Virat Kohli won’t have a say in choosing new coach Written by Liz Mathew, Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Published: July 10, 2019 2:17:04 am More Explained Apna Dal (S) MP Anupriya Patel also raised the issue of the reduction in the allocation for NREGA.BJP member Vinod Sonkar asked the government to frame a national policy on outsourcing to prevent exploitation of youth. Opposition criticises low priority to agriculture in Budget Related News DMK member A Raja said the Budget did not have any roadmap to show how the promises would be fulfilled. India is an agrarian-oriented economy, but this government believes that the real wealth creators are the corporates, he said. “This government relies exclusively on foreign investment,” he said, adding, “they believe the corporate world can create wealth” for the nation.The Budget, he said, wants to rely on two components — Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI).“Headlines don’t produce results… the Budget presented by this government failed to rise to face the challenges, despite not having the pressures of coalition politics,” said Congress member Preneet Kaur.AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi criticised the government for cutting allocation for scholarships for minority students. He said at least Rs 600 crore should be earmarked for scholarships for minority students who fall under the lowest per capita income category. On the second day of the debate on the Budget, RSP’s N K Premachandran questioned the government’s promise on growth of the economy. “The Economic Survey projects growth at 7%. You need to grow at the rate of 11% to achieve a goal of (becoming) a $3 trillion economy, which is impossible,” he said. He said the Budget did not address the unemployment issue and had reduced the allocation for MGNREGS. “To sum up, this Budget was full of sound, fury and poems in Tamil, Hindi and Urdu, but signifies nothing,” he said.He said the Budget was “opaque and lacking transparency”, especially with regard to macro-economic issues. “What about fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, GDP of the country? The Budget speech is telecast live from Parliament, and citizens of the country have the right to know what the fiscal deficit of the country is. Corporate tax has reduced from 30% to 25%, what is the revenue loss? It is not disclosed in the Budget. What are the estimated earnings from the petrol and diesel hike or from the super-rich taxation? People have a right to know,” he said.“There is serious concern regarding the data that’s coming from the central government. There is no statistical integrity in this government,” said TDP’s Ram Mohan Naidu. Advertising Congress raises China transgression, Rajnath Singh says borders secure 1 Comment(s) Best Of Express The ruling BJP members countered that the Budget has “everything to take the country to a trillion economy in five years”.TARGETING THE Union Budget in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Opposition members said it has no roadmap and does not address the serious issues of agrarian crisis and unemployment. The ruling BJP members countered that the Budget has “everything to take the country to a $5 trillion economy in five years”. Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield What steps taken to tackle patriarchy in farm sector: BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Taking stock of monsoon rain Congress member Jayakumar K spoke of how the BJP, in the run-up to the 2014 elections, had promised to eradicate black money and deposit Rs 15 lakh in every bank account. “People voted for this. Where is that money? Demonetisation is the largest scam conceived and implemented in this country,” he said.CPI(M) member A M Arif also criticised the Budget.BJP member Varun Gandhi said the minimum wage rate should be standardised. “We must declare a national floor level minimum wage. As of now, the poorest minimum wage labourer will take 941 years to get what a top executive gets in one year,” he said.Taking off from Varun Gandhi’s point that Kerala provides Rs 900 as minimum wage, Kerala Congress (M) MP Thomas Chazhikadan spoke of the low wages notified by the central government under NREGA: “A NREGA worker get only Rs 217 per day. The Budget speech makes no mention of this important rural employment scheme. The Centre needs to revise wages paid to NREGA workers.” Advertising
Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant passes away Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat. (Express photo: Praveen Khanna/File)The Uttarakhand police have arrested a man for allegedly using objectionable language against Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. The accused was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), who sent him to judicial custody. Rajpal Singh (34), a farmer from Dairika village in Uttarkashi district, had on July 13 posted a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook, in which he allegedly used objectionable language against Rawat, and said he was incompetent in implementing schemes. He demanded that the Prime Minister take action.The police lodged an FIR against Singh on the basis of a complaint filed by BJP mandal unit president Pawan Nautiyal. Singh was arrested on Sunday. By Express News Service |Dehradun | Published: July 16, 2019 4:32:53 am Related News Post Comment(s) Alternative to Lakshman Jhula to be built soon: Uttarakhand CM Rawat Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat asks Modi critics to spend day at Kedarnath cave Advertising
The difference suggested that the Trump administration’s long push to curtail the arrival of migrants at the southwest border is finally showing results.President Donald Trump has made it a cornerstone of his administration to halt the flow of undocumented migrants, expanding security fencing, slowing processing at ports of entry and locking up record numbers of migrants.The threat of tariffs helped push Mexico to deploy security forces on its own southern border, curtailing the flow of migrants from neighboring Guatemala.A second initiative has forced many migrants to return to Mexico to await the outcome of their asylum or deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. More than 18,000 migrants, including asylum seekers, have been returned to Tijuana and other Mexican cities since the policy was put into place, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute. Advertising Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield At its peak, the nonprofit shelter run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego held more than 300 migrants dropped off by U.S. immigration authorities after they crossed the border from Mexico. Some days this spring were so busy that new arrivals had to be sent to overflow sites.Now, the shelter is almost eerily empty. The number of people arriving there has plunged in recent weeks amid a precipitous decline in arrivals along the southern border, where the Department of Homeland Security said that apprehensions dropped 28% in June.While migrant arrivals typically decline as the hot, hazardous summer months set in, the Department of Homeland Security said the drop in June was much larger than the 11% drop in June of last year. “These initiatives are making an impact,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.At the nonprofit shelter here in San Diego, the effects have been drastic. On Friday of last week, not a single migrant arrived — a first for the facility since it opened in October.“We have been startled by the stark decline that happened virtually overnight,” said Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services at the shelter. “U.S. immigration authorities are not bringing families who have been processed to the shelter because they are returning them to Mexico.”Tijuana, by contrast, is still full of migrants — many of them turned back at the border under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program.“The United States policy to return people to Mexico and the pressure on Mexico to stop the migration are having a big impact,” said Daniel Bribiescas, an immigration lawyer in Tijuana. The Centre Madre Assunta migrant shelter, in Tijuana, Mexico, July 8, 2019. A migrant shelter in San Diego that only a month ago was crowded with new arrivals was nearly empty this week amid a sharp downturn in migrant apprehensions on the southern border. (Emily Kask/The New York Times)Written by Miriam Jordan and Kirk Semple Top News After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Best Of Express After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence By New York Times |San Diego | Published: July 11, 2019 9:39:00 am Advertising 1 Comment(s)
Working my way out Every year, after clicking “submit” on the final copies of their Ph.D. dissertations, thousands of scientists answer all sorts of questions—for example, about their age, sex, race, ethnicity, and career plans—as part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The questionnaire has served as an annual census of U.S. doctoral degree-grantees since 1957 and provides useful demographic information, which can be used to track the success of diversity efforts. In the years ahead, the survey may start covering even more ground: During a meeting last week at NSF’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, the agency said it plans to test the feasibility of adding questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.NSF’s move was catalyzed by a letter arguing that comprehensive, nationwide data on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) scientists and engineers are needed because the group experiences disadvantages and disparities that are akin to other underrepresented groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities and women. Only a handful of studies have examined LGBT representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduate programs and the scientific workforce, so there’s a clear need for more information, says Jonathan Freeman, an associate professor of psychology at New York University in New York City and the lead author of the letter. The letter writers used LGBT—rather than, say, LGBTQ—because it’s the most generally recognized term, and they didn’t want to confuse audiences who may not be as familiar with others. “In wanting to have a conversation with folks about these issues, oftentimes it’s a way to meet them where they’re at in terms of language,” says letter co-author Laura Durso, the vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. By Katie LanginNov. 7, 2018 , 2:45 PM Related content STEM is losing male LGBQ undergrads Visibility matters: A conversation with the co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists NSF moves to pilot LGBT questions on national workforce surveys iStock.com/nito100 The letter writers asked NSF to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on the SED, as well as two biennial surveys administered by the agency: the Survey of Doctoral Recipients and the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), both of which are designed to examine the career trajectories of STEM degree holders living in the United States. The letter was cosigned by 251 scientists, engineers, and legal and public policy scholars, as well as 17 scientific organizations (including AAAS, which publishes Science Careers).If LGBT data were available from these surveys, “you’d have tons of people chewing on these data” to figure out if and where underrepresentation exists and to suggest interventions, Freeman says. Data collected by NSF could help us understand a whole host of questions about STEM’s LGBT community—“whether they’re here, whether they’re being retained, what their work trajectory is, whether they get paid as much”—notes Lauren Esposito, an assistant curator at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and cofounder of the 500 Queer Scientists visibility initiative.NSF is still in the early planning stages, so details are sparse regarding how it will move forward. But a spokesperson told Science Careers via email that changes to demographic data collection require working with an interagency group and a “lengthy, deliberate process involving extensive experimentation” in order to ensure that the agency generates “accurate, reliable data sets.” NSF plans to start with the biennial NSCG. The earliest that LGBT questions would be added is 2021 because the window for testing questions to add to the 2019 survey has passed.Durso, who has worked to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to federal surveys across the U.S. government, understands why implementing changes to the survey will take time. “There’s actually quite a bit of testing that has to happen,” says Durso, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has studied the LGBT community. “These are federal government surveys; you want to do a deliberate and well thought out process.” For instance, it’s important to get the wording right to ensure that people fully understand the question that they’re being asked. Before making any changes to an ongoing survey, statisticians also want to confirm that adding certain questions won’t cause some people to refuse to answer the survey entirely—for instance, because they are offended by the questions.Esposito is also concerned that collecting this type of information could be risky for the survey respondents themselves. Esposito—who hadn’t read the letter that was sent to NSF until Science Careers emailed her a copy—agrees that there’s a need for the data. “We should be informed and have tools at hand by which we can make policy and bring about change,” she says. But she worries about these kinds of data being in the hands of the federal government. “Sexual orientation and gender are not protected classes federally and in many states in this country,” she notes. When “you can be fired for that information, it seems risky and it seems like a risk that many people would have to think twice before taking,” she says.Told about Esposito’s concerns, letter co-author Adam Romero—the director of legal scholarship and federal policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law—acknowledged her concerns but expressed confidence that they were not a reason to scrap the survey questions. “In my experience, the federal government does a very good job to keep the personal demographic and other responses of survey takers highly confidential and protected,” he says. In addition, existing federal surveys that ask these kinds of questions usually give an option to decline to answer or to say that you don’t know. “For any particular person who may be uncomfortable, there’s no mandate to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.”Policy decisions in higher education often hinge on information gleaned from federal surveys, notes Bryce Hughes, an assistant professor of education at Montana State University in Bozeman. So if NSF doesn’t collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity, then “we’ll miss opportunities” to make policy decisions that benefit LGBT communities, he says. “I’m just excited to see this moving forward.” Hughes wasn’t involved with the push to nudge NSF to add LGBT questions, but he understands the value of these kinds of data: Earlier this year, he published a study showing that sexual minorities are more likely to leave STEM undergraduate programs than their heterosexual peers.Freeman—the author who spearheaded the letter—wants to get data into the hands of Hughes and other social scientists because he’s concerned that LGBT issues have been sidelined in STEM diversity discussions. “There is a tendency to see LGBT information … [as an] overly personal demographic detail … that should have no place in science and engineering,” Freeman says. But he says that people shouldn’t view it that way. “This is about a social identity that is like any other, like gender or race or ethnicity.” That’s why it’s important to have LGBT role models and adequate representation across STEM fields, he says.“These are scientists and engineers, and so numbers speak and data speak, and I think having actual data on this would really change things,” Freeman says. “I think it would trigger a snowballing event of getting more people to study this issue and getting universities and federal funding agencies” to think about LGBT diversity initiatives, he says.
Essar Steel resolution: Ruias move NCLAT The burden of numbers is evident at the NCLT, with its walls plastered with notices like “Kindly give seats to Advocates and lawyers/professionals during proceedings… Others may occupy seats if they are empty”.The contesting parties include lenders and borrowers, buyers and suppliers, as well as employers and employees. Just like lawyers seeking customers outside regular courts, the NCLT has ‘resolution professionals’ chasing clients handing out business cards.On this June day, the cause list has 52 cases, and all of them are called out. It is no surprise that the “judicial members (equivalent to judges)” begin the proceedings asking litigants, “Any chance of a settlement?”Seeking to push the parties towards settlements rather than lengthy trials, the judicial members use humour to prodding and reprimand. Hearing the case of the director versus the company promoter, the judicial member tells the latter’s son, “I know that in courts joh jeeta wahi Sikandar, but babu, tell your father to be considerate. Going to court is like going to a graveyard.” Related News With 32 new judicial members joining after a government notification in May, more than doubling the NCLT’s strength, perhaps they may have time now to fulfill that wish. Advertising Besides bankruptcy cases, NCLT also hears matters such as allegations of mismanagement against companies. (Express Photo: Prashant Nadkar)It’s a humid day at the end of June, and the discomfort is showing among the 60 people crammed into a room designed to hold no more than 25. In an earlier avatar, this room might have been a conference room. Today, it is functioning as a courtroom of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai. Not everyone is treated as gently. Snapping at a lawyer for frequent interruption, a judicial member says, “I think your fees is fixed on the basis of the number of words you speak.” The room bursts out laughing.An hour-long lunch break follows, and one of the first cases to be taken up after it is a bankruptcy case that has resulted in a potential environment hazard. Thirteen vessels of a shipping firm that owes Rs 1,500 crore to its lenders have been floating unmanned at one of the country’s busiest ports in Mumbai, with at least two oil ships lying tangled at the Bombay Port Trust (BPT). The BPT and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust have approached the NCLT to seek removal of the ships, fearing chances of an oil spill off the Mumbai coast.During the course of the hearing, a bemused judicial member tells the BPT, “Can we visit these ships? We have never been on one.” Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai | Updated: July 14, 2019 2:35:04 am After Masood Azhar blacklisting, more isolation for Pakistan Centre orders probe into Jet Airways over alleged mismanagement of funds More Explained Karnataka trust vote today: Speaker’s call on resignations, says SC, but gives rebel MLAs a shield Despite the crowd interest, the case being heard isn’t anything sensational, but a mundane corporate matter where a director of a firm and his promoter are fighting over a Rs 2.5 crore compensation. But since the passage of the bankruptcy law in 2016, the NCLT office, at Mahatma Gandhi Road at Fort, is as central to the Mumbai corporate world as the iconic BSE building or Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata group.Under the law, the NCLT is the adjudicating authority for bankruptcy and corporate cases, and a massive influx of cases means it is now as busy as the rest of India’s overburdened judicial system. It is also as short of infrastructure and staff strength. Apart from bankruptcy cases, the NCLT also hears matters such as allegations of oppression and mismanagement against companies.Since January 2017, the tribunal has admitted 1,858 cases under the bankruptcy law. Till March 2019, only 715 had seen some kind of closure. Of the rest that are pending, 362 cases have been pending beyond 270 days, the time limit set by the bankruptcy law for closure. Cabinet asks finance panel to consider securing funds for defence Advertising Sebi bars Hotel Leelaventure from selling properties to Brookfield Asset Management Taking stock of monsoon rain Advertising Best Of Express In another case, involving the division of a family business, an aunt is told to invite a warring nephew and make lunch for him as the means to reach a settlement. The suggestion does not go down well with either party.Unlike other courts, the NCLT regularly hears litigants who come without lawyers, like a 69-year old today who has approached the tribunal against a firm to whom she had let out her property and which has gone bankrupt. She says the company owes herRs 1 crore in rent and interest and was refusing to vacate. At the hearing, a company official offers to pay Rs 10 lakh within a week but the judicial members ask the firm to revise it or be ready for an adverse judgment.A soft-spoken young lawyer, struggling to make herself heard over the din, is offered help in filing an affidavit. “When did you pass your law? After Class 10th?” a judicial member remarks. “You look like a 15-year-old.” Post Comment(s)
VR Everywhere CES will be the big coming-out party for low-cost dedicated VR headsets and gear. The initial wave from HTC and Oculus was way too expensive, and the next wave is supposed to be far more affordable.A lot of vendors will be showcasing their VR gear, so be ready for your kid or spouse to start signaling they want one of these things for their next birthday, and be thankful that it likely will be well below US$500 this round. Flying cars are a big deal for me, because I first got involved with this technology in the 1970s with a company that started with a flying saucer. My father put down a deposit on one of the vehicles — he died recently and clearly never got the car. This is how far the technology has come.There was a showcase a year ago of an autonomous flying car that is actually a people-carrying drone, suggesting that Uber one day might fly to your house rather than drive, at least in rural areas.Folks apparently realized that if you could get a car to drive itself, and if you could create a drone capable of carrying large packages, then you could create one that could carry people. It is this idea of push-button flying that makes flying cars interesting. I know of several vendors that will be talking about this or showing prototypes at CES. Invasion of the Amazon Echo Clones Of course, we’ll have tons of PCs, laptops, tablets, and wearable tech still looking for a market, as well as lots of tech accessories for cars, smartphones and other devices. This promises to be one of the most powerful tech shows yet, with showcases that will define not just 2017 but likely the rest of the decade.From showcasing tech that will get you to work faster and very differently to showing off the tech that will entertain you on the trip, this promises to be a CES show for the ages. Now, if I can just find something that will ensure my legs and feet will survive it intact… . Here is hoping we all have a great time, and that by the end of the week, I’m still capable of walking by myself. Prototype Cars Yes, you thought that wonderful 4K HDR TV was the be-all and end-all, didn’t you, and that you’d have at least three years before someone made it obsolete. Well, surprise — there will be 8K TVs at the show. The good news is we don’t even have much 4K HDR content, so your 4K HDR TV likely is safe for three years. These 8K sets likely will be wicked expensive initially — so look, but don’t worry about buying until sometime closer to 2020.Closer in are OLED sets, which combine the marvelous blacks of the old plasma sets with the reliability and brilliant colors of LCD sets. The manufacturers appear to have fixed the problem of the early OLED TVs’ short service life, and this year the prices of OLED, which have been up in the nosebleed range, should drop sharply. That could mean your new TV isn’t that safe after all. Drones will continue to dominate CES. The DJI Phantom 4 was the hot product in market last year, largely because it was so easy to fly. Now the market is moving to smaller, more portable, collapsible products, and I’m expecting to see a ton