Ecosystem Assessments 

A perspective paper published by Carmen Galaz García, a data scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at UC Santa Barbara, discusses the future of artificial intelligence’s role in understanding and predicting ecological status and change. 

According to the paper’s introduction, recent technological developments have automated data collection and could potentially optimize “efforts to track the state and trajectory of ecosystems to inform these assessments.” García points out that the current capabilities of ecological monitoring practices could potentially lead to the failure of several environmental initiatives put together and put forth by independent scientists and government organizations. 

The paper breaks down how to resolve what currently limits artificial intelligence from being efficiently leveraged as a tool to ensure the success of goals and initiatives for the environment. The authors particularly emphasized transdisciplinarity among computer and environmental scientists, and experts in academia, policy and government to pool their resources and knowledge to accelerate and improve the collection of data on a rapidly warming and evolving global climate. 

Bettering Biotechnology

Diva Amon, a marine biologist who serves as a scientific advisor to UCSB’s Benioff Ocean Science Laboratory, recently published a report in Nature exhorting academics in the field of marine biotechnology to help direct the discipline in a direction pursuant of “principles of sustainability, equity and inclusivity.”

Amon and her collaborators, including first author Robert Blasiak of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, attribute the degradation of global ocean systems to the leaders of marine biotechnology, who belong to industrialized countries and corporate institutions. A paper also authored by Blasiak found that 98% of filed patents in marine biotechnology come from just 10 countries. 

The issue of profit and productivity being foremost to the drivers of marine biotechnology has derailed the field from what the authors refer to as “blue economy principles of equity and inclusivity,” as technology develops faster than regulation for that technology can be enacted. 

The paper discusses potential solutions to guide the marine biotechnology industry toward a more ethical attempt to more consciously consider nature and sustainability. Some solutions included improving aquaculture production to counteract overfishing and overuse of products and resources that Indigenous peoples depend upon for subsistence. Blasiak, Amon and the other collaborators of the paper recommended that marine biotechnology leaders work to support conservation efforts and use existing technology and research to devise solutions to sustainability threats to the marine biome. 

Modern Love

Though psychologists understand that there exists a biological basis to love, what remains unstudied is how culture and environment impact a person’s approach to love. The study was led by Piotr Sorokowski — an academic researcher from the University of Wrocław’s Institute of Psychology — alongside professor Daniel Conroy-Beam from UCSB’s psychological & brain sciences department. 

The paper explored the possibility of whether a country’s level of modernization is related to the quality of love experiences of 9,474 individuals from 45 countries. The level of love was measured according to the “Triangular Love Scale,” which considers the level of passion, intimacy and commitment in a relationship. Factors for country-level predictors that were used for the study were a country’s level of modernization, individualism-collectivism ratio and average annual temperatures. 

This study, which its authors say to be “one of the largest studies on cross-cultural differences in love experiences to date,” shows that love is not only universally experienced but variably experienced depending on a country’s level of modernization and centralization of capitalistic values. This study was also the first to provide empirical evidence on how varying levels of human development and modernization impact experiences of love and marriage. Countries with higher levels of modernization containing more gender-equal cultures felt and channeled more love toward their partners, particularly when it came to intimacy — but to a point. There came a threshold where considerably higher levels of modernization didn’t equate to higher levels of love. 

Also included in the results was evidence that the level of collectivism underlying a country’s culture correlated with higher levels of intimacy and commitment in romantic relationships. The authors reasoned that perhaps individuals from collectivist cultures “might be more altruistic towards their partners,” leading to more closeness and intimacy in the relationship.