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The Eyes of New Technology Foresees Natural Disaster

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  • Registration Date : 2016-06-29

Humans have made feeble yet sincere efforts to predict and prepare for natural disasters from the beginning of such things. Humans who once had no choice but worship or pray eagerly before all natural phenomena―including lightning, snow, light, water, tree, and wind―can now use disaster s or warning systems of weather centers and mobilize all scientists to build a natural disaster prediction system. However, humans are just little creatures before nature. Natural disasters claim 7,700 lives all over the world and cause USD 110 billion worth of financial damages (or KRW 131,131 billion). Humans are always potential victims before a natural disaster. It is the reason why human efforts to gird themselves up for natural disasters through novel technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are so desperate. 

Seeing through Natural Disasters with New Technology
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Recently, artificial-intelligence mounted device, AlphaGo, received global attention like a top star. AlphaGo won four out of the five bloody rounds of go battle with professional go player, Sedol Lee. It stands as an icon of new technology that represents the advent of a new era. The creator of the novel technology, Google, rolled up its sleeves to develop a natural disaster forecast system. The tech powerhouse plans to invent a technology for forecasting the signs of natural disaster by analyzing changes in nature and past disaster records that have accumulated for thousands of years. It has already disclosed its original purpose of the development of AlphaGo by saying, “We will use the artificial intelligence technology honed in the development of AlphaGo to predict and diagnose complicated diseases, prevent disasters, and follow damages through weather forecast, and explore space.” In other words, it created its artificial intelligence not to defeat human beings but to serve for them. Another global tech firm, IBM, is also spending its efforts to predict natural disasters using new technology. Under the cooperation with The Weather Company, it has run “Intelligent Operation Center (IOC),” a disaster and crisis management solution, since last July. The center forecasts disaster signs through an analysis of real-time weather data and supports the allocation of resources suitable for the type of disaster in advance. In Korea, KT plays a similar role. In 2014, when the avian influenza spread across the country, KT introduced a demonstration project to capture the omen of disasters and take preventive measures by analyzing big data. The key point of the project was a more diversified analysis of the data collected by KT’s base stations and of the vehicle usage data of the livestock industry collected by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency. Owing to the analysis, the government was able to predict the influenza’s contagion route with significant accuracy. It contributed much to the wane of the infection, which came earlier than expected. 

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Building Efforts at the Critical Point of Impossibility
There is a type of disaster that most of the new technologies cannot easily foresee. It is earthquake. Predictive scientists have attempted to forecast earthquakes in various ways. But, the Korea Meteorological Administration has said, “There is no verified scientific method in predicting an earthquake.” 
Even Japan, which is said to be the most advanced in the field of earthquake research, just ends up selecting the areas with the highest risk of an earthquake outbreak. It only went one step in advance by proceeding with the research project about connecting earthquake signs with electromagnetism for analysis. Last year, Professor Heiki Goske of Hokkaido University announced that his team had identified that the electromagnetic signals of ground surface and air change right before the earth’s crust because of earthquakes. The ment of the earth’s crust changes the ionosphere of the earth’s air. Of course, such prediction method could also fail. Diagnosing the possibility through new technologies originates from human capability as well as human limitation.
It is no wonder that the range of natural disasters that might be predicted by technology is not clear. At each and every turn of a new century, humans have made a new achievement in their lives, which fell short of preventing natural disasters. On nature’s part, a disaster is just a phenomenon. It is impossible for human beings, as part of nature, to completely prevent natural disasters that are another part of nature.

Human, the Only Species Forecasting Nature on Earth
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Nonetheless, human struggles to prevent disasters are meaningful in the point that they are aimed at saving at least one potential victim. Nobody knows. If we do not have a weather forecasting system that can predict the heavy rain today, a fisherman who goes sailing with no concern about the weather may get caught in a swirl of flood, which can end in a tragedy. The fact that we now suffer damages from natural disasters to the extent that we witness in the recent days prove that humans have made continuous efforts to prevent them.
However, it is important to predict and prevent natural disasters in various ways with strenuous efforts. Predicting something means knowing every part of something. It also works for weather forecast. The priority of a weather forecast is building up a system or a program by integrating every sort of research that humans have performed so far. Furthermore, ways to prevent disasters using all kinds of artificial intelligence, technology, and machinery should be devised. All of these efforts would help us, the little creatures, surpass nature. Even nature itself cannot foresee what would happen to it, because it causes disasters unintentionally. The only species on earth who is now pouring a great deal of energy and effort in predicting and preventing natural phenomena are humans.