GE Aviation Rutland shares energy reduction strategies, saved $1 million and 15 million kwh

first_imgSource: GE. RUTLAND, VT  ‘ May 18, 2011 ‘ Back Row, L to RMike Leonard, Efficiency VermontSenator Vincent IlluzziJim Merriam, Efficiency VermontLt. Governor Phil ScottSenator Bill CarrisDan DiBattista, GE Aviation GE Aircraft Engines – Rutland Operation,GE Aviation’s Rutland facility shared its energy reduction strategies with leading Vermont industrial businesses along with state and Congressional leaders at a special meeting on May 18 at the GE Aviation Rutland facility. GE has saved 15 million kilowatt hours of electricity and nearly 8,000 tons of CO2 in emissions reduced.Since 2006, the GE Aviation Rutland facility and Efficiency Vermont have worked together to identify and implement energy savings programs at the 400,000-square-foot Windcrest Road and 100,000-square-foot Columbian Avenue locations. The team has completed 16 projects that have reduced the annual electrical usage by more than 15 million kwh and reduced CO2 emission by close to 8,000 tons. GE Aviation estimates its annual electrical cost savings is more than $1 million for both Rutland locations. Examples of energy savings projects include:-          Lighting upgrades: Changing lighting from high pressure sodium fixtures to high performance T8 high bay fixtures. Annual savings of close to 2.5 million kWh in electricity and reduction of 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions, as well improved lighting in manufacturing areas.-          Right sizing equipment: Replacing eight over-sized rotary ovens with eight right-sized ovens and reduction in compressed air consumption.  Annual savings of nearly 1 million kWh in electricity and reduction of more than 450 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Aligning infrastructure to new processes: Changing two 100 HP ventilation systems to two 5 HP ventilation systems. Annual savings of more than 1 million kWh in electricity and reduction of more than 550 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Reducing compressed air consumption:Replacing 11 air diaphragm pumps with 11 electric pumps. Annual savings of more than 440,000 kWh in electricity and reduction of close to 230 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Creating employee energy awareness: Promoting energy conservation on the shop floor through employee awareness and simple equipment shut down and start up procedures in all production areas. This program, with little or no capital expense, yielded an estimated 12% electrical reduction in one year. ‘The team’s efforts have provided significant benefits to the site as well as the environment,’ said Dan DiBattista, plant manager for GE Aviation Rutland. ‘The energy savings is enough to power close to 900 Vermont homes annually and the CO2 emission reduction is the equivalent of removing close to 475 cars off the road each year.’‘GE Aviation is a leader in energy efficiency in the state of Vermont,’ said Mike Leonard, key account manager for Efficiency Vermont. ‘We’ve been pleased to partner with them as they’ve taken energy efficiency to a whole new level through process improvements and making energy use reduction a key part of operations.’ The energy efficiency efforts are part of GE’s ecomagination initiative, which includes a commitment by GE to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent, water usage by 25 percent and energy intensity reduction by 50 percent. For more information about GE’s ecomagination, is external).GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings. GE Aviation Rutland manufactures airfoils and vane for jet engines used in commercial and military aircraft. For more information, visit us at is external). Follow GE Aviation on Twitter at is external) and YouTube at is external). Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) operates Efficiency Vermont under an appointment by the Vermont Public Service Board. VEIC is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization founded in1986. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit is external).Pictured: Front Row, L to RPaul Bender, GE AviationCharlie Barker, GE AviationDrew Hamer, GE Aviationcenter_img Middle Row, L to RRick Thibodeau, Efficiency VermontJonathan Aldrich, IBMKate Hunter, Efficiency Vermontlast_img read more

