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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Dirty lies: how the car industry hid the truth about diesel emissions

Posted by hkarner - 24. März 2019

Date: 23-03-2019
Source: The Guardian By Beth Gardiner

The ‘Dieselgate’ scandal was suppressed for years – while we should have been driving electric cars.

John German had not been looking to make a splash when he commissioned an examination of pollution from diesel cars back in 2013. The exam compared what came out of their exhaust pipes, during the lab tests that were required by law, with emissions on the road under real driving conditions. German and his colleagues at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in the US just wanted to tie up the last loose ends in a big report, and thought the research would give them something positive to say about diesel. They might even be able to offer tips to Europe from the US’s experience in getting the dirty fuel to run a little cleaner.

But that was not how it turned out. They chose a Volkswagen Jetta as their first test subject, and a VW Passat next. Regulators in California agreed to do the routine certification test for them, and the council hired researchers from West Virginia University to then drive the same cars through cities, along highways and into the mountains, using equipment that tests emissions straight from the cars’ exhausts. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A doctor’s hopes for digital medicine

Posted by hkarner - 23. März 2019

Date: 21-03-2019
Source: The Economist

Artificial intelligence can never replace human doctors. Can it?

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again. By Eric Topol.Basic Books; 400 pages; $17.99.

For all the technological wonders of modern medicine, from gene-editing to fetal surgery, health care—with its fax machines and clipboards—is often stubbornly antiquated. This outdated era is slowly drawing to a close as, belatedly, the industry catches up with the artificial-intelligence (ai) revolution. And none too soon, argues Eric Topol, a cardiologist and enthusiast for digital medicine. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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What AI Is Still Far From Figuring Out

Posted by hkarner - 22. März 2019

Date: 21-03-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Alison Gopnik

Machines have gotten better at applying rules, but will they ever match humanity’s ability to come up with new ideas?

Everybody’s talking about artificial intelligence. Some people even argue that AI will lead, quite literally, to either immortality or the end of the world. Neither of those possibilities seems terribly likely, at least in the near future. But there is still a remarkable amount of debate about just what AI can do and what it means for all of us human intelligences.

A new book called “Possible Minds: 25 Ways of Looking at AI,” edited by John Brockman, includes a range of big-picture essays about what AI can do and what it might mean for the future. The authors include people who are working in the trenches of computer science, like Anca Dragan, who designs new kinds of AI-directed robots, and Rodney Brooks, who invented the Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner. But it also includes philosophers like Daniel Dennett, psychologists like Steven Pinker and even art experts like the famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Could robots make us better humans?

Posted by hkarner - 7. März 2019

Date: 06-03-2019
Source: the Guardian

Machines can already write music and beat us at games like chess and Go. But the rise of artificial intelligence should inspire hope as well as fear, says Marcus du Sautoy

Marcus du Sautoy … ‘We often behave too like machines.’

As Marcus du Sautoy greets me at the entrance to New College, Oxford, his appearance is a quiet riot of colour. His clothes rather suggest someone who ran into White Stuff or Fat Face and frantically grabbed anything he could find – in this case, a salmon zip-up top, multihued check trousers and shoes that are a headache-inducing shade of turquoise. When we settle down to talk in a nearby meeting room, he repeatedly glances at a notepad – whose pages, just to add to all the garishness, are a bold shade of yellow.

They are full of what look like scrawled equations, mixed with odd-looking shapes: the raw material, he explains, of a project involving very complicated geometry. “There’s an infinite symmetrical structure that I’m looking at,” he says, “and I think the top bit of it will tell me everything that’s going on inside it. It’s almost like an infinite lake, and I should be able to know everything that’s happening in it by looking at the first centimetre.”

He suddenly looks rather pained. “But I don’t know.”

Du Sautoy, 53, is a professor of maths and a fellow of New College. Eleven years ago, Oxford University made him its Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science, a role ideally suited to a prolific author who is a regular presence on the TV. But a lot of his day-to-day life still seems to revolve around the fascinatingly abstract and complex world of pure maths – which, as his current quest suggests, is becoming ever more onerous and complex. Modern mathematicians stand on top of a body of knowledge that stretches back centuries. A great many theorems have been proved; even some of the most complicated fields of research have been fully explored, and closed off. To appreciably extend human understanding often seems to require unfathomable intellectual leaps. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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‘The Globotics Upheaval’ Review: When the Robot Gets an Office

Posted by hkarner - 5. März 2019

Date: 04-03-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

New robotics and AI technologies may soon be coming for the jobs of those who until now have only known globalization’s benefits.

The great wave of globalization is ebbing, or so it seems. Trade barriers are going up, ocean shipping is slower and less reliable than it was two decades ago, and manufacturers and retailers are keeping more inventory just in case their supply chains can’t deliver. But while the loss of factory jobs to foreign competition may have abated, a new threat to employment may loom. If Richard Baldwin is right, globalization will soon go after white-collar jobs with a vengeance.

Mr. Baldwin, a professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, is among the leading scholars of international trade. In his 2016 book “The Great Convergence,” he showed how the transfer of advanced technologies to poor countries made the current episode of globalization particularly harmful to industrial workers in rich countries, and he called for new social policies to address the problem. Now, in “The Globotics Upheaval,” he moves in a new direction, considering how the spread of robotics and artificial intelligence will affect the international distribution of labor. He argues that these fast-changing technologies will expose relatively well-paid jobs to foreign competition. As this occurs, people who have until now enjoyed mainly benefits from globalization will experience its costs first hand. “We need to stop asking whether the economic impact is due mostly to globalization or mostly to automation,” Mr. Baldwin writes. “Globalization and robotics are now Siamese twins—driven by the same technology and at the same pace.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A Doctor’s Prescription for More AI in Medicine

Posted by hkarner - 4. März 2019

Date: 04-03-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Eric Topol makes the case for how artificial intelligence can improve health care, despite privacy concerns

A Doctor’s Prescription for More AI in Medicine

There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence is transforming health care. But its use doesn’t come without controversy, as critics ask if AI could further dehumanize medicine and erode the doctor-patient relationship.

Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director and founder of Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, argues the opposite in his new book, “Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again.” The book, coming out March 12, makes the case that not only will AI improve the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, but it will also restore compassion to medicine.

Dr. Topol is a paid adviser to two AI health companies, Verily Life Sciences, a Silicon Valley-based company that used to be part of Google, and Voxel Cloud, a China-based company.

Here are edited excerpts from a recent interview:

A lot of consumers and even health-care professionals are wary of artificial intelligence. They see it as something that depersonalizes medicine. Obviously, you disagree. Why? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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In the future, Eurasia will rule the world

Posted by hkarner - 10. Februar 2019

Date: 07-02-2019
Source: The Economist

But China won’t have everything its own way, say three stimulating new books

The New Silk Roads. By Peter Frankopan. Knopf; 336 pages; $26.95. Bloomsbury; £14.99.

The Future is Asian. By Parag Khanna. Simon & Schuster; 448 pages; $29.95. Weidenfeld & Nicolson; £20.

Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order. By Bruno Maçães. Hurst; 224 pages; $29.95 and £20.

Asked how he came to write “The Lord of the Rings”, J.R.R. Tolkien replied: “I wisely started with a map and made the story fit.” And so, says Bruno Maçães, when imagining new realities it is natural to begin the same way. These days a revised map of the world might have a radically different focus from previous ones—because a vast, integrated Eurasian supercontinent is proving to be the salient feature of an emerging global order.
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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff review – we are the pawns

Posted by hkarner - 4. Februar 2019

Date: 03-02-2019
Source: The Guardian

Tech companies want to control every aspect of what we do, for profit. A bold, important book identifies our new era of capitalism

The alarm beside your bed rings, triggered by an event in your calendar. The smart thermostat in your bedroom, sensing your motion, turns on the hot water and reports your movements to a central database. News updates ping your phone, with your daily decision whether to click on them or not carefully monitored, and parameters adjusted accordingly. How far and where your morning run takes you, the conditions of your commute, the contents of your text messages, the words you speak in your own home and your actions beneath all-seeing cameras, the contents of your shopping basket, your impulse purchases, your speculative searches and choices of dates and mates – all recorded, rendered as data, processed, analysed, bought, bundled and resold like sub-prime mortgages. The litany of appropriated experiences is repeated so often and so extensively that we become numb, forgetting that this is not some dystopian imagining of the future, but the present.

 While insisting their technology is too complex to be legislated, companies spend billions lobbying against oversight

Originally intent on organising all human knowledge, Google ended up controlling all access to it; we do the searching, and are searched in turn. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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An entertaining polemic against the tech industry

Posted by hkarner - 19. Januar 2019

Date: 17-01-2019
Source: The Economist

Ping-pong tables are no substitute for job security

Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable. By Dan Lyons.Hachette Books; 272 pages; $28. Atlantic Books; £16.99.

Newton’s third law is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The titans of technology have amassed great wealth but, like investment bankers before them, they have discovered that this does not bring them popularity. The past few years have witnessed a “techlash” on a wide range of issues, including the way technology invades citizens’ privacy.

Dan Lyons, a journalist who spent time working in the industry, has written an entertaining, if scattergun, attack on one aspect of technology’s influence—the effect it has had on everybody’s working lives. He argues that the industry has reduced real wages, made workers feel dehumanised and less secure, and exposed them to constant, stress-inducing change. Tellingly, the proportion of Americans who are happy with their jobs dropped from 61% in 1987 to 51% in 2016.

A particular target for his ire is the startup technology company. With their sweet-dispensers and ping-pong tables, they may give the appearance of friendliness. But in the author’s experience, such firms are associated with very high staff turnover, especially in sales and marketing. They tend to be marked by a brutal management style; Mr Lyons was told not only that he was failing, but that his fellow workers didn’t like him. “Most startups,” he writes, “are terribly managed, half-assed outfits run by buffoons and bozos and frat boys.” Worse still, they offer little job security because of the way they operate. “All they have is a not-very-innovative business model; they sell dollar bills for 75 cents and take credit for how fast they’re growing.” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Working for a purpose

Posted by hkarner - 5. Dezember 2018

Date: 03-12-2018
Source: The Economist: Bartleby

An academic calls for an overhaul of the conventional company

The modern company has morphed into a “money monster” enslaved to the doctrine of shareholder value. That is the thesis of a new book* by Colin Mayer, a professor at the Saïd Business School in Oxford. It is the latest challenge to the principle enunciated by Milton Friedman, an economist: namely, that “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.” An influential paper** by Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales last year argued that profitability is not the only criterion that should apply and that shareholders’ welfare is affected by a broad range of factors, including social and environmental conditions.

Mr Mayer takes a similar line, arguing that companies have relationships with many more people than just shareholders. As well as financial capital, they use several other types—human, intellectual, material (buildings and machinery), natural (the environment) and social (public goods like infrastructure).

He also notes that the original conception of a firm was quite different from now. The societas publicanorum were Roman bodies that performed public functions such as tax-collecting or maintaining buildings. They raised finance from shareholders and their shares were traded. The medieval idea of a company revolved around a family business. The founders were people who took bread together (hence the term cum panis). In the early-modern era, firms such as the Dutch and English East India Companies` were set up in order to pursue national trade objectives. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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