Industry


Computational Sustainability

Communications of the ACM

These are exciting times for computational sciences with the digital revolution permeating a variety of areas and radically transforming business, science, and our daily lives. The Internet and the World Wide Web, GPS, satellite communications, remote sensing, and smartphones are dramatically accelerating the pace of discovery, engendering globally connected networks of people and devices. The rise of practically relevant artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasing part in this revolution, fostering e-commerce, social networks, personalized medicine, IBM Watson and AlphaGo, self-driving cars, and other groundbreaking transformations. Unfortunately, humanity is also facing tremendous challenges. Nearly a billion people still live below the international poverty line and human activities and climate change are threatening our planet and the livelihood of current and future generations. Moreover, the impact of computing and information technology has been uneven, mainly benefiting profitable sectors, with fewer societal and environmental benefits, further exacerbating inequalities and the destruction of our planet. Our vision is that computer scientists can and should play a key role in helping address societal and environmental challenges in pursuit of a sustainable future, while also advancing computer science as a discipline. For over a decade, we have been deeply engaged in computational research to address societal and environmental challenges, while nurturing the new field of Computational Sustainability.


An Inability to Reproduce

Communications of the ACM

Science has always hinged on the idea that researchers must be able to prove and reproduce the results of their research. Simply put, that is what makes science...science. Yet in recent years, as computing power has increased, the cloud has taken shape, and data sets have grown, a problem has appeared: it has becoming increasingly difficult to generate the same results consistently--even when researchers include the same dataset. "One basic requirement of scientific results is reproducibility: shake an apple tree, and apples will fall downwards each and every time," observes Kai Zhang, an associate professor in the department of statistics and operations research at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "The problem today is that in many cases, researchers cannot replicate existing findings in the literature and they cannot produce the same conclusions. This is undermining the credibility of scientists and science. It is producing a crisis."


On Being 'Random Enough'

Communications of the ACM

The concept of randomness is easy to grasp on an intuitive level but challenging to characterize in rigorous mathematical terms. In "Algorithmic Randomness" (May 2019), Rod Downey and Denis R. Hirschfeldt present a comprehensive discussion of this issue, incorporating the distinct perspectives of "statisticians, coders, and gamblers." Randomness is also a concern to "modelers" who depend on simulation models driven by random number generators or analytic models built using probabilistic assumptions. In such cases, the underlying mathematical model is often an ergodic stochastic process, and the issue is whether the output of the simulator's random number generator or the observed behavior of the real-world system being modeled is "random enough" to establish confidence in the model's predictions. In a sense, this highly pragmatic perspective represents a less restrictive approach to the issue of randomness: if any of the strong criteria described by the authors are satisfied, the output of the simulator's random number generator or the observed behavior of the system being modeled should be sufficiently random to establish confidence in a model's predictions.


Polyglot!

Communications of the ACM

Google speaks 106 languages--or at least can understand queries in written form if not also oral form. When I watch someone interacting verbally with Google Assistant in languages other than English (my native tongue), I realize Google's language ability vastly exceeds my own. I have a modest ability to speak and understand German. I know a few phrases in Russian and French. But it suddenly strikes me that Google is usefully dealing with over 100 languages in written and oral form.


Microsoft harvests unintentional audio in program that listens to Xbox users via Cortana and Kinect

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Microsoft's listening program continues to grow in scope after a new report reveals that contractors harvested unintentional audio from Xbox users through Cortana and the Kinect. Motherboard reports that Xbox users were recorded by Microsoft as part of a program to analyze users' voice-commands for accuracy and that those recordings were assessed by human contractors. While the program was designed to only scrape audio uttered after a wake-word, contractors hired by Microsoft report that some recordings were taken accidentally without provocation. The practice, reports Motherboard, has been ongoing for several years since the early days of Xbox One and predates Xbox's integration with its voice assistant, Cortana. Xbox users were being recorded by Microsoft in a listening program that scraped audio from Cortana and its augmented reality hardware, Kinect.


Fake news gives rise to fake memories, study suggests

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The consequences of fabricated news stories may have lingering effects on your perception. According to a new study, voters may develop false memories after reading a fake news report. And, they're more likely to do so if the narrative lines up with their own beliefs. Researchers presented over 3,000 eligible voters in Ireland with legitimate and made-up stories ahead of the 2018 referendum on legalizing abortion. In subsequent questioning – and after being told that some of the reports were fake – nearly half of participants reported a memory for at least one of the fabricated events, and many tended to be steadfast in these beliefs.


Amazon and Microsoft are putting world at risk with killer AI, study says

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons. Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 companies by three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to deadly AI, whether they were working on related military projects, and if they had committed to abstaining from contributing in the future. "Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they're currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?" The use of AI to allow weapon systems to autonomously select and attack targets has sparked ethical debates in recent years, with critics warning they would jeopardize international security and herald a third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and the atomic bomb. A panel of government experts debated policy options regarding lethal autonomous weapons at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva on Wednesday.


First humanoid Russian robot, Fedor, flies to International Space Station

The Japan Times

MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station. Named Fedor, for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research with identification number Skybot F850, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia. Fedor blasted off in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 a.m. The Soyuz is set to dock with the space station on Saturday and stay till Sept. 7. Soyuz ships are normally manned on such trips, but on Thursday no humans are traveling in order to test a new emergency rescue system. Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor was strapped into a specially adapted pilot's seat, with a small Russian flag in his hand.


WeBank, IBM and Other Organizations Jointly Held the 1st International Workshop on Federated …

#artificialintelligence

What's the status quo of Federated Machine Learning and how to establish an … "FML enables machine learning engineers and data scientists to work …


Artificial intelligence for the general cardiologist

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The majority of experts and opinion leaders believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is going to revolutionise many industries, including healthcare [1]. In the short term, the power and potential of AI appear most suitable for complementing human expertise. In other words, machines will help humans do a better job. Consequently, it is anticipated that AI will help with repetitive tasks, in-depth quantification and classification of findings, improved patient and disease phenotyping and, ultimately, with better outcomes for patients, physicians, hospital administrators, insurance companies and governments [2]. This focus issue of the Netherlands Heart Journal aims to help general cardiologists explore the state of the art of AI in cardiology.