People Should Find A Safe Storm Shelter During Thunderstorm

Tuesday June 5, 2001 marked the start of an extremely fascinating time in the annals of my cherished Houston. Tropical storm Allison, that early summer daytime came to see. The thunderstorm went rapidly, although there was Tuesday. Friday, afterward arrived, and Allison returned. This time going slowly, this time in the north. The thunderstorm became still. Thousands of people driven from their houses. Only when they might be desired most, several leading hospitals shut. Dozens of important surface roads, and every important highway covered in water that was high.

Yet even prior to the rain stopped, service to others, and narratives of Christian compassion started to be composed. For a couples class, about 75 people had assembled at Lakewood Church among the greatest nondenominational churches in The United States. From time they got ready to depart the waters had climbed so high they were stranded. The facility of Lakewood stayed dry and high at the center of among the hardest hit parts of town. Refugees in the powerful thunderstorm started arriving at their doorstep. Without no advance preparation, and demand of official sanction, those 75 classmates started a calamity shelter that grew to hold over 3,000 customers. The greatest of over 30 refuges that could be established in the height of the thunderstorm.

Where help was doled out to those who’d suffered losses after Lakewood functioned as a Red Cross Service Center. When it became clear that FEMA aid, and Red Cross wouldn’t bring aid enough, Lakewood and Second Baptist joined -Houston to produce an adopt a family plan to greatly help get folks on their feet quicker. In the occasions that followed militaries of Christians arrived in both churches. From all over town, people of economical standing, race, and each and every denomination collected. Wet rotted carpeting were pulled up, sheet stone removed. Piles of clothes donated food and bed clothes were doled out. Elbow grease and cleaning equipment were used to start eliminating traces of the damage.

It would have been an excellent example of practical ministry in a period of disaster, in the event the story stopped here, but it continues. A great many other churches functioned as shelters as well as in the occasions that followed Red Cross Service Centers. Tons of new volunteers, a lot of them Christians put to work, and were put through accelerated training. That Saturday, I used to be trapped in my own, personal subdivision. Particular that my family was safe because I worked in Storm Shelters OKC that was near where I used to live. What they wouldn’t permit the storm to do, is take their demand to give their religion, or their self respect. I saw so a lot of people as they brought gifts of food, clothes and bedclothes, praising the Lord. I saw young kids coming making use of their parents to not give new, rarely used toys to kids who had none.

Unity Church of Christianity from a location across town impacted by the storm sent a sizable way to obtain bedding as well as other supplies. A tiny troupe of musicians and Christian clowns requested to be permitted to amuse the kids in the shelter where I served and arrived. We of course promptly taken their offer. The kids were collected by them in a sizable empty space of flooring. They sang, they told stories, balloon animals were made by them. The kids, frightened, at least briefly displaced laughed.

When not occupied elsewhere I did lots of listening. I listened to survivors that were disappointed, and frustrated relief workers. I listened to kids make an effort to take advantage of a scenario they could not comprehend. All these are only the stories I have heard or seen. I am aware that spiritual groups, Churches, and lots of other individual Christians functioned admirably. I do need to thank them for the attempts in disaster. I thank The Lord for supplying them to serve.

I didn’t write its individuals, or this which means you’d feel sorry for Houston. As this disaster unfolded yet what I saw encouraged my beliefs the Lord will provide through our brothers and sisters in religion for us. Regardless how awful your community hits, you the individual Christian can be a part of the remedy. Those blankets you can probably never use, and have stored away mean much to people who have none. You are able to help in the event that you can drive. You are able to help if you’re able to create a cot. It is possible to help in the event that you can scrub a wall. It is possible to help if all you are able to do is sit and listen. Large catastrophes like Allison get lots of focus. However a disaster can come in virtually any size. That is a serious disaster to your family that called it home in case a single household burns. It is going to be generations prior to the folks here forget Allison.

United States Oil and Gas Exploration Opportunities

Firms investing in this sector can research, develop and create, as well as appreciate the edges of a global gas and oil portfolio with no political and economical disadvantages. Allowing regime and the US financial conditions is rated amongst the world and the petroleum made in US is sold at costs that were international. The firms will likely gain as US also has a national market that is booming. Where 500 exploration wells are drilled most of the petroleum exploration in US continues to be concentrated around the Taranaki Basin. On the other hand, the US sedimentary basins still remain unexplored and many show existence of petroleum seeps and arrangements were also unveiled by the investigation data with high hydrocarbon potential. There have already been onshore gas discoveries before including Great south river basins, East Coast Basin and offshore Canterbury.

As interest in petroleum is expected to grow strongly during this interval but this doesn’t automatically dim the bright future expectations in this sector. The interest in petroleum is anticipated to reach 338 PJ per annum. The US government is eager to augment the gas and oil supply. As new discoveries in this sector are required to carry through the national demand at the same time as raise the amount of self reliance and minimize the cost on imports of petroleum the Gas and Oil exploration sector is thought to be among the dawn sectors. The US government has invented a distinctive approach to reach its petroleum and gas exploration targets. It’s developed a “Benefit For Attempt” model for Petroleum and Gas exploration tasks in US.

The “Benefit For Attempt” in today’s analytic thinking is defined as oil reserves found per kilometer drilled. It will help in deriving the estimate of reservations drilled for dollar and each kilometer spent for each investigation. The authorities of US has revealed considerable signs that it’ll bring positive effects of change which will favor investigation of new oil reserves since the price of investigation has adverse effects on investigation task. The Authorities of US has made the information accessible about the oil potential in its study report. Foil of advice in royalty and allocation regimes, and simplicity of processes have enhanced the attractiveness of Petroleum and Natural Gas Sector in the United States.

Petroleum was the third biggest export earner in 2008 for US and the chance to to keep up the growth of the sector is broadly accessible by manners of investigation endeavors that are new. The government is poised to keep the impetus in this sector. Now many firms are active with new exploration jobs in the Challenger Plateau of the United States, Northland East Slope Basin region, outer Taranaki Basin, and Bellona Trough region. The 89 Energy oil and gas sector guarantees foreign investors as government to high increase has declared a five year continuance of an exemption for offshore petroleum and gas exploration in its 2009 budget. The authorities provide nonresident rig operators with tax breaks.

Modern Robot Duct Cleaning Uses

AC systems, and heat, venting collect pollutants and contaminants like mold, debris, dust and bacteria that can have an adverse impact on indoor air quality. Most folks are at present aware that indoor air pollution could be a health concern and increased visibility has been thus gained by the area. Studies have also suggested cleaning their efficacy enhances and is contributory to a longer operating life, along with maintenance and energy cost savings. The cleaning of the parts of forced air systems of heat, venting and cooling system is what’s called duct cleaning. Robots are an advantageous tool raising the price and efficacy facets of the procedure. Therefore, using modern robot duct isn’t any longer a new practice.