German tourists are still the most numerous on the Adriatic

first_imgIn May 2018, tourists spent the most nights in hotels, 2,2 million overnight stays, which is 38% of the total number of overnight stays. Compared to May 2017, hotels recorded an increase in arrivals by 13% and an increase in tourist nights by 14%.In May 2018, 252 thousand rooms, apartments and camping places with a total of 648 thousand permanent beds were available to tourists.In the group Resorts and similar facilities for short vacations, there were a total of 100 thousand rooms and suites available to tourists (which is 40% of the total number of available rooms and suites) with a total of 264 thousand permanent beds (which is 41% of the total number of available permanent beds ).In the group Hotels and similar accommodation tourists had at their disposal a total of 76 thousand rooms and suites (which is 30% of the total number of available rooms and suites) with a total of 158 thousand permanent beds (which is 24% of the total number of available permanent bed). The average occupancy of rooms was 59,6%, and permanent beds 55,7%.Tourists aged 65 and over realized the most overnight staysSource: CBSIn May 2018, tourists in the age group of 65 and over realized the most overnight stays, 1,1 million, which is 18% of the total overnight stays. They are followed by tourists in the age group from 55 to 64 years with 980 thousand overnight stays, which is 17% of total overnight stays, and tourists in the age group from 45 to 54 years with 933 thousand overnight stays, which is 16% of total overnight stays.Domestic tourists prefer the City of Zagreb, and foreign tourists DubrovnikIn the first five months of 2018, domestic tourists realized the most overnight stays in the City of Zagreb, Rovinj – Rovigno, Opatija, Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar, which is 31% of the total number of overnight stays of domestic tourists.Foreign tourists prefer Dubrovnik, then the City of Zagreb, Rovinj – Rovigno, Poreč – Parenzo, Split and Umag – Umago, which is 35% of the total overnight stays of foreign tourists. Hotels achieved the most overnight stays In the first five months of 2018, tourists made 3,5 million arrivals and 10,3 million overnight stays in commercial accommodation facilities, which is an increase of 19% in arrivals and a 24% increase in tourist overnight stays compared to the same period in 2017.In the first five months of 2018, domestic tourists realized 655 thousand arrivals and 1,4 million overnight stays, which is 10% more arrivals and 8% more tourist nights than in the same period last year.In the first five months of 2018, foreign tourists realized 2,8 million arrivals and 8,9 million overnight stays, which is an increase of 22% in arrivals and a 27% increase in tourist overnight stays compared to the same period last year. Most overnight stays of foreign tourists were realized by tourists from Germany (27%), Austria (11%), Slovenia (9%) and the United Kingdom (7%).In May, 35% of the total overnight stays were made by tourists from GermanyMost overnight stays of foreign tourists in May 2018 were realized by tourists from Germany, 1,9 million overnight stays (35% of the total overnight stays of foreign tourists) and tourists from Austria, with 588 thousand overnight stays of tourists (11% of the total overnight stays of foreign tourists ), according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (DSZ).Compared to May 2017, tourists from Germany achieved a significant increase in arrivals by 91% and an increase in overnight stays by 116%, and tourists from Austria achieved an increase in arrivals by 50% and an increase in overnight stays by 26%. , 8,3%), Slovenia (5,0%), Poland (4,0%) and France (3,6%) of the Netherlands (3,4%) and the USA (3,2%).Double-digit increase in tourist arrivals and overnight staysIn May 2018, 1,6 million tourist arrivals and 5,8 million tourist nights were realized in commercial accommodation facilities. Compared to May 2017, there were 30,7% more tourist arrivals and 39,9% more overnight stays.Domestic tourists realized 200 thousand arrivals and 441 thousand overnight stays, which is an increase of arrivals by 10,9% and an increase of overnight stays by 8,4% compared to May 2017. Foreign tourists realized 1,4 million arrivals and 5,3 million overnight stays , which is 34,0% more arrivals and 43,4% more overnight stays compared to May 2017.Source: CBSIstria County is still the first in terms of the number of overnight staysThe County of Istria achieved the largest number of tourist arrivals and overnight stays in May 2018, 434 thousand arrivals and almost 2 million tourist overnight stays. Rovinj with 325 thousand overnight stays of tourists and Poreč with 276 thousand overnight stays are the cities with the highest number of overnight stays in the Istria County.Domestic tourists increased their arrivals by 4,6% and increased their overnight stays by 6,6%, while foreign tourists increased their arrivals by 53,8% and increased their overnight stays by 60,7%. Tourists from Germany realized the most overnight stays, more than 900 thousand (45% of the total overnight stays in the County of Istria). Compared to May 2017, tourists from Germany achieved a significant increase in arrivals by 123% and an increase in overnight stays by 140%.Dubrovnik, the city with the highest number of tourist nightsIn May 2018, Dubrovnik was the city with the highest number of overnight stays of tourists in commercial accommodation, with 460 thousand overnight stays. Most overnight stays were realized in the group Hotels and similar accommodation, 60%, and then in the group Resorts and similar facilities for short breaks, 39%.Compared to May 2017, domestic tourists in Dubrovnik recorded an increase in arrivals by 4,1% and overnight stays by 5,5%, and foreign tourists recorded an increase in arrivals and overnight stays by 13,7%. Most overnight stays were realized by tourists from the United Kingdom, 114 thousand, and tourists from the US, 51 thousand overnight stays.last_img read more

