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23 февраля, 14:00

'There's Enough Time to Change Everything'

The polymath computer scientist David Gelernter’s wide-ranging ideas about American life.

23 февраля, 07:00

No Hollywood Ending for the Visual-Effects Industry

In their chase for a global audience, American movie studios spend billions to make their films look amazing. But almost none of those dollars stay in America. What would it take to bring those jobs back — and would it be worth it? The post No Hollywood Ending for the Visual-Effects Industry appeared first on Freakonomics.

21 февраля, 18:24

Lord Martin Rees: We Are Living Through A Political And Scientific Transformation

Lord Martin Rees is an astrophysicist and the former master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He sat down with The WorldPost for a wide-ranging interview, which has been edited for clarity and brevity. Alexander Görlach: Out of all great transformations we are going through, from climate change to artificial intelligence to gene editing, what are the most consequential we are about to witness?  Martin Rees: It depends on what time scale we are thinking about. In the next 10 or 20 years, I would say it’s the rapid development in biotechnology. We are already seeing that it’s becoming easier to modify the genome, and we heard about experiments on the influenza virus to make it more virulent and transmissible. These techniques are developing very fast and have huge potential benefits but unfortunately also downsides. They are easily accessible and handled. It’s the kind of equipment that’s available at many university labs and many companies. And so the risk of error or terror in these areas is quite substantial, while regulation is very hard. It’s not like regulating nuclear activity, which requires huge special purpose facilities. Biohacking is almost a student-competitive sport. I am somewhat pessimistic, because even if we do have regulations and protocols for safety, how would we enforce them globally? Obviously we should try and minimize the risk of misuse by error or by design of these technologies and also be concerned about the ethical dilemmas they pose. So my pessimism stems from feelings that what can be done, will be done ― somewhere by someone ― whatever the regulations say. Görlach: Do you fear that this could happen not only in the realm of crime ― if we think of so-called “dirty bombs,” for example ― but could also be used by governments? Do we need a charter designed to prevent misuse? Rees: I don’t think governments would use biotech in dangerous ways. They haven’t used biological weapons much, and the reason for that is that the effects are unpredictable. 'Over the next 10 or 20 years, the greatest transformation we are likely to live through is the rapid development in biotechnology.' Lord Martin Rees Görlach: That brings recent Hollywood blockbusters like “Inferno” to mind, where one lunatic tries to sterilize half of mankind through a virus.  Rees: Several movies have been made about global bio-disasters. Nevertheless, I think it is a realistic scenario, and I think it could lead to huge casualties. Disasters such as the one from “Inferno,” as well as other natural pandemics, could spread globally. The consequences of such a catastrophe could be really serious for society. We have had natural pandemics in historic times ― the “black death,” for example. The reason that governments put pandemics ― natural or artificially produced ― high on their risk register is the danger of societal breakdown. That is what worries me most about the possible impact of pandemics. This is a natural threat, of course. The threat is aggregated by the growing possibility that individuals or small groups could manufacture a more lethal virus artificially. Görlach: So when speaking of the age of transformation, aspects of security seem paramount to you. Why is that?  Rees: We are moving into an age when small groups can have a huge and even global impact. In fact, I highlighted this theme in my book Our Final Century, which I wrote 13 years ago. These new technologies of bio and cyber ― as we know ― can cause massive disruption. We have had traditional dissidents and terrorists, but there were certain limits to how much devastation they could cause. And that limit has risen hugely with these new bio and cyber-technologies. I think this is a new threat, and it is going to increase the tension between freedom, security and privacy. Görlach: Let’s look at another huge topic: artificial intelligence. Is this a field where more uplifting thoughts occur to you? Rees: If we stay within our time frame of 10-20 years, I think the prime concerns about A.I. are going to be in the realm of biological issues. And everyone agrees that we should try and regulate these. My concern is that it will be hard to make effective regulations. Outside biological consequences, in the long term, of course we need to worry about A.I. and machines learning too much. In the short term, we have the issue of the disruption of the labor market due to robotics taking over ― not just factory work but also many skilled occupations. I mean routine legal work, medical diagnostics and possibly surgery. Indeed, some of the hardest jobs to mechanize are jobs like gardening and plumbing. We will have to accept a big redistribution in the way the labor market is deployed. And in order to ensure we don’t develop even more inequality, there has got to be a massive redistribution. The money earned by robots can’t only go to a small elite ― Silicon Valley people, for instance. In my opinion, it should rather be used for the funding of dignified, secure jobs. Preferably in the public sector ― young and old, teaching assistants, gardeners in public parks, custodians and things like that. There is unlimited demand for jobs of that kind.  'Some of the hardest jobs to mechanize are jobs like gardening and plumbing.' Lord Martin Rees Görlach: But robots also potentially could take on the work of a nurse, for that matter. Rees: True, they could do some routine nursing. But I think people prefer real human beings, just as we’ve already seen that the wealthiest people want personal servants rather than automation. I think everyone would like that if they could afford it, and everyone in old age would like to be cared for by a real person.  Görlach: In your opinion, what mental capacities will robots have in the near future? Rees: I think it will be a long time before they will have the all-round ability of humans. Maybe that will never happen. We don’t know. But what is called generalized machine learning, having been made possible by the ever-increasing number-crunching power of computers, is a genuine big breakthrough. These structures of machine learning are a big leap, and they open up the possibility that machines can really learn a lot about the world. It does raise dangers though, which people may worry about. If these computers were to get out of their box one day, they might pose a considerable threat. Görlach: In your opinion, what sparks new innovation and ideas? Will A.I. and machines foster these processes?  Rees: Moments of insights are quite rare, sadly. But they do happen, as documented cases suggest (laughs). There is a great saying: “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” You have got to ruminate a lot before you are in a state to have one of these important insights. If you ask when the big advances in scientific understanding happen, they are often triggered by some new observation that in turn was enabled by some new technological advancement. Sometimes that happens just by a combination of people crossing disciplines and bringing new ideas together; sometimes just through luck; sometimes through a special motivation that caused people to focus on some problem; sometimes by people focusing on a new problem that was deemed too difficult previously and therefore didn’t attract attention.  'Fortune favors the prepared mind.' Görlach: Would you say a collective can have an idea or that only individuals have ideas?  Rees: Many ideas may have depended on the collective to even emerge. In soccer, one person may score the key goal. That doesn’t mean the other 10 people on the team are irrelevant. I think a lot of science is very much like that: the strength of a team is crucial to enable one person to score the goal. Görlach: Do natural sciences and humanities have the capability to tackle the challenges occurring from these transformations? Rees: The kinds of issues we are addressing in Cambridge involve social sciences as well as natural sciences. As I said before, because of the societal effect, the consequences of a pandemic now could be worse than they were in the past, despite our more advanced medicine. Also, if we are thinking of ecological problems like food shortages, the issue of food distribution is an economic question, as well as a question of what people are ready to eat. All these things involve fully understanding people’s social attitudes. Are we going to be satisfied eating insects for protein? Görlach: With the rising amount of aggregated data, it becomes increasingly difficult for the humanities to keep up with natural sciences. How can we synchronize the languages of different academic fields in this era of big data?  Rees: Great question! There are impediments caused by disciplinary boundaries, and we have to encourage people to bridge these. I am gratified that we have some young people who are of this kind: philosophers who are into computer science or biologists who are interested in system analysis. All these things are very important. I think here in Cambridge, we are quite well-advantaged because we traditionally have the college system whereby we have small academic groups in each college. Each of these colleges is a microcosm, so all disciplines cross somewhat. It is therefore particularly propitious as a location for the development of cross-disciplinary work.  How can we synchronize the languages of different academic fields in this era of big data? Görlach: The blessings of modern innovation seem to be ignored by many policymakers; we see a retreat from globalization and a retreat from digitalization. Is it a disconnect between science and the rest of society? Rees: The misapplication of science is a problem, of course. As well as the fact that science’s benefits are irregularly distributed. There are some people that don’t benefit, such as traditional factory workers. If you look at the welfare of the average blue-collar worker and their income in real terms ― in the U.S. and in Europe ― it has not risen in the last 20 years; in many respects, their welfare has declined. Their jobs are less secure, and there is more unemployment. But there is one aspect in which they are better off: information technologies. IT spreads far quicker than expected and led to advantages for workers in Europe, the U.S. and Africa. Görlach: But surely globalization made many poor people less poor and a few rich people even richer. Rees: Sure, I guess this statement can be made after 25 years of globalization. But it should also be addressed that we now witness a significant backlash in many places in terms of Brexit or the presidential election in the U.S.  Görlach: How drastically do you think these developments will affect science, the attitude toward it and its funding?  Rees: Many of the people who use modern information technology, such as cellphones, aren’t aware of the immense technological achievements. Back in the day, developments could be traced back to scientific innovations decades ago, which were mainly funded by either the military or the public. They may not be aware of it, but they appreciate it. So it’s unfair to say people are anti-science. They are worried about science because indeed there is a risk that some of these technologies will run ahead faster than we can control and cope with them. So there is a reasonable ground for some people to be concerned ― for example, about biotech and A.I. But we also have to bear in mind that for technology to be developed, it’s necessary ― but not sufficient ― for a certain amount of science to be known. We can take areas of technology in which we could have forged ahead faster but haven’t because there was no demand. Take one example: it took only 12 years from the first Sputnik to Neil Armstrong’s small step on the moon ― a huge development in 12 years. The motivation for the Apollo program was a political one and has led to huge expenses. Or take commercial flying ― today, we fly in the same way we did 50 years ago, even though in principle we could all fly in supersonics. These are two examples where the technology exists but there hasn’t been a motive ― neither political nor economic ― to advance these technologies as fast as possible. In the case of IT, there was the obvious demand, which exploded globally in an amazing way. 'There are areas of technology in which we could have forged ahead faster but haven’t because there was no demand.' Lord Martin Rees Görlach: Living in a so-called post-factual era, what are “facts” to you as a scientist?  Rees: In the United Kingdom, those who voted for Brexit voted that way for a variety of reasons. Some who voted for it wanted to give the government a bloody nose; others voted blatantly against their own interest. The workers in South Wales, for example, benefited hugely from the European Union. There is a wide variety of different motives but I don’t think people would say that they voted against technology. Görlach: Still, there is this ongoing narrative about the fear of globalization and digitalization, and that would also imply the fear of technology.  Rees: Sure, but that is oversimplified. We can have advanced technology on a smaller scale. I don’t think you can say that technology is always correlated with larger-scale globalization. It allows for robotic manufacturing, and it allows for more customization to individual demand. The internet has allowed a lot of small businesses to flow.  Görlach: But there seems to be an increasing disconnect in many societies regarding the consensus on which facts matter and how facts are perceived.  Rees: To understand this attitude you are expressing, we have to realize that there aren’t many facts that are clear and relevant in their own right. In most cases, I think people have reason to doubt. Most economic predictions, for example, have pretty poor records, so you can’t call them facts. In the Brexit debate, there were a lot of valid arguments on both sides, and you can’t blame the public for being skeptical. This is also true for the climate debate. It is true that some people deny what is clear. But the details on climate change are very uncertain. Even those who agree on all will differ in their attitudes toward the appropriate policy. That depends on other things, including ethics. In a lot of recent debates, people agreed about the science. They disagree about the appropriate policies deriving from that facts. For instance: how much constraint are we willing to exercise, in order to facilitate the life of generations to come? Opinions differ hugely. 'In the Brexit debate, there were a lot of valid arguments on both sides, and you can’t blame the public for being skeptical.' Lord Martin Rees Görlach: But how then do you judge the developments we now see in many Western societies? Rees: I think these developments are partly caused by new technologies that have led to new inequalities. Another point is: even if it hasn’t increased, people are now more aware of inequality. In sub-Saharan Africa, people see the kind of life that we live, and they wonder why they can’t live that kind of life. Twenty-five years ago, they were quite unaware of it. This understandably produces more discontent and embitterment. There is a segment of society, a less-educated one, that feels left behind and unappreciated. That is why I think a huge benefit to society will arise if we have enough redistribution to recreate dignified jobs.  Görlach: What political framework do you think of as an ideal environment for science?   Rees: In the Soviet Union, they had some of the best mathematicians and physicists, partly because the study of those subjects was fostered for military reasons. People in those areas also felt that they had more intellectual freedom, which is why a bigger fraction of the top intellectuals went into math and physics in Soviet Russia than probably anywhere else ever since. That shows you can have really outstanding scientists surviving in that sort of society.  Görlach: So the ethical implication is not paramount to having “good” science after all?  Rees: I think scientists have a special responsibility to be concerned about the implications of their work. Often an academic scientist can’t predict the implications of his work. The inventors of the laser, for instance, had no idea that this technology could be used for eye surgery and DVD discs but also for weaponry. Among the most impressive scientists I have known are the people who returned to academic pursuits after the end of World War II with relief but remained committed to doing what they could to control the powers they had helped to unleash. In all cases, the scientists supported the making of the bomb in the context of the time. But they were also concerned about proliferation and arms control. It would have been wrong for them to not be concerned. To make an analogy: if you have teenage son, you may not be able to control what he does, but you sure are a poor parent if you don’t care about what he does. Likewise, if you are a scientist and you created your own ideas, they’re your offspring, as it were. Though you can’t necessarily control how they will be applied, because that is beyond your control, you nonetheless should care and you should do all you can to ensure that your ideas, which you have helped to create, are used for the benefit of mankind and not in a damaging manner. This is something that should be instilled in all students. There should be ethics courses as part of all science courses in university. 'How much constraint are we willing to exercise, in order to facilitate the life of generations to come? Opinions differ hugely.' Lord Martin Rees Görlach: What, then, is your motivation as a scientist?  Rees: I feel I am very privileged to have consistently, over a career of nearly 40 years now, played part in debates on topics that I think are writing the history of science in this period. As we make great, collective, scientific progress, we are able to confront new mysteries, which we couldn’t even have addressed in the past. Many of the questions that were being addressed when I was young have now been solved. Pressing questions couldn’t even have been posed back then. Of course the science I do is very remote from any application, but it’s of great fascination and a very wide audience is interested in these questions. It certainly adds to my satisfaction that I can actually convey some of these exciting ideas to a wider public. I would get less satisfaction if I could only talk about my work to a few fellow specialists, so I am glad that these ideas can become part of a broader culture. Görlach: What is the best idea you ever had?  Rees: I don’t have any sort of singular idea, but I think I have played a role in some of the ideas that have gradually formed over the last 20 or 30 years about how our universe has evolved from a simple beginning to the complex cosmos we see around us that we are a part of. For me, the social part of science is very important ― many ideas emerge out of discussion and cooperation and, of course, out of experiments and observations. The symbiosis between science and technology ― the old idea is that science eventually leads to an application ― is far too naïve! It goes two ways, because advancements made in academics are facilitated by technology. We only made advancements beyond Aristotle by having much more sensitive detectors and being able to explore space in many ways. If we didn’t have computers or ways of detecting radiation, etc., we would have made no progress because we are no wiser than Aristotle was.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

21 февраля, 16:32

Forget walking 10,000 steps a day – I have another solution | Stuart Heritage

Fitness trackers are pointless, especially when you’re only walking to the kitchen for another bacon sandwichWearing a fitness tracker, are you? Eager to get your 10,000 steps today, are you? You idiot. Those things are useless. Last year, the University of Pittsburgh published a study claiming that people who wear fitness trackers tend to lose less weight than people who don’t. Then yesterday, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University went further, saying that a daily 10,000-step target could be harmful for some users. Honestly, all said, you would probably lose more weight if you took off your fitness tracker right now and spent an hour violently tutting at it.The latest findings were presented by Dr Greg Hager at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He said that the target of 10,000 steps was all but arbitrary, having roots in a single study of Japanese men 57 years ago, and that it fails to take into account any environmental or societal variables that may occur from person to person. Three million wearable fitness trackers were bought in the UK in 2015 alone and yet, according to Hager, many owners might be striding towards a target that simply isn’t suitable for them. You have all been wasting your money. You idiots. Continue reading...

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21 февраля, 03:01

Health apps could be doing more harm than good, warn scientists

App development likened to the ‘wild west’ as researchers raise concerns over one-size-fits-all targets and absence of sound science Fitness trackers and mental health apps could be doing more harm than good because they are not based on sound science, researchers have warned, comparing some health app developers to “snake oil salesmen of the 1860s”.Greg Hager, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, said that in the absence of trials or scientific grounding it was impossible to say whether apps were having the intended effect. Continue reading...

20 февраля, 15:36

Робот-стражник: что дает искусственный интеллект системам кибербезопасности?

Принимая во внимание важность (порой критическую) охраняемых данных, пока говорить о полной замене человеческого интеллекта искусственным рано

15 февраля, 20:13

Is the H-1B Program a Cynical Attempt to Undercut American Workers?

To many, the visas are part of a story about the dynamism that comes from America's diversity. But there's another, much darker way of looking at them.