A cleaner, healthier indoor environment is created by a clean air duct system which lowers energy prices and increases efficiency. As we spend more hours inside air duct cleaning has become an important variable in the cleaning sector. Indoor pollutant levels can increase. Health effects can show years or up immediately after repeated or long exposure. These effects range from some respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer that can be deadly or debilitating. Therefore, it’s wise to ensure indoor air quality isn’t endangered inside buildings. Dangerous pollutants that can found in inside can transcend outdoor air pollutants in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duct cleaning from Air Duct Cleaning Edmond professionals removes microbial contaminants, that might not be visible to the naked eye together with both observable contaminants. Indoor air quality cans impact and present a health hazard. Air ducts can be host to a number of health hazard microbial agents. Legionnaires Disease is one malaise that’s got public notice as our modern surroundings supports the development of the bacteria that has the potential to cause outbreaks and causes the affliction. Typical disorder-causing surroundings contain wetness producing gear such as those in air conditioned buildings with cooling towers that are badly maintained. In summary, in building and designing systems to control our surroundings, we’ve created conditions that were perfect . Those systems must be correctly tracked and preserved. That’s the secret to controlling this disorder.

Robots allow for the occupation while saving workers from exposure to be done faster. Signs of the technological progress in the duct cleaning business is apparent in the variety of gear now available for example, array of robotic gear, to be used in air duct cleaning. Robots are priceless in hard to reach places. Robots used to see states inside the duct, now may be used for spraying, cleaning and sampling procedures. The remote controlled robotic gear can be fitted with practical and fastener characteristics to reach many different use functions.

Video recorders and a closed circuit television camera system can be attached to the robotic gear to view states and operations and for documentation purposes. Inside ducts are inspected by review apparatus in the robot. Robots traveling to particular sections of the system and can move around barriers. Some join functions that empower cleaning operation and instruction manual and fit into little ducts. An useful view range can be delivered by them with models delivering disinfection, cleaning, review, coating and sealing abilities economically.

The remote controlled robotic gear comes in various sizes and shapes for different uses. Of robotic video cameras the first use was in the 80s to record states inside the duct. Robotic cleaning systems have a lot more uses. These devices provide improved accessibility for better cleaning and reduce labor costs. Lately, functions have been expanded by areas for the use of small mobile robots in the service industries, including uses for review and duct cleaning.

More improvements are being considered to make a tool that was productive even more effective. If you determine to have your ventilation, heat and cooling system cleaned, it’s important to make sure all parts of the system clean and is qualified to achieve this. Failure to clean one part of a contaminated system can lead to re-contamination of the entire system.

When To Call A DWI Attorney

Charges or fees against a DWI offender need a legal Sugar Land criminal defense attorney that is qualified dismiss or so that you can reduce charges or the fees. So, undoubtedly a DWI attorney is needed by everyone. Even if it’s a first-time violation the penalties can be severe being represented by a DWI attorney that is qualified is vitally significant. If you’re facing following charges for DWI subsequently the punishments can contain felony charges and be severe. Locating an excellent attorney is thus a job you should approach when possible.

So you must bear in mind that you just should hire a DWI attorney who practices within the state where the violation occurred every state within America will make its laws and legislation regarding DWI violations. It is because they are going to have the knowledge and expertise of state law that is relevant to sufficiently defend you and will be knowledgeable about the processes and evaluations performed to establish your guilt.

As your attorney they are going to look to the evaluations that have been completed at the time of your arrest and the authorities evidence that is accompanying to assess whether or not these evaluations were accurately performed, carried out by competent staff and if the right processes where followed. It isn’t often that a police testimony is asserted against, although authorities testimony also can be challenged in court.

You should attempt to locate someone who specializes in these kind of cases when you start trying to find a DWI attorney. Whilst many attorneys may be willing to consider on your case, a lawyer who specializes in these cases is required by the skilled knowledge needed to interpret the scientific and medical evaluations ran when you had been detained. The first consultation is free and provides you with the chance to to inquire further about their experience in fees and these cases.

Many attorneys will work according into a fee that is hourly or on a set fee basis determined by the kind of case. You may find how they have been paid to satisfy your financial situation and you will have the capacity to negotiate the conditions of their fee. If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney that is private you then can request a court-appointed attorney paid for by the state. Before you hire a DWI attorney you should make sure when you might be expected to appear in court and you understand the precise charges imposed against you.

How Credit Card Works

The credit card is making your life more easy, supplying an amazing set of options. The credit card is a retail trade settlement; a credit system worked through the little plastic card which bears its name. Regulated by ISO 7810 defines credit cards the actual card itself consistently chooses the same structure, size and contour. A strip of a special stuff on the card (the substance resembles the floppy disk or a magnetic group) is saving all the necessary data. This magnetic strip enables the credit card’s validation. The layout has become an important variable; an enticing credit card layout is essential in ensuring advice and its dependability keeping properties.

A credit card is supplied to the user just after a bank approves an account, estimating a varied variety of variables to ascertain fiscal dependability. This bank is the credit supplier. When a purchase is being made by an individual, he must sign a receipt to verify the trade. There are the card details, and the amount of cash to be paid. You can find many shops that take electronic authority for the credit cards and use cloud tokenization for authorization. Nearly all verification are made using a digital verification system; it enables assessing the card is not invalid. If the customer has enough cash to insure the purchase he could be attempting to make staying on his credit limit any retailer may also check.

As the credit supplier, it is as much as the banks to keep the user informed of his statement. They typically send monthly statements detailing each trade procedures through the outstanding fees, the card and the sums owed. This enables the cardholder to ensure all the payments are right, and to discover mistakes or fraudulent action to dispute. Interest is typically charging and establishes a minimal repayment amount by the end of the following billing cycle.

The precise way the interest is charged is normally set within an initial understanding. On the rear of the credit card statement these elements are specified by the supplier. Generally, the credit card is an easy type of revolving credit from one month to another. It can also be a classy financial instrument, having many balance sections to afford a greater extent for credit management. Interest rates may also be not the same as one card to another. The credit card promotion services are using some appealing incentives find some new ones along the way and to keep their customers.

Why Get Help From A Property Management?

One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the revenue of your rental home would be to engage and contact property management in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If you wish to know more and are considering the product please browse the remainder of the post. Leasing out your bit of real property may be real cash-cow as many landlords understand, but that cash flow usually includes a tremendous concern. Night phones from tenants that have the trouble of marketing the house if you own an emptiness just take out lots of the pleasure of earning money off of leases, overdue lease payments which you must chase down, as well as over-flowing lavatories. One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the earnings would be to engage a property management organization.

These businesses perform as the go between for the tenant as well as you. The tenant will not actually need to understand who you’re when you hire a property management company. The company manages the day to day while you still possess the ability to help make the final judgements in regards to the home relationships using the tenant. The company may manage the marketing for you personally, for those who are in possession of a unit that is vacant. Since the company is going to have more connections in a bigger market than you’ve got along with the industry than you are doing, you’ll discover your device gets stuffed a whole lot more quickly making use of their aid. In addition, the property management company may care for testing prospective tenants. With regards to the arrangement you’ve got, you might nevertheless not be unable to get the last say regarding if a tenant is qualified for the the system, but of locating a suitable tenant, the day-to-day difficulty is not any longer your problem. They’ll also manage the before-move-in the reviews as well as reviews required following a tenant moves away.

It is possible to step back watching the profits, after the the system is stuffed. Communicating will be handled by the company with all the tenant if you have an issue. You won’t be telephoned if this pipe explosions at the center of the night time. Your consultant is called by the tenant in the company, who then makes the preparations that are required to get the issue repaired with a care supplier. You get a phone call a day later or may not know there was an issue before you register using the business. The property management organization may also make your leasing obligations to to get. The company will do what’s required to accumulate if your tenant is making a payment. In certain arrangements, the organization is going to also take-over paying taxation, insurance, and the mortgage on the portion of property. You actually need to do-nothing but appreciate after after all the the invoices are paid, the revenue which is sent your way.

With all the advantages, you’re probably questioning exactly what to employing a property management organization, the downside should be. From hiring one the primary variable that stops some landlords is the price. All these providers will be paid for by you. The price must be weighed by you from the time frame you’ll save time that you may subsequently use to follow additional revenue-producing efforts or just take pleasure in the fruits of your expense work.

Benifits From An Orthodontic Care

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry centered on the identification and treatment of dental and related facial problems. The outcomes of Norman Orthodontist OKC treatment could be dramatic — an advanced quality of life for a lot of individuals of ages and lovely grins, improved oral health health, aesthetics and increased cosmetic tranquility. Whether into a look dentistry attention is needed or not is an individual’s own choice. Situations are tolerated by most folks like totally various kinds of bite issues or over bites and don’t get treated. Nevertheless, a number people sense guaranteed with teeth that are correctly aligned, appealing and simpler. Dentistry attention may enhance construct and appearance power. It jointly might work with you consult with clearness or to gnaw on greater.

Orthodontic attention isn’t only decorative in character. It might also gain long term oral health health. Right, correctly aligned teeth is not more difficult to floss and clean. This may ease and decrease the risk of rot. It may also quit periodontists irritation that problems gums. Periodontists might finish in disease, that occurs once micro-organism bunch round your house where the teeth and the gums meet. Periodontists can be ended in by untreated periodontists. Such an unhealthiness result in enamel reduction and may ruin bone that surrounds the teeth. Less may be chewed by people who have stings that are harmful with efficacy. A few of us using a serious bite down side might have difficulties obtaining enough nutrients. Once the teeth aren’t aimed correctly, this somewhat might happen. Morsel issues that are repairing may allow it to be more easy to chew and digest meals.

One may also have language problems, when the top and lower front teeth do not arrange right. All these are fixed through therapy, occasionally combined with medical help. Eventually, remedy may ease to avoid early use of rear areas. Your teeth grow to an unlikely quantity of pressure, as you chew down. In case your top teeth do not match it’ll trigger your teeth that are back to degrade. The most frequently encountered type of therapy is the braces (or retainer) and head-gear. But, a lot people complain about suffering with this technique that, unfortunately, is also unavoidable. Sport braces damages, as well as additional individuals have problem in talking. Dental practitioners, though, state several days can be normally disappeared throughout by the hurting. Occasionally annoyance is caused by them. In the event that you’d like to to quit more unpleasant senses, fresh, soft and tedious food must be avoided by you. In addition, tend not to take your braces away unless the medical professional claims so.

It is advised which you just observe your medical professional often for medical examinations to prevent choice possible problems that may appear while getting therapy. You are going to be approved using a specific dental hygiene, if necessary. Dental specialist may look-out of managing and id malocclusion now. Orthodontia – the main specialization of medication – mainly targets repairing chin problems and teeth, your grin as well as thus your sting. Dentist, however, won’t only do chin remedies and crisis teeth. They also handle tender to severe dental circumstances which may grow to states that are risky. You actually have not got to quantify throughout a predicament your life all. See dental specialist San – Direction Posts, and you’ll notice only but of stunning your smile plenty will soon be.

Helping Mexico design an effective climate policy

As nations gathered in Bonn, Germany, for this year’s UN climate summit, one item on their agenda was determining whether pledged climate efforts are sufficient to achieve the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Researchers at MIT have been working with the Mexican government to explore policy options that can help the country meet its international commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 22 percent by 2030, compared with business as usual. According to their analysis, this could be achieved by putting a modest additional price on carbon.

Carbon pricing has emerged as an important policy tool for countries (and subnational governments) as they work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the predominant cause of climate change. Policymakers confront a choice when developing carbon pricing policies: They can tax carbon emissions directly; implement a system known as cap-and-trade, wherein governments issue a limited number of pollution permits and allow companies to trade them; or they can use a combination of the two.

The MIT analysis, led by researchers Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research, and Emil Dimantchev, a graduate student in the MIT Technology and Policy Program, focused on this third, hybrid approach, exploring how Mexico can implement a cap-and-trade program alongside its existing carbon tax. They identify and discuss a number of different combinations, for instance using the tax as a floor price to keep carbon prices from falling too low.

The authors concluded that adding a relatively low carbon price — $3 per ton of emissions in 2030 — to Mexico’s existing climate policies, including a carbon tax already in place, would be enough to help the country meet its commitment of reducing emissions by 22 percent compared with a baseline in which no new policies are adopted to slow Mexico’s emissions growth. This 22 percent reduction would cut Mexico’s emissions growth roughly in half, to less than 1 percent per year.

The analysis found that a number of factors, including low natural gas prices and a requirement that 35 percent of Mexico’s electricity sales must come from clean energy sources by 2024, would contribute to slowing emissions growth. A hybrid tax and cap-and-trade system would complete the picture, helping to drive emissions growth even lower.

Mehling highlighted Mexico’s experience in accelerating its rate of economic growth while decelerating its rate of emissions growth. “Mexico is proving to the rest of the world that a developing country can rein in emissions while continuing to grow its economy,” he says.

In 2012, Mexico’s Congress unanimously passed the General Law on Climate Change, making Mexico the first developing country with a comprehensive climate change law. In October 2016, Mehling and Dimantchev began advising the Mexican federal government on the design of its national climate policy.

Dimantchev, who is also a research assistant with the research group of MIT Associate Professor Noelle Selin and with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, says this kind of analysis can help policymakers manage uncertainty when developing long-term policies. “Our ability to forecast the future is very limited, which is why it’s important that policymakers not design policies based on a single projection of the future,” he says.

For this reason, Dimantchev notes, the report uses Monte Carlo simulations to estimate a range of emissions pathways and their implications for Mexico’s climate policy, allowing the authors to make recommendations for a hybrid carbon pricing policy that keeps prices from going as low as zero or as high as $100 or more per ton. “To induce action from the private sector, climate policies have to be more predictable, something with which hybrid carbon pricing can help,” Mehling adds.

The MIT researchers worked closely with officials from the federal Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Ministry of Finance (SHCP), including Juan Carlos Arredondo Brun SM ’04, who now serves as director general for climate change policies at SEMARNAT, and Carlos Muñoz-Piña, director general for revenue policy at SHCP. Earlier this year, they traveled to Mexico City to discuss their initial findings with officials from both agencies, including Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo SM ’05, the undersecretary of planning and environmental policy at SEMARNAT.

“The MIT report has been helpful to my team as we explore how our existing carbon tax can operate alongside a future cap-and-trade system in Mexico,” Lacy says.

The German Agency for International Cooperation, which operates the Mexican-German Climate Alliance, funded the analysis.

Utah Native Kelsey Chugg Wins National Championship

Kelsey Chugg Wins National Golf Tournament

kelsey chugg takes to the greensGolf, as is generally known, doesn’t get easier with age, agreeing Bernhard Langer’s pursuit to establish differently. So it was that if the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship came down to a struggle of generations, youth prevailed.

Kelsey Chugg, 26, a four-time Utah Women’s State Amateur champion, shot her down 58-year-old competition, Mary Jane Hiestand, 1 and 3, in the closing on the Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf Club in Houston on Thursday.
“Unbelievable,” she explained. “It has only been a crazy week, and only really a great deal of pleasure to be out here in the Champions Golf Club. I can not believe I pulled it off. ”

The success gives Chugg an exemption to the U.S. Women’s Open next year. “That is a fantasy,” she explained. “I do not even understand how to describe it. It is really cool. I am so pumped to go to the U.S. Open. That has been a lifelong aim. I am only taking a look at the decoration on the market. Like that is so cool. ”

The reduction, meanwhile, deprived Hiestand of the in addition to an exemption to the very first U.S. Senior Women’s Open at 2018.

At least, Hiestand surpassed her own expectations by hitting the Women’s Mid-Am closing, as she mentioned on Wednesday. “I did not expect to be here,” she explained. “The Mid-Am, I had been planning to give this up for some time, and I moved to be eligible because it had been at Naples, and here I’m in my first final ever.”

A house game turned into a road trip for Hiestand, who resides in Naples, Fla. Initially, this Mid-Amateur was scheduled to be performed at Quail Creek Country Club at Naples, five minutes from Hiestand’s home. However, Hurricane Irma compelled the championship to be transferred, and Champions Golf Club owners Jackie and Robin Burke stepped up and volunteered their program. Naples is notorious for its beautiful weather and fashionable golfers. Many of the women here can be seen sporting a Golf Skort from women’s golf-fashion gurus

Apart from spotting her competitor 32 decades, Hiestand also saw her a 4-up edge through 13 holes, a hard and ultimately insurmountable barrier from the 18-hole championship game. Hiestand won the 14th and 16th holes with pars, but three-putted from roughly 65 ft about the par-4 17th hole, then surrendered Chugg’s short par putt to finish the match.

“I made nothing,” explained Hiestand, who had been attempting to knock off 2008 winner Joan Higgins since the earliest winner, by six decades. “It was absolutely the gap. It is a putter’s golf program. For me to not earn anything is amazing, but you need those days. She made everything now. Kudos to her, because that is exactly what is needed to win a tournament. She is a really good player. ”

Not one of those golf from tee to green qualified as unforgettable. Neither player made one birdie, therefore the six holes which Chugg won along with the three which Hiestand won were all fastened with pars. Hiestand, incidentally, broke into the lead by holing a 22-foot par putt on the first hole. However, Chugg immediately took charge of the game by winning the second, third and fifth holes with pars to go up 2. She won the 10th hole with a different level to boost her guide to go up 3.

Given her era benefit and disability, Chugg was a probably favorite anyhow, notwithstanding Hiestand’s experience. Chugg, the membership manager in the Utah Golf institution in Salt Lake City, plays into a +2.1 handicap indicator at Schneiter’s Riverside Golf Club.
Hiestand, that performs into a +0.2 handicap indicator at Hideout Golf Club at Naples.

Chugg also follows in intriguing trend in the Women’s Mid-Amateur, in which the previous four winners happen to be at least the minimum 25 decades old to compete, but none has ever been older than 28.

3 Questions: Lisa Parks on drones, warfare, and the media

Drones have become a common part of warfare — but their use remains a subject of public contention. Lisa Parks, a professor in MIT’s program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing and director of its Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab, has spent extensive time analyzing this public debate. Now, she has co-edited a new volume examining the subject, while contributing a piece to it herself. The book, “Life in the Age of Drone Warfare,” has just been published by Duke University Press. MIT News talked with Parks this week about the impact and public perception of drones.

Q: We know much more about drones now, in 2017, than we did several years ago. How has the public understanding of drones evolved?

A: When the story first broke in 2009 about a secret CIA drone war on the Afghan/Pakistan border, there were many follow-up investigative reports. You also saw a lot of discussion in the news media suggesting  that drones represented a “humane” kind of warfare, that they allowed the U.S. to minimize casualties through precision targeting in the war theater. … Drones, the logic went, made war more clean and antiseptic. Then people began to drill down more deeply and listen to public sentiment from around the world, as there were mass demonstrations, peaking in 2014, against drone wars, not only in Pakistan but also in London and Washington, D.C. Drones were being used in the war in Iraq, and Syria, and Libya as well … and [people were] trying to document in photographs and testimonials what these scenes looked like after a U.S. strike. So the picture became a little more complicated at that point, and there was more vociferous opposition and antiwar activity in relation to military drone technology.

Q: You have an essay in this book about the “vertical mediation” effect drones have, that is, that they are changing conditions on the ground just by being in the air. Could you explain this idea a little more?

A: I came at this topic as a media scholar who had studied war, media, and satellites in the past … and I was not satisfied with the existing media theories that were available. When you think about drones in the military context, you can’t limit the analysis to [drones] being like a video game, because the effects of the drone’s movements can change the material conditions in the air and on the ground. So we need a theory of what I call “vertical mediation” to grapple with the transformations that are happening between orbit and the ground. Drones, just by moving over an area, are [altering] life on Earth, reorganizing where and how people move, what their disposition is or what their feeling is about the sky above them — and who they want to be around and who they try to avoid. When drones are operating in an area over time, above a certain region, they change the status of sites and motions on the ground.

Q: But how different are drones from previous military tools? We had video game-like imagery from Gulf War in 1991, and there have been aerial bombing campaigns throughout the 20th century, which also altered how people act on the ground.

A: In the book we try to make clear that current forms of drone warfare are part of a longer history of aerial militarization, that this is not unique to the era of the drone. One chapter of the book, for instance, focuses on drone experiments during World War II. Today’s military drones arguably make warfare more flexible and mobile, but they still require extensive ground infrastructure, not to mention agreements with host countries. One of the most distinguishing aspects of drone use is that they have been mobilized to fight wars without public deliberation. Drones are being used right now, not just for warfare but for patrolling, [which] is a sign of how available they are to be mobilized. As a humanist and a social scientist, I’m very interested in the effects of drone use, on societies, economies, and cultures in different parts of the world.

