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Agricultural Productivity Will Rise to the Challenge

We can feed a growing world for decades to come provided that we invest in research not only in the advanced countries, but everywhere

15 min read
Agricultural Productivity Will Rise to the Challenge
Image: Dan Saelinger; Stylist: Dominique Baynes; Food Stylist: Carol Ladd

“Despite the global food crisis of 2007–8, the coming famine hasn’t happened yet. It is a looming planetary emergency…it is arriving even faster than climate change.” That’s the vision of famine that awaits us, says Australian science writer Julian Cribb. And he’s far from alone. “The world is in transition from an era of food abundance to one of scarcity,” says the environmentalist Lester Brown.

They’re wrong, and their virulent strain of technopessimism—which is finding lots of resonance in the media these days—has been wrong for a long time. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.” Ehrlich himself rode the frayed coattails of Thomas Malthus, who two centuries ago warned that the combination of an arithmetic increase in food supply and a geometric increase in population would result in famine, pestilence, and war.

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This Idea Wasn't All Wet: The Sensing Water-Saving Shower Head Debuts

An engineer’s dinner-table invention is finally a consumer product

4 min read
A mounted and running showerhead that says oasense and has a blue light on it.
Oasense

For Evan Schneider, the family dinner table is a good place for invention. “I’m always, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this or that,’” he says, “and people would humor me.”

In 2012, with California in the midst of a severe drought, Schneider, then a mechanical engineering graduate student at Stanford University, once again tossed out a “cool idea.” He imagined a shower head that would sense when the person showering moved out from under the stream of water. The shower head would then automatically turn the water off, turning it back on again when the person moved back into range. With such a device, he thought, people could enjoy a long shower without wasting water.

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Can AI’s Recommendations Be Less Insidious?

Artificial intelligence has us where it wants us

5 min read
illustration of hand holding megaphone with different bubbles of computer widgets
iStock

Many of the things we watch, read, and buy enter our awareness through recommender systems on sites including YouTube, Twitter, and Amazon. Algorithms personalize their suggestions, aiming for ad views or clicks or buys. Sometime their offerings frustrate us; it seems like they don’t know us at all—or know us too well, predicting what will get us to waste time or go down rabbit holes of anxiety and misinformation. But a more insidious dynamic may also be at play. Recommender systems might not only tailor to our most regrettable preferences, but actually shape what we like, making preferences even more regrettable. New research suggests a way to measure—and reduce—such manipulation.

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Exploring the Value of Power Modules

Learn how power modules can reduce power supply size, EMI, design time, and solution cost

1 min read
Texas Instruments

In this training series, we will discuss the high level of integration of DC/DC power modules and the significant implications that this has on power supply design.

Watch this free webinar now!

In addition to high power density and small solution size, modules can also simplify EMI mitigation and reduce power supply design time. And thanks to improved process and packaging technology, a power module may even provide all of these benefits with a lower overall solution cost as well.

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