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国际科学储备: 一个应对未来灾难的项目

国际科学储备: 一个应对未来灾难的项目

David Meyer 2021年10月08日
国际科学储备由科学家和技术专家而非任何特定政府担任领导者。

剧透一下,新冠疫情不会是最后一场全球危机。然而,它可能是未来危机的预演,促使我们更好地应对即将到来的可怕意外。

这就是国际科学储备背后的概念,这个机构联合科学家、公司和其他组织共同应对日后的灾难,包括当前的气候危机等。IBM和纽约科学院共同发起了这一倡议,并将于明年初启动该项目。

国际科学储备将自下而上运作,由科学家和技术专家而非任何特定政府担任领导者,并围绕两条主线发展,纽约科学院主席兼首席执行官尼古拉斯·德克斯表示。

“其一是建立知识网络,我的意思是,我们将集聚各类灾难应对专家和科学资源并创建一个相关数据库,”他说。“其二是进行灾难应对演练或情景规划,我们将挑选某一特定的[潜在]灾难,然后设计模拟现实应对措施。”

该项目的灵感和起源可以追溯至疫情爆发初期,当时现有的大量计算基础设施突然有了新用途。

紧急联合

2020年3月,新冠疫情开始席卷欧洲,IBM研究总监达里奥·吉尔从住在西班牙的家人那里得知,他表弟的新冠病毒检测呈阳性。他和所在团队联系了白宫和美国能源部,提议汇集全国的计算资源供全球研究人员使用,使他们能够借助超级算力进行模拟和建模,以迎战日益逼近的新冠疫情。

一周之内,新冠病毒高性能计算联盟诞生了。美国的成员包括亚马逊网络服务、谷歌云、微软和英特尔等私企,以及美国国家航空航天局、国家科学基金会、麻省理工学院、能源部国家实验室等机构,日韩政府和学术组织也参与了进来。目前该联盟正与欧盟和澳大利亚的其他网络合作。

在过去一年半的时间里,联盟共计为100多个研究团队提供了支持,助其研发治疗方案,设计安全的患者呼吸机共享方式,进行气溶胶扩散建模以更好地了解病毒传播方式等。

如今,在过去18个月的合作基础上,他们又想出了两项行动计划。一个是将该联盟正式纳入国家战略计算储备,以在未来出现危机时提供技术支持。IBM研究部战略合作负责人迈克·罗森菲尔德表示,该计划“将在适当的时候启动”。另一个是将合作概念推广到计算领域以外,即国际科学储备。

吉尔认为其发展轨迹与上世纪大变革背景下其他机构的创建历程类似:如曼哈顿计划催生出的美国国家科学基金会,再如冷战期间的美国航空航天局和国防部高级研究计划局。

“其中一个经验教训是,新冠疫情期间,科学家和工程师跨国界跨机构合作是抗击疫情并取得相应进展的关键,”他说。“世卫组织或疾病预防控制中心能够独自应对疫情的日子已经一去不复返了……显然,这需要我们大家共同努力。”

“国际科学储备不是要建立一个庞大的组织,而是要打造一个灵活的网络,将分散在世界各地的合作伙伴联结起来,充分利用大家的知识技能以模拟设计危机应对方案,”德克斯说。“我们想把从疫情中吸取到的教训进一步转化为相应的现实行动,而不是仅仅将其尘封在历史中,我们还想做好相关预案,以应对未来可能发生的任何事情。”

气候危机

至于这些事情会是什么,其有很多可能。正如德克斯所指出的,也许是另一场介水传染病疫情,需要我们采取不同的应对措施。也许是意在破坏交通或能源系统的网络攻击。也可能是小行星撞击地球。

然后,当然还有可能是已经为人所知的全球气候危机。

“众所周知,气候变化正日益严峻,气候灾害的发生频次和强度都在逐渐增加,”德克斯说。“有鉴于此,我认为我们未来的部分行动规划将与气候危机密切相关。”

吉尔认为,科学储备概念自下而上的性质,即科学家们和学术团体通过网络联结在一起,将在应对气候危机方面起到至关重要的作用。

“如果你观察过大学和其他地方的下一代科学家,你会发现学界目前最重视的就是气候变化问题以及相应解决措施,”吉尔说。“我们认为,将科学储备的能量和学界对气候问题的重视结合起来会有助于取得好结果。”

纽约科学院董事会在春末批准了国际科学储备概念,德克斯、吉尔及其同事花了一个夏天来研究该想法及其可能的架构。目前,他们正开始接触潜在合作伙伴,如产业界、政府和其他组织等,并希望在2022年上半年做好项目启动前准备。

德克斯说,一旦国际科学储备建立并运行起来,它可能会面向公众开放部分内容,尽管他担心这会助长目前盛行于年轻一代的反乌托邦主义。

“要想真正开始采取行动去解决有望改善的问题,如减少碳排放,解决新奥尔良市的征税问题,在受日益严重的荒漠化危害影响的全球各地研发抗旱作物等,人们必须时刻充满希望并不断探索,”他说。“我们当然愿意向公众分享我们的模拟成果,因为我认为我们能从中学到很多东西,但我对其所能真正起到的警示作用感到怀疑。”(财富中文网)

