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Bleeding Edge Roundup

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

The next AI is no AI
By Jarno Koponen
TechCrunch

Artificial Intelligence is starting to turn invisible from the outside in — and vice versa. Effectively, as the impact of AI technologies increases, the more limited becomes our ability to understand their impact. AI technologies will soon go beyond Clarke’s third law, stating that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Indeed, we don’t anymore have a chance to figure out the trick — or even realize that any trick occurred in the first place.

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We should embrace robots, not fear them
By Andrew McAfee
Financial Times

A more learned reading of the rapid changes we are seeing in artificial intelligence, sensor development and many other fields is that we are not hurtling towards a future in which the machines become self-aware and take over. Worrying about that future is so misplaced that it is like worrying about overpopulation … on Mars. A much more proximate and real threat, and hence a scarier one, is that of economic dislocation.

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Facebook is building AI that builds AI
By Cade Metz
WIRED

To build a deep neural network that cracks the next big AI problem, researchers must first try countless options that don’t work, running each one across dozens and potentially hundreds of machines. That’s why many of the top tech companies are now trying to automate this trial and error—or at least part of it.
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SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT

UAE to build fake mountain to increase rainfall
By Chris Weller
TechInsider

In the United Arab Emirates, officials are mulling the idea of creating an artificial mountain to boost rainfall in the region. Through a process called "cloud seeding," in which the mountain will force cool air to rise and form rain clouds, the country hopes to make up for its dry desert climate. Internationally, the average person consumes between 170 and 300 liters of water. In the UAE, it's closer to 550 liters, primarily due to luxuries like air conditioning and bottled water, as well as inefficient farming practices.

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Musk says US needs “a revolt” against fossil fuel industry
By Matt Mace
The Guardian

Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems. Speaking at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in California on Wednesday, Musk claimed that traditional vehicles and energy sources will continue to hold a competitive edge against greener alternatives due to the vast amounts of subsidies they receive.

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California ponders expanding cap and trade to Brazil
Mercury News

Under a plan state air regulators are considering, industries that emit greenhouse gas pollution in California could form multi-million dollar relationships with indigenous communities by paying them to preserve trees deep in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. It's part of a proposal to expand California's cap-and-trade system, which is designed to encourage companies to reduce climate-warming pollution by making them pay for it. Businesses can comply, in part, by buying credits to support environmental projects that offset their carbon emissions in California.

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LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY

Norwalk power customers to tap new solar source
By Alexander Soule
Stamford Advocate

Norwalk customers of Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative will be able to tap into solar-generated power after the cooperative announced plans to develop photovoltaic systems in southern Connecticut totaling 13 megawatts of electricity alongside SolarCity and Brightfields Development. The entities will install 57,000 panels at three sites in eastern Connecticut, as well as a battery storage system that can maintain a supply of at least 1.5 megawatts of electricity, or 6 megawatt hours.

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New tax rule will fight corruption, help economy
Reuters

On Friday, US President Barack Obama said a long-delayed rule requiring the financial industry to identify the real owners of companies will help fight corruption and tax evasion and boost the economy. His administration on Friday issued the Customer Due Diligence rule in the works since 2012, and proposed legislation meant to prevent criminals from using shell companies to evade taxes, launder money, and finance terror.

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Kremlin jitters over the economy are growing
Financial Times

Despite increasing controls on democracy, Mr Putin’s authority in his first two presidential terms rested on the solid foundations of economic growth and genuine increases in living standards, albeit helped by sharply rising oil prices. Since his return for a third term in 2012, with Russia’s oil-based growth model exhausted, the Putin regime has become more nakedly authoritarian. His popularity rests on a fragile base of military mobilisation coupled with a vicious anti-western propaganda campaign portraying Russia as a “besieged fortress”.

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GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT

Public Uncertain, Divided Over America’s Place in the World
Pew Research Center

The public views America’s role in the world with considerable apprehension and concern. In fact, most Americans say it would be better if the U.S. just dealt with its own problems and let other countries deal with their own problems as best they can. With the United States facing an array of global threats, public support for increased defense spending has climbed to its highest level since a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when 50% favored more defense spending.

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US government admits deploying troops in Yemen
Al-Jazeera

The Pentagon has acknowledged for the first time it has deployed its troops to Yemen more than a year after pulling out following military intervention by the Arab-led coalition. Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis said on Friday the US military had also stepped up air strikes against AQAP fighters in the war-torn country. A "very small number" of American military personnel has been working from a "fixed location" with Yemeni and Arab coalition forces - especially the Emiratis - in recent weeks around Mukalla, a port city seized by AQAP a year ago, Davis said.

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Aid system should open up to local players
By Anna Patton
Devex

Calls for the humanitarian system to involve more local and national organizations are not new — but momentum is growing ahead of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul later this month. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon wants to see more tasks and leadership handed to local actors and the elimination of parallel structures that undermine grassroots efforts. Yet large donors point to the practical barriers of opening up, and many aid workers don’t expect to see real reform soon. U.N. figures show that local and national NGOs directly received just 0.2 percent of total humanitarian assistance in 2014. At fault is the “oligopoly” of self-interested organizations that remain closed off to locally-led relief, according to a report from the London-based Overseas Development Institute published in April.

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AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Immigrants in US illegally are given a shot to return to their professions
By Patrick McCreevy
Los Angeles Times

California has led the nation in adopting laws aimed at easing the assimilation of those in the United States illegally, previously allowing such people to get driver’s licenses, college financial aid and law licenses. Last they passed a law that allows immigrants in the United States illegally to apply for state licenses as barbers, cosmetologists, auto mechanics, security guards and other professions. Until Gov. Jerry Brown signed the new law, professionals in California had to obtain licenses by submitting their Social Security numbers as proof of citizenship. The law allows the state’s 40 licensing boards to accept a federal taxpayer identification number, which those working in the country illegally can obtain in lieu of a Social Security number. More than 300 people have since applied for professional licenses.

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What Wage Stagnation Looks Like For Many Americans
By Jim Zarroli
NPR

The issue of wage stagnation could end up playing a dominant role in this year's presidential election for the first time, according to Larry Mishel, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a pro-labor think tank. Wages and benefits have essentially flatlined or declined for four out of five Americans between 2007 and 2014, and except for a few years in the 1990s, they weren't rising all that fast before that, Mishel noted. "Basically, candidates across the political spectrum have invoked wage stagnation as a key economic challenge, but the debates we've seen have not dug into the details," Mishel said. He predicts that with the approach of the general election, the two parties will be forced to differentiate themselves with more specific ideas.

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What If Everybody Didn't Have to Work to Get Paid?
By David R. Wheeler
The Atlantic

Scott Santens is a leader in the basic income movement—a worldwide network of thousands of advocates who believe that governments should provide every citizen with a monthly stipend big enough to cover life’s basic necessities. The idea of a basic income has been around for decades, and it once drew support from leaders as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon. But rather than waiting for governments to act, Santens has started crowdfunding his own basic income of $1,000 per month. He’s nearly halfway to his his goal.

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FUTURE LEFT PODCAST EP. 2:  Climate Change Pessimism

FUTURE LEFT PODCAST EP. 2: Climate Change Pessimism

BIG IDEAS NEED BIG GOVERNMENT

BIG IDEAS NEED BIG GOVERNMENT