Rosemary M. Eberhardt, 84

first_imgRosemary M. Eberhardt, 84, Greensburg, passed away on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at the Decatur County Memorial Hospital in Greensburg.   Born, February 21, 1935 in Akron, Ohio, she was the daughter of Frank Joseph and Rose F. (Krivosucky) Rapant. She was a member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church.  She loved her family and spending time with them at her favorite place, White Oak Lodge.  She was married to John F. Eberhardt on January 30, 1953 and he preceded her in death on April 13, 2000.  She is survived by two sons, Jeff Eberhardt, Brownsburg, David (Karen) Eberhardt, Greensburg; two daughters, Marianne (Tim) Kritzer, Pendleton, Sue (Rick) Adams, Greensburg; nine grandchildren, John Wesley Eberhardt, Blair (Brian) Lawless, Tracey (Charles) Price, Jared (Amanda) Eberhardt, Jack Eberhardt , Emily Eberhardt, Katie  (Zack) Saunders, Tyler Adams, Mitch Adams; four great grandchildren, Thomas, Jeffrey, Max, and Leo; daughter in law, Diann Eberhardt. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband; stepmother, Frances A. (Simon) Eberhardt; one son, John M. Eberhardt, one daughter in law, Maudie Eberhardt; one brother, Michael Rapant.  The family will receive friends from 10–11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greensburg. A memorial mass will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. John Meyer officiating. A luncheon for family and friends will follow the mass at the church. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Greensburg Public Library.  Online condolences can be made to the family at www.popfuneralhome.comlast_img read more

Jawula hails Nyantakyi on his new CAF appointment

first_imgFormer chairman of the Ghana Football Association Lepowura MND Jawula has praised Kwasi Nyantakyi on his rise at the Confederation of African Football.Nyantakyi was confirmed as the head of CAF’s Fair Play and SocialResponsibility Committee and also appointed on four other standing committees of the African football governing body on Tuesday.According to Lepowura Jawula, who is also a member of the CAF interclub committee, Nyantakyi’s appointment epitomizes his good work but he has advised him to be tactful in his dealings.“He should do it with a lot of caution, diplomacy and understanding with all those on the committee,” he told Joy sports“It is good for Ghana football to have somebody at that level, so what this means is that our own football must be well organized now and we have to take advantage of the fact that we have somebody who is very close at the top level in CAF.“Fair play in our country must be up to scratch, so that people do not say in his own country things don’t get on well, it is a challenge for all to support him and to ensure he does the things that are right so one day when a much bigger opportunity there comes they will look at him.” Nyantakyi won a CAF Executive Committee election two years ago and also holds a position at FIFA.last_img read more

Trinidad and Tobago Red Force topple depleted Windward Volcanoes

first_imgRegional Super50 Tournament– rain has the final say as Canada-Windies B game abandonedThe defending champions Windward Islands Volcanoes succumbed to their fifth defeat in the Regional Super50 Tournament with an embarrassing loss against powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.Trinidad and Tobago Red Force celebrateVolcanoes were blown away for a mere 78 in 22.1 overs, and Red Force batsmen enjoyed chasing down a small target as they completed the chase in 9.4 overs, winning by seven wickets.In a much-anticipated encounter at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Red Force won the toss and opted to field. Improved Trinidadian fast bowler Ravi Rampaul struck in his first over, rattling the stumps of Volcanoes opener Tyrone Theophile for 1. The Windward Islands Volcanoes continued to struggle as the Red Force skipper brilliantly opened the bowling, sending Kirk Edwards back to the dressing room with only seven runs to his name. Wickets continued to tumble as the Red Force bowlers chipped away with quick wickets. Left-arm spinner Khary Pierre wrapped up the innings in the 22nd over, bowling Alick Athanaze. Opener Girdon Pope was the only batsman offering resistance, stroking 37 from 44 balls – including five well-timed fours and one maximum off leg-spinner Imran Khan.Lendl SimmonsIn completing a comprehensive bowling effort, Khan picked up 3-13 from four overs, fellow spinner Pierre and seasoned fast bowler Rayad Emrit took two wickets apiece. Captain Dwayne Bravo, Rampaul and Jason Mohammed chipped in with one wicket each.Trinidad and Tobago Red Force opener Lendl Simmons blazed away to a quick-fire half century with his new opening partner, West Indies star performer Keiron Pollard, who lost his stumps to left-arm spinner Kavem Hodge for a duck. Hodge picked up all three Red Force wickets, but was unable to prevent a thumping victory by Red Force. Simmons and the consistent Nicholas Pooran were the not out batsmen, with Simmons taking 20 off four balls, rubbing salt into the Volcanoes’ wounds.The Trinidad Red Force have now moved on to 23 points, two points behind table toppers Guyana Jaguars. Red Force will clash with Windies B in their next encounter while Volcanoes will battle Guyana Jaguars today, October 19 at 11:30h local time.In the other encounter at the Queen’s Park Oval, rain once again had the last say as the match between Canada and Windies B was abandoned. (Brandon Corlette)last_img read more

A new breed of scientist with brains of silicon

first_img What Zymergen actually does is tune up industrial microbes that produce ingredients for biofuels, plastics, or drugs. Seeking to boost production, companies send their workhorse strains to Zymergen. The robots then explore and tinker with each microbe’s genome in a bid to engineer a version that makes its product compound more efficiently.The problem is that the microbes that arrive at Zymergen are already “highly optimized,” Hoffman says. After years of research and breeding, the cells are very good at what they do. So squeezing out more efficiency requires exploring the genome deeply, conducting experiments, and following the data wherever they lead—doing science, in other words.Zymergen is trying to accelerate that science. In traditional biology, Hoffman says, “you’ve got a person standing at a bench testing a limited number of hypotheses. Call it 10 per month.” Robots can do that physical part of the process faster—the machines at Zymergen run as many as 1000 experiments per week. But robots only follow orders: Giving them the right orders is the real bottleneck.When I ask how his algorithms design experiments, Kimball begins with a simple premise. “You’ve got the original microbe here with about 5000 genes. Let’s say there are 10 ways you could change a given gene. So that’s 50,000 things you could be doing.” The experimental “campaign” begins by creating 1000 strains, each with a single deliberate mutation, he says. “Each one lives in a droplet. You feed it sugar, let it cook for a while, and then measure how much product you get.” Maybe 25 strains will produce slightly more of the target chemical. Those strains become breeding stock for the next round of experiments, and the rest go into the freezer.But the path to discovery is anything but straight. Finding just the right combination of mutations requires a long, tortuous exploration of the genetic “landscape,”Kimball says. And just blindly walking uphill toward peaks of efficiency almost never leads to a major summit. That’s because if you just combine all the mutations yielding small improvements into a single microbe, they don’t add up to a big gain. Instead, the microbe becomes “sick,” he says, far less fit than the original strain. So choosing the right path, including detours into promising valleys, requires a mental map showing all the effects of all the mutations at once—a map with not just three dimensions, but thousands. Machine learning is needed to stay oriented.But here’s the key difference: When the robots do finally discover the genetic changes that boost chemical output, they don’t have a clue about the biochemistry behind their effects.Is it really science, then, if the experiments don’t deepen our understanding of how biology works? To Kimball, that philosophical point may not matter. “We get paid because it works, not because we understand why.” So far, Hoffman says, Zymergen’s robotic lab has boosted the efficiency of chemical-producing microbes by more than 10%. That increase may not sound like much, but in the $160-billion-per-year sector of the chemical industry that relies on microbial fermentation, a fractional improvement could translate to more money than the entire $7 billion annual budget of the National Science Foundation. And the advantageous genetic changes that the robots find represent real discoveries, ones that human scientists probably wouldn’t have identified. Most of the output-boosting genes are not directly related to synthesizing the desired chemical, for instance, and half have no known function. “I’ve seen this pattern now in several different microbes,” Dean says. Finding the right genetic combinations without machine learning would be like trying to crack a safe with thousands of numbers on its dial. “Our intuitions are easily overwhelmed by the complexity,” he says.Just how much of science can be delegated to machine-learning systems depends on whom you ask. “A lot,” says Ilias Tagkopoulos, a computer scientist at the University of California, Davis, who researches genomics. “There is no reason that we cannot let the data dictate what experiment we should do next, to maximize the information gain and come closer to our goals.” His seemingly endless list of applications includes predicting how bacteria will evolve in a changing hospital environment and designing better snack food—essentially any complex optimization problem for which improvement is well-defined. GRAPHIC: G. GRULLÓN/SCIENCE EMERYVILLE, CALIFORNIA—If this is the biology laboratory of the future, it doesn’t look so different from today’s. Scientists in white lab coats walk by with boxes of frozen tubes. The chemicals on the shelves—bottles of pure alcohol, bins of sugar, protein, and salts—are standard issue for growing microbes and manipulating their genes. You don’t even notice the robots until you hear them: They sound like crickets singing to each other amid the low roar of fans.The robots work for Zymergen, a biotechnology company that moved into this former electronics factory on the eastern shore of California’s San Francisco Bay in 2014. They spend their days carrying out experiments on microbes, searching for ways to increase the production of useful chemicals. Here’s one called Echo. Nestled within a blocky jumble of equipment, a robotic arm grabs a plastic block dimpled with hundreds of tiny wells carrying liquid. A laser scans a barcode on the block’s side before Echo loads it into a tray. What happens next is too subtle for the human eye to perceive.