Some critics align the drone with a kind of totalitarian tendency. There is a parody called “The Ethical Governor,” which is about a world in which the drones run everything for us, and we delegate the power of public administration and governance to these automated entities. And that’s one vision, where the human becomes subservient to this new level of automation.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of optimism and DIY-hobbist, civilian-based impetus in drone technology too. We see a lot of that here at MIT. I never think a technology is just one thing. A lot of people are trying to design drones to do good things. Those efforts are sincere and important. At the same time, we [can] be surprised even by technologies designed to do good things: What happens if civilian drones get weaponized? We really need to be thinking about the complex potentials of a technology like the drone, and the different kinds of agencies or capabilities it enables. That’s what our book tries to investigate while bringing some new voices into the conversation who have the social good at heart.

Using art to disrupt systems of oppression

In today’s social climate, which is often characterized by polarization and intolerance, visiting artist B. Stephen Carpenter II believes that art can enable people to have civil conversations about difficult topics such as race, segregation, and poverty in the U.S.

During the fall semester, Carpenter, the Ida Ely Rubin Artist in Residence at the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), was invited to MIT by Ford Professor of Environmental and Urban Planning Lawrence Susskind, to explore different perspectives by examining issues of access, privilege and the global water crisis. From Nov. 16 to 18, Carpenter will return to MIT to conclude his residency by delving into how the act of teaching — in addition to the practice of creating art — can be directed at disrupting systemic oppression.

Carpenter’s work enlists bystanders as collaborators and asks them to reflect upon the experience, purpose, and message in order to move the artwork beyond passive commentary and into the realm of producing action. For instance, in Double Water Fountains, Carpenter juxtaposes a black-and-white filtered, modern image of himself drinking from the lower half of a contemporary, dual water fountain, with Elliott Erwitt’s Segregated Water Fountain, an image that serves as a U.S. cultural touchstone for the civil rights movement, Jim Crow, and segregation. Through the similarity of composition and subject, Carpenter flattens a sense of time and incorporates the photographer, a complete stranger, into conversations about public spaces, our access to those spaces, and how past events haunt our present.

In another example of disruption to systems of oppression and addressing an urban planning problem from the perspective of an artist, Carpenter’s water filter project aims to circumvent economic hurdles that prevent access to clean drinking water. The project grew out of Carpenter’s love of ceramics and the persistent urge to create positive change in the world. Using low-cost and readily available materials in conjunction with a 50-pound, portable press, Carpenter is able to produce water filters that make unsafe water potable. “There is power in simplicity,” Carpenter observes. “These filters cost around $25 and can last up to five years.”

Carpenter’s residency has taken place over three visits to campus, in three different formats for Cambridge and Boston community members to learn about and collaborate in the production of his work. He has led seminars that focused on reflecting on the theory and choices behind Carpenter’s practice. He has also given performances and lectures, engaging the MIT community and inviting them to participate in the continuation of several of his well-known projects. And, he has taken part in community lunches and forums that were specifically aimed at inviting K-12 educators in Massachusetts to incorporate Carpenter’s social engagement in their own teaching.

“Socially engaged art often leads to a reappraisal of what people believe and what they value,” notes Susskind. “If handled effectively, it can produce a self-sustaining dialogue. In a democratic and planning context this is always good.”

The dates of the final visit of Carpenter’s MIT residency are on Nov.16-18. He will focus on how the practice of participating in the creation of art can inform how we teach, define, and appreciate art — and in doing so, how our perception of art changes our world views. By showcasing his previous MIT performances and lectures, Carpenter will illuminate how each individual, whether an artist, student, or teacher, has the opportunity to creatively apply their unique talents to disrupt problematic systems to allow space for positive change.

“The collaboration with MIT,” Carpenter says, “is pushing me to think more about how this work, and other social practice work, offers entry points to areas, questions, or considerations of social, cultural, political, and other lived experiences [that] other disciplines typically study, but only do so through their conventional modes and methods.”

Carpenter is also a professor of art education and African American studies, co-director of the Summer Institute on Contemporary Art (SICA), and chief executive artist for Reservoir Studio at Penn State. He is also a founding faculty member of the summer residency MAT/MA in Art and Design Education at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Editorial team: Sydney Dobkin (CAST), Takeo Kuwabara (DUSP) and Tom Gearty (SA+P)

MIT researchers release evaluation of solar pumps for irrigation and salt mining in India

In 2014, the government of India made an ambitious goal to replace 26 million groundwater pumps run on costly diesel, for more efficient and environmentally-friendly options such as solar pumps.

Groundwater pumps are a critical technology in India, especially for small scale farmers who depend on them for irrigating crops during dry seasons. With the lack of a reliable electrical grid connection, and the high price and variable supply of diesel fuel, solar-powered pumps have great potential to meet farmers’ needs while reducing costs and better preserving natural resources.

MIT researchers have just released a new report evaluating a range of solar pump technologies and business models available in India for irrigation and salt mining to better understand which technologies can best fit farmers’ needs.

The report, “Solar Water Pumps: Technical, Systems, and Business Model Approaches to Evaluation,” details the study design and findings of the latest experimental evaluation implemented by the Comprehensive Initiative on Technology Evaluation (CITE), a program supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by a multidisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students at MIT.

Launched at MIT in 2012, CITE is a pioneering program dedicated to developing methods for product evaluation in global development. CITE researchers evaluate products from three perspectives, including suitability (how well a product performs its purpose), scalability (how well the product’s supply chain effectively reaches consumers), and sustainability (how well the product is used correctly, consistently, and continuously by users over time).

Designing the study to fill information gaps in the market

Despite the tremendous potential for solar pumps to fill a technological need, there is little information available to consumers about what works best for their needs and a wide range of products available for selection.

“There’s a lot of potential for these technologies to make a difference, but there is a large variance in the cost and performance of these pumps, and lot of confusion in finding the right-sized pump for your application,” says Jennifer Green, CITE sustainability research lead and MIT Sociotechnical Systems Research Center research scientist. “In many areas, the only people to turn to for information are the people selling the pumps, so an independent evaluation of the pumps working with our partners provides a third-party, non-biased information alternative.”

To conduct the evaluation, MIT researchers worked closely with the Technology Exchange Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the Gujarat, India-based Self Employed Women’s Association, a trade union that organizes women in India’s informal economy toward full employment and is currently piloting use of solar pumps in their programs.

Researchers tested the technical performance of small solar pump systems in the workshop at MIT D-Lab, and tested larger solar pump systems in communities in India where they were in active use. This allowed for more rigorous, controlled lab testing as well as a more real-life, grounded look at how systems operated in the environment in which they would be deployed. Researchers also used a complex systems modeling technique to examine how the pumps impacted the social, economic, and environmental conditions around them, and how different government policies might impact these conditions at a macro level.

