Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality: The Technology the World Has Been Waiting For

Note: This article was originally published on NEC’s website. Toshimi Takabe-French interviewed our researchers and wrote the original article.

Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality

Every nation, government body, and enterprise must undertake meaningful action against the looming threat of climate change. Despite this collective urgency, identifying an efficient strategy remains a daunting task.

Compounding the challenge is the absence of a reliable method to accurately quantify Scope 3 carbon emissions, a crucial aspect in understanding and mitigating our carbon footprint. However, there is now a glimmer of hope. Our team has developed multi-agent simulator technology, an innovative approach that holds promise as a pivotal tool to meet these global challenges. We sat down with our NEC Labs America President Chris White, Data Science and System Security Department Head Haifeng Chen and Data Science and System Security Researcher Haoyu Wang to discuss this new approach and explore its potential to drive tangible progress in our fight against climate change.

Scope 3 Carbon Emissions, Tough To Capture

What kind of technology is the “multi-agent simulator for carbon neutrality”?

Haifeng: Our primary objective in developing this simulator is to model the supply chain for achieving carbon neutrality and promoting environmental sustainability. We are mainly targeting the simulation of Scope 3 (*) carbon emissions, which represent the largest source of greenhouse gases and are very difficult to estimate. Currently, the market uses the industrial average solution for emission calculation, which is inaccurate or not detailed. Instead, we aim to calculate emissions for each product, company, supplier, or even for an entire supply chain. Our multi-agent simulator makes the simulation more detailed and accurate, with flexible and user-friendly features that are usable by any business domain.

Chris White, President, NEC Laboratories America

 Chris: We are targeting the world-scale problems that need large-scale collaborative optimization in the global supply chain. This simulator does not try to be a quantitative digital twin, which requires a lot of information and very detailed models to acquire a high percentage of precision.

You may spend an enormous amount of time trying to build that model. Instead, we use representative information. You ask ‘what-if’ questions and receive answers that are semi-quantitative results with credible reasons. If we need, we can add more data or sophistication.

Haifeng: Three categories of stakeholders can benefit from this multi-agent simulator. The first category is the corporations and businesses, where they must reduce their carbon footprint. For example, a procurement department can include a carbon factor in choosing a supplier in addition to the price and the performance of products according to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). A manufacturer on a cap and a trade program may receive a penalty if they emit carbon beyond the limit. However, using our simulator, they will have choices. They can increase their productivity to create more revenue if they are under the limit. Or they can reduce their productivity to receive more credit to save or to sell their credit to another plant. The second category is governments which can use this simulator to develop evidence-based policies and regulations. The third category is the consulting firms, who can use the simulator as part of their service offerings to advise their clients effectively.

The Features That Make a Difference

What is the “multi-agent simulator” composed of?

Haoyu: Our simulator has three core components: Agent, Resource, and Topology. An agent is something or someone who needs to make some decisions. For example, agents in the supply chain can be factories, warehouses, suppliers, or consumers, all of whom can make their own decisions. The resources are what agents exchange, which can be money or products. Finally, the topology is the connectivity over which those agents exchange the resources, which can be locations.

By modifying the complexity of the resource and topology, the user can adjust the level of detail the simulator provides. It allows us to start with a simple model and increase the sophistication as we receive more complex questions.

Haoyu Wang Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality

Haoyu Wang, Researcher, NEC Laboratories America

We focus on this because any complex system can be decomposed into these three components, which makes it easier to adjust the fidelity and complexity. We expect that we will be able to apply this tool and this methodology to many other kinds of complex systems.

Our simulator can answer various ‘what-if’ scenarios, the most significant benefit we can acquire from this simulation. You can ask, “How about I change one supplier for one product from supplier A to supplier B?” With this ‘what-if’ scenario, users can change configurations in a controlled and safe virtual environment before implementing these changes in the real world. All that users need to do is to ask questions. Our simulator can simulate actions of multiple entities that are hard even for an expert to calculate using Excel sheets. The more questions you ask, the more sophisticated and accurate the simulator can grow.

Customers’ Challenges are NEC’s Power

Why was it possible for NEC to develop this technology?

Haifeng: The simulation tool contains a core module and a number of semi-core templates, which gives the customer more flexibility. The user can receive proper answers no matter what kind of business scenarios there are. The conversational language model and graphical user interface enable more user-friendly operability. Also, we are currently integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into our simulation to advance and further improve its performance.

