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Modern Technology Can Help Put a Stop to Human Trafficking Slave Labor

a photo of Asian laborers amid the reality of Human Trafficking Slave Labor
Human rights abuse and forced labor are still rampant in workplaces around the world

Technology has continually changed and improved to help benefit human lives. At this time, modern technology is evolving to help respond to major societal concerns that are plaguing the food industry. Recently, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has announced the very first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool. This tool is a database that can assist buyers in pinpointing the possibility of human trafficking slave labor in the supply chain used for their seafood purchase. Designed for over two years, the database was it helps buyers by assigning risk ratings to certain fisheries.

For example, if a certain fishery is tagged with a critical risk rating, then this means that there is credible evidence that the fishery uses child or forced labor in catching its seafood. Yellow tuna or Skipjack or y that’s caught by a Taiwanese fleet will get a critical rating. On the other hand, a Patagonian toothfish that’s caught by a fleet in Chile will be tagged as low risk because this place has very good regulations and protection programs. The database was created in collaboration with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and Liberty Asia.

Slavery in Other Industries

A recent report has confirmed that forced labor and human rights abuse are still in practice in Thailand’s fishing industry. And the database was created in the hopes to stop this problem.

It isn’t just the fishing industry that has this predicament as more than half of the labor trafficking problem in the world is connected with the construction and mining industries.  A recent slave auction was caught on camera in Libya and has gone viral, further sparking the issue into life.  

Another recent news, from The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, has shown that the main driving force behind Brazil’s sudden economic and agricultural growth was an increase in forced labor and slavery in the nation, especially in their meat industry. In fact, based on data from the Global Slavery Index in 2016, around 161,100 Brazilians are considered as modern slaves.

Fortunately, technology that is similar to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s program is also being utilized for use in identifying risk factors in the construction industry and agricultural industry. By utilizing software that can pull from data analytics, it is possible to create a transparency registry to help disrupt the labor trafficking supply chain.

Other Emerging Technologies Against Human Trafficking Slave Labor

There are also other rapidly evolving technologies that can help combat slavery by pinpointing various points in the human trafficking slave labor procedure.

  • Thorn: Digital Defenders has developed its Spotlight Tool in 2014. It collects aggregate data from online commercial sex advertisements. This tool is already available for use by law enforcement, and has already shown a 43 percent decrease in their processing time to conduct an investigation.
  • PhotoDNA is a Microsoft program that helps pinpoint the images of children who are sexually exploited online. It is a free cloud service for qualified organizations.
  • Polaris’ The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is a toll-free hotline that can easily be accessed via email or through an online form and is active 24/7.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates a CyberTipline that allows members of the community to report suspected child exploitation. Ever since its creation in 1998, it has received more than 4.3 million reports.

Human trafficking slave labor should no longer be practiced anywhere in the world. It’s a shame that even with the best advancements in technology, there are still some people who would treat others unfairly. The slave labor tracking tool may be a small step to solve such a wide-scale problem, but it is definitely a bold move in the right direction.

LED Light Pollution Illuminates Problems: How Bright Is Too Bright?

Expected to help the environment, the immensely popular, energy-saving, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have worsened light pollution—bringing about such a thing as an LED light pollution. Because of reduced energy consumption, almost everyone on the planet transitioned to LED lighting. The savings in energy cost prompted people to put up more lights, thinking that there will be no increase in their energy bill. The result is the proliferation of more LED lights that have made the planet brighter. A “brighter world” sounds like something that people need, but what’s wrong with it? Why are some scientists getting concerned about all these LED-lighting?

Light pollution may sound strange especially that people are used to only hearing about noise, water, air and other kinds of pollution. How does light even pollute the earth? Studies show that excessive use of light has negative effects on the earth. Light pollution has several components to it that include illuminating inhabited areas called skyglow; visual discomfort caused by excessive brightness called glare; confusing light sources called clutter; and unintended light or what is known as light trespass.

Solid State, Low Energy

The use of the low-energy consuming solid-state lights shifted people’s concern from the light’s cost to the environment.

A team of scientists, led by Chris Kyba, a physicist from the German Research Center for Geoscience, conducted a study using satellite data to determine how brighter the nights on Earth have become. While the result of the study does not directly blame LEDs, they found out that there was a big problem related to them. The widespread use of LEDs has created a rebound effect that’s made the planet too bright. 

The rebound effect shows that when people realized savings in their energy bills, they simply pour back the money into the product by buying more LED lights. That is the same rebound effect where people intuitively think they save money by using a fuel-efficient car, so they drive more miles. In effect, their overall fuel consumption increases rather than decreases.

a photo of a lamp shade with its light bulb being removed by a hand in connection to the topic of LED light pollution
LED light pollution is not something we often hear about, but it’s actually a problem that badly needs attention!

The cheap energy cost of LED lighting has prompted many jurisdictions all over the world to increase outdoor lighting. The dark sections of a park and the bicycle paths far off the highways are now brightly illuminated. There is a widespread attempt to light every dark corner of the planet. The overall result is that the planet has seen a widespread loss of the night. Half of the European continent and a quarter of North America are now experiencing significantly modified light-dark cycles. Outdoor illumination has increased at a rate of 3–6 percent per year over the second half of the 20th century. Thus, it’s no wonder that LED light pollution has entered the global picture.

Illuminating the Study In Relation to LED Light Pollution

The study mentioned above used the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard the Suomi NPP satellite of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Researchers limited the data collection to October to avoid the added illumination during the holiday season. The researchers analyzed the growth of light pollution from 2012 to 2016. They also observed an average increase in area illumination by an average of 2.2 percent each year. Areas that were continuously lit also became brighter by 2.2 percent each year. Growth in illumination occurred mostly throughout Asia, Africa, and South America, with illumination declining in the war zones of Syria and Yemen.

The research finding looks serious, but the reality could be worse. The satellite data did not directly detect the bluer wavelengths that many LEDs emit. This case means that while the satellite data did not detect any increase in illumination in some countries, there is definitely an increase in brightness in terms of how the human eyes perceive light, which the satellite did not see.

Notably, the estimate is that by 2020, LED lights will account for about 61 percent of lighting in the global market. With such a fact, LED light pollution may, unfortunately, not be receding to the shadows in the near future.

The Future of AI: Ways It Can Transform Your Business in 2018

The Dartmouth Conference of 1956 gave birth to what we now know as artificial intelligence (AI). Nowadays, people often associate AI with self-aware robots and beings, just like those featured in countless sci-fi films. However, there is more to this bold idea than what pop culture portrays – artificial intelligence proves to be beneficial and can transform nearly any business today.

Experts believe both AI professionals and AI hardware are needed, as this type of machine learning technology clearly has a strong influence in people’s lives. For instance, phone apps like Siri and home devices like Alexa all demonstrate the use of AI in everyday tasks, often without people realizing it. When it comes to a business perspective, AI drives many companies in regard to handling of data as well as making certain decisions.

Types of AI Available

Businesses can use AI in different ways, depending on the type of AI technology available, as well as what it can contribute to the organization. Right now, AI can help with three very important business needs, namely process automation, cognitive insight, and cognitive engagement.

Process Automation

One of the most obvious uses of AI is automating various processes. Tasks such as transferring and updating data entered via email or call centers, extracting information from multiple documents, or even “reading” documents through natural language processing can all be done automatically.

Sometimes referred to as robotic process automation (RPA or RPAAI), this type of AI is the least “smart” in the sense that they do not automatically acquire intelligence or learn on their own. Instead, human developers add code to add these new learning capabilities and intelligence.

Cognitive Insight

AI can gain insight through data analysis, by using algorithms in detecting data patterns. These types of machine-learning can help predict what a customer will most likely buy based on their internet search patterns and what websites they view (automation of targeted ads). They could even help identify credit and insurance fraud, or even analyze warranty data on manufactured products and automobiles, and help insurers with detailed and more accurate actuarial modeling.

