UN urges universities to take climate action
A new report from UN Environment has criticised the approach to climate change taken by universities around the world and urged them to do more to tackle the problem. Published on the agency’s website, the report congratulates some universities on pioneering new ways of reducing their carbon footprint and exploring renewable energy but said that, globally, more can be done.
One university cited as an example to others was Bristol in the UK, which was the first worldwide to declare a climate emergency and has reduced its carbon footprint by 27%. Meanwhile, the American University in Washington D.C has installed eight green roofs and seven solar panels, with all of its campus buses running on biodiesel. It has also planted 1.2m trees in the city.
But the report concludes that “many universities are struggling with the concept and agenda of university “greening.While some noteworthy exemplars of university sustainability initiatives exist around the world, there is a need to maximize the potential benefits by encouraging their replication in as many universities as possible globally.”
China targets youth in celebrity video
A new ‘social credit’ system being developed in China is being promoted among the country’s huge youth population through a new music video featuring young celebrities and pop stars.
Entitled, ‘Live Up To Your Word’, the music video has been viewed nearly half a billion times on various social networks like Weibo and can be seen on YouTube here. The video shows young stars showing how to be responsible and trustworthy citizens and was developed by the Communist Party Youth League.
The purpose is to encourage the roughly 100m young people in China aged 15-24 to adopt the social credit system the government is implementing across the country. It will reward citizens for good behaviour and punish them for bad behaviour, banning certain people from buying plane tickets. Similar to the system financial credit system, where people can be blacklisted.
Google grants $25m to NGOs and youth projects
Google has donated $25m to be split between 20 projects which will use artificial intelligence to solve social problems. More than 2,600 NGOs and startups applied for the grant.
Winners included the Trevor Project, based in the US, which uses AI to build algorithms that can detect when young LGBTQ people requesting help or advice online are most at risk of suicide. An NGO called Wadhani AI in India will use technology to reduce pesticide waste,
Hand Talk is a Brazillian NGO that has developed a mobile app that translates local languages into sign language, and a Colombian NGO is harnessing advanced computer technology to detect illegal mines being set up across the rainforest.
The Google AI Impact Challenge is part of the company’s AI For Social Good initiative a research mission sharing and inviting ideas on using artificial technology to fix a range of problems.