of drones that are both easier to fly safely and easier to toss into a backpack for transportation — in other words, the FAA’s worst nightmare.There already are several times the number of private planes as drones flying today, and things are likely to get a lot more crowded as prices continue to drop and capabilities continue to increase. I have a small air force of drones myself, and I expect, I’ll have a few more by year’s end. Microsoft last year brought forward the Surface Studio, a product that blends a high-resolution touchscreen with a digitizer to create a unique all-in-one. It makes the iMac look so last decade — which, given it hasn’t changed much in the last decade, wasn’t a huge stretch.This class of product has proven ideal for creators, and with the next version of Windows 10 designed specifically with creation in mind, the OEMs are stepping up. In short, there will be a ton of Surface Studio-like products at CES, each doing its best both to stand out against Microsoft’s offering, and to showcase the power of Windows 10 Creator’s edition. If you are a creator, this likely will be your year. Next-Generation Computing 8K HDR TVs and OLED There will be a number of prototype cars at the event. One that recently came to light, Rinspeed’sOasis, is equipped with Harman LIVS (life-enhancing intelligent vehicle solutions). It showcases the advantages of a car that is designed to be driven by computer.It’s basically a living room on wheels, with the focus on entertainment, access and range rather than on handling or performance. Cool stuff includes active glass, a steering wheel that turns into a table, and a huge screen for both work and entertainment.You’ll see a number of these examples, showcasing each company’s vision of the near-term future and the world of tomorrow. I’m a big fan of Rinspeed and have lusted after its Splash car for years. Lenovo Phab 2 ProFrom a practical perspective, this means you can buy furniture online after seeing what it would look like, to scale, in your office or room. You can play electronic games that run on your own table, and blend real and virtual elements to create a very unique experience.While the lack of AR apps for the phone hampers it at the moment, I have to say that the 6.4-inch display is rather impressive, and so is the battery life under normal use. The phone has — and needs — a big battery for AR, but that battery also helps it out as a phone, making it one of the better phablets on the market.It uses the top-of-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, and it comes with 64 GB of memory. It has impressive Dolby Atmos Audio with 5.1 audio capture (3 microphones) and voices noise canceling (which makes it easier for folks to hear you in a noisy environment.Be aware that there is always a bit of pain associated with being cutting edge, but if you want a phone that is impressively large, is a showcase for Project Tango, and has really impressive battery life and performance, check out the Lenovo Phab 2.It is a precursor for what is coming in augmented reality. Because my first column of the year is about looking to the future, and the Phab 2 Pro is a future-facing smartphone, it is the obvious choice for my product of the week. Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends. You can connect with him on Google+. Drones Flying High CES week is here, and it’s the one week of the year I look forward to looking back on. CES is a killer show — not because you are up to your armpits in interesting new products, but because it is so spread out that it’ll kill your legs as you hike all over the damn place. One year, I walked so much I actually ripped the soles off both shoes.What is weird about this show is that it really comes too early for vendors to have much of what they intend to have in stores by the end of the year. So, it not only kind of messes up New Year’s for a lot of people who have to prepare for it, but also fails to deliver the impact it once did.However, it remains one of the most powerful tech showcases in the world, and this year we’ll see a ton of things that likely will have us thinking more and more about the world of tomorrow.I’ll share more on that and close with my first product of the week: the unusual Phab 2 Pro Phone from Lenovo, the first Google Project Tango phone. The Amazon Echo Dot was my 2016 product of the year, but Amazon recently licensed the technology, we are likely to be up to our armpits in Echo clones this year. I’m personally looking for one that is set up to work outside, because I really would like a better solution for my swim spa than a Dot with a battery tied to huge Bluetooth boombox.I wonder if all of these things will start talking to each other in the CES convention center after everyone goes home for the night. That could be kind of spooky. This is a weird smartphone and not the least of what makes it strange is that it is branded “Lenovo,” not “Motorola,” which is Lenovo’s phone division.This Lenovo Phab 2 Pro has a huge, 6.4-inch screen, likely because it is the showcase phone for Google’s augmented reality platform, Project Tango. Now, there aren’t yet a lot of apps out for Tango, but what it brings is a unique camera that allows you to position virtual objects in the real world. Flying Cars Wrapping Up
Wrapping Up: Deep Learning Lie Detector Michael Cohen’s Testimony We often focus on the wrong thing. In the movie Minority Report, the fictional tool that was used to predict crime used people with precognitive capability to identify a likely crime so the future criminal could be incarcerated without damage being done.The focus was on incarceration rather than preventing the crime, and that is why the service failed. Had it instead focused on warning both the victim and the future criminal, the problem with it being less than 100 percent accurate would have been mitigated. The actual goal, preventing the crime, would have been more sustainable.I put this in the context of Cohen’s testimony, because the supposed goal is to get the truth. Yet if you watched the hearing, you saw that Republicans were far more focused on discrediting Cohen (and they didn’t defend Trump at all — seeming to suggest Trump may not be defensible).You would think that in most cases the truth and lying would be aligned, but often they aren’t. Many make compellingly arguments that are wrong, but they aren’t lying. Their beliefs are out of line with reality.I’d argue that, generally, knowing if what is being said is true is more important than knowing whether the speaker is lying. A charismatic believer who is also unhinged with respect to the truth can be far more dangerous than a simple liar.I use Minority Report as an example because one of the powers of a deep learning AI is that it has the potential to be highly predictive — with increasing accuracy based on timing and the quality and amount of information.If you have a system that could predict the future with high accuracy, you also have enough information to make the two important determinations I mentioned: whether what is being said is true; and whether the speaker is lying.In theory, we should care about the truth more, but during the Michael Cohen testimony the Democrats focused on making the anti-Trump testimony more powerful, and the Republicans focused on arguing Cohen was a liar. Neither side really spent that much time validating the testimony, even though Cohen did supply corroborating documents.This isn’t uncommon at all. In a trial, the experts on your side are believed absolutely while the experts on the other side are believed to be dishonest crooks. The poor judge — at one time I wanted to be one — who generally isn’t a subject matter expert, then must figure out which expert to believe. I attended parts of the Qualcomm FTC trial, and it was clear the FTC expert was unreliable. He was one of those folks who takes a position, then does the work to validate it, and then uses the defense that he is the smartest person in the room and everyone who disagrees with his position is an idiot.That kind of expert is dangerous. You should start with the evidence and then form your position, not the other way around, or confirmation bias is likely to cause you to reach the wrong conclusion.The FTC expert testified