“That was very important because although these are ‘clean pumps’ from the perspective of using solar, there is a concern that there is not a cost incentive to pump less and use less water,” Green says. “When people are using diesel, they pay by the liter, so they use as little as possible. With solar, once people make the capital investment to purchase the equipment, they’re incentivized to pump as much as possible to get a good return on investment and have potential to do serious harm to the groundwater supply.”

Identifying the most appropriate, accessible technologies

In the lab, MIT researchers procured and tested five pumps — the Falcon FCM 115, the Harbor Freight, the Kirloskar SKDS116++, the Rotomag MBP30, and the Shakti SMP1200-20-30. Lab tests on flow rate, priming ease, and overall efficiency demonstrated that two of the lower-cost pumps — the Falcon and the Rotomag — performed the best, and the most expensive pump — the Shakti — performed poorly. MIT researchers also studied pump usage, installing remote sensors in panels and pumps being used in Gujarat, India to ensure that the pumps were being used consistently over the course of a day, and operating properly.

Because solar pumps are often too expensive for small-scale farmers, CITE also conducted a business case analysis to understand what financing mechanisms might make solar pump technology more affordable for these critical end users. For example, researchers looked at government policies such as subsidizing the cost of solar equipment and paying for excess electricity production as a combination that might help farmers make this transition.

“The cost of solar pumps is still prohibitively high for individual farmers to buy them straight out,” Green says. “It will be critical to ensure financing mechanisms are accessible to these users. Coupling solar pump systems with well-thought out government policies and other technologies for minimizing water use is the best approach to optimizing the food-water-energy nexus.”

In addition to the evaluation, CITE created a pump sizing tool that can be used to help farmers understand what size pump they need given their particular field sizes, water requirements, and other factors.

“That gives them more knowledge and power when they go to talk to the water pump manufacturers,” Green says. “If they know what they need, they’re less likely to be talked into buying something too big for their needs. We don’t want them to overpay.”

“CITE’s evaluation work has been a great value-add [for the Self Employed Women’s Association] because we can better understand which pumps are most efficient,” says Reema Nanavaty, director of the Self Employed Women’s Association. “We’re not a technical organization and we did not want to set the livelihoods of these poor salt pan workers by bringing in the wrong kind of pump or an inefficient pump.”

CITE’s research is funded by the USAID U.S. Global Development Lab. CITE is led by principal investigator Bishwapriya Sanyal of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and supported by MIT faculty and staff from D-Lab, the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center, Sociotechnical Systems Research Center, the Center for Transportation and Logistics, School of Engineering, and Sloan School of Management.

In addition to Green, co-authors on this report include CITE research assistants Amit Gandhi, Jonars B. Spielberg, and Christina Sung; Technology Exchange Lab’s Brennan Lake and Éadaoin Ilten; as well as Vandana Pandya and Sara Lynn Pesek.  

MIT to construct new, cutting edge Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel

MIT has announced it will replace its venerable 79-year-old Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel with a new facility that will be the largest and most advanced academic wind tunnel in the United States.

To facilitate construction of the new tunnel and ongoing operations, Boeing has made a funding pledge to become the $18-million-project’s lead donor. Boeing’s gift reflects a century-long relationship between the company and MIT that helped ignite the global aerospace industry, and it confirms a commitment to research and development that will fuel future innovation.

Like its predecessor, the new tunnel will be operated by the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and it will retain the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel name.

The new tunnel will:

  • permit increased test speeds, from the current 150 miles per hour to 200 miles per hour;
  • greatly improve research data acquisition;
  • halve the power requirements of the original 2,000 horsepower fan motor;
  • increase test section volume from 850 cubic feet to 1,600 cubic feet, and test section area from 57 square feet to 80 square feet;
  • improve ability to test autonomous vehicles (“drones”) and aerodynamic components including wings, bodies, and wind turbines; and
  • enable new MIT classes in advanced aerodynamics and fluid mechanics.

Boeing Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, Engineering Test and Technology Greg Hyslop says, “Few relationships in aerospace can compare to the ties between MIT and Boeing. We’re thrilled and gratified to be part of this critically important renovation that will launch our relationship into the second century of aerospace.”

Hyslop noted that a number of Boeing founding leaders studied at MIT, including Donald Douglas Sr. and James S. McDonnell, and Wong Tsu, the first Boeing engineer employed by company founder Bill Boeing. Currently, Boeing employs more than 800 MIT alumni around the world. More than 50 Boeing executives, as well as more than 60 members of the Boeing Technical Fellowship, hold MIT degrees. In addition, Boeing hires on the order of 25 MIT students as interns each year.

“We’ve worked with the great people and facilities at MIT over the decades, and with this gift, we will continue in the years to come,” Hyslop says.

The current tunnel was dedicated in September 1938. From its early days during World War II, when technicians worked around the clock designing military aircraft, testing has branched out to include ground antenna configurations, aircraft and ground structure aeroelasticity, ski gear, space suits, bicycles, motorcycles, subway station entrances, ship sails, wind turbines, solar cars, and, most recently, a design for a clean, quiet, super-efficient commercial aircraft.

Now at the end of its eighth decade, the tunnel is showing its age. It has a drive system that is inefficient, and all aspects of the structure and adjacent controls building are in need of renovations and modernization. As AeroAstro and other MIT departments, labs, and centers use the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel as a teaching and research tool for classes and projects, Boeing’s support of the renovation is vital in enabling MIT to use the tunnel to its maximum potential.

“The new Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel will present MIT with a state-of-the-art research and teaching tool for many years to come,” says AeroAstro department head Jaime Peraire. “We greatly appreciate Boeing’s generosity and commitment to future generations of aerospace engineers and their research.”

The new tunnel will be constructed on the site of the current one, which will be dismantled. The MIT Museum has indicated an interest in preserving artifacts from the 1938 tunnel when they become available. Renovations will be made to MIT Building 17, which houses the control facilities, and direct connection made to AeroAstro workshops. It is expected the project will be completed in 2020.

In acknowledgement of the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel’s storied history, AeroAstro and the MIT Employees’ Activity Committee will sponsor a tunnel open house on Thursday, November 16, from noon until 1:30 p.m. All members of the MIT community are invited to visit and step inside the tunnel (Building 17) which will be running (at low speed) throughout the event.

President Reif: We must build a future in which technology works for everyone

In an op-ed published today in The Boston Globe, MIT President L. Rafael Reif has urged those at the vanguard of the technology revolution to help lead the way in ensuring that automation in the workplace has a positive impact on society.

“We must proactively and thoughtfully reinvent the future of work,” he writes.

In a recent Pew study, 72 percent of Americans reported feeling worried or very worried about a future where robots and computers can do many human jobs. However, Reif notes, past periods of technological and social upheaval have been smoothed by “deliberate, coordinated action,” ultimately leading to overall job growth and other important gains.

