June 2023 Newsletter

the power of PLACE

Will artificial intelligence save or destroy the world?

With the GPT-3 chatbot writing college essays and computer programs for students desperate to reduce homework loads, concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) destroying humankind have taken on a new urgency.

One version of AI-driven doomsday involves a computer program deciding on its own to eliminate humans. This ascribes an intentionality to AI that seems unlikely. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have not only generated organisms capable of predicting and navigating the world, but organisms driven to reproduce. Lacking such evolutionary pressure, AI seems unlikely to develop a “selfishness” revealing humans as a problem to be solved through elimination.

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Map master

We all know it’s important to see the big picture. Dr. Ian Breckheimer can confidently say that he does. But he also doesn’t miss the details. With his spatial data platform, he and fellow scientists are building a digital twin of the Gunnison Basin, a highly detailed model of the watershed and its climate and ecosystem. Think of it as a high-tech layered atlas.

It includes the height and identification of trees, from aspens to conifers. It shows the elevation of the hills and dales. And now, the platform has recently added long-term data on climate and snow, including the onset and departure dates of snow for the last 30 years, as well as how snow patterns have varied from year to year.

The data set lives on RMBL’s website. There’s a data catalog with a list of data products and services ranging from data curation and archiving to drone imagery processing and data analysis consulting. Scientists can extract the precise data they need for their field sites.