An algorithm to address water shortages

By analyzing the options for investment in water supply available to a hypothetical small governed region and then examining all potential outcomes, Patrick Reed and company created an artificially intelligent beast called the Borg MOEA, where MOEA stands for the Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithms. The Borg MOEA is capable of being hit with the extreme worst case scenarios of failure in the water supply and produces a highly effective updated algorithm for management in 53 seconds. Reed, and associate professor at Penn State University has worked in collaboration with a team of engineers, mathematicians, economists, and scientists to create a means of innovation for water management.

The three main options available for the government acquisition of water supply are investments. The first option is obtaining permanent water rights to a percent of the reservoir inflows. The second option is to acquire spot leases, which cause an immediate transfer of water. Finally, there are adaptive options contracts, which, for current management professionals, mean reduced lease-price volatility but a sharp increase in the number of contracts required as diversification of investments increase.

In the current market, if a manager fails to supply sufficient water, proposes dramatic decreases in water use, or increases taxes for water supply, he will likely lose his job. As such, most successful utility companies are quite worried about any sort of failure in their distribution that will cause either unanticipated shortages or unanticipated increases in costs. The “secure” option that most utilities have invested in is the option to maximize their percent ownership of the permanent rights. This has a 98% reliability, but costs the most and can cause a surplus of water that cannot be consumed before rights are lost (after one year).

In reality, there is a much higher degree of security at a much lower cost in the diversification of investments. Unfortunately, it is not consistently possible with current industry methods to identify the ideal investments for diversification that will lead to the cheapest and most reliable water supply. The reason for the lack of ability is the presence of human bias at a number of phases in the continuous process of market and resource tradeoff analysis that occurs in the proper management of diversified investments.

The next major development in the Borg MOEA that is being investigated is the possibility of using satellite space as the network signal receiver for large scale simultaneous core processing. Increased core use means increased ability for algorithms to respond to unexpected problems in the water supply. Reed and his team hold the record for the largest optimization ever done, which used 500,000 cores. Reed believes that in order for his operation to get satellite space, he will need to convince space allocators that providing space for the Borg MOEA would ensure higher daily profit than most users currently provide with a minimal amount of work. Reed is also working with NASA engineers to discuss the feasibility of altering satellite production to accommodate the installation of precipitation monitoring devices on new satellites. With the ability to monitor precipitation globally, the Borg MOEA would become the most powerful tool in water distribution in the world. International cooperation and coordination of water supply would enable maximal distribution and access around the world to water as it becomes increasingly scarce and demand rises due to the exponential growth of the world population.

If international governments use the Borg MOEA collaboratively, then Reed and company have created the most innovative model for water management in this day and age. If governments follow the historical tendency of looking out for only themselves and do not work together, then the Borg MOEA will be a myopia of human potential.

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