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Bleeding Edge Roundup

THE BLEEDING EDGE


Today’s news for the future
March 9, 2016

TECH | SUSTAINABILITY | LABOR & ECONOMY
POST-CONFLICT FUTURE | AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

TECH

Google AI begins battle with humanity’s best Go player tonight
By Sebastian Anthony
Ars Technica

Late on Tuesday night, Google's DeepMind AI group will face down against one of the world's best human Go players, Lee Se-dol of South Korea. The game will be streamed live on YouTube (of course), which is embedded at the end of this story. Back in October, AlphaGo beat three-time European champion Fan Hui 5-0. The artificial intelligence community was shocked by the result: Go, with about [so many] possible positions to choose from, can't be won with "simple" brute-force search techniques (with current amounts of processing power, anyway). Instead, AlphaGo uses a novel mix of deep neural network machine learning, and tree search techniques.

Read the full article here.

How do workers organize when their boss is an app?
By David P. Ball
The Tyee

"How do people organize when your boss is an app?" asks Emily Norgang, a senior labour congress researcher facilitating the session on the gig economy. "How do you actually organize in this digital environment... where you don't know any of your co-workers or how many are even in the city where you work?"

Read the full article here.

SUSTAINABILITY

Florida mayors press presidential debate moderators for climate airtime
By Valerie Volcovici
Reuters

Mayors of 21 cities in Florida on Friday called on the moderators of next week's presidential debates in Miami to ask candidates how they would deal with rising sea levels caused by climate change, a concern of the state's coastal communities. "It would be unconscionable for these issues of grave concern for the people of Florida to not be addressed in the upcoming debate you will be hosting in the state," the mayors wrote in an letter to CNN, The Washington Post, Univision and the other media outlets hosting the Democratic and Republican debates on March 9 and March 10 in Miami.

Read the full article here.

Surprise! A third of congress members are climate change deniers
By Katie Herzog
The Grist

An annual tally of climate deniers in Congress just came out, and there’s good news and bad news. The good news: You’re smarter than 34 percent of Congress. The bad news: You’re smarter than 34 percent of Congress. The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that there are 182 climate deniers in the current Congress: 144 in the House and 38 in the Senate. That means more than six in 10 Americans are represented by people who think that climate change is a big ‘ol liberal hoax — including some leaders at the highest levels of government, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch “I Am Not a Scientist” McConnell and senator and presidential candidate Marco “I Am Not a Scientist” Rubio.

Read the full article here.

LABOR AND ECONOMY

PwC wants to use ‘gig economy’ workers to staff projects for its clients
By Claire Zillman
Fortune

PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms and No. 53 on Fortune’s 2016 Best Companies to Work For list, is looking to cash in on the so-called gig economy. The company said Monday that it has launched a marketplace where freelance workers can upload their resumés and apply to work on projects for PwC clients. If PwC deems them qualified for a specific project, the freelancers will be invited to bid on the job by submitting their per-hour rate. Then it will be up to PwC to decide what workers get the gig.

Read the full article here.

Robots took manufacturing jobs--and they’re not coming back
By Matthew Yglesias
Vox

In debates leading up to Tuesday's Michigan primary, everyone from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders has touted plans to revive American manufacturing. It's no secret that manufacturing has been leaving the US for a while, and everything from new trade policies to targeted corporate tax reforms to repealing Obamacare has been cited as the key to bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. Some of the ideas candidates offered to boost US manufacturing make sense, and others make less sense. But none of them are going to bring back the heyday of American manufacturing jobs, for the simple reason that when you look at the data, the decline of manufacturing employment actually doesn't reflect a broader decline in the state of American manufacturing.

Read the full article here.

POST CONFLICT FUTURE

Can the UN afford the cost of post-conflict ‘success’ in Syria?
By Richard Gowan
World Politics Review

The United Nations faces two nightmare scenarios in Syria, and U.N. officials have little or no power to choose between them. In one scenario, the current cessation of hostilities between the regime and rebels will break down irrevocably in the coming weeks or months, unleashing a new spiral of killing. That would instigate furious fights inside the Security Council and leave U.N. mediators with no cards left to play. In the second scenario, the cessation of hostilities, which has been in place for 10 days despite multiple violations, could prove to be more durable than most observers expected. That might sound like good news. But it would also put the U.N. in the morally and politically invidious position of trying to consolidate peace on terms effectively set by President Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Moscow and Tehran.

Read the full article here.

Colombia govt confident of impending peace deal with FARC
World Bulletin

A full or partial deal between the government here and FARC guerrillas will be ready to be signed later this month, Colombia’s foreign minister said Monday. Ángela Holguín, who is in Spain negotiating ownership terms of potential treasures on the San José galleon that sunk in Colombian waters in 1708, said a peace agreement could be reached after more than three years of negotiations. “On March 23 there will be something, we will see if it represents the total accord or a part of it,” Holguín said. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who have been involved in peace talks with the Colombian government since November 2012, said Sunday that there had been “substantial advances” towards reaching a definitive bilateral ceasefire, raising hopes March 23 could be the date when a peace deal is signed between the two sides, ending more than 50 years of conflict.

Read the full article here.

AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Why seniors--not CEOs--deserve a raise
By Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The Nation

Any conversation about tackling poverty in the United States should include protecting and expanding Social Security. The reason is pretty straightforward: Social Security is the most powerful tool available to lift people out of poverty. Nearly two-thirds of seniors depend on Social Security for the majority of their income, and millions more children and adults depend upon survivors and disability benefits. According to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Census data, Social Security kept 21 million Americans out of poverty in the last year alone. All told, that’s more people than any other government program.

Read the full article here.

Can Texas figure out how to teach English to immigrant children
By Alana Semuels
The Atlantic

Out of all the cities in Texas, this would seemingly have been the one where schools knew how to help Spanish-speaking students learn. El Paso is progressive and welcoming, and is more than 80 percent Latino. Its close ties with Ciudad Juarez, just across the border, means that the city embraces its Mexican roots and the people who have crossed the border for a better life. But a recent cheating scandal revealed that not even El Paso could successfully figure out how to best educate English-language learners. In an effort to improve state test scores at Bowie High School in the 60,000-student El Paso Independent School District, administrators told some low-performing—mostly immigrant students—to drop out of school. And for years, administrators contorted their student rolls, skipping students from 9th to 11th grade so they wouldn’t have to take the state tests in 10th grade and bring down the school’s scores. Others, they chose not to educate at all: Many Spanish-speaking El Paso students at Bowie High School and others in the district were simply “disappeared” out of school rosters, their transcripts changed so they could be shown to have graduated, without ever having finished high school.

Read the full article here.

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Bleeding Edge Roundup