free.

From an architectural point of view — although Henriquez doesn’t advocate for it — miniaturization of suites is another option. “In designs with very small spaces, everything is multiuse, so you can shrink the space and still live in.”


During the exhibition, members of the public will have the chance to participate in six Oxford-style  debates  among architectural, real estate and urban planning experts, by casting their votes with mobile devices.

The debates  will take place at the Robson Square, except for first one to be held at  the MOV  on January 20th (Free admission by donation –currently sold out), which will focus on densification of neighbourhoods.  The debates will be a yearly affair, depending on their success.

For more information visit: MOV’s website.


Students can learn coding with a new $5 computer

You can now buy a computer for the price of one beer.

The UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation – a charity promoting the study of basic computer science to schools – announced the Raspberry Pi Zero, a tiny computer at the cost of $5 USD or about $7 CDN. The first one they first announced was about $33 CDN.

CEO of Raspberry Pi Eben Upton said in a video when he was a child, the high cost of computers where a real barrier for him trying to learn about computers, ”really what we are trying to do with Raspberry Pi is to make sure that cost is never going to be a barrier to anyone who is interested in getting involved in coding.”

The tiny computer has half a gig a ram, an HDMI connector, and SD card and USB slot – allowing users to connect a keyboard, screen and mouse. It also runs applications like Minecraft, Scratch and Sonic Pi.

Raspberry PI has manufactured several tens of thousands Raspberry Pi Zero units so far.

As much as Eben would like to provide free computers, he says they aren’t going to go any cheaper in the foreseeable future, “we’ve gone from the cost of, let’s say four lattes to one latte.”

Study says envy is the main motivator behind Facebook posts

A study by the University of British Columbia says jealousy and self-importance drives Facebook users to portray their best selves through their posts.

Researchers say this cycle of comparison with others leads to a decrease in metal well-being.

“Social media participation has been linked to depression, anxiety and narcissistic behaviour, but the reasons haven’t been well-explained,” says Sauder School of Business Professor Izak Benbasat. “We found envy to be the missing link.”

According to Benbasat, travel photos cause the most Facebook envy, pushing friends to posts their best pictures. He says the posts aren’t fueled by the need to compete, but rather the need to keep up appearances.

Benbasat and his team of collaborators from the Sauder School of Business led the study. The team surveyed about 1,000 Facebook users from a German university then asked the students a series of questions about their Facebook habits – cross-referencing their responses with the feelings they reported when using the site.

Image courtesy of: Flickr

“Sharing pictures and stories about the highlights of your life – that’s so much of what Facebook is for, so you can’t take that away… but I think it’s important for people to know what impact it can have on their well-being,” says Benbasat.