Most things that you buy online have been on a shit at one time or another. Ships are able to carry an incredible amount of cargo relatively cheaply, which is why various companies are offering free shipping so commonly. However, this kind of convenience has its price – shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions are increasing.
Ships have huge engines, burning dirty fuel oil. This substance is basically a byproduct of production of our normal fuels. Image credit: Pjotr Mahhonin via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conducted a study, which showed that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in the shipping industry. They hit an all time high in 2017, but they are actually expected to increase even further due to insufficient regulation. This is a bit worrying, because as cars are becoming more and more eco-friendly, the shipping industry is improving very slowly. Ships are used for decades and, although they are becoming better, they are still huge polluters. Furthermore, the shipping industry is growing and there are more ships in the sea now.
Shipping industry should cut emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels – this goal was set by the IMO. And the situation is improving – in 2018 industry’s emissions were 0.3% lower than emissions levels a decade earlier. Experts are looking into emissions of ships via satellite data, which allowed them to estimate that 30% of total shipping emissions fall directly within national government responsibility. This is huge, because it means that goals set by IMO are not going to be as effective as previously thought, because IMO’s responsibility ends where national governments begin. Not great.
But wait – why do we say that the situation is getting worse if overall emissions are going down, even if it is slower than would be desired? Well, methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and emissions of it have increased by 150 % over the study period, because many ships still have old worn out engines. Dr Tristan Smith, co-author of the study, said: “Poor accountancy creates persistent underestimation of the magnitude of responsibility and role that should be taken nationally to decarbonise shipping. Hopefully this study will encourage countries to look again and bring shipping firmly into their national GHG policy and action.” If anything, this study shows that the magnitude of air pollution of ships is largely unknown.
How ships are going to become cleaner in the coming decades? Well, better engines, better exhaust systems, maybe even hybrid technology. However, you should not have any illusions. Ships could be much greener now, but they are burning very dirty fuel oil, which is basically a byproduct of production of petrol and diesel.
Adaptive Meta-Learning for Identification of Rover-Terrain Dynamics
The dynamics of extraterrestrial rovers is dependent on the terrain. The high-level terrain classification used in most current rovers is often not enough to ensure safe path selection, as the experience with NASA’s Curiosity and Spirit shows.
A recent paper suggests a model of the terrain parameters that govern wheel-terrain interaction. Knowing the terrain may help to predict whether the neighboring regions are traversable, plan the safest route, and prevent damage.
A linear model, which relates terrain parameters (namely cohesion and internal friction angle) and rover dynamics is supplemented by a meta-learned neural network. The interpretability of the model is enhanced by the orthogonality of nominal and meta-learned features. The model is capable of rapid adaptation and provides low estimation errors (the largest error is less than 5%).
Rovers require knowledge of terrain to plan trajectories that maximize safety and efficiency. Terrain type classification relies on input from human operators or machine learning-based image classification algorithms. However, high level terrain classification is typically not sufficient to prevent incidents such as rovers becoming unexpectedly stuck in a sand trap; in these situations, online rover-terrain interaction data can be leveraged to accurately predict future dynamics and prevent further damage to the rover. This paper presents a meta-learning-based approach to adapt probabilistic predictions of rover dynamics by augmenting a nominal model affine in parameters with a Bayesian regression algorithm (P-ALPaCA). A regularization scheme is introduced to encourage orthogonality of nominal and learned features, leading to interpretable probabilistic estimates of terrain parameters in varying terrain conditions.
The latest move marks a shift in US policy from earlier this year, when applicants seeking “military end user” licences to sell to SMIC were told by the Commerce Department that the licenses weren’t necessary, according to three people familiar with the matter.
SMIC said it had not received any official notice of the restrictions and said it has no ties with the Chinese military.
“SMIC reiterates that it manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-uses,” SMIC said.
“The Company has no relationship with the Chinese military and does not manufacture for any military end-users or end-uses.”
SMIC is the latest leading Chinese technology company to face U.S. trade restrictions related to national security issues or U.S. foreign policy efforts. Telecoms giant Huawei Technologies had its access to high-end chips curtailed by its addition to a Commerce Department blacklist known as the entity list.