Haifeng Chen Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality

Haifeng Chen, Department Head, NEC Laboratories America

Chris: NEC, as a global corporation, has many different customers that have many other challenges, and NEC’s research labs, which are located worldwide, are solving global-scale supply chain problems every day. You need a multi-agent simulator like this to answer these ‘what-if’ questions inspired by those customers who have already faced the same challenges. Our goal is to take specific customer challenges and solve them not with particular solutions but with general solutions that can be applied often with different customers. That could be a difference that maybe other companies wouldn’t do.

The Tool and the Methodology Can Grow Together

What are the future applications? What are the development directions?

Haifeng: Future applications can be in logistics and transportation, identifying bottlenecks and estimating the cost of those situations. It can help process and organization optimization improve efficiency and reduce risks. We can expand the current Scope 3 carbon emission simulation to Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions to make a complete portfolio of carbon emission calculations.

Chris: We will sophisticate both the tool and the methodology spontaneously. We are integrating AI into our simulator to enhance its capability and functionality. NEC has strong expertise in AI, and its performance keeps evolving. The simulation we are making with AI is what is creating the data. The AI generates data, and our simulator gives answers based on the most credible output. Through AI, our simulator will accumulate data and continue to improve. Thus, the tool and the methodology have power. We are preparing for small-scale commercial use.

This technology is a multi-agent simulator developed for Scope 3 carbon emissions in the supply chain, featuring well-balanced fidelity and complexity. It is well known that Scope 3 emissions are challenging to calculate, and it would take an enormous number of years to simulate using traditional methods. NEC is making it possible to find the proper solutions regarding carbon emission neutralization for many business activities and policy-making processes.

This simulator has three core components, Agent, Resource, and Topology, which can be applied to many complex systems in any business domain. Its ‘what-if’ scenarios are ready to answer anything from simple questions to more detailed and complicated ones. The more users provide input, the more sophisticated the simulator grows. Its semi-core component architecture, AI enhancement, and user-friendly interface provide flexibility, intelligence, and seamless user experience.

Multi agent Simulator

Note: This article was originally published on NEC’s website. Toshimi Takabe-French interviewed our researchers and wrote the original article. The information posted on this page is the information at the time of publication.

(*) Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse emissions from sources associated with fuel combustion. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions associated with the purchase of electricity or cooling. Scope 3 emissions are indirect greenhouse gases from all sources except 1 and 2.

Read More Blog Posts

Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality

Multi-Agent Simulator for Carbon Neutrality: The Technology the World Has Been Waiting For

Today, each country, government, and enterprise are urged to take effective action to fight against climate change; however, an efficient method has not been found. Even a way to accurately calculate Scope 3 carbon emissions has yet to be developed. The technology of a multi-agent simulator could be an essential step in solving worldwide challenges. We interviewed the researchers about the details of this technology.
OFC Team 2

NEC Labs America at OFC 2024 San Diego from March 24 – 28

The NEC Labs America team Yaowen Li, Andrea D'Amico, Yue-Kai Huang, Philip Ji, Giacomo Borraccini, Ming-Fang Huang, Ezra Ip, Ting Wang & Yue Tian (Not pictured: Fatih Yaman) has arrived in San Diego, CA for OFC24! Our team will be speaking and presenting throughout the event. Read more for an overview of our participation.
NEC Laboratories Advances Material Design with AI-based MateriAI Platform

NEC Laboratories Advances Material Design with AI-based MateriAI Platform

NEC Laboratories Europe and NEC Laboratories America have developed MateriAI, an AI-based, material design platform that accelerates the development of new, environmentally friendly materials. The prototype platform was initially designed to overcome major hurdles in the creation of new synthetic, organic and bio-based polymers, such as rubber and plastics.
Summer Intern 2024

Apply for a Summer 2024 Internship

Our exciting internship opportunities for this Summer 2024 are now available. We are looking for students pursuing advanced degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Internships are typically 3 months long in duration. The benefits of working for us include the opportunity to quickly become part of a project team applying cutting-edge technology to industry-leading concepts. We have opportunities in Data Science & System Security, Integrated Systems, Machine Learning, and Optical Networking & Sensing.
Unearthing Nature's Orchestra How Fiber Optic Cables Can Hear Cicada Secrets