for the DoJ in a prior trial involving a different case — AT&T’s Time Warner Merger I believe — and the judge tore into him with a passion, basically saying his “theory” was crap.This questionable expert was the FTC’s pivotal witness. A strong argument can be made that the FTC wasted a massive amount of money, as did Qualcomm, presenting and then defending against an invalid theory. Had the FTC known that the expert’s theory had been discredited, it may have avoided both a likely loss in court and the unnecessary expenditure of resources to prosecute a nonexistent crime. Deep Learning AI Fix With respect to Michael Cohen’s testimony, neither side optimized the opportunity presented, because of the lack of focus on truth. The Republicans likely are the most at risk, though, because Cohen did have supporting documents, suggesting what he was saying largely was true. (There were some huge holes, particularly regarding his working at the White House, but in general he was well supported.)So, if the president is impeached, which seems increasingly likely, videos of legislators pounding on Cohen probably will hurt their re-election chances severely. On the other hand, the Democrats should have played off each other more and built a case for impeachment. (It’s ironic that the youngest committee member was the only one to seem to get that memo.) Their goal is to impeach, but they still need to build a compelling, simple case.Now introduce an AI that could report which parts of Cohen’s testimony were backed up — both by the facts he brought and third-party testimony — and the parts that weren’t. The Republicans then would focus on tearing into the unsupported elements of the testimony, and the Democrats could avoid them.Both efforts would be more likely to succeed (and look good during subsequent election efforts, regardless of what happened to Trump. Underneath, both efforts would be focused more tightly on the truth. The result should be more truthful testimony overall, because it quickly would become clear that false testimony, at best, would be a waste of time — and at worst, result in criminal charges and jail time.In short, there would be an increasing realization that lying would have no upside. The U.S. just went from a president (Obama) who clearly had issues with the truth, to one who probably can’t spell the word. I don’t think that is a good trend at all, and I don’t think this will end well for Trump or the country — but that ending is still avoidable.I think we all would appreciate a little more truth from our leaders. More importantly, we at least want them to know what the truth is. Otherwise, the decisions they make likely will drift toward catastrophically bad way too often. They, and we, need a reliably accurate detector of the truth. We also need to know which of our leaders simply are unable to see the truth, regardless of who presents it. Deep learning AIs are new. What makes them so incredibly powerful compared to their earlier machine learning counterparts is that they train themselves at computer speeds. Machine learning required humans to teach the machines, but deep learning systems, for the most part, learn independently. Given the right framework, they will churn through massive amounts of information to become ever more capable of making autonomous decisions.This means they could look at a case like Qualcomm’s, for instance, and determine not only if a crime was committed, but also whether it would be worthwhile to prosecute it.For instance, let’s say someone grabs a small child out of traffic, and the police want to know whether the child is safe at home. There might be a case for child endangerment, but if the situation were something like the mother dropping some groceries and the child using the distraction to make a mistake, that would be viewed far differently than if the mother had an attention deficit problem that resulted in the child not being supervised adequately.The AI would look at the pool of available information on both the child and the parent and, within seconds, provide high quality advice on whether the child should be returned to the parent with a light warning or put into some protective service. The main goal would remain pristine as well — in this case to protect the child, not to punish the parent.Even if the recommendation were to act against the parent, the deep learning AI could determine, based on what was known about the parent’s personality and history, what remedy would fix the problem. It could be removing the child from the parent’s care — or it could be getting the parent help to better focus on the child’s well being. Qualcomm vs. FTC Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, a consultancy that serves the technology industry. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob. Like many of you I was fascinated by the Michael Cohen testimony last week in what was more performance art than fact-finding. It tends to be fascinating to watch disgruntled ex-employees testify, but they often aren’t the most reliable witnesses. The personal nature of their termination tends to push them toward exaggeration, and many were fired for legitimate reasons.However, I’m a tech analyst, and I’m always thinking about how I would make something better. In this case, there were several ways you could define “better” — more helpful to my own political party, more entertaining (thus holding more viewers), or more likely to drive real change.I’m about real change, and what would have been helpful to most of us would have been something that told us, with acceptable confidence, two things. The first is obvious: whether he was lying. The second isn’t as clear: whether what he said was true.That may seem like a weird distinction, but I’ll explain how deep learning artificial intelligence could perform both tasks with acceptable levels of confidence. I’ll close with my product of the week, HoloLens 2 from Microsoft — an offering that is taking us closer to true magic. I was a big fan of the original HoloLens. Developed with the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, it moved from huge science experiment to become a nicely designed offering that looked like something Porsche’s design group would create. It was sleek, self-contained and impressive, for something that arguably wasn’t out of beta test yet.The Microsoft HoloLens 2 pulled back from the design-forward concept into something far more consistent with a commercial product. Improvements are targeted largely at removing the complaints from the first generation. I think we are on the cusp of creating a deep learning lie detector — a tool that in real time could, with increasing accuracy, tell us not only whether the person speaking is lying but also whether the person was conveying real facts vs. unsupported beliefs or delusions. This last part is important, because we have climate change deniers and vaccination unbelievers who are on a path to making humans extinct. Some of these folks are in positions of power, or will be.With this technology we could make fake news obsolete, eventually. That alone would be a good thing.As a side note, how many of you want to see President Trump’s school grades now? It has twice the viewable area, and it is better balanced, putting less strain on your neck. You can raise the visor rather than having to take it off. It is easier to fit; it authenticates the user with biometrics; it does eye tracking better; it generally will be less expensive (US$3,500); and it is surrounded by a far richer set of tools, helping firms create content and put the device into service.One huge change is the ability to use your hands as hands, and simply grasp virtual objects in order to interact with them. (I’m guessing haptic gloves will be a future accessory.) Or, put simply, it is out of beta and now it is ready to deploy — and viable.At some future point, we’ll be able to change dynamically how we see the world around us, and we’ll likely look back at HoloLens as part of the critical path we took to getting there. To me, HoloLens — and the technology it represents — is the closest thing to a path to real magic. Therefore, HoloLens 2 is my product of the week. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network. What Is Truth?