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14 февраля, 17:43

Towards an Artificial Brain | David Cox

The fast-advancing fields of neuroscience and computer science are on a collision course. David Cox, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Computer Science at Harvard, explains how his lab is working with others to reverse engineer how brains learn, starting with rats. By shedding light on what our machine learning algorithms are currently missing, this work promises to improve the capabilities of robots – with implications for jobs, laws and ethics. http://www.weforum.org/

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14 февраля, 14:45

Сведение с применением «регуляторов»: задача выполнимости

Привет, Хаброжители! Мы решили опубликовать отрывок из книги «Алгоритмы: разработка и применение. Классика Computers Science». Задачи SAT и 3-SAT. Допустим, имеется множество X из n булевых переменных x1, ..., xn; каждая переменная может принимать значение 0 или 1 (эквиваленты false и true). Литералом по X называется одна из переменных xi или ее отрицание. Наконец, условием называется обычная дизъюнкция литералов Читать дальше →

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13 февраля, 17:15

Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S. -- by John Bound, Gaurav Khanna, Nicolas Morales

Over the 1990s, the share of foreigners entering the US high-skill workforce grew rapidly. This migration potentially had a significant effect on US workers, consumers and firms. To study these effects, we construct a general equilibrium model of the US economy and calibrate it using data from 1994 to 2001. Built into the model are positive effects high skilled immigrants have on innovation. Counterfactual simulations based on our model suggest that immigration increased the overall welfare of US natives, and had significant distributional consequences. In the absence of immigration, wages for US computer scientists would have been 2.6% to 5.1% higher and employment in computer science for US workers would have been 6.1% to 10.8% higher in 2001. On the other hand, complements in production benefited substantially from immigration, and immigration also lowered prices and raised the output of IT goods by between 1.9% and 2.5%, thus benefiting consumers. Finally, firms in the IT sector also earned substantially higher profits due to immigration.

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11 февраля, 12:46

В Goldman Sachs осталось лишь два трейдера по ценным бумагам.

На пике своего успеха в 2000-е годы трейдерский отдел нью-йоркской штаб-квартиры Goldman Sachs (на фото) вмещал 600 трейдеров. Каждый обслуживал крупных клиентов. Сегодня их работа практически полностью автоматизирована: на работе осталось всего два трейдера по ценным бумагам. Всю работу делают программы алгоритмического трейдинга, которые обслуживаются силами 200 высококвалифицированных программистов. www.seas.harvard.edu/blog/2017/01/chavez-speaks-at-harvard-computer-science-symposium Мовчан, ку-ку!

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10 февраля, 08:00

'The world needs science and science needs women,' UN says on International Day

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged greater investments in teaching science, technology, engineering and math to all women and girls as well as equal access to these opportunities.

07 февраля, 13:07

What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read

President Trump’s strategic adviser is elevating a once-obscure network of political thinkers.

07 февраля, 13:04

Cotton and Trump plot crackdown on legal immigration

The push could trigger a fight between the business and populist wings of the GOP.