Unearthing Nature’s Orchestra – How Fiber Optic Cables Can Hear Cicada Secrets

Our Sarper Ozharar, Yue Tian and Yangmin Ding and Jessica L. Ware from the American Museum of Natural History have discovered that fiber optic cables equipped with distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) can pick up the sounds of Brood X cicadas. DAS technology, typically used to monitor seismic activity, can detect the vibrations caused by the loud sounds of cicadas, which live underground for years until they come up to mate.
NeurIPS Booth 1

NEC Labs America Team Heading to NeurIPS23 in New Orleans

NEC Labs America is proud to be a Silver Sponsor for NeurIPS 2023 in New Orleans from December 10-16. Visit our booth to meet our team and learn about our intern opportunities in machine learning, data science, media analytics and integrated systems. Also, our Vijay Kumar.B.G, Samuel Schulter & Manmohan Chandraker, along with Zaid Khan, Northeastern University and Yun Fu, UC San Diego will present a paper, Exploring Question Decomposition for Zero-Shot VQA.
Sarper Ozharar Achievement in Science and Technology Award

Sarper Ozharar Receives Achievement in Science and Technology Award from Koç University

Sarper Ozharar was awarded an Achievement in Science and Technology Award from Koç University on their notable 30th anniversary.  As an alumnus of this esteemed institution, Sarper shared that this recognition is especially meaningful to him, marking a significant milestone in his professional journey.
The Industrial Lab Advantage Delivering on the Expectations of AI

The Industrial Lab Advantage: Delivering on the Expectations of AI | Future of Work News

Our Chris White outlines how Invisible AI transforms our lives and its potential to bring about transformative societal changes, including safer space travel, reliable cell networks, smarter cities, productive factories, and efficient homes. Invisible AI will intelligently anticipate needs, automate tasks, and enhance the human experience.
Chris White Interviewed By Mike Vizard on Techstrong.AI

Chris White Interviewed By Mike Vizard on Techstrong.AI

In this excellent videocast, Michael Vizard interviews our Christopher White, President of NEC Labs America, about #AI and its future. They discuss generative AI, its current hype, its potential impact on content creation and the augmentation of human abilities. Chris emphasizes that generative AI systems are not "thinking machines" but tools to enhance human capabilities.
Meet the NEC Labs America Intern Helping to Make Autonomous Vehicles Safer and More Secure Blog Post Graphic

Meet the NEC Labs America Intern Helping to Make Autonomous Vehicles Safer and More Secure

There’s much more to autonomous vehicle security than locking a car door. This summer, Kaiyuan Zhang, a 3rd-year computer science Ph.D. student at Purdue University, joined NEC Labs America’s popular intern program to help advance research around autonomous vehicle security. Each year, nearly 50 Ph.D. candidates join NEC Labs America’s innovative program, which centers on a collaborative environment where interns work directly with senior researchers and potential end-user customers.
AI Fiber Optic Combo Poised To Improve Telecommunications

AI/Fiber-Optic Combo Poised To Improve Telecommunications

Existing underground fiber-optic telecommunications cable networks that can be accessed through street manholes are helping a team at NEC Labs America improve wireless communications systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). "Hundreds of millions of fiber-optic cables are already there for communications purposes,” says Shaobo Han, a researcher at NEC Labs America who focuses on the design and development of machine learning and signal-processing techniques for real-world sensing applications. “We’re turning it all into a ‘thinking’ device, using the same cable that’s already there.”
Industrial Labs to Drive Disruptive Innovation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Blog Post

Industrial Labs to Drive Disruptive Innovation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

While the previous generation of industrial progress brought us new capabilities, efficiencies, and even delight through digital transformation, we’re entering a new era of innovation, opportunity, and disruption: the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Meet The Disruptors NEC’s Chris White On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry - Authority Magazine

Meet The Disruptors: NEC’s Chris White On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry | Authority Magazine

Read this fantastic interview with our President, Christopher White, with Authority Magazine, as he shares five things you need to shake up your industry based on his experience pushing the envelope in chemistry, computer science, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence. Chris leads our team to conduct disruptive research rather than just incremental research.
Haven for Hope

