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June 15 2017


How Populists Win When They Lose

The present is not remotely comparable to the interwar period, and today’s populists are not fascists. But the lesson from that era still holds: the choices made by established conservative elites, as much as the challenges posed by insurgent outsiders, determine the fate of democracy.


The End of the Trump Administration?

The world’s view of US President Donald Trump’s administration is changing for the worse. In fact, the chaos and controversy that have marked Trump’s short time in office have deepened doubts, both inside and outside the US, about whether his presidency will even survive its entire four-year term.


Britain’s Norway Solution

In the wake of the UK's snap election, how long Theresa May will survive as prime minister is impossible to predict. But in trying to anticipate the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the questions that matter no longer have much to do with May’s political survival.


Countering China’s High-Altitude Land Grab

On average, China launches one uncontested incursion into Indian territory every 24 hours, a strategy of territorial aggrandizement that, unlike in the maritime domain, rarely draws international ire. To counter Chinese expansionism in the Himalayas, India needs a new containment strategy, one by which the country bares its teeth.

June 14 2017


Urbanization 2.0

As technology races ahead of us, it is difficult to anticipate what the future holds. One thing we do know is that the future will be shaped by two key trends: digitization and urbanization – and that the possibilities introduced by the former will likely help us overcome the problems associated with the latter.


A Magic Wand for France?

With a broad mandate, sky-high approval ratings, and what will likely be a huge parliamentary majority, French President Emmanuel Macron has a golden opportunity to recast his country’s economic prospects. But the needed fiscal and structural reforms will require much more than electoral good fortune.

The New Face of Russian Resistance
When I die, recompose me | Katrina Spade
What if our bodies could help grow new life after we die, instead of being embalmed and buried or turned to ash? Join Katrina Spade as she discusses "recomposition" -- a system that uses the natural decomposition process to turn our deceased into life-giving soil, honoring both the earth and the departed.

How Long Can the Eurozone Survive without Greater Integration?

With a reform-minded centrist president elected in France and the re-election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeming ever more likely, is there new hope for the stalled single-currency project in Europe? Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University, takes a closer look.


The Eurozone Must Reform or Die

With the election of a reform-minded centrist president in France and the re-election of German Chancellor Angela Merkel seeming ever more likely, is there hope for the stalled single-currency project in Europe? Perhaps, but another decade of slow growth, punctuated by periodic debt-related convulsions, still looks more likely.

Is a Trump Doctrine Taking Shape?

US President Donald Trump’s transactional approach to multinational agreements such as the Paris climate accord is very different from that of his predecessors. Whereas previous presidents have viewed international accords in the context of broader US trade and security strategy, Trump looks at them in isolation.


Emmanuel Macron and the Post-Revolutionary Idea

How did a political novice, seemingly fated to preside over a thousand and one shaky coalitions, usher some 400 deputies into the 577-seat National Assembly under the banner of what was still, just a few months ago, virtually a party of one? The answer is to be found far from France – and four decades removed from the present.


The Macron Landslide

French President Emmanuel Macrons new political party, La République en Marche, is set to win a huge majority in the National Assembly. Philippe Aghion of the College de France explains why.


High-speed light-based systems could replace supercomputers for certain ‘deep learning’ calculations

(a) Optical micrograph of an experimentally fabricated on-chip optical interference unit; the physical region where the optical neural network program exists is highlighted in gray. A programmable nanophotonic processor uses a field-programmable gate array (similar to an FPGA integrated circuit ) — an array of interconnected waveguides, allowing the light beams to be modified as needed for a specific deep-learning matrix computation. (b) Schematic illustration of the optical neural network program, which performs matrix multiplication and amplification fully optically. (credit: Yichen Shen et al./Nature Photonics)

A team of researchers at MIT and elsewhere has developed a new approach to deep learning systems — using light instead of electricity, which they say could vastly improve the speed and efficiency of certain deep-learning computations.

Deep-learning systems are based on artificial neural networks that mimic the way the brain learns from an accumulation of examples. They can enable technologies such as face- and voice-recognition software, or scour vast amounts of medical data to find patterns that could be useful diagnostically, for example.