06 февраля, 21:09

Trump's Hiring Freeze Could Imperil Breakthrough Discovery On Bees

Julia Fine was all set for the next chapter. She’d packed her bags and moved out of her apartment, and was days away from making the drive from Pennsylvania to Utah, where she planned to start work as a postdoctoral scholar with the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agency. “I had made all the plans,” said Fine, a bee researcher who recently completed her doctorate in entomology at Pennsylvania State University. “I was supposed to start as soon as possible.” But on Jan. 23, just three days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the 28-year-old researcher got a perturbing phone call. The president had ordered a sweeping employment freeze for the federal government. Her position at the research service — and the funding that was going to allow her to continue her research into why honeybees are dying at abnormally high rates ― could be in jeopardy. “I was told that my position was frozen for an indefinite amount of time,” Fine said. A USDA spokesperson told The Huffington Post the agency could not comment on how the freeze might affect individual researchers. When pressed on how the order had affected employees at the USDA, the spokesperson sent this memorandum about the directive, which outlined guidelines and possible exemptions. As of Sunday, Fine said she remained “confused” as to whether she could qualify for any of the exemptions.  Much is still unknown about the hiring freeze and how it will affect federal agencies. It has caused widespread confusion among federal employers and employees alike. Fine is just one of many scientists, engineers, nurses and others whose jobs, promised before Trump took office, are now in question. And her story is only one example of how the freeze could affect not just these individuals, but our developing understanding of the world. Fine was the lead author of a study published in the journal Nature last month that detailed how a common pesticide additive, organosilicone surfactants, could be killing honeybees. Organosilicone surfactants are “inert” chemicals, meaning they’re used in agriculture and elsewhere to enhance the efficacy of active ingredients, Fine explained. “You’ve probably heard a lot about the effects of active ingredients [in pesticides] on bees and other organisms, but most people are not aware that they are only a relatively small fraction of the chemicals being used in the environment,” she said. “We started looking at the effects of inerts on honeybees because there is a growing body of research showing that not only do they enhance the toxic effects of other chemicals on non-target organisms, they sometimes exert their own.” For their study, Fine and her colleagues fed organosilicone surfactants to honeybee larvae while simultaneously exposing them to viruses found in nearly all hives. They found that when the larvae were exposed to both the chemical and the viruses together, they died at a higher rate than the bees exposed to either the viruses or the chemical alone. Exactly what is causing mass die-offs ― not just of honeybees, but of other native bee species as well, such as the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee ― is a question vexing scientists and beekeepers alike. Between 2015 and 2016, the U.S. lost 44 percent of its honeybee colonies. Researchers have pointed to viruses, parasites and pesticide use as possible culprits, but a definitive answer has eluded them. Fine said her research could be extremely consequential for both bee health and agriculture, since farmers rely on bees as pollinators. “We are very close to being able to make sound recommendations to growers that will prevent the effects we observed in the laboratory from occurring in the field,” she said. “This research could help increase food security.” “So many crops that we depend upon require insect pollination,” she went on. “This is not basic research ― it’s very applied research. It’ll have impacts on the economy and on our access to food.” But Fine still has to conduct more research before she can make recommendations, which she was planning to do through the USDA postdoc.  Specifically, she said the precise amount of organosilicone surfactants in the environment still has be measured to understand just how much of it honeybees are being exposed to.   “We also need to examine their effects in other species, including other pollinators,” Fine said. “We know that native pollinators can also be affected by honeybee viruses, and are also likely to be exposed to organosilicone surfactants. Because of the declines in native species like the rusty-patched bumblebee, we need to consider that these chemicals may also affect them.” With no other plans and her travel already set up, Fine decided to make the drive to Utah anyway, despite not knowing what would happen when she got there. She arrived last week and has been looking into other possible sources of funding for her research, while hoping that Trump lifts the hiring freeze.  “I’m still in limbo,” she told HuffPost, speaking on the phone from a friend’s home in Utah, where she’s living for now. Most of her belongings are still in storage, and her research is on indefinite hold. A ‘War On Scientists’  Trump’s first two weeks in office have been tough for the country’s scientists. Like the federal hiring freeze, Trump’s executive order restricting travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days has affected thousands of scientists. A number of researchers have told HuffPost they are considering leaving the United States because of the uncertainty about their visas. Over the weekend, two associate professors at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth were detained at Boston’s Logan International Airport. A Yale professor of electrical engineering and computer science was separated from his wife and newborn, who had gone to Iran to visit relatives. An Iranian assistant professor of religion at Middlebury College said he was unsure if he would be able to return to the U.S. after leaving the country to conduct research. Several prominent universities and colleges have expressed concerns about the travel restrictions, and the Association of American Medical Colleges warned that the restrictions are compromising its ability to attract top talent from around the world. Harvard President Drew Faust issued strong statements over the weekend supporting international students and faculty https://t.co/nNunIWDuv0— Harvard University (@Harvard) February 2, 2017 President Bollinger writes that we must step forward to object when state policies conflict w/ our values https://t.co/Iz5qYXuHJo #MuslimBan pic.twitter.com/AS7n8Hzj2f— Columbia University (@Columbia) January 30, 2017 A statement from University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on President Trump’s recent Executive Order: https://t.co/VA4yZXftl2 pic.twitter.com/7Y0uA6orvE— Notre Dame (@NotreDame) January 29, 2017 President Reif writes a community update on the Executive Order, with thoughts on moving forward: https://t.co/1K3hfw6q4K pic.twitter.com/LeqB0DEME4— MIT (@MIT) January 30, 2017 Scientists are also nervous about the Trump administration’s reported attempts to censor several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the USDA.  “I fear we’re going to see a war on scientists inside the government,” Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said last week at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. The ‘First Anti-Science President’ Following Trump’s win in November, the Science Advisory Board, an international community of scientific and medical experts, conducted a survey of more than 3,200 scientists worldwide to gauge their reactions.  More than 70 percent of the scientists predicted the results of the election would have a negative impact on research and science in the U.S. More than 70 percent also agreed with the statement that Trump would be the “first anti-science president we have ever had.”  Trump is a vocal climate change denier, and many of his Cabinet choices have been lambasted as “anti-science.” Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to head the EPA, has sued the agency 13 times and has expressed skepticism over global warming. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Trump’s choice to lead the Energy Department, is also a climate change denier who supported teaching both evolution and creationist theory in Texas schools. Jeff Ruch, executive director of the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told The Hill last week that scientists are bracing for more clashes with the federal government going forward. “We asked some environmental employees and one said, ‘We’re in the clown car to crazy town,’” Ruch said. “We view this as sort of the opening act of what’s going to be a long and bloody drama.”  ______ Dominique Mosbergen is a reporter at The Huffington Post covering climate change, extreme weather, conservation and extinction. Send tips or feedback to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter.  type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=588b9f18e4b08a14f7e5c121,5890b515e4b02772c4e95311,587721a0e4b092a6cae559d6,5878ad15e4b0b3c7a7b0c29c,5847dd05e4b08c82e888db36 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