译者 Claire

剧透一下,新冠疫情不会是最后一场全球危机。然而,它可能是未来危机的预演,促使我们更好地应对即将到来的可怕意外。

这就是国际科学储备背后的概念,这个机构联合科学家、公司和其他组织共同应对日后的灾难,包括当前的气候危机等。IBM和纽约科学院共同发起了这一倡议,并将于明年初启动该项目。

国际科学储备将自下而上运作,由科学家和技术专家而非任何特定政府担任领导者,并围绕两条主线发展,纽约科学院主席兼首席执行官尼古拉斯·德克斯表示。

“其一是建立知识网络,我的意思是,我们将集聚各类灾难应对专家和科学资源并创建一个相关数据库,”他说。“其二是进行灾难应对演练或情景规划,我们将挑选某一特定的[潜在]灾难,然后设计模拟现实应对措施。”

该项目的灵感和起源可以追溯至疫情爆发初期,当时现有的大量计算基础设施突然有了新用途。

紧急联合

2020年3月,新冠疫情开始席卷欧洲,IBM研究总监达里奥·吉尔从住在西班牙的家人那里得知,他表弟的新冠病毒检测呈阳性。他和所在团队联系了白宫和美国能源部,提议汇集全国的计算资源供全球研究人员使用,使他们能够借助超级算力进行模拟和建模,以迎战日益逼近的新冠疫情。

一周之内,新冠病毒高性能计算联盟诞生了。美国的成员包括亚马逊网络服务、谷歌云、微软和英特尔等私企,以及美国国家航空航天局、国家科学基金会、麻省理工学院、能源部国家实验室等机构,日韩政府和学术组织也参与了进来。目前该联盟正与欧盟和澳大利亚的其他网络合作。

在过去一年半的时间里,联盟共计为100多个研究团队提供了支持,助其研发治疗方案,设计安全的患者呼吸机共享方式,进行气溶胶扩散建模以更好地了解病毒传播方式等。

如今,在过去18个月的合作基础上,他们又想出了两项行动计划。一个是将该联盟正式纳入国家战略计算储备,以在未来出现危机时提供技术支持。IBM研究部战略合作负责人迈克·罗森菲尔德表示,该计划“将在适当的时候启动”。另一个是将合作概念推广到计算领域以外,即国际科学储备。

吉尔认为其发展轨迹与上世纪大变革背景下其他机构的创建历程类似:如曼哈顿计划催生出的美国国家科学基金会,再如冷战期间的美国航空航天局和国防部高级研究计划局。

“其中一个经验教训是,新冠疫情期间,科学家和工程师跨国界跨机构合作是抗击疫情并取得相应进展的关键,”他说。“世卫组织或疾病预防控制中心能够独自应对疫情的日子已经一去不复返了……显然,这需要我们大家共同努力。”

“国际科学储备不是要建立一个庞大的组织,而是要打造一个灵活的网络,将分散在世界各地的合作伙伴联结起来,充分利用大家的知识技能以模拟设计危机应对方案,”德克斯说。“我们想把从疫情中吸取到的教训进一步转化为相应的现实行动,而不是仅仅将其尘封在历史中,我们还想做好相关预案,以应对未来可能发生的任何事情。”

气候危机

至于这些事情会是什么,其有很多可能。正如德克斯所指出的,也许是另一场介水传染病疫情,需要我们采取不同的应对措施。也许是意在破坏交通或能源系统的网络攻击。也可能是小行星撞击地球。

然后,当然还有可能是已经为人所知的全球气候危机。

“众所周知,气候变化正日益严峻,气候灾害的发生频次和强度都在逐渐增加,”德克斯说。“有鉴于此,我认为我们未来的部分行动规划将与气候危机密切相关。”

吉尔认为,科学储备概念自下而上的性质,即科学家们和学术团体通过网络联结在一起,将在应对气候危机方面起到至关重要的作用。

“如果你观察过大学和其他地方的下一代科学家,你会发现学界目前最重视的就是气候变化问题以及相应解决措施,”吉尔说。“我们认为,将科学储备的能量和学界对气候问题的重视结合起来会有助于取得好结果。”

纽约科学院董事会在春末批准了国际科学储备概念,德克斯、吉尔及其同事花了一个夏天来研究该想法及其可能的架构。目前,他们正开始接触潜在合作伙伴,如产业界、政府和其他组织等,并希望在2022年上半年做好项目启动前准备。

德克斯说,一旦国际科学储备建立并运行起来,它可能会面向公众开放部分内容,尽管他担心这会助长目前盛行于年轻一代的反乌托邦主义。

“要想真正开始采取行动去解决有望改善的问题,如减少碳排放,解决新奥尔良市的征税问题,在受日益严重的荒漠化危害影响的全球各地研发抗旱作物等,人们必须时刻充满希望并不断探索,”他说。“我们当然愿意向公众分享我们的模拟成果,因为我认为我们能从中学到很多东西,但我对其所能真正起到的警示作用感到怀疑。”(财富中文网)

译者 Claire

The COVID-19 pandemic will—spoiler alert—not be the last game-changing global crisis. However, there is a chance that one of its effects will be to better prepare the world for whatever hellish surprises lie over the horizon.

