School of Public Policy Team Wins Diplomacy Lab Bid to Examine AI’s Role in Accelerating Green Energy Adoption

Omar Asensio

Posted May 12, 2021

The U.S. State Department’s Diplomacy Lab has chosen Omar Asensio’s Data Science and Policy Lab to examine how artificial intelligence can help accelerate green energy adoption.

The Georgia Tech project will focus on electric vehicle mobility in East Asia and Southeast Asia, according to Asensio, an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy. Aggressive government investments and policy actions in the region offer the potential for exciting data and policy experiments in sustainable transportation, he said.

“Electric vehicle mobility continues to accelerate globally — generating rapid industry transition and massive consumer data about how people get around following the introduction of electric cars,” Asensio said. “However, more sophisticated AI-powered tools are needed to leverage EV mobility data in ways that can allow us to understand behavior in real-time, and importantly, identify regional barriers to energy access in under-served or remote areas.”

As part of the project, students in Asensio’s lab will train an AI model to classify EV mobility data automatically in multiple languages, including English, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin.

“This AI-powered approach, which will use deep neural networks, could allow for cross-lingual transfer learning about the effectiveness of EV charging policies at a much larger scale than is currently possible,” Asensio said.

Students who participate in the project will also have the opportunity to engage with State Department officials on climate change; economic and energy security; and science, technology, and innovation policy.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the U.S. State Department and the Diplomacy Lab on this project,” Asensio said. “It will serve as an excellent test bed to bring our expertise in policy analytics to important global issues.”

Diplomacy Lab is a public-private partnership between the U.S. State Department and select U.S. universities that enables the agency to harness the work of students and faculty to advance research and innovation related to foreign policy.

The State Department has chosen numerous Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts faculty for Diplomacy Lab projects.

In November, the agency chose teams led by two School of Modern Languages faculty to help solve issues related to language curriculum development for diplomats.

In one, David Marcus, lecturer of Arabic, is leading a project related to high-frequency vocabulary in modern standard Arabic. Kyoko Masuda, associate professor of Japanese, is examining the use of function verbs in Japanese.

In addition to Asensio's project, the State Department also awarded a bid to Sebnem Ozkan of the School of Modern Languages to examine the role of Confucius Institutes in Turkey.

Previous projects include one led by Neha Kumar of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs related to the use of Bitcoin technology in foreign assistance; an examination of multilateral versus bilateral funding and global health, led by Alberto Fuentes of the Nunn School; and a project led by Olga Shemyakina in the School of Economics examining “Economic Factors of Violent Extremism.”

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Michael Pearson