06 февраля, 18:17

From Holocaust Denial To Hitler Admiration, Google's Algorithm Is Dangerous

If you Google “Was the Holocaust real?” right now, seven out of the top 10 results will be Holocaust denial sites. If you Google “Was Hitler bad?,” one of the top results is an article titled, “10 Reasons Why Hitler Was One Of The Good Guys.” In December, responding to weeks of criticism, Google said that it tweaked it algorithm to push down Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic sites. But now, just a month later, their fix clearly hasn’t worked. In addition to hateful search results, Google has had a similar problem with its “autocompletes” — when Google anticipates the rest of a query from its first word or two. Google autocompletes have often embodied racist and sexist stereotypes. Google image search has also generated biased results, absurdly tagging some photos of black people as “gorillas.” The result of these horrific search results can be deadly. Google search results reportedly helped shape the racism of Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people in a historically black South Carolina church in 2015. Roof said that when he Googled “black on white crime, the first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens,” which is a white supremacist organization. “I have never been the same since that day,” he said. And of course, in December, a Facebook-fueled fake news story about Hillary Clinton prompted a man to shoot up a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. The fake story reportedly originated in a white supremacist’s tweet. These terrifying acts of violence and hate are likely to continue if action isn’t taken. Without a transparent curation process, the public has a hard time judging the legitimacy of online sources. In response, a growing movement of academics, journalists and technologists is calling for more algorithmic accountability from Silicon Valley giants. As algorithms take on more importance in all walks of life, they are increasingly a concern of lawmakers. Here are some steps Silicon Valley companies and legislators should take to move toward more transparency and accountability:   1. Obscure content that’s damaging and not of public interest. When it comes to search results about an individual person’s name, many countries have aggressively forced Google to be more careful in how it provides information. Thanks to the Court of Justice of the European Union, Europeans can now request the removal of certain search results revealing information that is “inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive,” unless there is a greater public interest in being able to find the information via a search on the name of the data subject. Such removals are a middle ground between information anarchy and censorship. They neither disappear information from the internet (it can be found at the original source) nor allow it to dominate the impression of the aggrieved individual. They are a kind of obscurity that lets ordinary individuals avoid having a single incident indefinitely dominate search results on his or her name. For example, a woman in Spain whose husband was murdered 20 years ago successfully forced Google Spain to take news of the murder off search results on her name. Such removals are a middle ground between information anarchy and censorship.   2. Label, monitor and explain hate-driven search results. In 2004, anti-Semites boosted a Holocaust-denial site called “Jewwatch” into the top 10 results for the query “Jew.” Ironically, some of those horrified by the site may have helped by linking to it in order to criticize it. The more a site is linked to, the more prominence Google’s algorithm gives it in search results. Google responded to complaints by adding a headline at the top of the page entitled “An explanation of our search results.” A web page linked to the headline explained why the offensive site appeared so high in the relevant rankings, thereby distancing Google from the results. The label, however, no longer appears. In Europe and many other countries, lawmakers should consider requiring such labeling in the case of obvious hate speech. To avoid mainstreaming extremism, labels may link to accounts of the history and purpose of groups with innocuous names like “Council of Conservative Citizens.” In the U.S., this type of regulation may be considered a form of “compelled speech,” barred by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, better labeling practices for food and drugs have escaped First Amendment scrutiny in the U.S., and why should information itself be different? As law professor Mark Patterson has demonstrated, many of our most important sites of commerce are markets for information: search engines are not offering products and services themselves but information about products and services, which may well be decisive in determining which firms and groups fail and which succeed. If they go unregulated, easily manipulated by whoever can afford the best search engine optimization, people may be left at the mercy of unreliable and biased sources. Better labeling practices for food and drugs have escaped First Amendment scrutiny in the U.S. Why should information itself be different?   3. Audit logs of the data fed into algorithmic systems. We also need to get to the bottom of how some racist or anti-Semitic groups and individuals are manipulating search. We should require immutable audit logs of the data fed into algorithmic systems. Machine-learning, predictive analytics or algorithms may be too complex for a person to understand, but the data records are not. A relatively simple set of reforms could vastly increase the ability of entities outside Google and Facebook to determine whether and how the firms’ results and news feeds are being manipulated. There is rarely adequate profit motive for firms themselves to do this — but motivated non-governmental organizations can help them be better guardians of the public sphere.   4. Possibly ban certain content. In cases where computational reasoning behind search results really is too complex to be understood in conventional narratives or equations intelligible to humans, there is another regulatory approach available: to limit the types of information that can be provided. Though such an approach would raise constitutional objections in the U.S., nations like France and Germany have outright banned certain Nazi sites and memorabilia. Policymakers should also closely study laws regarding “incitement to genocide” to develop guidelines for censoring hate speech with a clear and present danger of causing systematic slaughter or violence against vulnerable groups. It's a small price to pay for a public sphere less warped by hatred.   5. Permit limited outside annotations to defamatory posts and hire more humans to judge complaints. In the U.S. and elsewhere, limited annotations ― “rights of reply” ― could be permitted in certain instances of defamation of individuals or groups. Google continues to maintain that it doesn’t want human judgment blurring the autonomy of its algorithms. But even spelling suggestions depend on human judgment, and in fact, Google developed that feature not only by means of algorithms but also through a painstaking, iterative interplay between computer science experts and human beta testers who report on their satisfaction with various results configurations. It’s true that the policy for alternative spellings can be applied generally and automatically once the testing is over, while racist and anti-Semitic sites might require fresh and independent judgment after each complaint. But that is a small price to pay for a public sphere less warped by hatred. We should commit to educating users about the nature of search and other automated content curation and creation. Search engine users need media literacy to understand just how unreliable Google can be. But we also need vigilant regulators to protect the vulnerable and police the worst abuses. Truly accountable algorithms will only result from a team effort by theorists and practitioners, lawyers, social scientists, journalists and others. This is an urgent, global cause with committed and mobilized experts ready to help. Let’s hope that both digital behemoths and their regulators are listening.   EDITOR’S NOTE: The WorldPost reached out to Google for comment and received the following from a Google spokesperson. Search ranking: Google was built on providing people with high-quality and authoritative results for their search queries. We strive to give users a breadth of content from a variety of sources and we’re committed to the principle of a free and open web. Understanding which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right. When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one-by-one. We are working on improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web, and we’ll continue to improve our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges. Autocomplete: We’ve received a lot of questions about Autocomplete, and we want to help people understand how it works: Autocomplete predictions are algorithmically generated based on users’ search activity and interests. Users search for such a wide range of material on the web ― 15% of searches we see every day are new. Because of this, terms that appear in Autocomplete may be unexpected or unpleasant.  We do our best to prevent offensive terms, like porn and hate speech, from appearing, but we don’t always get it right. Autocomplete isn’t an exact science and we’re always working to improve our algorithms. Image search: Our image search results are a reflection of content from across the web, including the frequency with which types of images appear and the way they’re described online. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of subject matter online can affect what image search results appear for a given query. These results don’t reflect Google’s own opinions or beliefs. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

06 февраля, 16:25

Computer Sciences (CSC) In Focus: Stock Moves 11.1% Higher

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) moved big last session, as its shares jumped a little over 11% on the day.