Ideas such as universal public education, the GI Bill, and the post-Sputnik focus on science education, he notes, were “broad, far-sighted investments in human development” that allowed the country to recover from disruptive technological and social change. Such coordinated action is needed again now, according to Reif.

“Automation will transform our work, our lives, our society. Whether the outcome is inclusive or exclusive, fair or laissez-faire, is up to us,” he writes.

Technology could be part of the solution, Reif notes. Online education platforms, for example, could enable “continuous uptraining” to help workers aquire new skills and adapt to new economic conditions. Other ideas could involve educators, corporations, unions, the government, and universities such as MIT.

“At MIT, we are deeply engaged in defining the current problem and forecasting challenges ahead, “ he writes in closing. “And we are urgently seeking allies who want to join in developing creative, collaborative solutions — and in building a future in which technology works for everyone.”

No more blackouts?

Today, more than 1.3 billion people are living without regular access to power, including more than 300 million in India and 600 million in sub-Saharan Africa. In these and other developing countries, access to a main power grid, particularly in rural regions, is remote and often unreliable.

Increasingly, many rural and some urban communities are turning to microgrids as an alternative source of electricity. Microgrids are small-scale power systems that supply local energy, typically in the form of solar power, to localized consumers, such as individual households or small villages.  

However, the smaller a power system, the more vulnerable it is to outages. Small disturbances, such as plugging in a certain appliance or one too many phone chargers, can cause a microgrid to destabilize and short out.

For this reason, engineers have typically designed microgrids in simple, centralized configurations with thick cables and large capacitors. This limits the amount of power that any appliance can draw from a network — a conservative measure that increases a microgrid’s reliability but comes with a significant cost.

Now engineers at MIT have developed a method for guaranteeing the stability of any microgrid that runs on direct current, or DC — an architecture that was originally proposed as part of the MIT Tata Center’s uLink project. The researchers found they can ensure a microgrid’s stability by installing capacitors, which are devices that even out spikes and dips in voltage, of a particular size, or capacitance.

The team calculated the minimum capacitance on a particular load that is required to maintain a microgrid’s stability, given the total load, or power a community consumes. Importantly, this calculation does not rely on a network’s particular configuration of transmission lines and power sources. This means that microgrid designers do not have to start from scratch in designing power systems for each new community.

Instead, the researchers say this microgrid design process can be performed once to develop, for instance, power system “kits”: sets of modular power sources, loads, and lines that can be produced in bulk. As long as the load units include capacitors of the appropriate size, the system is guaranteed to be stable, no matter how the individual components are connected.

The researchers say such a modular design may be easily reconfigured for changing needs, such as additional households joining a community’s existing microgrid.

“What we propose is this concept of ad hoc microgrids: microgrids that can be created without any preplanning and can operate without any oversight. You can take different components, interconnect them in any way that’s suitable for you, and it is guaranteed to work,” says Konstantin Turitsyn, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “In the end, it is a step toward lower-cost microgrids that can provide some guaranteed level of reliability and security.”

The team’s results appear online in the IEEE journal Control Systems Letters, with graduate student Kathleen Cavanagh and Julia Belk ’17.

Returning to normal operations

Cavanagh says the team’s work sought to meet one central challenge in microgrid design: “What if we don’t know the network in advance and don’t know which village a microgrid will be deployed to? Can we design components in such a way that, no matter how people interconnect them, they will still work?”

The researchers looked for ways to constrain the dimensions of a microgrid’s main components — transmission lines, power sources, and loads, or power-consuming elements — in a way that guarantees a system’s overall stability without depending on the particular layout of the network.

To do so, they looked to Brayton-Moser potential theory — a general mathematical theory developed in the 1960s that characterizes the dynamics of the flow of energy within a system comprising various physical and interconnected components, such as in nonlinear circuits.

“Here we applied this theory to systems whose main goal is transfer of power, rather than to perform any logical operations,” Turitsyn says.

The team applied the theory to a simple yet realistic representation of a microgrid. This enabled the researchers to look at the disturbances caused when there was a variation in the loading, such as when a cell phone was plugged into its charger or a fan was turned off. They showed that the worst-case configuration is a simple network comprising a source connected to a load. The identification of this simple configuration allowed them to remove any dependence on a specific network configuration or topology.

“This theory was useful to prove that, for high-enough capacitance, a microgrid’s voltage will not go to critically low levels, and the system will bounce back and continue normal operations,” Turitsyn says.

Blueprint for power

From their calculations, the team developed a framework that relates a microgrid’s overall power requirements, the length of its transmission lines, and its power demands, to the specific capacitor size required to keep the system stable.

“Ensuring that this simple network is stable guarantees that all other networks with the same line length or smaller are also stable,” Turitsyn says. “That was the key insight that allowed us to develop statements that don’t depend on the network configuration.”

“This means you don’t have to oversize your capacitors by a factor of 10, because we give explicit conditions where it would remain stable, even in worst-case scenarios,” Cavanagh says.

In the end, the team’s framework provides a cheaper, flexible blueprint for designing and adapting microgrids, for any community configuration. For instance, microgrid operators can use the framework to determine the size of a given capacitor that will stabilize a certain load. Inversely, a community that has been delivered hardware to set up a microgrid can use the group’s framework to determine the maximum length the transmission lines should be, as well as the type of appliances that the components can safely maintain.

“In some situations, for given voltage levels, we cannot guarantee stability with respect to a given load change, and maybe a consumer can decide it’s ok to use this big of a fan, but not a bigger one,” Turitsyn says. “So it could not only be about a capacitor, but also could constrain the maximal accepted amount of power that individuals can use.”

Going forward, the researchers hope to take a similar approach to AC, or alternating current, microgrids, which are mostly used in developed countries such as the United States.

“In the future we want to extend this work to AC microgrids, so that we don’t have situations like after Hurricane Maria, where in Puerto Rico now the expectation is that it will be several more months before power is completely restored,” Turitsyn says. “In these situations, the ability to deploy solar-based microgrids without a lot of preplanning, and with flexibility in connections, would be an important step forward.”

This research was sponsored by the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design.

3 Questions: Joseph Coughlin on innovation for an aging population

The populations of many developed countries are aging markedly, due to a suite of medical, social, and economic changes. Will this notable demographic trend force us to change our image of the older adults and regard them as a more vital force in society? Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, which is part of the Center for Transportation and Logistics, hopes so. Coughlin’s new book, “The Longevity Economy,” published this week by PublicAffairs, makes a pointed call for companies and policymakers to expand their ideas about what seniors can and want to do in life. MIT News sat down with Coughlin to talk about innovation for an aging population.

Q: Your new book, “The Longevity Economy,” makes the case that we’ve developed misleading social narratives about aging. What do you mean by that?

A: One of the oldest and most powerful innovations in humankind is the story: It shapes how we view the world, it powers causality, it helps us make sense of what we do. We have this story, which itself is only about 100 years old, that birthdays predict everything, that at a certain age you retire, hold back from life, and don’t do certain things.

