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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Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities Workshop Forum + Workshop

IdeasXChange’s first 2016 workshop was constructed upon the words “resilient”, “sustainable” and “community”, presenting the importance of knowledge translation through collaborative learning and productive conversations.

The ‘Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities’ workshop on February 11th was facilitated by three graduate students from the UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning: Maria Trujillo, Aaron Lau and Emmy Ann Lee. It initiated an innovative and engaging conversation with the panelists and knowledge experts of the night: Ross Moster, Ericka Stephens-Rennie and Elvy del Bianco.

The main discussions of the night surrounded the questions of how “healthy communities promoting a sense of belonging, collaboration and happiness” can be created. The workshop provided a chance for students, alumni and Vancouverites to picture and plan out their perfect community, as well as the opportunity to learn from the panelists about the different community consolidating resources around Vancouver.

Constructing “connected and sociable communities” was discussed as the core step to building a better world, and the panelists of the night kindly shared their knowledge and passion in their respective community building efforts at the workshop.

The panelists and knowledge experts shared their achievements and passion for sustainable community building, consolidation and engagement with the workshop participants.

Founder and President of ‘Village Vancouver’ Ross Moster, is a committed member of ‘Car-free Vancouver’ and Vancouver’s food policy council – he had accumulated extensive efforts in areas such as food security, as well as collaborative neighbourhood villages and food growing networks.

Moster highlighted the importance of “connecting neighbours and community” to allow the exposure and exchanging of resources – generating a more sustainable and connected community at the local level.

Ericka Stephens-Rennie, spokesperson and resident with ‘Vancouver Co-housing,’ the first co-housing project in Vancouver scheduled to be unveiled in 2016, is passionate about inclusive “community-driven housing solutions,” which allows an effective perspective in sustainable, green multi-cohousing.

The multigenerational ‘Co-housing Vancouver’ project holds 31 units and fosters the physical environment for “meaningful connection and relationships”, as well as “authentic expression” and “a sense of safety and belonging” that can be generated through increased interactions between the residents.

Elvy del Bianco, program manager for cooperative partnerships at Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, discussed the technicality and mechanics of resilient community building. His experience as a policy analyst for various government projects provided a look into the local community development. Del Bianco’s efforts place focus upon cooperatives and networks that can effectively share expertise and forge powerful connections based on purpose-oriented cooperative models.

As the workshop and discussion began, participants were divided into the respective regions of the city: UBC, West Vancouver area and East Vancouver area. A printed map of each region was distributed at the beginning of the workshop, as well as pieces of coloured cards with various keywords to initiate group dialogue.

Participants residing in the same region then discussed among each other about the common facilities and infrastructures that they would like to build in their region, and then mapped them out on the printed map. This activity emphasized change and community building that can be done at the local level – it encourages the sharing and inputting of innovative ideas that can improve the respective regions and communities.

All participants were able to share and express creative ideas on improving the respective regions. They discussed extensively on sustainable or eco-friendly methods to engage local residents to better utilize communal spaces, as well as the resources and spaces where members of these local communities can engage and interact with one another.

An evening with Peter Klein – Emmy-award journalist and former producer of CBS 60 Minutes


Watch IdeasXChange present the 2016 Meet & Greet evening with guest speaker Peter Klein.

An Emmy-Award Winning Journalist and Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, Klein discusses his experience as an investigative journalist and talks about the importance of dialogue between people of different backgrounds and disciplines.

He is also a former producer of CBS News 60 Minutes and in 2009, alongside his colleagues he started the International Reporting Program (IRP) – a UBC project that reports on under-covered global issues around the world.

He is currently turning the IRP into the Global Reporting Centre (GRC), a non-profit organization that follows a similar vision – highlighting important and neglected stories worldwide. The GRC partners with leading reporters and media organizations to produce solutions-oriented journalism.

The IRP’s first project resulted in the Frontline and WORLD documentary investigation, which looked into the international electronic waste trade, earning Klein and his class an Emmy for the Best Investigative Newsmagazine.

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.”

Teen’s invention converts ocean current into energy – at a low cost

Hannah Herbst, 15, from Boca Raton, Florida, might just be one of North America’s top young scientists.

She won first place in the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientists Challenge along with a $25,000 prize – for creating an energy prototype probe that converts ocean currents into energy for just $12 – placing first out of nine other finalists.

Herbst’s probe is made up of low-cost recycle materials creating a hydroelectric generator with a propeller – able to power a small LED light system.

“I really want to end the energy poverty crisis and really help the other methods of renewable energy collection to generate more power and to make our world a better place for everyone,” Herbst says.

She made the probe seeking to create a stable power source to developing countries by using ocean currents. It was inspired by Herbst’s desire to help her 9-year-old pen pal living in Ethiopia who lacks a reliable energy source.

Marine current power is not widely used at the moment, but it has potential for electricity generation in the future. Marine currents are more predicable that solar and wind power.

A 2006 report by the United States Department of the Interior estimated that capturing that 1/1000th of the available energy in the Gulf Stream would supply Florida with 35% of its electrical needs.