There’s an AI camera, a Pixelbook laptop, and new Home smart speakers. Kris Holt is a writer and editor based in Montreal. He has written for the Daily Dot, The Daily Beast, and PolicyMic, among others. He’s Scottish, so would prefer if no one used the word “soccer” in his company. You can connect with Kris on Google+. Watching Apple’s product announcement showcase is a bit like celebrating New Year’s. People from all over the world are drawn to this annual event with the promise of something new and exciting, a vision of tomorrow and untold promise.Yet the more it comes around, the more disappointed we are. That promised kiss from a stranger at midnight is a dud. Our best intentions fall by the wayside as we use the arbitrary turning of a calendar page as reason to develop new habits, only to quit the gym within two weeks, or to snap creative photos with a fancy new camera lens before soon reverting to selfies. We expect so much from Apple these days, but more often than not we’re left wanting.Take the iPhone 8, the latest iteration of the company’s flagship product line (pictured above). It has a string of incremental, though technically and aesthetically impressive improvements to hardware and software.Yet even Apple couldn’t muster up enough excitement or passion to really sell the new features, sleepily reeling off factoids about new processors and cameras and the rest of it. Apple, more than ever, transparently treated this iPhone as simply a slightly better version of the previous one.Of course, the big news was iPhone X, the complete overhaul of iPhone, with a new design, OLED screen, and facial recognition supplanting Touch ID. Apple TV got an upgrade to 4K resolution output — just as 8K televisions are becoming slightly more commonplace and many 4K TVs have built-in support for many of the apps you’d want to use anyway.Unless you’re a diehard viewer of purchased iTunes content, really want Dolby Vision HDR support, or gaming on Apple TV, it’s hard to consider it worthwhile right now.Several studios (through iTunes) and apps (most significantly, YouTube) don’t support 4K on Apple TV yet, and Amazon Prime Video won’t be available for a while. I’m sure the experience of using it is nice, as my rating suggests, but I can’t imagine buying an Apple TV 4K.Rating: 3 out of 5 Richer Visions Exercising Wrist-Raint I’m admittedly more enticed by the prospect of a smartwatch than ever, and cell connectivity is remarkable, assuming it works correctly. Still, as long as there’s no Spotify app, I’m disinclined to pick up an Apple Watch.Series 3 seems fine — and that’s all.Rating: 4 out of 5 Waiting for Mores Welcome to Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that prods and probes at the latest gadget announcements just in case there’s literally anything worth writing home about.In this glorious fall breeze of an edition, we take a look at the latest product suite to drift our way from the Apple hivemind, and one especially intriguing item from Google’s latest hardware slate.As ever, these are not reviews, and the ratings relate only to how much I’d like to try each item. Turbo TV Dial It Up In a packed product announcement period, there’s also Google’s new hardware to consider. The Pixel 2 looks like a solid phone with a great screen and better camera, though it nixes the headphone jack. Babelling On But what really got me excited was the Pixel Buds, the wireless earphones. These connect directly with Google Assistant and, apparently, can translate 40 languages in close to real-time. The sliver Apple has cut out of the screen to make space for the front-facing cameras looks silly. It negates what’s surely an impressive display to make sure there’s room for the tools Face ID needs to work.I can’t imagine ever using Face ID. It seems so inelegant, compared to placing a finger over the departed Home button. The iPhone X also rips up the rulebook for an iPhone’s UI, thanks to the lack of a Home button, and operates mostly through gestures and swipes.My contract is up soon, and while the promise of an OLED screen on an iPhone is thrilling, I’m more likely to get an iPhone 8, mainly for cost and Touch ID. I’m sure it’s great, and I’m still excited, though I probably shall make this purchase somewhat resignedly, still shaking my fist at Apple for ripping away the headphone port, seemingly for good. (Don’t get me wrong, I’d still like to play around with iPhone X.)iPhone 8 Rating: 5 out of 5 Heavy SighsiPhone X Rating: 4 out of 5 Where Did That Bit of Screen Goes? Then there’s Apple Watch Series 3, which no longer necessarily needs to tether to an iPhone for full functionality, instead using its own cell connection for calls, messages, Siri and streaming music. If that’s true, that could be a game-changer for me. After living in Montreal for several years, my French is shamefully rudimentary. I understand structure and syntax pretty well, though I struggle to understand people most of the time. That said, if I understand the topic of conversation and can pick out certain words, I can usually get the gist.So I don’t need Babel fish-like perfection in acuity, just something that picks up the core meaning. If I can respond in a way that my broken French doesn’t belie my Anglo heritage and the person I’m speaking with doesn’t automatically switch to English, I’d consider that a product worth investigating.Rating: 5 out of 5 Stronger Conversations
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 8 2019New research from McGill University has found that a virus infecting the Leishmania parasite spreads by exploiting a mechanism used for cell-to-cell communication, a discovery that could pave the way to new vaccines against infections that cause severe disfiguration.Much like animals, viruses evolve to improve their chances of survival. Every year, the influenza virus spreads by changing key proteins on its surface to trick our immune system into thinking that it never encountered the pathogen. The herpes simplex virus, on the other hand, lies hidden in the brain – an area that is off limits to our body’s defences – until the next time it is ready to attack.Related StoriesLoose double-stranded RNA molecules spur skin rejuvenationNANOLIVE‘s novel CX-A defines a new standard for live cell imaging in 96 well plates for continuous organelle monitoring in cell populationsNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellMartin Olivier, a senior scientist from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, has recently shown that a virus that infects a primitive type of cell – the Leishmania parasite – also has a ruse to avoid detection.In a study recently published in Nature Microbiology, Olivier found that the Leishmania RNA virus 1 (LRV1) hides in tiny vessels – known as exosomes – that Leishmania parasites use to “communicate” among themselves.”This is the first time that a non-enveloped double stranded RNA virus is shown to be capable of exploiting lower eukaryotic exosomes to gain an envelope,” says Prof. Olivier, who is also a full Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. “By hiding in these ‘communication pods,’ the virus is protected from external threats and the infection of other Leishmania cells is facilitated.”Olivier and his colleagues also showed that leishmaniasis cases were significantly more aggressive when parasites were infected with LRV1.”This provides us with a new model to study virus biology and mechanisms regulating virus release from host cells,” Olivier adds. “Ultimately, the use of Leishmania exosomes containing the virus could lead to an effective vaccine against Leishmania viannia guyanensis – a particular strain of Leishmania that causes a with LRV1.”The Leishmania parasite, mostly found in tropical areas, is transmitted by the female sandfly and leads to about 1 million cases of leishmaniasis yearly, killing thousands and leaving many others disfigured. Source:https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/viral-communications-hacking-boosts-leishmania-infections-294431