But rather than continuing to believe this old story, I say, let’s find out how technology is going to extend our ability to stay mobile and connected — to activate the talent and knowledge of our growing older population. Transportation technologies, for instance, are only as good as where you can go, what things there are to do — and that means not just going to the doctor’s office and grocery store, but visiting friends and grandchildren, working if you want to, or volunteering with passion and purpose.  

The longevity economy is not just about the money to be made, but the reality that after about age 65, we run out of narrative. We may walk a child down the aisle or go on a cruise ship or play a bad round of golf, but after 65, society says, “You’re done.” That’s the story we’re told, but in reality, at 65, you’re very likely to make it not just to 85, but further. That’s 8,000 days! That’s roughly the same amount of time an MIT undergraduate spends from birth to graduation. Our challenge is to ensure quality of life, for a century of life.

In many ways the Baby Boomers are largely to blame, and I’m one of them myself — one of those 76 million people who seemed like they’d be young forever. They trained companies, researchers, and designers to believe the 18-35 age range is the only one worth worrying about in order to get consumers hooked for life on their products and ideas. Well, guess what? The Boomers are now inheriting what they created, at the very moment when we need to think of new products, technologies, services, and experiences for the later age ranges.

Q: Okay, more specifically, what are the problems with our current products for the elderly?

A: Whenever you start a research program around aging, it always devolves into falls, pills, and reminder systems. The instinct is always to “solve” the problem of aging. And that’s a worthy and necessary goal for a part of the population, part of the time. But it’s incomplete: Older adults are people first, not a puzzle to be solved. It is not until very recently that we’ve begun to think beyond medicalized technologies that beep, buzz, and badger us, to consider things that may connect you with a family member or a more extended social network. Think about the internet of things: We have houses that are aware of our well-being, systems making sure we haven’t fallen, and toilets talking about what we ate. How about connecting some of those things to social networks or friends and family, so that a grandchild wants to know my cookie recipe, not just whether or not I took my beta blocker?

Take personal emergency response systems, such as those necklaces with an emergency call button. As a technology, they are well-meaning, virtuous, cheap, and easy-to-use, but the penetration rate is just 2 percent among the 65-plus. In the U.K. with the National Health Service paying for them, the penetration rate is still a low 16 percent. What we’re selling is an image no one wants.

At the MIT AgeLab, we’ve learned to ask questions beyond “what’s good for you” to understand the new motivations in old age. We [should think] about fun, about learning for a lifetime. One thing about the study of longevity that MIT is profoundly qualified for is that it’s interdiciplinary. You need to have technologists work with artists to create style in products for the aging, and they have to work with the business people to get it out of the lab and into your living room.

Q: And yet there is big money to be made from retirement communities and lifestyles which, in many ways, reinforce the idea that the elderly are not active, as you observe in a chapter of your book that is set in Florida. So what’s wrong with this segment of the market for the aging?

A: I probably will never be allowed back in Florida, as much as I love the state. But even if you have money and health, our outdated narrative says, “You’ve retired now. It’s time to leave. And you can have as much fun as you want, because you earned it. But still, you’re cut off.” Essentially you’re being told you’ve earned the reward of being segregated from the rest of society. On a moral level I don’t think that’s appropriate. I do, however, completely understand why people double down on the idea of retirement and move to age-segregated communities. It’s because there’s no narrative competition in how we think about later life. 

But that’s already changing, and practically speaking, it couldn’t come soon enough.  Those people we are sending away in retirement are taking away what one of my colleagues terms “lost knowledge.” For example, computer systems we’re trying to protect are written in languages you only learned if you were in school in the 1970s. Or, in major companies and government, people who have the contacts with clients and best knowledge are walking out the door. That’s not just bad politics and policy, that’s bad economics. And we find when people don’t wake up with a purpose, it’s not good for their health. It’s not good for individuals, and it’s not good for families.

We’re entering a moment when all that can change. That vision of retiring and no longer participating is often not fair to all that talent. What I’m saying is the longevity economy is about activating the full life span — so we can live not just longer, but better.

Summit discusses impact of machines on jobs, productivity, and the global economy

This week MIT hosted a summit on “AI and the Future of Work”, focused on helping industry, government, and the workforce navigate the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence and automation.

Hosted by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), the event featured speakers such as Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt and machine-learning pioneer Yann LeCun.

Taking place in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, the summit featured remarks from CSAIL Director Daniela Rus and IDE Director Erik Brynjolfsson, as well as a keynote address by Schmidt. Computer scientists, economists, and industry experts spoke about a range of topics that included legal policy, technical challenges, and assistive technologies.

During his opening remarks, MIT President L. Rafael Reif noted the important societal gains that could stem from AI, such as economic growth, higher living standards, longer life spans and less disease. However, he also described the fear that many Americans face related to automation and job loss.

“Seventy-two percent of Americans say they feel worried about a future [in which] robots and computers can do many human jobs,” said Reif. “It’s clear to almost everyone that deep change is happening. For most people it’s not clear how to respond.”

Still, a common theme throughout the event was the potential physical and mental benefits of automating monotonous work. Schmidt expressed his belief that AI will not only make workers more productive, but help spur a future of ubiquitous personal assistants, saving time and helping people lead happier lives.

“The presumption is that existing jobs are lost, and you can’t imagine the jobs that are created,” he said. “[But] AI is replacing tasks. There is a surplus of jobs and not enough people to fill them.”

Of course, many technical issues still remain. CSAIL researcher and autonomous-driving expert John Leonard discussed some of the challenges underlying what he calls the “great space race of the 21st century.” He spoke about the concept of “parallel autonomy,” where humans are are still in control of the car, but the vehicle onboard computer will step in if the driver is about to make a dangerous move. He is among several MIT researchers who are working with Toyota to use this approach with self-driving cars.

Cybersecurity expert Daniel Weitzner spoke on a panel that examined a delicate practical question about AI: who’s at fault when it makes a mistake? Weitzner spoke about the limits of deep learning systems that are high-performing, but whose decisions still aren’t fully understood by the humans that created them.

“People are learning ways to trick these systems, making them downright harmful to individuals and more difficult to figure out who is at fault,” said Weitzner. “I imagine we could create a static mechanism that conforms to a set of rules and regulations that we can lay out, and build to those rules.”

Other sessions included a discussion about job training with Rusty Justice, whose company Bit Source “turns coal miners into data miners.” Kai-Fu Lee, an influential former Google China executive who is now CEO of Sinovation Ventures, spoke about the state of AI in China, and predicted that AI would be able to do half all job tasks in China in the next 10 to 15 years.

The summit builds off other major MIT AI initiatives, including the new lab with IBM and “SystemsThatLearn@CSAIL,” which focuses on democratizing AI systems.

Even with all of the AI advances that have been made, most speakers at the summit agreed that there’s still ample room for inventing better and smarter systems.

“We’ve always said that human-level intelligence is 20 years off,” said MIT AI Professor Patrick Winston. “Eventually we’ll be right.” 

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