Impact Lab


Subscribe Now to Our Free Email Newsletter
May 27th, 2020 at 11:29 am

I’m prepared for a future where I never pay cash and rarely go to the store

C9A2270D-4BEB-4C78-B7A4-2FE6621510DF

Since the coronavirus put New York under lockdown, I’ve completely changed my buying habits.

I haven’t swiped my credit card in at least a month, relying on online payments and Apple Pay with curbside pickup.

I actually prefer paying this way, and I don’t see myself paying with cash or card anytime soon, although I know this isn’t an option for everyone.

The coronavirus has changed just about every part of my daily life. The biggest change is that I now work remotely, and rarely leave my house. But when I do leave my house, it’s also changed my relationship to money. Namely, I almost never touch actual cold, hard cash anymore.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 27th, 2020 at 11:26 am

The results are in for the sharing economy. They are ugly

E9B79B8D-8EB1-41A8-90F7-C018B5E599A8

An Uber ride in Brooklyn last month. The ride-hailing company’s business collapsed in March as shelter-in-place orders spread through Europe and the United States.

 Lyft, Uber and Airbnb depend on travel, vacations and gatherings. That’s a problem when much of the world is staying home.

OAKLAND, Calif. — The coronavirus pandemic has gutted the so-called sharing economy. Its most valuable companies, which started the year by promising that they would soon become profitable, now say consumer demand has all but vanished.

It is not likely to return anytime soon.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 27th, 2020 at 11:20 am

Why scientists are changing their minds and disagreeing during the coronavirus pandemic

9281328A-C2B4-4923-851F-B23ADA4ACF3E

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds a face mask during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC.

 KEY POINTS

  • The changing recommendations during the Covid-19 pandemic on things such as whether to wear face masks has confused the public and caused them to lose faith in science.
  • But changing your mind based on new evidence is a badge of honor in the scientific community.
  • The situation is complicated by the fact that pre-print research is often being debated in public on social media, instead of behind closed doors.

If you’ve tuned into the daily news cycle during the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve probably noticed circumstances where scientists seemed reluctant to share information, debated the latest research on social media or downright changed their views.

Continue Reading »

IL-Header-Communicating-with-the-Future

comments Comments Off
May 27th, 2020 at 11:16 am

How coronavirus set the stage for a techno-future with robots and AI

B3F6D2AB-483E-417C-9C87-A710599C8698

The coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded the functions and roles of robots and artificial intelligence

Not so long ago, the concept of a fully automated store seemed something of a curiosity. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of relying on computers and robotics, and checking out groceries by simply picking them off the shelf doesn’t seem so peculiar after all.

Part of my research involves looking at how we deal with complex artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can learn and make decisions without any human involvement, and how these types of AI technologies challenge our current understanding of law and its application.

How should we govern these systems that are sometimes called disruptive, and at other times labelled transformative? I am particularly interested in whether — and how — AI technologies amplify the social injustice that exists in society. For example, unregulated facial recognition in the United States affects almost 120 million adults, with no independent testing for biased error rates; this effectively creates a virtual, perpetual line-up for law enforcement.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 26th, 2020 at 9:39 am

Coronavirus: Experts warn of bioterrorism after pandemic

423706BF-0C1E-45BC-B684-DA426EDCCB62

The Council of Europe has warned of a potential increase in the use of biological weapons, like viruses or bacterias, in a post-coronavirus world. Terrorists would not forget “lessons learned” during the pandemic.

Security experts from the Council of Europe have warned that the global coronavirus outbreak may increase the use of biological weapons by terrorists in the future.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable modern society is to viral infections and their potential for disuption,” the council’s Committee on Counter-Terrorism said in a statement.

The deliberate use of disease-causing agents — like viruses or bacterias — as an act of terrorism “could prove to be extremely effective.”

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 26th, 2020 at 9:36 am

Retirement villages have had their day: Baby boomers are rethinking retirement

E6C2F131-D610-42B2-9F57-D028E2E9C365

By 2030 all baby boomers will have turned 65 and Generation X will start their contribution to the expanding older cohort.

 Retirement villages — walled, gated and separate seniors’ enclaves — have had their day.

The word “retirement” is redundant and engagement between people of all ages is high. That’s how participants in the Longevity By Design Challenge envisage life in Australia in 2050.

Their challenge was to identify ways to prepare and adapt Australian cities to capitalise on older Australians living longer, healthier and more productive lives. Their vision, outlined in this article, offers a positive contrast to much of the commentary on “ageing Australia”.

We have been repeatedly warned about a looming “crisis” when by 2050 one in four Australians will be 65 or older. They have been portrayed as dependent non-contributors, unable to take care of themselves.

This scenario of doom is based on underlying assumptions that everyone over 65 wants to, can or should stop any kind of productive contribution to Australia.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 26th, 2020 at 9:30 am

Peer-to-peer highway EV charging would use telescoping cables between moving cars

24575AFB-8599-49F2-A52C-E1795B0005D8

Imagine a future where your EV was getting low on charge ­on a highway road trip – so you deploy a telescoping charging cable to another EV and borrow a few kilowatt-hours. An engineering professor at the University of Florida believes it’s not far-fetched.

