söndag 4 december 2016

Master's thesis proposals on ICT & Sustainability (2017)

I have written about the master's thesis activities that I'm involved in several times during the last six months on this blog:

We have now updated our team blog and it has upwards to 25 master's thesis proposals of which around 10 are brand new and the rest are proposals that have updated/brushed up. We have also removed 5-10 old proposals we did not think were that interesting or that aren't as relevant any longer. It is really very nice that many of these thesis proposals come from KTH research projects and from other non-KTH organizations! Although these proposals have been formulated with master's thesis students/projects in mind, I guess some (or perhaps many) could also work for students who will write their bachelor's theses (in pairs) this coming spring.

This blog post is in the end, I guess, basically an public information message (ad) for our new ICT & Sustainability thesis proposals. I will go one step further and here highlight three of the thesis proposals I have personally written.

The first thesis would be done in a research project that I work in and that is called "Design and data for Sustainable Lifestyles – opportunities for change" (SPOC). I'm the project leader together with Cecilia Katzeff. This particular thesis is also very interesting to one of the research project partners - The City of Stockholm.

Eating insects?

Many people think about sustainability when considering what food to eat. There are many reasons for why it makes excellent sense, from a sustainability point of view, to eat insects instead of cows or chickens and many people in other countries actually do. There is now research and practical work being done in Europe to get people to eat insects, for example by producing flour that is made of insects. The greatest challenge is “the disgust factor” but another important challenge is that people just don’t know how to use insects in their cooking. We want you to design a system (a prototype) that suggests suitable matches between different types of insects and types of food (caterpillars are apparently especially suitable to mix with eggs/omelettes). Your task is then to test and evaluate the prototype on a suitable target group of prospective users who care a lot about the environmental consequences of what they eat (we have suggestions of target groups).

This thesis would be done within a research project about food, ICT and critical design and might also involve some travel (for example to Nordic Food Lab in Denmark). The thesis will be done in cooperation with the City of Stockholm who has an interest in making better use of household food waste (which can be used as insect feed).

Please contact Cecilia Katzeff or Daniel Pargman for more info

The second thesis proposal relates to a project I have started and where I currently work with several other researchers (Jerry Mättä, Elina Eriksson, Ambjörn Naevä) in different subprojects. I have written about this project twice on the blog recently (here and here). We also had 60+ students work with this topic in a hefty seminar assignment in mine and Elina's course recently (and this will generate data to the project). Although this thesis proposal did not actually come out of a research project, I have come to realize that it could easily slot in or be assigned to a project I work in and that has the awkwardly long name "Improved energy counceling and energy habits by Quantified Self Assisted Advisory". My colleague Björn Hedin is the project leader and he who pointed out the overlap and the advantages of adapting the proposal to better fit the research project.

Homo Colossus

There are many tools that help you calculated how much CO2 you (and your lifestyle) emits. Instead of calculating how  much CO2 you emit, create a service that calculates how much you would weight if you were a (large) animal that had to eat as much energy that you – through your lifestyle – uses every day. The crucial formula you need to work with is: weight (kg)^3/4 * 0.08135555 = kWh/day. This work represents a way to calculate and visualize the footprint of our lifestyles and would constitute an alternative to Ecological Footprint Analysis and Earth Overshoot DayFor inspiration from other projects of how to visualize energy and carbon emissions, see kilowh.at, carbon.to and SeeEffect.

Please contact Daniel Pargmanfor more info

The first thesis would. I'm the project leader together with Cecilia Katzeff. This particular thesis is also very interesting to one of the research project partners - The City of Stockholm.

The third thesis proposal would again be done in the research project "Design and data for Sustainable Lifestyles – opportunities for change" (SPOC). The thesis proposal is based on my fascination for IBM Chef Watson and the idea is basically to add (explore) another (sustainability) layer on top of the existing IBM Chef Watson service. Here's the proposal and I follow it up with some added thoughts about Watson including my inspiration for this thesis proposal.

Sustainable IBM Chef Watson

How can “IBM Chef Watson” be adapted to promoting sustainable food consumption practices? Today IBM Chef Watson uses state of the art AI to create novel recipes on the fly. Chef Watson combines foodstuffs that might not necessarily seem to go well together into recipes that actually do appeal to human taste buds with the help of a large database of recipes together with an “understanding” of what chemical flavour compounds go together. How can today’s service be developed by adding a “sustainability filter” (layer) to the software that will encourage more sustainable food practices through its choice of proposed recipes and/or by suggesting more sustainable foodstuffs as default alternatives? The thesis could explore this at a more conceptual level with an emphasis of interviewing different stakeholders (households, companies) or alternatively explore the concept by developing mock-ups and/or functional prototypes. 

Possible organisations to work with: Coop, IBM, Ericsson, Telia. 

Please contact Daniel for more info

I first heard about IBM Chef Watson when I listened to a podcast, New Tech City, in April 2015. The interesting thing was that two different podcasts worked together to try out IBM Chef Watson and they then recoded two different podcasts, one with a focus on the technology (New Tech City) and one with a focus on food/cooking (Sporkful). Here's how IBM Chef Watson was described by New Tech City:

"Basically, Watson takes everything scientists know about flavor and taste, and turns that knowledge into a recipe generator beyond the scope of human creativity. ... Developers built a system fluent in food chemistry, "hedonic psychophysics" (or "what we think tastes good"), and international cooking styles, then uploaded 9,000 recipes from the archives of Bon Appetit. They taught Watson to incorporate human feedback into its process, and worked with chefs from the International Culinary Institute to turn it into a viable product"

Other resources for this thesis are the articles that have been written about IBM Chef Watson in the Bon Appétit magazine. Yet another resource is the IBM Chef Watson cook book, "Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: Recipes for Innovation from IBM & the Institute of Culinary Education" and perhaps also this book about the more general concept that the service builds on ("Cognitive Cooking" which is part of the more general concept "Cognitive computing"), e.g. "Smart Machines: IBM's Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing".

See our team blog for more info on other thesis proposals in ICT & Sustainability!

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