Algorithms Quietly Run The City Of DC – And Maybe Your Hometown

from ars technica Washington, DC, is the home base of the most powerful government on earth. It’s also home to 690,000 people—and 29 obscure algorithms that shape their lives. City agencies use automation to screen housing applicants, predict criminal recidivism, identify food assistance fraud, determine if a high schooler is likely to drop out, inform sentencing decisions for young people, and many other things. That snapshot of semiautomated urban life comes from a new report from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The nonprofit spent 14 months investigating the city’s use of algorithms and found they were used across 20 […]

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What Will AI Do To Branding?

from Fast Company A few months ago, when artificial-intelligence services that generated images based on text prompts started taking over the Internet, Heinz decided to test just how much its brand was synonymous with ketchup in general. Working with the agency Rethink, Heinz asked AI image-maker DALL-E 2 to render “ketchup” and variations with different aesthetic modifiers (“renaissance,” “impressionism,” “street art,” etc.). The results, though varied in style, were all unmistakably Heinz-centric—notably referencing the unique shape of the Heinz label. Apart from being a fun stunt, it was a mighty flex, demonstrating the power of the Heinz brand. More here.

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9 Astonishing Ways That Living Standards Have Improved Around The World

from Big Think Over the last 200 years, the lives of average people in every country have been radically transformed and improved. In our modern day, we are living longer and are more prosperous than ever before — in both high-income and low-income countries. And while progress forward is by no means progress completed nor a guarantee of progress to come, the remarkable improvements in global living standards serve, not as a high water or finish line, but rather as a source of inspiration and hope.  More here.

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Boston Dynamics *Really* Does Not Want You To Add Weapons To Its Robots

from ars technica Boston Dynamics and several other robotics companies have pledged not to weaponize “general purpose robots” according to an open letter released publicly on Thursday and first reported by Axios. Although with sizable caveats in place, the letter focuses mostly on unauthorized public misuse of their products. In the letter, titled “General Purpose Robots Should Not Be Weaponized,” six companies (Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Boston Dynamics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics, and Unitree Robotics) spell out concerns about “risks of harm and serious ethical issues” from the weaponization of their general-purpose products, fearing that it will “harm public trust in the […]

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Change: The Inevitable Choice Forward

from Educause If you ask people how they feel about change, many will say that change can be difficult, especially when it is rapid and unexpected. If change is difficult for many, then why do it? Why change? We change inevitably as we age, and we change intentionally when we alter the conditions of our mental and physical environments. Positive change is a balance of tradition and innovation; society has shown it can adapt to new trends while standing on the shoulders of tradition. For instance, successful efforts to develop and distribute effective COVID-19 vaccines rested on decades of accumulated […]

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Email Doesn’t Suck. It’s Email Clients That Need Improving

from Wired POSTCARDS MAY BE one of the most obvious examples of Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum, “the medium is the message.” Regardless of what you write on one, a postcard tells someone, hey, I was out and about in the world, and I was thinking of you. I am an inveterate sender of postcards. For all the instantaneousness of today’s communication options, nothing quite conveys a message the way a postcard does. Another aspect I find McLuhanesque is the gap between when you mail the postcard and when the person receives it. The card is independent of both sender and […]

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Bill Pitman, Revered Studio Guitarist, Is Dead at 102

from NYTs Bill Pitman, a guitarist who accompanied Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand and others from the late 1950s to the ’70s, and who for decades was heard on the soundtracks of countless Hollywood films and television shows, died on Thursday night at his home in La Quinta, Calif. He was 102. His wife, Janet Pitman, said he died after four weeks at a rehabilitation center in Palm Springs, where he was treated for a fractured spine suffered in a fall, and the past week at home under hospice care. Virtually anonymous outside the music world but revered within […]

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‘Disruption’ Is a Two-Way Street

from Wired BIG TECH AS we know it was built on the ethos of subverting sanctity. Ideas, institutions, service delivery, how I make my chai—nothing could be beyond the reach of technological disruption. In this vision, the tech company was the lean, scrappy, innovative underdog taking on the powerful, entrenched status quo, freeing the consumer from the shackles of history. But tech can no longer claim to be the underdog (if it ever could). So-called tech disruptors today have unchallenged access, funding, and regulatory support (or at least acquiescence). As the current hype of technological disruption reaches the markets of […]

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The FTC Sues Nvidia to Block Its Historic Deal With Arm

from Wired (via Ars Technica) The Federal Trade Commission has sued to block Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm, the semiconductor design firm, saying that the blockbuster deal would unfairly stifle competition. “The FTC is suing to block the largest semiconductor chip merger in history to prevent a chip conglomerate from stifling the innovation pipeline for next-generation technologies,” Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s competition bureau, said in a statement. “Tomorrow’s technologies depend on preserving today’s competitive, cutting-edge chip markets. This proposed deal would distort Arm’s incentives in chip markets and allow the combined firm to unfairly undermine Nvidia’s rivals.” More here.

