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An algorithm that learns through rewards may show how our brain does too

MIT Technology Review: “…In a paper published in Nature today, DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI subsidiary, has once again used lessons from reinforcement learning to propose a new theory about the reward mechanisms within our brains. The hypothesis, supported by initial experimental findings, could not only improve our understanding of mental health and motivation. It could also validate the current direction of AI research toward building more human-like general intelligence. At a high level, reinforcement learning follows the insight derived from Pavlov’s dogs: it’s possible to teach an agent to master complex, novel tasks through only positive and negative feedback. An algorithm begins learning an assigned task by randomly predicting which action might earn it a reward. It then takes the action, observes the real reward, and adjusts its prediction based on the margin of error. Over millions or even billions of trials, the algorithm’s prediction errors converge to zero, at which point it knows precisely which actions to take to maximize its reward and so complete its task…”

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

The New York Times – “A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says. Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow… Continue Reading

Oversight Committee Finds Widespread Ethics Issues at EPA

On January 17, 2020 “Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasing new information in the Committee’s investigation into the Trump Administration’s use of ethics waivers to allow political appointees… Continue Reading

Impeachment managers previewed arguments in legal brief filed Saturday

Vox: “…The first legal filings for the Senate impeachment trial gave a preview of what to expect in the upcoming weeks: The House impeachment managers called for Trump’s removal, arguing that his “conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare,” while the president’s defense team called the entire impeachment process “brazen and unlawful.” House impeachment managers filed… Continue Reading

ICivics

“iCivics works to ensure every student in America receives a quality and engaging civic education and graduates from high school well prepared and enthusiastic for citizenship. With your support, that vision is within our reach. Today, more than 108,000 teachers and 6 million students in all 50 states utilize iCivics’ innovative and free online resources.… Continue Reading

Where nitrous oxide – greenhouse gas 300-times stronger than CO2 – is being emitted

Quartz: “If something is burning, nitrous oxide is flowing into the atmosphere. Increasingly, the most concentrated nitrous oxide sources come from humans burning fossil fuels and transforming ecosystems. Natural sources, such as Australia’s currently raging wildfires contribute too (if those fires can even be considered “natural”). As a greenhouse gas, it gets less attention than… Continue Reading

FlightAware

“FlightAware is a digital aviation company and operates the world’s largest flight tracking and data platform. With global connectivity to every segment of aviation, FlightAware provides over 10,000 aircraft operators and service providers as well as over 13,000,000 passengers with global flight tracking solutions, predictive technology, analytics, and decision-making tools. FlightAware receives data from air… Continue Reading

Report – Information literacy in the age of algorithms

Project Information Literacy – Student experiences with news and information, and the need for change. Alison J. Head, Ph.D., Barbara Fister, Margy MacMillan. January 15, 2020. “This report presents findings about how college students conceptualize the ever-changing online information landscape, and navigate volatile and popular platforms that increasingly employ algorithms to shape and filter content.… Continue Reading

2020 Report on the State of the Legal Market

“The Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Peer Monitor® are pleased to present the 2020 Report on the State of the Legal Market detailing our views of the dominant trends impacting the legal market in 2019 and key issues likely to… Continue Reading

Alexa, How Do I Protect My Organization’s Data From You?

Law Technology Today: “Has Alexa infiltrated your company yet? There are 3.25 billion users of digital voice assistants in the world. It stands to reason that if you haven’t seen one of these devices on employees’ desks yet, you soon will. The industry is expected to grow to eight billion users by 2023…” Continue Reading

47 countries witness surge in civil unrest – trend to continue in 2020

Political Risk Outlook 2020 – “The dramatic surge in protests in 2019 has swept up a quarter of countries in its tide and sent unprepared governments across all continents reeling. According to our latest data and forecasts, the turmoil is set to continue unabated in 2020. Our quarterly Civil Unrest Index reveals that over the… Continue Reading