Search By Topic


Future Earth Media Lab launches online

The Future Earth Media Lab, a new online incubator for communications, research and more, has launched today. The lab will take a disruptive, experimental approach to communications and global sustainability science. It will nurture projects at the cutting edge of the digital revolution – the internet of things, big data, new media, visualization, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. It will also take risks, challenge conventional thinking and drive new connections between people and planet.

The lab is a partnership between Future Earth, the International Council for Science (ICSU) and Globaïa, a non-profit that explores new representations of the world.

“Future Earth has a mission to change the way we do sustainability science, and an integral part of that is changing the way we communicate that science,” say Co-founders Owen Gaffney, of Future Earth, and Denise Young, of ICSU. "The pace of change in technology and computing is breathtaking, and the potential for science to partner in this space is very exciting.”

“At the Media Lab, we want to create pioneering, experimental approaches for audiences to engage with science that can spread, inspire, spark new trends and change worldviews,” they add.

Check out the site: Future Earth Media Lab

The lab kicks off with a slate of start-ups and new initiatives:

The Anthropocene Magazine

The Anthropocene is the defining concept of our time. The Anthropocene Magazine is the first online and print publication to explore how we make sense of the new world we now live in – and the new responsibility it represents. The magazine is scheduled to launch in September to October 2016 with a special issue on cities that will coincide United Nations Habitat III summit. The magazine will be a space to discuss global sustainability science, solutions and transformations.

The first website dedicated to exploring the concept of the Anthropocene, charts the milestones in human development that led to Homo sapiens reshaping the planet we live on. But it also looks to the future and the urgent need to find a safe operating space for humanity.

Quantified Planet and the Global Goals Lab

Quantified Planet, or QP, is a new start-up and online platform for sharing data, specifically real-time sensor data related to personal health, city health, including air quality and congestion, and planetary health. The platform has already held two successful summits in Stockholm to bring together data fiends, city leaders and scientists to explore new ways of using data. QP has set up the Global Goals Lab to serve as an innovation engine for data to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Science Brief

If global temperatures stabilize at 2°C will sea levels rise by one metre, six metres or more? It depends which research paper you read. With a million or more studies published each year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of the current state of knowledge on climate change, health, biodiversity and, in fact, most academic disciplines. Assessing the state of knowledge in a particular area involves hundreds, if not thousands, of scientists, and it is arduous, bureaucratic and time consuming. But online tools could make this easier. Science Brief, housed at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, is a new project that explores using digital tools to make scientific assessment less painful for those who do it. 


Iris.AI has the potential to go several steps further than Science Brief. Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has the potential to come to the aid of scientists and everyone else to help them to make sense of the rapidly expanding academic literature. The co-founders of Iris.AI, a new start-up, believe that if you could access and contextualize all of the world’s published research you would solve a lot more problems. “We want to democratize access to scientific knowledge. The first step is a science assistant leveraging AI and the crowd to help users map out and find relevant scientific knowledge,” says Finnish co-founder Maria Ritola. The team has created an AI tool for innovators to do quick mappings of a research area, but in the long-term, they want to build an AI scientist that can create a hypothesis based on existing publications, run experiments and simulations and even publish papers on the results. So they are not short of ambition.

Virtual Reality: the Anthronaut Experience

In 2015, the lab held its first two events*, both hackathons under the banner the Anthronaut Experience, that brought together scientists, storytellers and virtual reality experts and filmmakers. Both events created whole new communities of experts around global sustainability and virtual reality. The first film as a result of the hackathons is being shot in June in a favela in Brazil and will examine sustainability issues for people living in these places. It will use new virtual reality technology to give viewers a “Google Streetview” experience of this community. The technology was developed as a result of the hackathons and is about to be commercialized.

*The first hack was a TLab, part of the Stockholm Resilience Centre Transformations Conference and sponsored by Samsung. The second, held in Paris during COP21 at the International Council for Science , was supported by Oculus Rift and Nvidia.

Follow the Media Lab:
Twitter @femedialab
And the Medium Future Earth Media Lab blog