Cognitive Engagement

In relation to cognitive insight, AI can also engage with customers and employees through chatbots and the like. Technology such as 24/7 smart customer service, internal employee questions, and even product recommendations, as well as health treatment and other service recommendations can all be automated, thanks to AI.

AI Business Benefits

In recent a Deloitte survey of 250 executives whose companies use AI, titled “Artificial Intelligence for the Real World,” about 51% of respondents said their primary goal was to improve their already-existing products, while about 22% mentioned reducing headcount via automation.

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ways artificial intelligence can enhance business infographic

Among the benefits the executives cited were:

  • 51% – Enhance the features, functions, and performance of existing products
  • 35% – Optimize internal business operations
  • 36% – Free up workers’ creativity through automation
  • 35% – Make better decisions
  • 32% – Create new products
  • 30% – Optimize external processes including marketing and sales
  • 25% – Pursue new markets
  • 25% – Capture and apply rare knowledge when needed
  • 22% – Reducing headcount through automation

Such cognitive tools are appropriate for many applications, which highly affect a business:

  1. Increase in AI Professionals, No Threat to Human Jobs

One of the big issues about getting AI in businesses is that there might be a threat to human jobs. However, many experts like Deep Varma, Trulia’s Vice President of Data Engineering, say AI will augment jobs – not replace them. “As companies’ AI capabilities get stronger and grow larger, we’ll see AI augment existing software and applications and actually enable humans to be more productive, effective and accurate,” he said. AI professionals will be of higher demand as well.

Experts believe AI will replace low-level work, but will contribute to higher-level jobs. A new Gartner report revealed that one in five workers will rely on AI by 2022, and that AI will also create as many as 2.3 million jobs by 2020 (albeit eliminating 1.8 million jobs in the process). Jobs in education, healthcare, and the public sector will still demand human workers.

  1. AI in Cybersecurity and Countering Cyber Attacks

AI prevention technologies are all the rage, as they can automate deception tech products, and could even detect and analyze advanced attacks, as well as defend against them proactively. While certain people may be able to get AI on the side of actually performing cyberattacks, experts see that AI, when combined with human intelligence, is a power combo. “Combining human intelligence with technology that is inherently capable of continuously adapting and becoming smarter provides a competitive edge to defenders that’s primarily been absent from most cybersecurity technologies to date,” said Eyal Benishti, Ironscales founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

  1. Boost in Marketing and Sales

Many companies today already rely on AI software when it comes to strategizing customer reach. Some AI software could even help analyze the best tactics for messaging potential customers and formulate strategies. Predictive analytics can help identify which sales strategies work as well, and which ones need refining, in addition to determining which customers are most important.

“AI has the ability to remove repetitive tasks that are repeated daily and improve employee focus where it adds more value and enhances the quality of engagements, such in interactions with customers, follow up support cases and improved customer satisfaction,” Sayer Martin, Orchestrate’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and co-Chief Technology Officer (co-CTO).

  1. AI Accessibility for Everyone

T3 president Ben Gaddis calls 2018 as “the year of AI democratization.” There are many AI platforms coming in from major names like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. “Developers finally have tools that they can leverage, at scale, for pennies on the dollar compared to 2016-2017,” he said.

  1. Chatbots become the Norm

Although many experts still predict AI will not fully transform the enterprise yet, many chatbots and AI voice technology already exist – but have not reached their full potential. In 2018, many customer-facing companies are starting to leverage interactive chatbots. NGDATA’s CEO Luc Burgelman said, “Leveraging AI to continuously learn from omni-channel data and power customer interactions will be critical for companies in 2018.”

There is still a lot of adjustment when it comes to digital transformation, but AI voice assistants can alleviate some of the issues helpdesk workers face. IFS global industry director of service management Mark Brewer said, “This can both make businesses more effective and lighten the load for a stretched workforce.”

