Scientist Claims to be On the Verge of Making An AI That ‘Feels’ True Emotions
AI has been making great strides in the past few years, beating humans at our own game, as well as augmenting and even replacing human controlled systems. However, some are still not impressed with these developments and feel more should be done. Such is the view of Professor Alexi Samsonovich, who announced that Russia “is on the verge” of a major AI milestone—robots that can feel human emotion! The announcement was made during the 2016 Annual International Conference on Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures (BICA) in New York City. Specifically, Samsonovich pointed to free thinking machines capable of feeling and understanding human emotions, understanding narratives and thinking in those narratives, as well as being capable to actively learn on their own.
The human role in a bot-dominated future
By Justin DiPietro
Imagine a world where bots are ubiquitous… a world where nearly every online interaction takes place with a Siri, Alexa, Cortana or some soon-to-be-named artificial being. Here, banking is a breeze, as a customer service bot can quickly extrapolate your banking preferences from your online search history. In this world, your cupboards and refrigerator are always full, because your groceries are reordered every week automatically, based on consumption data. But in such a world, where bots provide the ultimate convenience of a futuristic lifestyle, is there still room for human help?
The return of the Luddite president
By Nancy Scolo
Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the White House, one thing seems sure: The U.S. will get a president with scant first-hand understanding of modern technology. The tech-aloofness of the two nominees marks a sharp break from President Barack Obama, who fought to keep a mobile phone when he entered the White House, spends downtime surfing his iPad and wrote about his awe at the power of the Internet in his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope.” That raises the prospect that the next occupant of the Oval Office — charged with making decisions on issues like encryption, the fight against a social-media savvy Islamic State, and the growing automation of the American economy — will be less familiar with consumer technologies than the average citizens who use them.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
Every US State Could Be Hotter Than Mexico By 2100, With Deadly Consequences
By Amir Jina
Across much of the US, we’re still sweating it out after a massive heat wave enveloped broad masses of the country last week. It was one of the worst in decades, following on the hottest June on record, and what’s looking like will be the hottest year on record. Heat in the summer does happen, but it’s clear that we’re already beginning to see evidence of a trend for the worst. Because of climate change, episodes of extreme heat are only going to get longer, more intense and more frequent—in the US and throughout the world. With time, having the means to adapt—and learning to do so—will become a matter of life or death.
Growing corn like it's 2065 to study climate change effects
By Tom Meersman
At the University of Minnesota, researchers are growing corn in greenhouses like it’s the year 2065. The effort is part of a long-term plan to study how corn will grow under weather conditions considerably different from today’s, predicted in climate change models for a half-century out. “Many models show that with increasing temperatures we could be seeing a reduction in corn yields, so that’s something we would like to investigate under controlled conditions,” said Tim Griffis, University of Minnesota professor of biometeorology and one of several researchers directing projects. Different models predict that corn yields could drop from 30 to 80 percent by the end of the century depending on locations and as a result of extreme heat, wetter springs, more intense rainstorms and drier summers.
International Leaders Can’t Agree on a Road Map for Sustainable Urbanization
By Greg Scruggs
Diplomats met in the Indonesian city of Surabaya in an ambitious attempt to hammer out the non-binding document, which will provide national governments with guidelines on the growth and development of cities for the next two decades. The hope this week was that three days of negotiations in Surabaya, structured as formal talks, would bring in a wider pool of countries that would ultimately settle the document. Such an outcome would have alleviated the need for intense negotiations in Quito and allow that four-day summit to focus more on the agenda’s implementation. But this was not to be. Negotiators now have indicated that informal talks will reconvene in New York in September, with the hopes of bringing a complete or near-complete agreement to Quito. Dates have not yet been set for that next round.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
What Is the TPP? 3 Facts You Should Know About the Trans-Pacific Partnership
By James Dennin
Wondering what exactly those people holding anti-TPP signs are all fired up about at the 2016 Democratic National Convention? TPP is short-hand for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a 5,000-plus page proposed trade agreement that was signed by President Barack Obama this February and is now pending Congressional approval. The deal would liberalize trade relations by lowering import and export taxes and establishing common rules between 12 countries: Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. If it is ratified, it would be the largest regional trade agreement in history. But why is TPP so controversial? And who's right? When it comes to free trade, there aren't many easy answers but there are a few key facts all voters should know.
Debt Collectors’ Harassment Tactics Are Put On Notice For First Time In 40 Years
By Bryce Covert
Debt collectors, either in-house or third-party entities in the business of trying to get people to pay up debts that they owe for things like student loans or medical bills, have become notorious for their often harassing tactics. Consumers have complained of debt collectors calling them endlessly while threatening violence, lying, and using profane language in trying to cajole them into paying, sometimes for debts they don’t even owe. But on Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the watchdog created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, released new proposed rules to rein in the industry, the first time a federal regulator is cracking down on the industry in nearly four decades. It wants to limit how many times a collector can contact a consumer, require them to have better information about the debts they try to collect, and make it easier for consumers to fight debts they say they don’t actually owe.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
Is a US Move to Accept More Central American Refugees Too Little, Too Late?
By Frederick Deknatel
World Politics Review
The Obama administration recently announced that it would admit more migrants from Central America into the United States as refugees, expanding a program that observers have criticized as inadequate in the face of an exodus of people, many of them unaccompanied minors, fleeing violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras over the past two years. Under the program to date, unaccompanied Central American children seeking to reunite with their families living in the United States have been allowed to apply for refugee status; since it came into effect in 2014, the program has received some 9,500 applications.
‘Young, old, conservative, liberal’: Turkey in shock over journalists’ arrest
By Emma Graham-Harrison
Turkish media are in a state of shock this weekend after the government arrested 17 journalists in recent days on terror charges and issued arrest warrants for dozens more, in what a press freedom group has warned is a “sweeping purge” of the sector. Turkey had already ordered the closure of more than 100 papers, broadcasters and publishing houses as part of a crackdown after the failed 15 July coup attempt, before sending police to round up reporters, columnists, a novelist and social commentators. The impact of those arrests was documented by US-based journalist and government critic Mahir Zeynalov, who was expelled from Turkey for his work two years ago and who took to Twitter to commemorate the work and reputations of the journalists arrested.
How Middle Eastern monarchies survived the Arab Spring
By Sean Yom
The Washington Post
The term “community” connotes positive outcomes in global affairs. An international community opposes war crimes and supports humanitarian goals; epistemic communities share information and ideas for common causes like climate change; security communities, such as NATO, spread peace and deter aggression among members; and democratic communities like the European Union innovate “best practices” of governance and defend human rights. But dictators have communities, too. Authoritarian states under duress can band together, share ideas, circulate strategies and stick by a collective identity in ways that mimic democracies. This is true in the post-Arab Spring Middle East. Since 2011-2012, there has been unprecedented convergence in policy across the eight Arab monarchies — Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE. These countries suffered far less turmoil than republics like Egypt and Tunisia, but their citizens were no less demanding of political change.
23 maps that explain how Democrats went from the party of racism to the party of Obama
By Andrew Prokop
The Democratic Party is the longest-existing political party in the US, and arguably the world. But in its over 180 year existence, it's completed a remarkable ideological and geographic transformation. Originally a staunch defender of Southern slavery, the party now wins the support of most nonwhite voters. Once an advocate of rural interests against coastal elites, the party now draws much of its strength from cities and coastal areas. These maps tell the tale of the Democratic Party's origins, its various metamorphoses, and the sources of its strength — and weaknesses — today.
Judge Strikes Down Voting Restrictions In Wisconsin, Calls Them A ‘Wretched Failure’
By Laurel Raymond
On Friday, a federal judge struck down a string of restrictive Wisconsin election laws passed in recent years, finding that they were tailored to benefit the Republicans who enacted them and unfairly disenfranchised minority voters. The decision, a sweeping indictment of the state’s laws, will reset the state’s voting rules four months before a crucial presidential election. In his ruling, Peterson wrote that he could not overturn Wisconsin’s entire voter ID law, unlike recent decisions in North Carolina and Texas, as a federal appeals court had already found Wisconsin’s restrictions to be constitutional. However, he ordered that the state quickly issue valid voting credentials to anyone trying to obtain free photo IDs, calling the current system for issuing IDs a “wretched failure” that overwhelmingly cut out black and Hispanic citizens.
Why Police Cannot Be Trusted to Police Themselves
By Brentin Mock
On July 27, former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer Thomas A. Carroll was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison for punching, kicking, and sticking a gun in the mouth of Michael Waller while Waller was handcuffed and in custody. Carroll’s actions were covered up by a “clique” of local prosecutors, including Bliss Worrell, 28, who was given 18 months of probation for her role. Meanwhile, that same day, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that her office was dropping all charges against the police officers indicted in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray after a “rough ride” in police custody. This decision came after a judge acquitted three of the six police officers charged in the case and another trial ended in a mistrial. It’s safe to say that the fraternal relationship that evidently existed among St. Louis police and prosecutors did not exist among Baltimore police and its prosecutors—at least not in the Freddie Gray case. The relationship between police and prosecutors can impact the pursuit of justice when it comes to police violence.