“This isn’t a replica of how I would do pipetting with my hand,” says one of the company’s co-founders, Jed Dean, a molecular biologist and vice president of operations and engineering. “It’s an entirely different way of doing it.” Instead of using a pipette to suck up and squirt microliters of liquid into each well—a tidal wave of volume on the cellular scale—the robot never touches it. Instead, 500 times per second, a pulse of sound waves causes the liquid itself to ripple and launch a droplet a thousand times smaller than one a human can transfer. At biotech startup Zymergen, robotic fingers are poised to pick microbe colonies in an AI-controlled quest for strains that crank out more chemicals. ZYMERGEN/ALBERT LAW PHOTOGRAPHY A new breed of scientist, with brains of silicon Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)center_img AI is changing how we do science. Get a glimpse Automating discovery Science is a sequence. Day in and day out, the work in a laboratory isn’t so different from that in a factory. Papers come in and inspire new experiments, which lead to new findings—and result in new papers. Various companies and research organizations are building tools based on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) that enhance or even replace the role of humans each step of the way By John BohannonJul. 5, 2017 , 9:00 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Special package: AI in science Yet none of that is the really futuristic part. Big bio labs have used robots and barcodes for years. Even the liquid-moving technology—called acoustic droplet ejection—has existed for decades. The real giveaway comes when I ask Dean what experiment this robot is working on right now. “I have no idea,” he says. He could easily find out, but he didn’t design the experiment. Instead, it was the output of a computer program.“I want to be very clear,” says Zymergen CEO Joshua Hoffman, heading off a persistent misunderstanding. “There is a human scientist in the loop, looking at the results and reality checking them.” But for interpreting data, generating hypotheses, and planning experiments, he says, the ultimate goal is “to get rid of human intuition.”Zymergen is one of several companies with the same goal: harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to augment—or even replace—the role of humans in the scientific process. “AI-powered biotech” is how it has been described, but Zymergen’s co-founders cringe at the term. “‘AI’ sounds like a robot playing chess,” says Aaron Kimball, the company’s chief technical officer. “I’m comfortable with ‘ML,’” Hoffman says, referring to machine learning, the branch of computer science that accounts for nearly all recent progress in AI. “That gets at what we do.” If machines really are poised to replace humans in some scientific tasks, many scientists will embrace them. Unlike factory workers or taxi drivers, most research scientists would love to automate parts of their jobs. That’s especially true for molecular and cellular biology, in which the manual labor—squirting liquids, plating cells, counting colonies—is tedious and expensive. A graduate student’s tiniest mistake or imprecision can waste weeks of work. Even worse is a sloppy decision by the postdoc who designed the experiments for that student, wasting months of effort.Yet some biologists describe frustration after enlisting AI to interpret data and design experiments. “We’re finding that current machine-learning methods are still not quite up to the task,” says Rhiju Das, a computational biochemist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who studies how molecules fold in order to design new drugs. “They fail horribly in RNA design problems compared to [humans] who have access to the same data.” Although he doesn’t know why, tasks that involve “design” seem to require human intuition. Maybe Zymergen has stumbled on the rare part of biology that is well-suited to computer-controlled experimentation.Max Hodak, who co-founded Transcriptic in Menlo Park, California—another biotech company exploring automation—also sees limits to the approach. He is confident that robots will take much of the tedium out of lab work. Soon, he says, “if you’re still using your hands, you won’t be doing science.” But the brain of the biologist won’t be replaced anytime soon, simply because the natural world is so complex. Evolution, Hodak says, “is responsible for the richness of biology, and it’s also why it’s so hard to understand. It’s irreducible complexity.” AI could give biologists limited help in designing better experiments, Hodak says, but he worries that outsourcing any more of the scientific process will prove “much more complicated than we expect.”And even if AI-controlled research works, will humans understand what the computer discovers? The calculations behind a result may remain a black box. “An intriguing possibility is that we’re closing the era of ‘comprehensible’ science,” says Adrien Treuille, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who works with molecular biologists. Researchers may come to rely on computers not only to do the science, but also to explain it: Some evidence for biological theories may be so complex that accepting it requires faith in the computation.In that case, should scientists include their computers as co-authors on their papers? “I wouldn’t do that,” says Michael Schmidt, CEO of Nutonian, a Boston-based company applying AI to scientific discovery. But then he hedges: “Well, when they can read and make sense of the paper, then they can be an author.”last_img read more