These plenaries were chosen to spotlight the most urgent developments in HIV science over the past year. They represent the very top of their field from around the world and we are honoured to have them join us for this global event.”Dr Anton Pozniak, IAS 2019 Co-Chair and IAS President Source:https://www.iasociety.org/ Feb 8 2019The International AIDS Society (IAS) has announced the plenary presentations that will lead the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019), which will take place in Mexico City, Mexico, on 21-24 July 2019. IAS 2019 is the largest open scientific conference on HIV and is expected to bring together more than 6,000 participants from more than 140 countries. Please note that there may be changes in the program in the run up to the conference. Wednesday, 24 July Gloria Maimela, South Africa Scaling up treatment in resource-constrained settings: What will it take to achieve the last 90? Paula Cannon, United States Stem cell and genome editing for HIV cure Asa Radix, United States Implementation science around transgender issues This is the science that we need to step up the response to HIV, not just in Latin America, but wherever the burden of the epidemic remains high. It gets to the very heart of the most pressing issues around the epidemic right now.”Dr Brenda Crabtree, IAS 2019 Co-Chair Among the issues under the spotlight in the IAS 2019 Plenary Programme are effective diagnosis, treatment and prevention among key populations, resource-constrained settings, implementation, co-morbidities, programme sustainability and gene- and cell-based therapies. Adam Burgener, Canada The role of microbiome in HIV transmission and pathogenesis Ingrid Bassett, United States Barriers to access to diagnosis and treatment Carlos Cásares, Peru Key populations in Latin America: Young men who have sex with men Esteban Martínez, Spain Addressing co-morbidities to improve long-term care of people living with HIV Sherrie Kelly, Australia Sustainability of HIV programmes and financing the HIV response John Frater, United Kingdom Primary HIV infection: An opportunity not to be missed? Tuesday, 23 July Related StoriesReprogramming cells to control HIV infectionHIV DNA persists in spinal fluid despite treatment, linked to cognitive impairmentNovel method can help clinicians identify individuals most in need of PrEPEarly registration ends on 14 February. More information can be found at www.ias2019.org.IAS 2019 Plenary ProgramMonday, 22 July 2019
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 14 2019The University of Minnesota Medical School continues its legacy of advancing cell replacement therapies with a scientific breakthrough that highlights the promise of cell therapies for muscular dystrophy.The research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) allows authors Tania Incitti, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Associate, and Rita Perlingeiro, Professor in the Department of Medicine, and member of the Lillehei Heart Institute, Stem Cell Institute, and Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and their colleagues, to gain a deeper understanding of the cells generated in vitro for the purpose of muscle regeneration.Perlingeiro’s lab, over several years, pioneered the development of muscle stem/progenitor cells from pluripotent stem cells in vitro (i.e. in a culture dish rather than in a human or animal). These cells are able to generate new functional muscle upon transplantation into mice with muscular dystrophy, and critically also populate this new muscle with new muscle stem cells also derived from the pluripotent stem cells, allowing that new muscle to repair itself if it is injured. Now, the researchers have advanced these findings to identify for the first time the molecular signature of muscle stem cells generated in the dish, compared to that of the newly generated muscle stem cells that populate the newly formed muscle. They also compared these profiles to muscle stem cells isolated from mice at different developmental stages (embryonic, fetal, neonatal, and adult). These studies revealed that muscle cells generated in the dish are embryonic in nature, however upon transplantation, the stem cell population they provide to the new muscle change remarkably to a postnatal molecular signature, more resembling neonatal and adult stem cells.Related StoriesExciting study shows how centrioles center the process of cell divisionRetina can restructure itself following gene therapyAlternate cell growth pathway could open door to new treatments for metastatic cancers”While the engrafted muscle stem cells did not look identical to adult muscle cells, they no longer looked like embryonic cells either, which tells us they are changing after they are transplanted into the muscle environment,” said Incitti. The investigators also re-transplanted the engrafted muscle stem cells and found that very small numbers of these cells had tremendous potential for muscle regeneration upon secondary transplantation. “We now are asking- what are the environmental cues that are changing our cells?””We wanted to know more about the cells we have been working on for the last 10 years,” said Perlingeiro. “This study brings us more knowledge about the mechanism behind their tremendous regenerative potential.””We knew that new muscle stem cells were present after transplantation but understanding what role the environment plays, and understanding that the cells are truly reshaped by exposure to muscle environment is an exciting finding,” said Perlingeiro. “Knowledge at the molecular and functional level of what happens to these cells upon transplantation is particularly important to provide the rationale for future therapeutic applications.” Source:https://www.med.umn.edu/
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 28 2019In individuals, stress exposure in adolescence increases vulnerability and risk of developing psychopathologies in adulthood, such as drug addiction, mood, anxiety, addiction to gambling, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc. Researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona observed in animal models that the ability to control the source of stress diminishes its effects and could reduce the risk of later developing mental disorders. The research appears today in the journal Scientific Reports.Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (INc), led by Roser Nadal and Antonio Armario, conducted a study on the factors which reduce the effects of stress. The research, appearing today in the journal Scientific Reports, used three groups of male rats to measure these effects. One group underwent several sessions of stress during their adolescence, which they could control (by stopping or preventing) by acting in a certain manner. A second group received the same amount of stress sessions as the first group, but their behavior had no effect (uncontrollable stress). A third group acted as a control group and underwent no stress.During the exposure to stress, researchers quantified the intensity of their reaction by measuring the endocrine response through the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). In the adult stage, several experiments were conducted to measure different cognitive variables and the expression of dopamine type 2 receptors in the dorsal striatum, an area of the brain relevant to the behaviours measured. Part of these data forms part of the PhD thesis of INc researcher Maria Sanchís Ollé, first author of the paper.Related StoriesUTHealth researchers investigate how to reduce stress-driven alcohol useOxidative stress could play key role in the spreading of aberrant proteins in Parkinson’s diseaseEarly life adversity and high levels of FKBP5 protein amplify anxiety-like behaviorThe results indicated that HPA activation induced by controllable and uncontrollable stress was the same in the first exposure to stress. However, with repeated exposures the controllable stress group demonstrated an attenuated HPA response. In their adult stage, the animals exposed to uncontrollable stress in adolescence developed an increase in motor impulsivity and a decrease in cognitive flexibility, effects which were not made evident in those animals exposed to controllable stress. Other aspects (attention and cognitive impulsivity) were not observed to have been affected by stress. At the same time, the behavioral effects of uncontrollable stress were associated with an increase of the number of dopamine type 2 receptors in the dorsal striatum (but not in other sub-divisions), a structure involved in impulsivity and cognitive inflexibility.”Despite the fact that being exposed to situations of stress has short and long-term negative effects on behavior and physiology, there are several factors which could mitigate its impact. We have observed that one of these factors is the possibility of having control over the source of stress”, affirms Roser Nadal.The study has several preventive implications and points to the fact that strategies aimed at increasing the perception of stress controllability during adolescence could mitigate the negative effects of stressful experiences in the adult age and reduce vulnerability to certain psychopathologies.Source: https://www.uab.cat/en/