“There’s been a lot of coverage on the Trump administration’s actions regarding TikTok, but the more significant action – from a global economic standpoint and that will have considerable ripple effects through global supply chains – are the increasing restrictions on SMIC and other Chinese national champions like Huawei,” said Nicholas Klein, a Washington lawyer who specializes in international trade. He said these actions are more likely to draw a retaliatory response from Beijing.
The United States has moved to ban the popular short video app TikTok, citing national security concerns stemming from its Chinese ownership.
SMIC’s new designation is not as severe as being blacklisted, which makes it difficult to get any export license approved.
The Pentagon earlier this month, Reuters was first to report, said it was working with other agencies to determine whether to blacklist SMIC for its purported links to the Chinese military.
US companies including Lam Research, KLA, and Applied Materials, which supply chipmaking equipment, may now need to get licenses to ship certain goods to SMIC.
It is unclear which suppliers received the letter, but typically once the Commerce Department comes to the conclusion that there is a risk of military use or diversion, it sends that information to the companies.
The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security declined on Saturday to comment specifically on SMIC, but said it was “constantly monitoring and assessing any potential threats to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests”.
The administration has increasingly trained its focus on Chinese companies that bolster Beijing’s military. Last month, the United States blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted people it said were part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea, its first such sanctions against Beijing over the disputed strategic waterway.
The first rule of open source community citizenship is learn what citizenship in a particular project means. For example, Josh Berkus suggested, “Every project is its own society; you need to figure out the rules of that society before you can become very involved. Approach a new open source project like you would a move to a foreign country.”
Related to this, “Be willing to observe and learn before leaping,” said Brian Proffitt. This can be critical, because it can be a natural impulse to try to solve others’ perceived problems, rather than understanding and addressing their actual needs. When engaging with an open source community, therefore, it’s best to first be a quiet observer. Or, as Vicky “VM” Brasseur noted, “Lurk first to learn in what ways [to contribute].”
As newcomers strive to learn the best ways to contribute, there’s a key resource they can tap into. As Stormy Peters said, “There are real people out there that you can ask questions of. Ask questions in GitHub, on mailing lists, in Slack.” Rich Bowen’s counsel was similar: “There are humans behind those emails, PRs, and tickets, and they have squishy, inscrutable, unknowable reasons for the things they do (just like the humans you know personally).”
Because those “real people” are, well, real people, it pays to be respectful to them. This doesn’t mean we should be “shy” to the point of not engaging, as Peder Ulander warned. Rather, it’s a matter of “be[ing] kind” and “listen[ing] and learn[ing] from others.” (Stephen Walli echoed this sentiment: “Be courteous.”)
One of the things we tend to learn, for example, is that some of the most important work doesn’t involve grand gestures. No, as Duane O’Brien stressed, “A big part being a good citizen doesn’t involve building new parks. It involves raking leaves.”
A great example of this is Madelyn Olson, a new maintainer with the popular Redis database. As she said in an interview, when she started contributing to Redis, “I was just trying to be helpful and that ended up paying off.” Helpful in what way?
Almost all of my contributions are minor. Normally I’m the one making small fixes all over the place, and then when someone really wants to commit something big, I help them get the code in better shape and then they submit it and I’m the ambassador to say, ‘Hey, Salvatore [Redis founder], we built this great thing.’ But I normally try to let the other person get more of the credit.
Which perhaps is as good a place as any to remind the old-timers within an open source project: Don’t be a jerk. Or, as The Ubuntourist put it, “Don’t scare off the newbies. They are the source of future innovations. No matter how many times you’ve explained something, remember the newbies won’t have heard it yet & will ask the same questions. TRY to be patient, even if they haven’t RTFM like you think they should have.”
Because, well, being a good community citizen isn’t just for newcomers. A community isn’t much of a community if it’s only filled with old-timers or newcomers. It’s the mix of both that keeps a community growing and resilient.
Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the opinions expressed herein are mine.
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