AI Weekly: What can AI tell us about social unrest, virus structures, and carbon emissions?

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Applying data science to predict unrest. AI that can predict the next type of COVID-19 formation. Reducing carbon emissions from aircraft using algorithms. There are some headlines from AI this week, heading out the door (how AI can prevent the next attack on the US Capitol) to the erection (greening air travel). It warns of optimism, but still a breath of fresh air in a community that is becoming increasingly arrogant about the ability of technology to function well.

Wired first reported that researchers at the University of North Carolina used AI systems, including Alphabet-owned Deepmind and University of Washington’s Rosittifold, to predict the protein structure of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19. Ford was able to predict a formation that was “very true” – an impressive feat, as scientists reached their conclusion before they were able to accurately map the composition of Omicron.

AI promises to speed up certain processes in drug discovery and virology, for example, identifying compounds for the treatment of drugs for which drugs remain elusive. But Shriram Subramaniam, a professor at the University of British Columbia who studied Omicron samples, told The Register that access to the actual sample still beats algorithmic models. AI still cannot predict things like binding to host cells of new virus variants, for example, or those types of infections.

Predicting social unrest

Could AI possibly predict events like the January 6 attack on the US Capitol? A section of The Washington Post this week investigates the matter. While consensus is mixed, some researchers believe that algorithms may serve as early indicators of violence in regions beyond major political conflicts.

The prediction of unrest, also known as the prediction of conflict, is a growing field in academia and industry. He and his practitioners, such as the University of Central Florida coupecast, aim to design systems that take into account variables (e.g., the role of the mob leader, the long-term democratic history) to determine whether, for example, elections. Violence can happen. .

Those who are bullish on technology say it has already revealed surprising insights, such as the social media conflict is an incredible indicator of real-world unrest. But others warn that it is a little better than chance in terms of accuracy – and could be used to justify a crackdown on peaceful protests.

“Actors respond,” Roudabeh Kishi, director of innovation at the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, told The Post, a group engaged in conflict forecast research. “If people are changing their tactics, the model trained on historical data will miss it.”

Reducing jet emissions

The global aviation industry produces about 2% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. If they were one country, all the airlines in the industry – some of which operate thousands of almost empty flights to hold expensive airport slots – would be ranked in the top ten in the world.

Like other greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide leads to climate change, leading to disease caused by extreme weather, large wildfires, fog and air pollution, disruption of food supply and other effects. In an effort to counteract this, some airlines, including Air France, Norwegian, Malaysia Airlines, Cebu Pacific, GoAir and Atlas Air, turn to data-trained algorithms from billions of flights to identify emissions-reduction opportunities. OpenAirine’s Skybreath – a system recently adopted by Air France – could reduce total fuel consumption by up to 5%.

Other startups, such as Flyways, are building AI-powered platforms that try to optimize aircraft routing, providing instructions on how and where to fly the plane. During a six-month pilot program at Alaska Airlines, Flyways claims it removed five minutes from flights and saved an average of 480-thousand gallons of jet fuel.

Some critics argue that airlines are not moving fast enough; They call for a phased exit from short-haul flights to Europe, among other footprint-reducing measures. But considering the long road ahead to meaningfully reduce the world’s carbon output, everything helps.

“If you went a little slower, you were on time, you had a gate, and because you went a little slower, because the airplane really burns less fuel, it would be a win / win combination for both the guest and the operation. Diana Birket Raco, senior sustainability VP at Alaska Airlines, told ABC News.

For AI coverage, send news tips to Kyle Wiggers – and be sure to subscribe to the AI ​​weekly newsletter and bookmark our AI channel, The Machine.

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Kyle Wiggers

AI Staff Writer


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