Sunday, May 30, 2021

Another painting of the mystery destination

Have you figured it out yet?
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2021 Charlene Brown

Here’s another painting of one of the destinations my daughters and I are thinking about for our next trip together.  I’m still waiting for someone to guess where it is. 

All I’m going to say is that it isn’t the place I signed up in 2019 for a University of Victoria travel study program in 2020 (that didn’t happen of course), or either of the other two places I talked about in 2019, Morocco or Sikkim.  Things were different in the Before Time - my post-pandemic Bucket List is a little more mainstream.



Sunday, May 23, 2021

And on a less educational note…

Guess where?
Watercolour, crayon and computer
©2021 Charlene Brown

I’ve spent too much time lately researching and writing about predictive analytics and transitioning to clean energy and other serious topics.  With the lifting of pandemic restrictions in the foreseeable future, it’s time to get back to fun stuff like bucket lists - specifically, possible destinations for the next expedition with my daughters.

Our last trip was way back in 2017 in the Before Time.  Here is one of the posts I wrote about that trip

The painting above is a location in one of the countries we are thinking about for the next one.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Hydrogen – the fuel of the twenty-first century

Blue, green and grey*
©1991 Charlene Brown

According to a recent Pembina Institute paper, hydrogen is increasingly being discussed as a promising fuel that could reduce carbon emissions in the transportation and heavy industry  sectors, and help move Canada toward its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, the climate advantage of hydrogen is dependent on how it is produced. 

Hydrogen can only play a truly significant role in decarbonizing Canada’s energy systems if it is either ‘blue’ hydrogen, made by extracting hydrogen from natural gas and then using carbon capture and sequestration technology to store the remaining carbon or, ideally, ‘green’ hydrogen, made by extracting hydrogen from water using electrolysis powered by renewable energy.

Unfortunately, almost all of the hydrogen now used as fuel is ‘grey’ hydrogen, which is made by extracting hydrogen from natural gas using thermal processes such as steam methane reformation, with no attempt to capture and store carbon.

With today’s technology, ‘grey’ hydrogen can be produced for as little as a dollar per kilogram, and ‘blue’ hydrogen for between one and two dollars.  But ‘green’ hydrogen can cost up to five dollars per kilogram.

 * The painting on the left, ‘Blue, green and grey’ is actually a colour-altered aerial view of Banff from the south.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Visualization of the incomprehensible

Smutwood Peak
Watercolour and crayon
©2021 Charlene Brown

Einstein was asked to create a metaphor to explain his integrated energy-mass and warped space-time equations, and he said there simply was none. “The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanisms of thought.”

In the hundred years since Einstein and Minkowski revealed the interrelationships among space/time and light, and proof of the space/time continuum, there has been little speculation as to what could exist on this new plane, apart from Einstein’s discovery that gravity is due to the curvature of space-time in the fourth dimension.  

Artistic visualization of the incomprehensible may produce the beginning of a solution. 

Smutwood Peak is not a visualization of Einstein’s relativity theory.  It just happens to be the only thing I’ve painted this week.  I may use it in the graphic novel I’m working on.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

World Economic Forum Report: Visualized - A Global Risk Assessment of 2021 and Beyond

Click on image to enlarge

High-Impact/High-Likelihood Quadrant
Source: WEF Global Risks Report
Colour code: risks are ranked from Low (blue) to High (red)

The World Economic Forum methodology is briefly outlined below, and the top risks, as illustrated above, are listed.

Click on image to enlarge

The animated version of Visualized: A Global Risk Assessment of 2021 and Beyond provides an even better visualization, with annotations like the following:

1.      Unsurprisingly, ‘Infectious diseases’ is one of the top risks by both likelihood and risk.

2.      Youth aged 15-24 today are staring down a turbulent future chief among the risks they face being disrupted educational and economic prospects along with potential mental health challenges.

3.      The world’s economic output suffered greatly in 2020, and could continue to stall as monetary stimulus proves less effective while pushing debt/GDP levels higher.

4.      Although COVID-19 has accelerated the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its benefits are not all-inclusive and may worsen existing inequalities.

5.      Several countries are off-track in meeting emissions goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.  COVID-19 has also delayed progress in the shift to a carbon-neutral economy.

Note: Economists are apparently required to write within the constraints of their profession (the dismal science).

Monday, May 3, 2021

Data Mining and Synthesis of Information

Illustration from Inventing the Future (Pangnirtung Fjord)
InDesign document
©2019 Charlene Brown

The objective of data mining is to get the largest amount of useful information out of the mountains of data available, and do it without falling into the trap of measuring stuff just because you can, and then tracking useless data to no avail. The way to do this is to glean as much as you can intuitively before you start quantifying and fitting number-crunching formulas.

I figured this out almost fifty years ago while studying what is now called business analytics.  It was called management science when I got my MBA in 1973 and operations research before that.  There was probably a lot less data to mine in the early '70s, but it seemed like a lot at the time. 

Synthesizing information through visualization, pattern recognition, trend analysis and extrapolation, in other words, going as far as you can in parsing the problem intuitively (heuristically), increases the likelihood of formulating a solvable optimization – and increases the chance the answer will actually make sense. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

2021 Liberal National Convention


Illustration from Inventing the Future
InDesign document
©2019 Charlene Brown

Policy resolutions, including several regarding or relating to Green Energy were raised (in some cases ‘fast-tracked’) at the National Convention, held April 8 – 10 on Zoom. Resolutions had originated with various Commissions (Women, Youth, Seniors) and Provincial branches, and were presented and workshopped on the second day. Several dozen, including four having to do with green energy, were put forward for debate and voting on the final day.

There were over 6000 of us attending the convention and, for each resolution put forward, everyone had a chance to request debate (four debaters were selected and debates were conducted only if there were at least 50 requests) and then vote on whether or not to advance the resolution to the (Election) Platform Committee. We voted in favour of three of the green energy resolutions, rejecting the one that stipulated the decommissioning of all nuclear power generators.

I voted in favour of the three, despite some misuse of the term ‘renewable’ in two of them, and was especially impressed with the third because it referred to alternate (not renewable) energy sources and, in listing them, did not include biomass.  If you read my April 26 blogpost, you’ll know that’s an issue for me.

I’m proud to have taken part in this policy development process, but suspect that whatever American President Biden says in the next few weeks will have much more influence on the eventual Liberal platform.  And on the Opposition Platform.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Role of Artificial Intelligence:

Illustration from Inventing the Future
InDesign document
©2019 Charlene Brown

Because AI has the ability to process “big data” it could be applied to huge problems involving complex systems.  However, in order to be reliable in forecasting the future, it needs to incorporate the intuitive aspect of human intelligence.  How can that be programmed? 

·         It is possible that properly coded ­algorithms might eventually enable a computer to execute heuristic processes (roughly defined as common sense), but it is more likely that heuristic processes can serve as a good first step in data analytics by synthesizing data into a form AI can handle

 ·         There are apps that make political forecasts by using AI to comb through Twitter – sort of like a really big Delphi study* without having Delphi participants’ opportunity to reevaluate their input.

 * The Delphi Technique can be an especially useful research methodology when there is no true or knowable answer, such as in policy decision-making, or long-range forecasting. A wide range of opinions can be included, which can be useful in cases where relying on a single expert would lead to bias. 

·         The World Economic Forum Global Risks analysis, which I will write about in a few days, describes a method of quantifying expert opinion that sounds similar to a Delphi study. 

·         Design thinking considers input from experts in different fields – marketing, design and  engineering.