03 февраля, 18:05

Computer Sciences (CSC) Tops on Q3 Earnings & Revenues

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) reported better-than-expected third-quarter of fiscal 2017 results

02 февраля, 17:00

Leading People Too Smart to Be Led

An evolutionary geneticist, a professional gambler, and a business school professor walk into a bar. What might appear to be the start of a horribly nerdy joke is simply a scene that could happen any evening at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And it did recently when I visited SFI’s president, evolutionary geneticist David Krakauer. Have you ever wanted to blow up the bureaucracy at your organization? That’s what SFI’s founders did. Founded in 1984 by scientists, including four Nobel laureates, SFI is one of the world’s leading research institutions, but it’s unlike any university. Born partly out of frustration with traditional university bureaucracies, SFI has no departments, no formal hierarchies, and no tenure. SFI has become an international nexus, where over 250 top scientists from all over the world engage across disciplines. Some visit for a few days, while others spend years in residence. They all covet SFI’s culture of exploration, curiosity, and rigor. The Institute’s community has generated foundational work in fields from economics to computer science to genetics to the exploration of artificial life. Shepherding this transdisciplinary work is Krakauer’s job. He embodies the cognitive diversity of SFI, having made seminal contributions to fields as disparate as genetics, microbiology, human history, and society. In 2012 Wired magazine included Krakauer on its list of 50 people who will change the world. I wanted to know how Krakauer leads a wildly creative, highly effective organization. There were six things he told me that I think could be transferrable to leaders in any organization: See yourself as “a colonel with an army of generals.” Humility is an essential prerequisite for a leader who’s in the middle of a maelstrom of talent. “Lead by example and set a tone,” encouraged Krakauer. “Great talent must be inspired to be part of your organization.” Amplifying Krakauer’s maxim, the way to get the best contributions from world-leading talent is to inspire them to be part of your organization — rather than making the hard sell or overmanaging them. Don’t valorize failure. “Everyone says failure is a wonderful thing. I totally disagree,” Krakauer says. It might make a provocative slogan, but few brilliant people are really motivated by the prospect of failing. He laments the current fad of celebrating failure, a prescription I often hear in my role of working with executives eager to enhance corporate innovation capabilities. Instead of celebrating failure, we need to reframe the challenge. “Here we celebrate success. We also celebrate experiments,” Krakauer explains.   Encourage smart recklessness. Each of us has a crazy idea from time to time. We should probably share them more often than we do. People sometimes overprepare to avoid embarrassment, and most institutions are designed to eschew such concepts. But in these embryonic ideas might lie greatness. Krakauer advises leaders to create opportunities where people are expected to share these “reckless” ideas. With this expectation, many more novel ideas are likely to emerge. But setting up these kinds of conditions is different from valorizing failure. Quoting Murray Gell-Mann, the Nobel laureate physicist, Krakauer says, “Wrong ideas can be interesting, but correct ideas are great.” The organization should be a crucible, not a crib. Encouraging rigorous, constructive debate is indispensable to navigating challenges of high uncertainty, from extending the bounds of knowledge to scaling a business. Argument is “how we come to understand things,” observes Krakauer, a tough and contentious critic who sees SFI’s role as a crucible, a place where ideas are put to the test. “I believe in freedom and I believe in community. I also believe in rigor and…challenging nonsense.” Many companies, however, develop cultural and procedural barriers to productive debate, valuing organizational harmony over innovation. The challenge is to find the balance: to foster an environment where people feel comfortable sharing — and arguing — the merits of different perspectives. Search for “stupid” practices as much as you seek best practices. “We have hundreds of organizations researching intelligence. Why don’t we have at least a few researching stupidity?” asks Krakauer. “After all, stupidity is at the heart of why and how things go wrong.” Anyone operating in a large enterprise feels the truth of Krakauer’s quip. Overcoming collective stupidity on an ongoing basis is a role for leadership in any organization. Structure can help, and SFI’s flat, organic arrangement certainly does, but structure isn’t enough. Leaders who do well in large organizations get the right things done — sometimes by leveraging the bureaucracy, and sometimes in spite of it. Persist. Near the end of our conversation, I asked Krakauer about his experiences as a scientist studying complexity theory. It’s a relatively young field, and early on in his career Krakauer had had serious reservations about how far it could advance. But he persisted even though he was faced with major doubts. He told me he kept going because of “curiosity, a desire to understand the universe…pushing the boundaries of what you can understand on a fundamental level. That overwhelmed the very real prospect of making little progress.” That’s good advice for leaders, too. On days when nothing is going right, and even Management 101 seems to be failing, focus on persistence. If the vision and purpose are sound, you may just get further than you thought you could.

