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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

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See Through Carbon Competition Press Release

See Through Carbon Competition See Through News press release AI cloud computing ML Big Data

Applications Open for Half-a-Million Dollar Supercomputing Competition for Sustainability Research in Poorest Countries.

24/01/2023: For Immediate Release

Photomontage credits: Matt Palmer/Unsplash (fire), Trilemedia/Pixaby (flood), MikkoPls/Pixaby (background graphic)

Unique competition offering USD 500,000 worth of advanced computing technology to the poorest countries – now accepting applications from around the world.

Social media network See Through News has launched The See Through Carbon Competition, a hi-tech giveaway for research projects that advance its Goal of ‘Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active’.

This bold experiment emerged from an unexpected, unsolicited, unusual donation See Through News received December 15th 2022, when a hi-tech corporate donor from the cutting edge of high-performance computing donated a free licence to the value of USD 500,000 worth of supercomputer-grade cloud computing. The gift came with two conditions – it had to:

  • serve the See Through News Goal
  • be used before April 10th 2023

Not yet being able to use such advanced number-crunching power itself, See Through News sought a partner to make this resource available to carbon drawdown researchers currently denied access to such advanced computing.

Competition Partner

See Through News teamed up with Global Sustainable Futures Network – another UK-based global network set up during Covid lockdown – to create the See Through Carbon Competition. The Competition is a unique experiment in bringing cutting-edge technology to the world’s poorest countries, to accelerate practical solutions to the climate crisis.

If successful, this pilot Competition – created on the fly as the result of an unexpected gift – will become a permanent, multi-million dollar fund.

See Through News

See Through News is a zero-budget social media network launched March 2021, founded by former international network news journalist (ABC News, CNBC, CNN), independent documentary filmmaker and broadcast consultant Robert Stern.  See Through News is driven by volunteers and reaches a global audience via a variety of platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, podcasts, its newsletter, etc.. 

Global Sustainable Futures Network

Global Sustainable Futures Network (GSFN) was founded by Dr. Renuka Thakore to bring together early-career researchers working on sustainability-related projects around the world, with particular focus on the Global South (the preferred term for the world’s poorest countries). GSFN’s network reaches around a million researchers in 145 predominantly Global South countries.

Competition Partner Comments

Chair of the Expert Panel and See Through News founder Robert Stern explains how the Competition was conceived and created over the Christmas holidays:

“After receiving this unexpected gift with such an imminent expiry date, we embarked on a crash course in cloud computing to work out how best to use it.  This technology is currently most commonly used by governments and commercial operations whose business models accelerate rather than slow down carbon drawdown, so we asked ourselves for whom access to this tech might be most effective, beneficial and transformative, and how to reach them in such a tight time frame. We reckoned environmentally-focused PhD students or hacker groups might be the best applicants to target, and because the Global South doesn’t usually have access to this level of tech, we thought it would be worth, for once, giving it a head start. The gift’s timing means we’re assembling the bicycle as we ride it and have to be pragmatic, but that’s why we want to favour Global South applicants or projects likely to promote sustainability in the poorest parts of the world.”

Robert Stern

Dr. Thakore explains the challenges of targeting Global South applicants:

“Having to complete the compute by April 10th was already a tough challenge. We’ve made it even harder by targeting researchers who have no experience of, or even little concept of, the power of Big Data, Machine Learning and Cloud Computing. We still think it’s worth trying, even for this Pilot project. If we can find the project, or projects, it could make things possible that would otherwise have been impossible or inconceivable. It’s a bold experiment, and we welcome any and all applicants.”

Dr. Renuka Thakore

The donor’s CEO explains the thought behind this gift:

“We made this donation knowing that though See Through News is developing a number of AI and data-intensive projects, it’s not currently in a position to use this gift itself. We’d seen enough of See Through News, and Robert’s integrity and drive, to know we could trust it to find a creative, original, practical and effective way to make best use of this computational gift. They’ve not disappointed, assembling a deeply impressive team of volunteer experts in no time.The See Through Carbon Competition is a brilliantly inclusive and imaginative – though very challenging – use of this gift. We’re following developments with great interest, and would love to make this Competition permanent, and with a bigger prize fund, based on the lessons of this Pilot. We can’t wait to see the results. Please apply and spread the word!”

Prize Donor’s CEO

Competition Donor

The donor, not wanting unearned credit, wants to remain anonymous until the first shortlisted Applicant is announced. 

Competition Jury Expert Panel

The donor is one of the panellists allocating the Competition’s USD 500,000 prize fund. It’s Expert Panel is also intended to have a mentoring role, knowing applicants will be unfamiliar with the potential of cloud computing technology. 

It provides feedback to Applications shortlisted by GSFN, which in the interests of transparency and education will be be published on the See Through News website. The Expert Panel is made up of volunteer:

  • Technical Experts, who assess an Application’s computing requirements
  • Subject Experts with specialist knowledge to assess feasibility and methodology
  • Political Experts, who assess how the applications might serve the See Through News Goal, and how quickly the research results might start measurably reducing real world carbon


Applications are now open. Before applying, the organisers recommend that applicants carefully read the following: