A Prediction Engine for the Planet


September 26, 2013


Lucas Joppa


Duke University


Like many technology companies, Microsoft has a focus on collecting and analysing information in order to better understand and serve consumers’ needs. In the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science group we have a similarly strong focus – but ours is on information about the future of the planet. In our group we are working on collecting the data, developing the science, engineering the software, and constructing the models necessary to piece together a prediction engine for the environment. Ours is a computational system capable of delivering predictions about key planetary parameters – from biodiversity to carbon, and from the climate to crop yields – in the browser and on the cloud. In this talk I will demonstrate what we have achieved in providing access to environmental data, predictions, and decision support tools ‘at the speed of thought’. There is much to be done, but we see a near future where such a prediction engine provides decision makers with the actionable information they need to preserve the planetary conditions we depend upon.


Lucas Joppa

Lucas Joppa is a doctoral candidate with Stuart Pimm at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Broadly interested in the global preservation of biodiversity, Lucas splits his research interests between trying to understand the basic properties of how biodiversity is structured and assessing the effectiveness of conservation actions designed to prevent the loss of this diversity.