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Tools For Modern Citizens

from Seth’s Blog It has taken us by surprise, but in our current situation, when everyone has more of a voice and more impact on the public than ever before, it suddenly matters. You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic who didn’t know how to fix a car, and citizens, each of us, should be held to at least as high a standard of knowledge. Everyone around us needs to know about: More here.

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Flipped Learning: What Is It, And When Is It Effective?

from Brookings Instructors are constantly on the lookout for more effective and innovative ways to teach. Over the last 18 months, this quest has become even more salient, as COVID-19 has shaken up the academic landscape and pushed teachers to experiment with new strategies for engaging their students. One innovative teaching method that may be particularly amenable to teaching during the pandemic is flipped learning. But does it work? In this post, we discuss our new reportsummarizing the lessons from over 300 published studies on flipped learning. The findings suggest that, for many of us who work with students, flipped […]

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The Grid Isn’t Ready for the Renewable Revolution

from Wired YOU CAN ALMOST hear the electrical grid creaking and groaning under the weight of the future, as two forces converge to push it—often literally—to its breaking point.  One force is climate change, which can exacerbate disasters that take down parts of the grid, as Hurricane Ida did this summer, knocking New Orleans offline just as a heat wave settled in. Or extreme weather can suddenly spike the demand for energy just when the grid is least able to provide it, like during last winter’s Texas freeze and subsequent power system failure. The other force, ironically enough, is the massive […]

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Congestion Pricing Is Coming to New York. Everyone Has an Opinion.

from NYTs More than two years after New York State lawmakers approved a congestion pricing plan that would toll drivers entering the busiest parts of Manhattan — the first such program in the country — New Yorkers and those who travel alongside them are getting a chance to voice their opinions. Public hearings, which started last week, kick off an extensive review process that federal officials are requiring the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to complete before the agency can begin charging vehicles that enter Manhattan between 60th Street and the Battery. Congestion pricing is meant to discourage drivers and address the […]

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Is Our Machine Learning? Ars Takes A Dip Into Artificial Intelligence

from ars technica Every day, some little piece of logic constructed by very specific bits of artificial intelligence technology makes decisions that affect how you experience the world. It could be the ads that get served up to you on social media or shopping sites, or the facial recognition that unlocks your phone, or the directions you take to get to wherever you’re going. These discreet, unseen decisions are being made largely by algorithms created by machine learning (ML), a segment of artificial intelligence technology that is trained to identify correlation between sets of data and their outcomes. We’ve been […]

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How the Space Station Became a Base to Launch Humanity’s Future

from NYTs For the International Space Station, Leroy Chiao was, in a sense, there before the beginning. In October 2000, he was one of seven astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery, which brought pieces of the nascent space station to orbit. Construction had begun a couple of years earlier. But no one was living there yet. Much of the work on Dr. Chiao’s flight was done outside the space station, during spacewalks. But the astronauts also got to go inside briefly. “It had that new-car smell,” Dr. Chiao recalled. It was a runt of a space station then. The habitable […]

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Boston Dynamics’ Robots Won’t Take Our Jobs … Yet

from Wired IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO talk about Boston Dynamics robots without acknowledging two things: They’re a marvel of modern engineering, and their agility can be incredibly unnerving. A 46-second video of Spot the robot “dog” opening a door has more than 56 million views on YouTube. Atlas, the company’s headless humanoid robot, can go for a jog or do parkour. And just last week, the company released new footage of Spot the robot recharging on its own. (If it sounds like a Black Mirror episode, well, that’s because it sort of is.) But even as many observers joke about a […]

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Agtech’s Moment To Shine

from Forbes Agtech, the marriage of agriculture and technology, recently hit headlines with word of AppHarvest’s impending IPO. AppHarvest is an agtech startup that builds high-tech greenhouses with innovations that support water and energy conservation, including what is may be the world’s biggest greenhouse. The company’s high profile investors include domestic lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance. Over the summer celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry invested in Apeel Sciences a California-based food bio company that produces a coating that extends the life of produce. Earlier this month Syngenta announced its acquisition of the Italian biotech […]

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How To Tell If The Company You’re Interviewing With Is Not Interested In You

from Forbes Job seekers always wonder what happened in their interviews. After six to 10 Zoom meetings over the course of five months, communications from the company have abruptly stopped. You’re left wondering, “Did I do something wrong? Do they not like me?” In the past, companies would freely share feedback and constructive criticism. The firm would divulge what the candidate did right and where they may need some help. The human resources person would also share some insider tips, such as, “Tell Bob when he meets with Karen, the hiring manager’s manager, he should give the same elevator pitch […]

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