Archive for 2015

Bigdata Bigdata

Big data: a change of paradigm

The National Academy of technologies of France (NATF) invites French public authorities to intensively develop training schemes in Big Data techniques
Big Data represents a change in paradigm such that public authorities would be advised to accompany the movement, notably in terms of education/training schemes and the major companies should be made more aware of what is at stake. In essence, this is the conclusion to the investigations and debates carried out at the Academy, embodied in an Academic Report* published recently, offering a full analysis of the “Opportunities vs. threats” of Big Data on French enterprises.

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Energy and carbon prints effects of ICTs on energy consumption round the world

What is the impact of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) on the energy consumption levels of Society today and what are the Greenhouse Gas emissions from the ICT domain as a whole?
The National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) conducted hearings of numerous French and non-French experts to assess the energy and environmental balance ‘well-to-wheel’ due to the sole ICT sector, taking into consideration the impacts of operating the various apparatus and infrastructures and the energy and carbon print savings generated in other associate sectors. The net energy and carbon balance, concludes the Academic Report* turns out be clearly positive.

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The present Advice Note aims at announcing the principal contents of a forthcoming Academic Report that will result from in-depth investigations carried out by NATF Fellows; it will be finalized taking into account the roadmap decided at COP 21. The effects of climate change are already beginning to be observed and will be increasingly numerous and visible over the coming decades. The ‘warming’ aspect has begun and the most optimistic scenarios forecast a minimum 2°C rise in temperature by year 2100, provided we reduce drastically, as of today, our CO2 emissions. Global warming will be accompanied by rising sea levels. Consequently, practically all human activities will be adversely affected: agriculture and forestry, industries, the building, energy, urbanism, coastline activities, health, access to drinking water, transportation, the bio-economy. The above aspects will be addressed in the NATF Academic Report announced above.

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In a joint Report, the French Air and Space Academy (FASA) and the National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) provide a state-of-the-art both technically and from a global regulatory standpoint for aeronautical bio-fuels with a specific focus on French achievements in this field and a technological road-map as to the possible future for the development of biofuels.

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Understanding how innovative products (or services) emerge, identifying the factors that encourage or hold back their appropriation by Society, analysing the questions in terms of wide ranging changes induced by use of technologies and the conditions and constrained needed for a dialogue with Society, constitute the central guide-line of this Academic Report (adopted by vote at the June 2015, NATF Plenary session)

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Advice Note adopted by vote
at the NATF Plenary session June 10, 2015

As a complement to the contribution published by the Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) to the draft law hearings, and without changing the numbered analyses, several positions appertaining to the final law as framed for the Parliamentary votes were drafted at the NATF and merit being added to the dossier.

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Over the past decade, the progress of 3’D printers has been spectacular. It is now possible to print with over 200 different materials and to attain layer deposit accuracy close to one micron. The objects produced in a 3-D print-out operation are every bit as good as those produced in a classic manufacturing way. 

The National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) considers it to be of prime importance that the development of additive manufacturing be encouraged in France. In order to avoid seeing dispersed efforts here, the Academy advocates the choice of a strategic axis and recommends to privilege material excellence.

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Military robotics and consciousness

Military robots exist and are more and more used, on various operation theatres and in the different media: air (drones), sea, ground and even, maybe soon, space. Their market is strongly expanding.
Used for observation, reconnaissance, demining and even firing (e.g. armed drones), they offer the advantage of positioning the servant away from the battlefield, thus reducing the friendly losses, and to be usually recoverable. 
However, these robots raise important and original ethics issues with respect to other armaments, mainly when they are endowed with a great autonomy (of action), including for firing. Their complexity may lead to a certain unpredictability, responsible of unacceptable “blunders”. Their ease of use, associated with a certain “invulnerability” of the servant linked to the remoteness, may result in excess of violence: one speaks of “joy-stick war” for a war assimilated to a video game!
Indeed, isn’t this military robot already outwardly equipped with a certain “consciousness”?
Methods begin to appear for improving, in particular through self-training, the robot “consciousness” (including “moral” aspects?).

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Methane (CH4): where it comes from and its impact on our climate

In a recently published Academic Report, the National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) tentatively answers some questions arising from the observed, constant increase of methane released into the Earth’s atmosphere. How are the various geographic source locations identified? How does one measure the global increase of CH4 in the atmosphere? What criteria can be evoked to consider reducing these emissions? Should we prioritize and commit efforts to reduce CH4 or CO2 both of which contribute to man-made climate warming?