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May 24 2017

14:59

Confronting Europe’s Illiberals

The European Union's credibility already suffers when its leaders hold ambiguous attitudes toward Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and US President Donald Trump. But continuing to waver over full-fledged autocrats, like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, will have even more serious costs.

14:51
This is what democracy looks like | Anthony D. Romero
In a quest to make sense of the political environment in the United States in 2017, lawyer and ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero turned to a surprising place -- a 14th-century fresco by Italian Renaissance master Ambrogio Lorenzetti. What could a 700-year-old painting possibly teach us about life today? Turns out, a lot. Romero explains all in a talk that's as striking as the painting itself.
14:19

Iran’s Long Economic Journey

The landslide re-election of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, reflects the by now familiar pattern of continuity and change that has characterized Iran’s major elections over the last two decades. But it also stands out in one key way: Rouhani has remained popular despite pursuing painful macroeconomic stabilization.

13:56
The Vitality of the ‘Berlin Painter’
Reposted by02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa
13:49

The TPP’s Second Act

India and Japan are demonstrating that Asia’s major powers can frustrate Chinese ambitions without the US. To see this dynamic at work, look no further than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent declaration that Japan will continue to push ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

13:19

China’s Imperial Overreach

According to a Chinese proverb, “To feed the ambition in your heart is like carrying a tiger under your arm.” The further Xi carries China’s “one belt, one road” initiative, the more likely it is to bite him.

12:29

Maintaining Growth in a Fast-Aging Asia

In past decades, Asian countries reaped a demographic dividend from a young, expanding workforce and strong growth policies. But the region is aging remarkably fast, and advanced and emerging economies alike are now at risk of growing old before ever becoming rich.

11:41

Awakening from the Trump Nightmare

The American people can escape from the ordeal of Donald Trump’s presidency in one of three ways. But if and when they do is an irreducibly political question, not one that hinges on legal possibilities.

10:30
The Art of Difference

May 23 2017

15:06
Why I speak up about living with epilepsy | Sitawa Wafula
Once homebound by epilepsy, mental health advocate Sitawa Wafula found her strength in writing about it. Now, she advocates for others who are yet to find their voices, cutting through stigma and exclusion to talk about what it's like to live with the condition.
13:01
More Dangerous Than Trump
13:00
A Better Way to Choose Presidents
11:38

The Six-Day War at 50

The world is about to mark the 50th anniversary of the June 1967 war between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria – a conflict that continues to stand out in a region with a modern history largely defined by violence. The war lasted less than a week, but its legacy remains pronounced a half-century later.

10:49

Understanding Today’s Stagnation

One explanation for today’s stagnation focuses on growing angst about new technologies that could eventually replace many or most of our jobs, fueling massive economic inequality. People may be increasingly reluctant to spend today because they have vague fears about their employability tomorrow.

09:00

What NATO Needs from Trump

As Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as president proceeds, the turmoil generated by his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the ongoing inquiry into his election campaign’s ties with Russia are following him. Nowhere will the events in Washington weigh more heavily than in Brussels, where Trump will meet with NATO leaders.

08:29

How Macron Can Unite Europe

Pushing for the creation of a fiscal union without a political union could forever block the road to European unification, and set the people of Europe against one another more than the euro ever did. If French President Emmanuel Macron really wants to unite Europe, he should focus on strengthening defense partnerships.

03:27
You Never Have Time, Only Intentions
02:28

When AI improves human performance instead of taking over

The game results show that placing slightly “noisy” bots in a central location (high-degree nodes) improves human coordination by reducing same-color neighbor nodes (the goal of the game). Square nodes show the bots and round nodes show human players; thick red lines show color conflicts, which are reduced with bot participation (right). (credit: Hirokazu Shirado and Nicholas A. Christakis/Nature)

It’s not about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over — it’s about AI improving human performance, a new study by Yale University researchers has shown.

