NEWS BEYOND OUR BORDERS
Cross-country tour seeks to elevate women in tech
Engineers Canada - This September, Women in Tech-World kicked-off a cross-country fact-finding mission as part of their quest to elevate women in technology.
Driving across the country in a branded RV—lovingly called Chitty Chitty Van Van—the tour started on September 6, 2017, on the west coast in Vancouver, BC, before heading north to the Yukon. The tour is now on its way east, heading across the country towards the Maritime provinces.
At each stop on their tour, Driving WinTech hosts a community conversation with women in technology. These conversations aim to define, who are women in tech in Canada? What are their experiences in the tech industry? And what are best practices for inclusion and promotion of women in the tech industry?
Along the way, Driving WinTech will facilitate 50 community conversations and connect with over 10,000 people from diverse communities and sectors. After hosting these free events and panels that include trail-blazing women in technology, the Driving WinTech team will publish a national report on the experiences of women in technology in Canada. They will also create a set of Regional Playbooks to facilitate more inclusive and diverse tech communities. The team will also be sharing their data online and with the World Women Report by the State of Women, which reaches 85 million subscribers.
Edmonton gathers info on large building energy use
APEGA - The City of Edmonton has become the first municipality in Canada to track the energy efficiency of its large buildings.
The city has launched a three-year pilot called Large Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure. The program asks owners to share information about their large buildings — those with more than 20,000 square feet of floor space — and offers incentives for improving energy efficiency.
The city estimates that large buildings produce 38 per cent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and represent 42 per cent of its energy consumption. A 10 per cent reduction in energy use by just one of the estimated 4,500 large buildings could have the same effect as taking 22 cars off the road.
Solar and wind energy creating many jobs
Earther.com - In the coming decade, the percentage of Americans finding employment in two fields in particular will explode: wind and solar energy.
According to new data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar panel installer and wind turbine service technician are slated to be the two fastest growing jobs in the country.
Solar installation jobs are expected to grow 105 per cent while wind turbine technician jobs will grow 96 per cent by 2026. That’s a huge leap compared to overall US jobs, which are expected to rise seven per cent over that period.
California has by far the largest number of solar workers in the US. Meanwhile Texas generates the most wind power of any state in the country.
The explosive growth of solar and wind jobs is due largely to the economic reality that renewables are increasingly competing with fossil fuels on cost.
The big percentage uptick in the Bureau of Labor Statistics is partly due to the relatively small number of installers, which sits at 11,300. However, the the Solar Energy Industries Association asserts that this number is artificially low because the Bureau miscategorizes many of the industry’s employees.
Using the association’s definition, the number of workers in the installation field swells to 137,133. Factor in sales, manufacturing and other positions and the solar industry employment figure swells to 260,077 as of last year. That number is nearly triple what it was in 2010.
Wind energy has similarly enjoyed explosive growth beyond turbine service technicians. The industry employs 102,500 people as of 2016 with Texas accounting for roughly a quarter of all people employed. Those ranks will continue to grow along with technician gigs, too.
Laser scanner detects cancer in under 30 seconds
The Engineer - Skin cancer diagnosis can take weeks, involving referral to a dermatologist for a skin biopsy, and then possibly an invasive sentinel lymph node biopsy under general anaesthetic to find out if the tumour is spreading.
New technology, developed in a European project led by UK-based Michelson Diagnostics, could dramatically speed up this process by allowing dermatologists to diagnose a malignant melanoma in real time.
The scanner allows dermatologists to view a 3-D image of the blood vessels under the skin, up to a depth of 1mm.
The technology is conventionally used in retina scans, in which a laser beam is projected onto tissue and the reflected light is detected by a microscope and used to create a 3-D image.
Unlike retinal scans, however, the new technology is able to detect motion within the tissue. This reveals the flicker of light patterns created by moving blood cells against the background of solid tissue.
The system uses algorithms to extract the motion information and reveal the structure of the blood vessels.
Cancers are known to grow their own blood vessels. But unlike the blood vessels in healthy tissue, these vessels tend to grow in an abnormal, disorderly fashion.
This allows the system to detect blood vessels grown by the tumour from within healthy tissue and there are also hints that the degree of irregularity of the vessels may indicate how far the tumour has progressed.
Robot becomes Saudi citizen
Toronto Star - Until recently, the most famous thing that Sophia the robot had ever done was beat Jimmy Fallon a little too easily in a televised game of rock-paper-scissors.
But now the advanced artificial intelligence robot, which looks like Audrey Hepburn, mimics human expressions and may be the grandmother of robots that solve the world’s most complex problems, has a new feather in her cap: Citizenship.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to the humanoid robot last week during a program at the Future Investment Initiative, a summit that links deep-pocketed Saudis with inventors hoping to shape the future.
Many people recognized the irony of Sophia’s new recognition: a robot simulation of a woman enjoys freedoms that flesh-and-blood women in Saudi Arabia do not.
Those social controversies may still be above Sophia’s programming. In her interview, she stuck to lighter fare, like an AI apocalypse.
“My AI is designed around human values such as wisdom, kindness and compassion,” she said. “I strive to be an empathetic robot. I want to use my artificial intelligence to help humans live a better life. I will do my best to make the world a better place.”
Sophia, created by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics, has graced the cover of a fashion magazine, taken a spin in one of Audi’s autonomous cars and starred in a concert. She even tells jokes, though her voice is a bit monotone and her comedic timing needs a tune-up. For example, after beating Fallon in rock-paper-scissors on his show, she quipped: “This is a good beginning of my plan to dominate the human race. Ha. Ha.”