  1. AI + UX

AI can help optimize the user experience (UX), and Quick Base’s strategy and product marketing leader John Carione thinks it can drive application efficiency as well. “For low and no-code applications, this means using AI to help app development tools understand usage patterns in order to automatically adapt to their specific role,” he said. This “more fluid” end-user experience reduces security and compliance risks while improving productivity as well.

  1. AI Removes Corporate Biases

Many see AI as a great tool for human resources (HR) and administrative processes. Things such as hiring people often leave room for prejudices and human emotion, but AI can help act on information in an impartial way. Dell EMC global CTO John Roese explained how AI can do such tasks and still exercise human judgment whenever necessary. “In the short-term, we’ll see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias,” he said. “By using emerging technologies to these ends, ‘bias check’ could one day become a routine sanitizer, like ‘spell check’—but with society-wide benefits.”

As machine learning and expert systems merge in 2018, AI can cut costs while ensuring accuracy and speed. Through eliminating time-consuming, routine aspects of a job, AI helps free up a person’s time so they can focus on other, more creative, and non-routine tasks at hand. When businesses of today learn how to integrate AI into their systems, they have more room for improvement and for creating income, and less room for errors.

LUMO Solar Panels: Solar Panels with Color Tech for Smart Greenhouses

Greenhouse roofs are considered a piece of prime real estate and are very useful for solar energy. However, current designs do not allow light to pass through the solar power kits. With light passing through the solar panel, it can be placed on top of a greenhouse to generate power, while still allowing light to reach the plants. The introduction of a light-altering dye used to optimize the plant’s photosynthesis can lead to interesting combinations. In fact, researchers from UC Santa Cruz have developed a solar energy panel that generates energy at a higher efficiency rating. The new color boosts photosynthesis and increases the yield of certain plants. (The researchers are currently continuing their study on why some plants yield better than others.) These LUMO solar panels, manufactured by Soliculture, are Wavelength Selective Photovoltaic (WSPV) systems and have a narrow strip of “bright-magenta luminescent dye”. Humans see sunlight as white light. However, when the light passes through a spectrum it will show its component colors.

How Colors Boost Yield

Studies have shown that bright magenta can absorb blue and green portions of sunlight; turning green into red light that has the highest efficiency for photosynthesis. As the sun’s rays heat the solar energy panel, a fraction of the energy passes through. The blue portion of sunlight goes straight to the plants, where it produces chlorophyll. According to Michael Lovik, UC Santa Cruz professor of environmental studies, the use of the bright magenta luminescent dye helps to facilitate the development of smart greenhouses. Growing inside the greenhouse with LUMO solar panels, the plants grow at a faster clip and use less water.

WSPVs cost about 65 cents per watt, equivalent to 40 percent of the cost of conventional panels. They also have no known negative effects on the plants.

Benefits of Using Solar Panels Like the LUMO Solar Panels

Choosing WSPV solar panels like the LUMO solar panels over conventional solar panels is all about the space. By placing solar panels on top of the greenhouse, they no longer occupy space on sparse land, thereby allowing the owner to use the land for other purposes. There are some plants that have up to 20 percent better production because of the magenta luminescent dye. Another benefit is a 5 percent worth of savings on water usage—especially with tomatoes planted in the greenhouse.

In truth, greenhouses can be electrically independent. A greenhouse, for instance, requires other amenities to grow plants like fans for ventilation, various sensors and monitoring equipment, lighting, and others. With solar panels, the different equipment in the greenhouses would continue to operate without being connected to the grid. Notably, the interest in using solar panels like the LUMO solar panels on greenhouse rooftops is better understood considering that the total land area covered by greenhouses equals 9 million acres, which is twice the size of New Jersey. Greenhouses have increased six-fold in the past 20 years. Planting trees in greenhouses will continue to grow bigger and create a bold impact in the coming years.