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Welcome to NYC School of Data — a community conference that demystifies the policies and practices around civic data, technology, and service design. This year’s conference concludes NYC’s annual Open Data Week & features 60+ sessions organized by NYC’s civic technology, data, and design community! Our conversations & workshops will feed your mind and empower you to improve your neighborhood. Follow the conversation #nycSOdata on twitter and tune into our live stream (provided by the Internet Society New York Chapter).

To attend, you need to purchase tickets via eventbrite. Venue is fully accessible and content is all ages friendly — free, professional on-site childcare is provided for ALL participants! If you have accessibility questions or needs, please email us at < schoolofdata@beta.nyc >.

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Saturday, March 7 • 1:45pm - 2:15pm
Popeye - Demo Session

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"Popeye", a collaboration between Winnie Yoe and Rui An, is a data-driven interactive project that encourages critical reflection on weather modification and climate engineering. 

The project is informed by research in bioprecipitation, military history on weather modification programs, climate engineering and public policy debates. In the face of an imminent global climate crisis and lack of global action, some scientists believe that climate engineering is inevitable. As with the introduction of other new technologies, the implementation of climate engineering could be beneficial but is not without risk. As we think of ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, how much uncertainty is too much? What variables should go into risk assessment? 

With these questions in mind, we created "Popeye" — an interactive machine with a tongue-like and built-in barometric sensor that records weather and altitude data, which is visualized in a mobile app accessible to all audience. Aside from a barometric sensor, "Popeye" carries “rain-making bacteria” Pseudomonas syringae (the bacteria has been developed into a commercial product sold to ski resorts, and is now being researched for its properties in bio-precipitation). Both the sensor and bacteria are carried by a weather balloon and released into the atmosphere if specific weather conditions are met and if launch permission is granted through a democratic public voting.

Through the introduction of new technologies and public voting, we used "Popeye" as a metaphor for the precautionary principle debate. The precautionary principle, incorporated into many International laws, is based on the idea that when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish the harm. If one adheres to a strict interpretation of the principle, climate engineering research shall be halted for its potential damage. Yet, others would argue that we need to be realistic and accept some degree of environmental damage in exchange for climate protection. Through "Popeye", we use a participatory and accessible way to post questions and reveal the complexity in climate engineering debates, thus inviting the audience to engage in a constructive discussion in determining where should we draw the line.

*The project was first performed on Governors Island on Sep 2, 2019.


Winnie Yoe

New York University

Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:15pm EST
3-115-116 (Commons)