But the computations these systems carry out are highly complex and demanding, even for supercomputers. Traditional computer architectures are not very efficient for calculations needed for neural-network tasks that involve repeated multiplications of matrices (arrays of numbers). These can be computationally intensive for conventional CPUs or even GPUs.

Programmable nanophotonic processor

Instead, the new approach uses an optical device that the researchers call a “programmable nanophotonic processor.” Multiple light beams are directed in such a way that their waves interact with each other, producing interference patterns that “compute” the intended operation.

The optical chips using this architecture could, in principle, carry out dense matrix multiplications (the most power-hungry and time-consuming part in AI algorithms) for learning tasks much faster, compared to conventional electronic chips. The researchers expect a computational speed enhancement of at least two orders of magnitude over the state-of-the-art and three orders of magnitude in power efficiency.

“This chip, once you tune it, can carry out matrix multiplication with, in principle, zero energy, almost instantly,” says Marin Soljacic, one of the MIT researchers on the team.

To demonstrate the concept, the team set the programmable nanophotonic processor to implement a neural network that recognizes four basic vowel sounds. Even with the prototype system, they were able to achieve a 77 percent accuracy level, compared to about 90 percent for conventional systems. There are “no substantial obstacles” to scaling up the system for greater accuracy, according to Soljacic.

The team says is will still take a lot more time and effort to make this system useful. However, once the system is scaled up and fully functioning, the low-power system should find many uses, especially for situations where power is limited, such as in self-driving cars, drones, and mobile consumer devices. Other uses include signal processing for data transmission and computer centers.

The research was published Monday (June 12, 2017) in a paper in the journal Nature Photonics (open-access version available on arXiv).

The team also included researchers at Elenion Technologies of New York and the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec. The work was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Abstract of Deep learning with coherent nanophotonic circuits

Artificial neural networks are computational network models inspired by signal processing in the brain. These models have dramatically improved performance for many machine-learning tasks, including speech and image recognition. However, today’s computing hardware is inefficient at implementing neural networks, in large part because much of it was designed for von Neumann computing schemes. Significant effort has been made towards developing electronic architectures tuned to implement artificial neural networks that exhibit improved computational speed and accuracy. Here, we propose a new architecture for a fully optical neural network that, in principle, could offer an enhancement in computational speed and power efficiency over state-of-the-art electronics for conventional inference tasks. We experimentally demonstrate the essential part of the concept using a programmable nanophotonic processor featuring a cascaded array of 56 programmable Mach–Zehnder interferometers in a silicon photonic integrated circuit and show its utility for vowel recognition.

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

June 13 2017


How Macron Keeps Winning

President Emmanuel Macron’s one-man revolution in France continued this weekend, as he appears to have added a huge parliamentary majority to his cause. The result of the first round of elections to the National Assembly is the clearest indication yet of Macron's success in recasting French politics.

How I built a jet suit | Richard Browning
We've all dreamed of flying -- but for Richard Browning, flight is an obsession. He's built an Iron Man-like suit that leans on an elegant collaboration of mind, body and technology, bringing science fiction dreams a little closer to reality. Learn more about the trial and error process behind his invention and take flight with Browning in an unforgettable demo.

How to Prevent the UK’s Self-Destruction

If you were a Briton who had been stuck in Antarctica for the past year and a half, you might be forgiven for wishing you had stayed put. But while the UK seems to have lost its grip on sanity, the madness can be reversed.


Can US States Right Trump’s Wrongs?

This is a good time to remember that the US is a federal system, not a unitary state with an all-powerful central government. So, can Americans who oppose the contraction of social programs and revocation of progressive federal legislation use US states’ authority to counter these trends?

Words Still Matter

The Arab World’s Coming Challenges

When it comes to the Middle East, it is no surprise that political leaders, diplomats, and the donor and humanitarian community typically focus on the here and now. Yet we must not lose sight of the future – especially when regional trends are conspiring to bring further turmoil and conflict.

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