Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) October 2019Authors: Alessandro Curioni, Lukas Czornomaz, Joachim Buhmann, Ernst Hafen, Manuel Kugler, Hervé Bourlard, Jana Koehler, Matthias Kaiserswerth, Anika Schumann Main themes: artificial intelligence Digital transformation is radically reshaping almost every aspect of our society. The explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics applications is enabled by the extreme availability of data in combination with the substantial computing power of modern highly distributed computing infrastructures connected by high-speed networks. Machine learning technologies can be trained to perform specific tasks with an efficiency and an accuracy that can supplement and, in some cases, outperform that of humans. These systems provide deep insights by learning from data and interactions with users, which is already leading to a profound transformation of numerous industries, professions, and society at large. The current state of AI is, however, still far from delivering truly intelligent behaviour that is comparable to human intelligence. An AI research strategy should therefore carefully analyse AI’s history with its various waves of large promises and conceptual shortcomings. Leading Swiss experts in AI have published their recommendations for a Swiss AI strategy. They advocate more intensive use of the technology and the creation of national data platforms, as data is a prerequisite for powerful algorithms.
Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) August 2019Authors: Roger Marti, Hans-Peter Meyer, Manfred Zinn Main themes: plastic, bioplastic, biopolymers Nature of publication: factsheet The first plastic, invented in the second half of the 19th century, was celluloid, produced from nitrocellulose and camphor. Bakelite was the first plastic based on repeating and identical building blocks, so-called monomers. Due to its unrivalled characteristics, Bakelite quickly found use in the rapidly growing automotive and electrical industries. Since then, “plastic” has been a major success and is found in practically all aspects of human life and in high-tech applications. The problem of plastic is related to its advantage: durability. It does not degrade completely, instead breaking down into ever smaller micro- and nanoparticles whose fate and influence on ecosystems are not yet clear. Is bioplastic a solution? The first SATW Innovation Forum on “Biopolymers” took place in November 2018. Invited stakeholders from academic research institutions, industry and administration discussed the current situation and possible shortcomings in Switzerland and charted possible scenarios for development. The publication shows why plastic has become a problem, what bioplastics are, and whether it needs regulation.
CNR, INFN, ITT and Politecnico di Torino consortium 2010The aim of the European Parliament’s “climate-energy pack”, whose target is to increase up to 20% renewable energy consumptions within the 2020, attributes to biomass a basic role in the future energy scenarios. Therefore, the use of bioenergies represents, currently, an interesting opportunity not only for environmental and economic benefits, but also for a local development. The seminar illustrates the present opportunities to develop the three energy chains of wood biomass, biogas and liquid biofuels, as well as to illustrate some of the most interesting experiences realised in Regione Veneto. During the seminar, much time is devoted to the presentation of two softwares, realised by Itabia and CRPA, for the feasibility evaluation and the technical-economic analysis concerning the realisation of energy conversion plants, with particular attention to biogas. production.