California's going to try to solve the water crisis in the most sci-fi way possible: AI.

If you've ever thought to yourself, "Hm, I wonder how close we are to actually creating artificial intelligence," the answer is IBM's Watson.

The supercomputer/"Jeopardy" champion/Ridley Scott advisor is basically the closest we've come as a species to creating a machine that can think for itself. Well, the closest we've come so far.


Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images.

Watson works through a concept called "cognitive computing." It basically means that instead of following rigid computer structures like decision trees and "if this, then that" types of programmable behavior, Watson takes in more information and context and can actually think about the solution to a problem.

It also gets smarter over time, building on its previous knowledge as it learns how to solve problems faster and more efficiently.

Watson's cognitive abilities are pretty much endless, and so far, it's done some pretty cool stuff.

Watson partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City to create 65 recipes by learning about what ingredients go well together.

Watson analyzing ingredient pairings. Image via IBM Research/YouTube.

Watson has also read millions of medical studies to learn about health and wellness, and it can even guide you through an art museum while answering every question you have about the artists.

Recently, Watson got a new job in California tracking water use.

The environmental consulting firm OmniEarth hired Watson to essentially be the overseer of water in California, a state often plagued by droughts and most recently a massive water shortage.

Watson will look at satellite images by the truckload and try to learn as much as it can. The more it looks at California's many farms, golf courses, vineyards, backyards, and deserts, the more it starts to recognize patterns and trends. It actually learns where all of California's water is going just by observing and thinking.

Then it can figure out who might be using too much and where more might need to be distributed.

A dried up reservoir in San Jose, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

"Watson doesn’t know anything about water usage or Earth images," said Jerome Pesenti, vice president of IBM’s Watson platform, to The Huffington Post. "But if you give it some training images, the system can take those as examples and learn from them."

From there, Watson only gets smarter and better at its job.

It's just information now, but California can use it to enact real change.

Local governments can use Watson's data to make customized water budgets for their communities. Also, because many people might not be aware they're overusing water, Watson can help with targeted messaging to those people, informing them of their potential water abuse and providing solutions and ways to cut back. Watson can also spot places where water is scarce and help cities divert resources to those areas.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Solving environmental crises requires the greatest minds of today.

In this case, one of those minds is a manmade computer that kicks ass on "Jeopardy." Whoever, or whatever, solves the problems challenging our environment will need to learn, think, and adapt on a massive scale and act as fast as possible.

Watson is pretty much the perfect candidate.

Heroes

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture