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Coronavirus: Why politics means success or failure in South America

BBC News

South America is the new epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic, but the region's leaders have responded to the crisis very differently. A great deal has been said about poverty in this part of the world, like the favelas in Brazil where social distancing is hard to achieve and where basic sanitation is not always a given. There is also the fact that there are so many millions of unregistered workers who rely on earning money every day to put food on the table for their families. The impossible choice that many people have told me they face is to risk starving or risk getting Covid-19. There are, undoubtedly, massive challenges in this, one of the most unequal parts of the world.


Will computers be able to think? Five books to help us understand AI

#artificialintelligence

The problem with AI is that while it's relatively easy to define the "A", the "I" remains elusive. We don't know what our own intelligence is, nor how we generate our familiar conscious experience, so it's tricky to know how we might create an artificial consciousness, or indeed recognise it if we did. Algorithms can knit together plausible conversation by sampling enormous numbers of exchanges between humans, but they have no greater understanding of those exchanges than would an enormous set of punch cards speaking through a bellows and a brass trumpet. The old Turing test now looks sadly inadequate. A machine-learning program might well counterfeit human speech and yet fail to recognise a snow leopard standing on green grass because the image contains no actual snow, and therefore the cat does not meet the definition.


Will computers be able to think? Five books to help us understand AI

The Guardian

The problem with AI is that while it's relatively easy to define the "A", the "I" remains elusive. We don't know what our own intelligence is, nor how we generate our familiar conscious experience, so it's tricky to know how we might create an artificial consciousness, or indeed recognise it if we did. Algorithms can knit together plausible conversation by sampling enormous numbers of exchanges between humans, but they have no greater understanding of those exchanges than would an enormous set of punch cards speaking through a bellows and a brass trumpet. The old Turing test now looks sadly inadequate. A machine-learning program might well counterfeit human speech and yet fail to recognise a snow leopard standing on green grass because the image contains no actual snow, and therefore the cat does not meet the definition.


Real-Life Mind Meld? Scientists Link Animal Brains

AITopics Original Links

The study revealed that such pattern recognition skills could be used to predict an increased or decreased chance of rain. The rats received patterns of electrical stimulation that represented increasing or decreasing air temperature and increasing or decreasing air pressure. Decreasing air pressure and increasing air temperature often signal early evening spring thunderstorms in North Carolina, where the research took place. The brainets predicted the chance of rain with 41 percent accuracy, much higher than chance, and better than single rats that received this data. "The rats could divide tasks across animals, so their individual workload was much smaller," Nicolelis said.


Virtual reality helps eight paralysed people feel their legs

New Scientist

Eight paralysed people have regained some feeling in their legs after training with brain-controlled robotic systems. Miguel Nicolelis, at Duke University in North Carolina, and his team used a virtual reality system which connects to the brain to simulate leg control in eight people who had suffered spinal cord injuries. Of these, five people had been paralysed for at least five years, while two had been paralysed for more than a decade. But after a year of training in this way, four of the paralysed people were experiencing sensations and muscle control in their legs that was so strong that their diagnoses were upgraded from complete to partial paralysis. Most of the people who took part in the training also said they had better bladder control and bowel function, meaning they could cut back on laxatives and catheters, reducing their risk of catching life-threatening infections.