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California's deadly Camp Fire. Photo: Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/Mercury News/Getty
After decades of neglect, U.S. infrastructure is cracking, sagging, and exploding — and pressure on old systems is growing as cities swell and the climate changes.
Kaveh reports: Now, utility companies, fearful of setting off more disasters like California's deadly wildfires, are hungrily buying up AI systems that can tell them which equipment is the next to rupture or go up in flames.
What's happening: A spate of new startups selling AI systems to predict oncoming equipment problems have found utilities eager customers.
The big picture: A confluence of 21st century shifts is endangering critical infrastructure.
Meanwhile, utility companies that need more employees to deal with this new reality are instead in danger of losing a quarter of their workforce to retirement in the next 5 years — along with their decades of accumulated knowledge.
Without a drastic intervention, the U.S. is set for a lot more California-scale disasters — or, where conditions are not as tinderbox-like, for massive outages, says Lynch. His infrastructure report card gave the energy sector a D+ in its most recent issue.
But, but, but: Fancy analytics alone won't solve the energy sector's looming crisis. The American Society of Civil Engineers said in 2017 that the energy sector needs $177 billion in extra funding to get through the coming decade.
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
The new age of automation will push thousands of people out of work across advanced economies, but only a few countries are well-cushioned against the hit, according to a new report.
To thrive in the new economy, workers must be immersed in the technologies around them, from using email and smartphones to learning something about coding, the report says. “It is urgent for countries to focus on building the skills of workers whose jobs are at high risk of automation.”
The Impossible Burger (left) and Cali Burger. Photo: Richard Drew/AP
Readers had a lot to say about yesterday's post on the future of the American hamburger. One email came from Skip Brooks of Tuscaloosa, Alabama:
Prior to the mid-1940s, Americans ate a basically decent diet. Rural folks ate food and beef they grew. City folks ate local foods from local groceries. After the 2nd World War, the meat industry put forth the idea of meat at every meal. If you were successful, you ate meat at breakfast, lunch, dinner. By the late '50s, burgers and fried food combined to make sure internal cancers, heart disease, and strokes took off.
Human plumbing is not built to process the massive amounts of meat Americans eat. Add to that the environmental realities of so much methane being produced by animals bred for eating and you have a modern science disaster.
Artist's illustration of two black holes. Photo: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State
Cybersecurity job, no experience required (Kelsey Gee - WSJ)
Follow gravitational waves as they are detected (Miriam Kramer - Axios)
Victor Orban's war on intellect (Frank Foer - The Atlantic)
The vanishing of Beijing's long-eared owls (Wang Yiwei - Sixth Tone)
The dramatic U.S. manufacturing slowdown (John Kemp - Reuters)
Bezos in front of his Blue Moon. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty
As Jeff Bezos today unveiled Blue Moon, Blue Origin's new moon lander, he clued the audience in on his extraterrestrial ambitions.
The big picture: Bezos — like other space entrepreneurs — believes humans will have to move to space at some point in the future as Earth becomes overcrowded. While 7.6 billion humans are already draining Earth's resources, outer space could support a trillion of us, he says. "Then we'd have 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins. Think how incredible and dynamic that civilization will be."
Go deeper: Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Origin’s plan to land on the moon (Axios)