“Much of the current conversation about artificial intelligence has to do with whether AI is a substitute for human beings. We believe the conversation should be about AI as a complement to human beings,” said Nicholas Christakis, Yale University co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science (YINS) and senior author of a study by Yale Institute for Network Science.*

AI doesn’t even have to be super-sophisticated to make a difference in people’s lives; even “dumb AI” can help human groups, based on the study, which appears in the May 18, 2017 edition of the journal Nature.

How bots can boost human performance

In a series of experiments using teams of human players and autonomous software agents (“bots”), the bots boosted the performance of human groups and the individual players, the researchers found.

The experiment design involved an online color-coordination game that required groups of people to coordinate their actions for a collective goal. The collective goal was for every node to have a color different than all of its neighbor nodes. The subjects were paid a US$2 show-up fee and a declining bonus of up to US$3 depending on the speed of reaching a global solution to the coordination problem (in which every player in a group had chosen a different color from their connected neighbors). When they did not reach a global solution within 5 min, the game was stopped and the subjects earned no bonus.

The human players also interacted with anonymous bots that were programmed with three levels of behavioral randomness — meaning the AI bots sometimes deliberately made mistakes (introduced “noise”). In addition, sometimes the bots were placed in different parts of the social network to try different strategies.

The result: The bots reduced the median time for groups to solve problems by 55.6%. The experiment also showed a cascade effect: People whose performance improved when working with the bots then influenced other human players to raise their game. More than 4,000 people participated in the experiment, which used Yale-developed software called breadboard.

The findings have implications for a variety of situations in which people interact with AI technology, according to the researchers. Examples include human drivers who share roadways with autonomous cars and operations in which human soldiers work in tandem with AI.

“There are many ways in which the future is going to be like this,” Christakis said. “The bots can help humans to help themselves.”

Practical business AI tools

One example: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff uses a bot called Einstein to help him run his company, Business Intelligence reported Thursday (May 18, 2017).

“Powered by advanced machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing and smart data discovery, Einstein’s models will be automatically customised for every single customer,” according to the Salesforce blog. “It will learn, self-tune and get smarter with every interaction and additional piece of data. And most importantly, Einstein’s intelligence will be embedded within the context of business, automatically discovering relevant insights, predicting future behavior, proactively recommending best next actions and even automating tasks.”

Benioff says he also uses a version called Einstein Guidance for forecasting and modeling. It even helps end internal politics at executive meetings, calling out under-performing executives.

“AI is the next platform. All future apps for all companies will be built on AI,” Benioff predicts.

* Christakis is a professor of sociology, ecology & evolutionary biology, biomedical engineering, and medicine at Yale. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Social Sciences supported the research.


Abstract of Locally noisy autonomous agents improve global human coordination in network experiments

Coordination in groups faces a sub-optimization problem and theory suggests that some randomness may help to achieve global optima. Here we performed experiments involving a networked colour coordination game in which groups of humans interacted with autonomous software agents (known as bots). Subjects (n = 4,000) were embedded in networks (n = 230) of 20 nodes, to which we sometimes added 3 bots. The bots were programmed with varying levels of behavioural randomness and different geodesic locations. We show that bots acting with small levels of random noise and placed in central locations meaningfully improve the collective performance of human groups, accelerating the median solution time by 55.6%. This is especially the case when the coordination problem is hard. Behavioural randomness worked not only by making the task of humans to whom the bots were connected easier, but also by affecting the gameplay of the humans among themselves and hence creating further cascades of benefit in global coordination in these heterogeneous systems.

May 22 2017

20:49

The Iranian Opportunity

By re-electing moderate President Hassan Rouhani, Iran's voters have made clear their desire to continue along the path toward openness. The world should welcome the result as an opportunity to improve relations with a country that is central to progress toward a more peaceful Middle East.
19:00

The Rouhani Factor

In the 1980s, the US did not formulate its policy toward the Soviet bloc without careful consideration of political developments there. It would be folly for the US to formulate policy on Iran without giving domestic developments there the attention they deserve.

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