Month: March 2024


Pollution solution: The role of scrubbers in cutting emissions and improving health

Air pollution hurts both people and planet, with emissions contributing to higher hospitalisations and deaths in countries around the world. Coal is particularly harmful but remains an important energy source worldwide. This presents policy-makers with a tricky trade-off between energy supply, emissions goals and human health. But technology can help. This column presents evidence from the United States, exploring how the installation of systems called ‘scrubbers’ on coal power station exhausts can reduce SO2 emissions, leading to lower instances of heart disease in nearby and downwind areas. This research could help clarify cost benefit analyses of different climate measures, while also feeding into policies promoting health.

Sailing with Artificial Intelligence: Recommendation systems and digital markets

In this complex digital age, people’s lives are greatly simplified by recommendation systems – AI algorithms that make it easier for online users to find the things they like in a vast ocean of options. These systems have profound impacts on individuals’ decisions and market outcomes. On one hand, they provide a higher match value than when individuals autonomously engage in a costly search for their preferred items. On the other hand, they lead to substantial market concentration and prompt sellers to raise their prices. Although our research generally indicates a positive net effect, the complex influence of these AI tools on economic outcomes requires careful examination and understanding.