That's the concept behind the International Science Reserve, in which scientists, companies, and other organizations will get ready to react to future catastrophes, including those associated with the ongoing climate crisis. The initiative is being developed by IBM and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), and will be launched early next year.

The International Science Reserve, which will work from the bottom up, being led by scientists and technologists rather than by any particular government—an approach that can naturally lead to politicization—will have two main strands, says Nicholas Dirks, the NYAS president and CEO.

"One is the establishment of a kind of knowledge network, by which I mean we will begin to…track and develop a database of all the different experts and scientific resources relevant to different kinds of potential scenarios of catastrophe," he says. "The second thing we would do is…engage in readiness exercises or certain kinds of scenario planning, where we would pick a particular [potential] catastrophe and then simulate how we would respond in real time to it."

The project's inspiration and genesis can be found at the start of our current pandemic, when a ton of existing computing infrastructure suddenly found a new purpose.

Urgent collaboration

In March 2020, as COVID-19 was beginning to sweep Europe, IBM Research director Darío Gil learned from his family in Spain that his cousin had tested positive. He and his team got in touch with the White House and U.S. Department of Energy and proposed a pooling of U.S. supercomputing resources, so researchers around the world could have the number-crunching power they needed for simulations and modeling in the looming battle.

Within a week, the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium was born. American participants include the private-sector likes of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft and Intel, as well as NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Department of Energy's national laboratories, and many others. Government and academic organizations from South Korea and Japan are also on board, and the initiative is collaborating with other networks in the EU and Australia.

Over the last year and a half, the COVID-19 HPC Consortium has helped more than 100 research teams do things like develop treatments, devise ways to safely share ventilators between patients, and model aerosol flows to better understand how the disease spreads.

There are now two plans of action that aim to build on the cooperation displayed over the past 18 months. One is to formalize the consortium into a National Strategic Computing Reserve that could provide technical firepower when future crises arise—this plan is "moving along in due course," says Mike Rosenfield, IBM Research's head of strategic partnerships. The other is to extend the concept beyond the computing arena. This would be the International Science Reserve.

Gil sees these proposed developments as analogous to the creation of other institutions in the various dramatic contexts of the last century: the National Science Foundation in the wake of the Manhattan Project; NASA and DARPA during the Cold War.

"One of the lessons we've seen is the way scientists and engineers have collaborated in the context of this pandemic, across boundaries and across institutions, has been really fundamental [to] the response and how we make progress," he says. "Long gone are the days when you say the answer to the pandemic is going to all take place within the WHO or the CDC…What is really evident is it requires so many of us working together collaboratively."

"The point of [the International Science Reserve] is not to stand up a huge organization, but to make this into a network that is nimble, that is heavily annotated with knowledge and connections, then to actively engage discrete groups of partners to simulate what we might do in the event of something terrible taking place," says Dirks. "The idea is to learn from the pandemic—not to let these lessons be shelved in an archive, but actually to keep them activated—and to use the idea of a reserve, with the readiness that implies, to prepare for any number of things that might happen in the future."

Climate crisis

As for what those things might be, there are many possibilities. As Dirks points out, another pandemic could appear, but perhaps this time featuring a waterborne pathogen that requires very different responses. Cyberattacks could take out transportation or energy grids. Asteroids could threaten the Earth.

And then, of course, there's the climate crisis that is already unfolding across the world.

"We're all aware it's ongoing and escalating, and it's going to be episodic and cumulative at the same time," says Dirks. "Given what we seem to know already, I imagine a larger and larger component of what we're doing will relate to the climate emergency."

According to Gil, the bottom-up nature of the reserve concept—where scientific and academic communities harness the power of the network—will make it particularly useful in tackling the climate crisis.

"If you look at the next generation of scientists in universities and everywhere else, you're seeing climate change and the need to address it is number one on the priority list," says Gil. "Tapping into that energy and that desire for action is something that we feel…is very conducive to good outcomes."

The NYAS board approved the International Science Reserve concept in late spring, and Dirks, Gil and their colleagues have spent the summer developing the idea and its likely structure. They are currently starting to reach out to prospective founding partners—in industry, government and other organizations—and hope to have everything ready in the first half of 2022.

Once the reserve is up and running, it will probably have some kind of public-facing aspect, Dirks says—though he worries about feeding the dystopianism he sees taking hold in popular culture and among the younger generations.

"One has to maintain a lively sense of hope and possibility in order to begin to address in real time what can be addressed, both in terms of reducing carbon outputs, and working towards ameliorating everything from levies in New Orleans to developing drought-resistant crops in large parts of the world affected by growing desertification," he says. "We'd certainly want to share with the public the results of some of the readiness exercises we do, because I think we'll learn a lot from those exercises, but I suspect we won't create a Doomsday Clock of our own."

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