A New Hope: AI Research is Conquering Today’s Computer Vision Plateau

The age of computer vision is upon us, and it’s transforming the way we live, work and interact with the world. Nearly every industry has found a use case to grow revenue, reduce cost, or create exceptional experiences using computer vision. From self-driving cars to retail automation, surgeons to farmers, computer vision is everywhere, providing critical insights that are driving progress in virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Today, images and videos are annotated to train artificial intelligence (AI) models to recognize specific objects, but there is still so much more to be done when it comes to understanding what those objects are doing in real-time.
OFC Confererence Recap

NEC Labs America Presentation Highlight from OFC 2023

Looking to learn about the latest fiber optics research and innovation? NEC Labs America (NECLA) recently discussed its latest advances in fiber sensing research at the Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), March 5-9, 2023 in San Diego. OFC is the largest global conference and exhibition for optical communications and networking professionals.
Our Time Series Data Research Drives Space Systems Innovation

NEC Labs America’s Time Series Data Research Drives Space Systems Innovation

With decreasing hardware costs and increasing demand for autonomic management, many of today’s physical systems are equipped with an extensive network of sensors, generating a considerable amount of time series data daily. A highly valuable source of information, time series data is used by businesses and governments to measure and analyze change over time in complex systems. Organizations must consolidate, integrate and organize a vast amount of time series data from multiple sources to generate insights and business value.
Next-Generation Computing Finally Sees Light Blog Post

Next-Generation Computing Finally Sees Light

Moore's law is dead, as we have squeezed all the innovation out of silicon. Fiber optics is the solution to meet the computing needs of tomorrow. Today, we can already use the light traveling inside fiber optic cables as sensors that measure vibrations, sound, temperature, light, and pressure changes. We're now developing the means to take this to the next level with photonic computing at the speed of light to provide faster reaction time, reduce energy consumption and improve battery range
SystemX New

NEC Labs America Heads to Stanford University’s SystemX Alliance Annual Fall Conference

NEC Labs America’s (NECLA) President Christopher White is attending Stanford University’s SystemX Alliance 2022 Fall Conference this week, where he is meeting with Ph.D. students, industry-leading researchers and business leaders presenting on a wide range of research topics. The annual conference will highlight exciting research in the areas of advanced materials, data analytics, energy and power management, 3D nanoprinting, and photonic and quantum computing, to name but a few!
Using AI To Safely Put The First Woman On The Moon

Using AI To Safely Put The First Woman On The Moon

We are helping to safely bring the first woman astronaut to the moon as part of NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Artemis Project with our System Invariant Analysis Technology (SIAT). With Lockheed Martin Space's T-Tauri AI platform, our SIAT analytics engine takes the data from the 150,000 sensors and creates a model incorporating over 22 billion data relationships. The AI model is then analyzed to find any irregularities which could lead to a possible malfunction of any of the spacecraft's systems.

Our AI Research Contributing to NASA’s Artemis Space Program

By 2024, the spacecraft "Orion" developed by Lockheed Martin will bring humans to the moon in NASA's Artemis program. The system invariant analysis technology, one of NEC's Artificial Intelligence technologies, will perform checks to ensure that the spacecraft is tested and operating properly during the production phase.
5 Accepted Papers CVPR2022!

Check out our Computervision Papers at #CVPR2022

The IEEE / CVF Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference (CVPR) is the premier annual computer vision event comprising the main conference and several co-located workshops and short courses. NEC Laboratories Media Analytics department is excited to be presenting at CVPR 2022, being held in New Orleans, LA from Sunday, June 19 to Friday, June 24, 2022.

NEC provides AI-based traffic monitoring system with fiber-optic sensing technology for NEXCO CENTRAL

NEC Corporation has deployed an AI-based traffic monitoring system to Central Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO CENTRAL). The system uses fiber-optic sensing and AI technologies to visualize traffic conditions, such as the location, speed, and direction of travel, from vibrations produced by vehicle movement.

Our Data Science & System Security Research

Data Science and System Security

We aim to build novel big-data solutions and service platforms to simplify complex systems management. We develop new information technology that supports innovative applications, from big data analytics to the Internet of Things. Our experimental and theoretical research includes many data science and systems research domains. These include but are not limited to time series mining, deep learning, NLP and large language models, graph mining, signal processing, and cloud computing.