Horizon Newsletter – week 16 // 2019
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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The future of architecture in the digital age
Our built environment increasingly connects us to data-driven technologies such as controls on lighting, security, heating or ventilation. Buildings are therefore evolving from background entities to more context-aware, adaptive interfaces with which we interact in order to optimize our habitat. ‘The dynamic tower’ in Dubai, for example, allows each apartment to rotate separately so that residents can choose to face the sun or not. During the Freedomlab event “The Future of Architecture in the Digital Age” our panel explored whether ‘smart building’ serves the needs of our digitizing societies. Besides the obvious benefits and comforts that come with data-driven technologies in our buildings, the panel emphasized an additional application of smart building: to reconnect us with the physical world in order to reduce stress, improve our physical state and create face-to-face interaction. For example, data-driven technology can optimize the opportunities for residents to meet each other by providing them with information on activities in the building. In this way, smart buildings can contribute to a healthier attitude towards an increasingly digitized world.
Mind the gender data gap
The attention for the UN development goal of reducing gender inequality is rising. Last month, several Women’s Marches took place around the world in the context of International Women’s Day. Gender inequality is noticeable in many aspects of every day life, as many products we use are based on the ‘one-size-fits-men approach’: The average car and smartphone are designed for the average size of men, speech-recognition software is trained based on recordings of male voices and many drugs are tested on samples existing largely of men. With the efforts in artificial intelligence (AI) being stepped up, such datasets are increasingly used to shape our products and the world. As a result, existing inequalities are likely to increase, since algorithms tend to reinforce the status quo. This inequality in data science is something that should actively be corrected. Already, governments and companies are showing efforts to incorporate AI ethics guidelines. Furthermore, institutions can contribute to closing the gender data gap by focusing on gender inclusivity in both their hiring and design process.
A sunny future
Renewable energy is not ‘alternative’ anymore. Climate change policies caused a rapid scale increase and lowering of costs, and today renewable energy is entering a phase where the market itself takes the initiative. The biggest booster for renewable sources and technologies is that they have become increasingly competitive with, or in many situations less costly than, fossil-based power (IRENA, 2018). To illustrate, in 2017 one kWh of electricity from a utility-scale solar PV plant costed an average 10 dollar cents, while the cost range of fossil fuel-fired electricity was 5 to 17 cents. Other drivers that push renewables are governmental intentions to transition to zero-carbon emissions energy. As part of the ‘Ready for 100’ campaign, 114 U.S. cities officially declared they are working towards 100% renewables in the next two decades. Simultaneously, an increasing number of big corporates such as Google and Wal-Mart are purchasing electricity directly from independent renewable generators, instead of from a utility. The hope is that with the drop of costs and the increasing efforts of major stakeholders, the world will come closer to building a sustainable energy system.