We’ve seen a host of mobile EV charging van concepts. And there are proposed solutions for stationary robots to connect a vehicle to a charger, like what Kuka Robotics demonstrated last year (shown above).

The new idea is to merge the two so EVs on the move can connect with one another and with mobile charging stations. (Apple filed a patent for something similar in 2018.)

A few weeks ago, Swarup Bhunia and his colleagues at UoF’s electrical and computer engineering department posted a paper explaining how it would work. Here’s part of the Abstract:

We propose Peer-to-Peer Car Charging (P2C2), a highly scalable novel technique for charging EVs on the go with minimal cost overhead. We allow EVs to share charge among each other based on the instructions from a cloud-based control system.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 26th, 2020 at 9:27 am

A no-brainer stimulus idea: Electrify USPS mail trucks

67F7B0CB-7B76-49BF-A981-3A71899266F8

Electric vehicles for the US Postal Service would reduce noise, air, and carbon pollution in every community.

With the US trapped in a historic lockdown, everyone agrees that enormous federal spending is necessary to keep the economy going over the next year and beyond — and everyone has their own ideas about how, exactly, that federal spending should be targeted. A whole genre of essays and white papers devoted to clever stimulus plans has developed almost overnight.

I’ve contributed to that genre: Go here for my ideal recovery/stimulus plan, here for what I think Democrats’ bottom-line demands should be in stimulus negotiations, here for my take on the wisdom of investing in clean energy, and here for why devoting stimulus money to fossil fuels is short-sighted.

Now I want to offer a much more modest idea — a fun idea, even. It’s a win-win-win proposal that would be worth doing even if the economy were at full employment, but a total no-brainer in an economy that needs a kickstart. The cost would be a tiny rounding error amid the trillions of dollars of stimulus being contemplated, and it would produce outsized social benefits in the form of improved public health, more efficient public services, and lower climate pollution.

I’m talking about electrifying mail trucks.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 25th, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Japan may have beaten Coronavirus without lockdowns or mass testing. But how?

Japan Lifts Coronavirus State of Emergency Nationwide

Japan’s state of emergency is set to end with new cases of the coronavirus dwindling to mere dozens. It got there despite largely ignoring the default playbook.

No restrictions were placed on residents’ movements, and businesses from restaurants to hairdressers stayed open. No high-tech apps that tracked people’s movements were deployed. The country doesn’t have a center for disease control. And even as nations were exhorted to “test, test, test,” Japan has tested just 0.2% of its population — one of the lowest rates among developed countries.

Yet the curve has been flattened, with deaths well below 1,000, by far the fewest among the Group of Seven developed nations. In Tokyo, its dense center, cases have dropped to single digits on most days. While the possibility of a more severe second wave of infection is ever-present, Japan has entered and is set to leave its emergency in just weeks, with the status lifted already for most of the country and Tokyo and the remaining four other regions set to exit Monday.

Analyzing just how Japan defied the odds and contained the virus while disregarding the playbook used by other successful countries has become a national conversation. Only one thing is agreed upon: that there was no silver bullet, no one factor that made the difference.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 25th, 2020 at 4:54 pm

Covid-19 coronavirus: Wuhan lab ‘had emergency shutdown’ last October

74BE828E-4037-444F-8DD6-C207224D75B8

US intelligence agencies are investigating mobile phone data which suggests the Wuhan Institute of Virology had an emergency shutdown back in October last year.

NBC News has reportedly obtained records which show that a “hazardous event” at the institute’s high security National Biosafety Laboratory may have occurred between October 6 and 11.

This allegedly led to a shutdown of the P4 laboratory from October 7 to 24, during which there was no mobile activity, news.com.au reports.

The laboratory, located a short distance from the Wuhan wet market at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, is the facility the Trump administration is blaming for starting the pandemic.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 25th, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Community colleges could see a surge in popularity amid Covid-19

FA31FC84-D1BE-4366-BC72-95FFFFC80DA0

Historically, community college enrollment spikes during economic downturns.

This year, a public health crisis may draw even more students who don’t want to travel or live in a dorm.

The coronavirus crisis has already changed the way this year’s crop of high school seniors are thinking about higher education.

And community colleges across the country are preparing accordingly.

“Under the circumstances, families may turn to us as the gateway of opportunity, and we’ve been ready,” said Michael Baston, the president of Rockland Community College in Rockland County, New York.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
May 24th, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Study finds 44% of U.S. unemployment applicants have been denied or are still waiting

What it’s like being unemployed because of coronavirus

Since early March, over 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis, marking the biggest spike in unemployment in U.S. history.

In response to these claims, states have paid a record $48 billion in unemployment benefits to people out of work but several recent studies have found that this total could have been much higher.

According to an analysis by One Fair Wage, a nonprofit organization that advocates for restaurant workers, only 56% of those who have applied for unemployment insurance are receiving benefits, meaning about 44% have been denied or are still waiting.

To be sure, states are dealing with an unprecedented volume of unemployment applicants, causing delays. Additionally, it is possible that some people have filed incorrectly, but advocates and experts are increasingly calling attention to workers who are being left out.

Continue Reading »

comments Comments Off
Understanding the future through the eyes of a child