31 января, 05:31

With The Stroke Of A Pen, Trump May Have Sparked An American Brain Drain

Mohammed Salih is precisely the type of academic the United States would want to keep within its borders: a 33-year-old doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication studying how extremist movements in the Middle East use and manipulate the media. It’s a research area with obvious implications for counterterrorism operations. And it’s one that Salih wants to continue pursuing in the United States after he gets his degree. But Salih, who is here on a student visa, has a problem. He’s from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which means that under President Donald Trump’s executive order ― designed to impede the worst outcomes of extremism ― he would be prohibited for the next 90 days from coming back into the country should he leave. And he needs to leave. His research brings him back to Iraq as well as to various international conferences. He attended one in Beirut just four days before Trump’s inauguration. His family is in Iraq, too, and should there be an emergency, he’d be forced to choose between uprooting his life or missing out on family events.  He is now contemplating the once unthinkable. After waiting seven months for his first visa and four months for his second, he’s now waiting 90 days to see if the suspension of refugees and travelers from Iraq and six other countries is lifted. If it is not, he’ll explore greener career pastures outside of the United States. “Before coming to Annenberg, I had admission from Concordia University in Montreal, which is also a good school. And when I was weighing my option, I was thinking quite a bit about it given the rhetoric in the primaries,” Salih said. “At the end, because of Annenberg’s standing and reputation, I decided I would want to come here. And you can imagine, right now, i’m sort of wondering quite a bit if I made the right decision. I’m actually wondering whether I should have not picked the school in Canada and gone there.” After just 10 days in office, Trump has shaken the world of science and academia. It’s not just the general skepticism that he and his Cabinet seem to bring to some fields (predominantly climate science) or the promises he’s made to tighten the nation’s discretionary spending, which could come at the price of federally funded scientific research. The Trump White House’s decision to clamp down on communication from various federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, has left researchers frightened over political influence seeping into their work. And his executive order has left students and scientists in limbo, removed from their classrooms and work. Advocates are warning that the inhospitable environment will lead, quite quickly, to a brain drain. A young generation of thinkers, academics and researchers might simply look to other countries to conduct their work. “We understand that a strong visa policy is important for our national security. But if we abandoned our goal here of attracting the best and brightest, the long-term implications are serious for our leadership in the world,” said Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman. “I would have a tough time, if I felt that we couldn’t be welcoming as a country, telling a student that he or she should come here.”  Already, the beginning of brain drain is taking shape. Coleman said the Institute for International Education estimates 16,000 to 17,000 students hold valid visas from the seven countries were listed in Trump’s executive order. Many prominent schools spoke out in concern Monday, while entire research labs were thrown into uncertainty. A friend who works at a top research university's computer science department says they've lost 11 prospective Ph.D candidates to the ban.— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) January 28, 2017 Beyond that, there are faculty and university staff from those seven countries who are unable to leave the U.S. now or, in some cases, return to their classrooms. Two associate professors at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth were detained at Boston’s Logan International Airport over the weekend. A Yale professor was separated from his wife and newborn, who were visiting family, while a professor at Middlebury College remained decamped in Iran with his two children waiting for further guidance on whether he’d be allowed back into the United States with his green card. The Association of American Medical Colleges warned that its ability to attract top talent from around the world was being threatened. Scientific consortiums and organizations are planning to move conferences overseas for fear that they couldn’t have full attendance under the constructs of Trump’s order. The International Astronomical Union urged U.S. officials to reconsider their screening measures, noting that they had hosted a conference in Hawaii in 2015 with about 3,000 astronomers, including some from the seven targeted countries. Wendy Naus, executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations, said that, on a phone call to discuss the executive order Monday morning, two members of a group of scientific societies pushed to move their conferences to Canada. “People are scrambling right now in the scientific community to figure out all the ways it plays out and what it means for grad students, innovation and the private sector,” Naus said. “If it is a glitch or a blip, and the outrage is heard and things go back, the damage isn’t done. But if it is the new normal, then, yeah, we are risking our competitive advantage. These are fundamentally things we’ve never confronted before.” As the United States begins closing its doors on foreign-based scientists, other countries are sensing an opportunity. Kaz Nejatian, co-founder and CEO of Kash, a next-generation payment company, promised to connect those turned down for H-1B visas (which Trump is rumored to be targeting for restrictions) with Canadian tech companies who are hiring. Meanwhile, U.S.-based tech companies ― at least those who spoke out ― were uniform in their disapproval of the executive order, noting that they’d be left without the ability to recruit from some of the best workforce pools. Lawmakers are acutely aware of this issue, not least because many hail from districts with universities and others receive campaign donations from groups and industries affected by the executive order. But the prevailing sentiment within the White House has been against opening up U.S. borders. “That’s a real problem,” said Liz Mair, a pro-immigration Republican strategist, “both in terms of risking longer-term brain-drain but also in terms of actual direct, day-to-day health care where America is very reliant on foreign nationals— something that might change in 10 years but can’t change in the course of 72 hours and might matter to a lot of people in the next 90 days.” The concerns for science and research advocates go beyond immigration policy. Apparent gag orders at the EPA along with the fear of belt-tightening from Congress will sour the scientific climate and drain the pool of funds for prospective researchers. In that environment, the more established scientists with better known projects tend to thrive, while the younger ones flounder, become discouraged and look elsewhere. Naomi Charalambakis, 26, a U.S. citizen, is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Louisville, studying anatomy and neurobiology. But upon graduation, she plans to leave the field. Part of it is a lifestyle decision, an eagerness to have a family and a 9-to-5 job. But the funding climate is also daunting: Her mentor, she said, has stopped ordering lab supplies over concerns that appropriations will dwindle. And her career choice is a reflection of that. After earning her doctorate, Charalambakis plans to come to Washington, D.C., to advocate for expanded budgets at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and elsewhere. “My colleagues are frustrated and don’t know what to do. A lot of them say they don’t know if they can continue in the lab and are wondering if they will have to start all over and have another career entirely. I feel we just can’t be quiet.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

25 апреля 2014, 07:36

Тенденции в ИТ секторе США

С этой Украиной народ совсем все запустил. Учитывая степень накала можно предположить, что ньюсмейкеры искусственно нагоняют истерию, чтобы отвлечь внимание от более глобальных тенденций, как например развал Еврозоны, провал «японского чуда» и политики Абе, затяжная рецессия в США, очередной провал корпоративных отчетов. Кстати, в последнее время говорят о чем угодно, но только не о последних результатах крупнейших мировых гигантов. Что там с ними?  Из 30 наиболее крупных ИТ компаний в США 11 компаний сокращают годовую выручку по сравнению к 2013 году. Это HPQ, IBM, Intel, Western Digital, Computer Sciences, Seagate Technology, Texas Instruments и другие. Наибольшее годовое сокращение выручки у Seagate Technology – почти 15%. С оценкой 5 летних тенденций, то в наихудшем положении Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Computer Sciences и Texas Instruments, у которых выручка находится на 5 летних минимумах. В таблице данные, как сумма за 4 квартала. Но есть и те, кто вырываются вперед – Microsoft, Google, Ingram Micro, Qualcomm. Apple замедляет в росте и переходит в фазу стагнации с последующим сокрушительным обвалом на фоне роста конкуренции. Intel в стагнации, как 3 года. Данные за 1 квартал предварительные, т.к. еще далеко не все отчитались. Но общие тенденции нащупать можно. Примерно 35-40% крупных компаний сокращают бизнес активность, 25-35% компаний в стагнации и еще столько же растут. Отмечу, что рост отмечает в отрасли, связанной так или иначе с мобильными девайсами – либо производство софта, либо реклама на них, или поставки аппаратной части, как Qualcomm. По прибыли.  Здесь еще хуже. Мало компаний, показывающих приращение эффективности. Около 60% компаний сокращают прибыль, либо стагнируют. Относительно стабильный тренд увеличения прибыли у Google, Oracle, Qualcomm. Хотя темпы прироста наименьшие за 3 года.