Source:Queensland University of Technology Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 7 2019Dr Parker’s presentation on the assessment tool and its potential to help curb the $4 billion annual cost of treating chronic wounds received the top award at the CRC Association Collaborate Innovate 2019 Conference last week. Related StoriesCoffee may boost weight loss, concludes studyBridging the Gaps to Advance Research in the Cannabis IndustryAXT enhances cellular research product portfolio with solutions from StemBioSysDr Parker’s presentation focused on a case study of a woman who had endured a venous leg ulcer for 15 years, but, she says, further research has focused on all types of wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers which are also hard to heal.”Until you’ve had one, most people don’t realize the financial and social cost to the patient from wounds that do not heal,” she said.”The woman in my case study had had a chronic wound for more than 15 years, not the same wound but she had never been without a wound in all that time.”She had even been asked to leave a coffee shop owing to the amount of ooze and smell coming from her wound.”Consequently she no longer meets friends at coffee shops and has sometimes been unable to pay to attend senior citizens’ outings due to the costs of dressings, appointments and medications.”Dr Parker said venous ulcers made up 70 per cent of all leg ulcers.”Veins can be damaged as we age but 25 per cent of people with chronic wounds are under 65 and this has a significant impact on their ability to work and quality of life. People who spend a lot of time on their feet, such as nurses and hairdressers, can be prone to venous leg ulcers.”The risk assessment tool has already been developed into a computer and mobile application. Dr Parker is leading validation of the tool in the UK, Vienna and New Zealand, and it has been used to guide research in Canada.Dr Parker’s research on validating the tool was published in the International Wound Journal.The development of the tool was discussed in this validation:Parker, Christina N., Finlayson, Kathleen J., & Edwards, Helen E. (2017) Predicting the likelihood of delayed venous leg ulcer healing and recurrence: Development and reliability testing of risk assessment tools. Ostomy Wound Management, 63(10), pp. 16-33. The tool is simple. It collects variables, such as the patient’s age, the area of the wound, whether high compression stockings or bandages are used, to predict with 80 per cent accuracy which wounds need extra early intervention or to be referred to a specialist. This early intervention guides appropriate wound management and saves time and resources, and can reduce patients’ pain, distress and lifestyle limitations.”Dr Parker, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 21 2019Young gay and bisexual men are frequent users of alkyl nitrites, or poppers, but few show signs of addiction, risky consumption habits or other psychosocial problems, a study shows.A survey of more than 800 men aged 18 to 35 found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.Dr Daniel Demant, public health researcher at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), conducted the study and said he welcomed the decision by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to step back from prohibiting poppers. The TGA instead elected to classify them as a Schedule 3 drug, available over the counter in pharmacies from February 2020.Related StoriesAMSBIO offers new, best-in-class CAR-T cell range for research and immunotherapyResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairScientists develop universal FACS-based approach to heterogenous cell sorting, propelling organoid researchAn interim decision by the TGA in 2018 recommended poppers be classed as a prohibited substance, in the same category as methamphetamine and heroin, which would have made “overnight criminals” of the estimated 100,000 plus Australian users.”What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime,” Dr Demant said.”Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalised based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile.”Banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a new class of criminals, basically overnight.”Currently, poppers are available on prescription from pharmacies, but they are more commonly bought illicitly, in sex-on-premises venues and LGBT bars. A vial containing 25-30mL of the clear, strong-smelling fluid, possibly labelled as “VHS tape cleaner”, “leather cleaner” or “room deodoriser”, sells for up to $50, despite costing a couple of cents to manufacture.The new TGA decision to regulate poppers rather than banning them hopefully paves the way for some measure of quality control as well as the removal of the “extreme profit margin” that exists now, Dr Demant said.Dr Demant said that with poppers becoming a pharmacy-only medicine, safety standards would have to be met and pharmacy staff could provide guidance in cases where poppers might react badly with users’ other medications, particularly Viagra.”We could stop pretending that poppers are sold for anything other than getting people high. And once we do offer it in pharmacies, we would have something made to the highest standards for people to use.”The paper ‘Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use among young gay and bisexual men’, by Dr Daniel Demant and Dr Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, is published in Drug and Alcohol Review. Source:University of Technology SydneyJournal reference:Demant, D. et al. (2019) Harmless? A hierarchical analysis of poppers use among young gay and bisexual men. Drug and Alcohol Review. doi.org/10.1111/dar.12958
This new evidence is disturbing. It demonstrates that our battle to eliminate the devastation tobacco brings to people’s lives is far from over.We urge the Government to maintain tobacco control as a high priority and look forward to seeing it feature strongly in the new Prevention Strategy recently announced by the Minister for Health.” The research team tracked around 190,000 Australian smokers and non-smokers participating in the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study for 36 different types of cardiovascular disease over seven years.The study found smoking also causes 11,400 coronary heart hospitalisations a year – 31 per day.”There are around 2.7 million smokers in Australia today,” said Professor Banks.”Those smokers have around triple the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to people who have never smoked, and double the risk of a heart attack, a stroke or heart failure. They are also five times more likely to develop peripheral cardiovascular diseases like gangrene.Related StoriesWeightlifting is better for the heart than cardioCancer incidence among children and young adults with congenital heart diseaseStroke should be treated 15 minutes earlier to save lives, study suggests”If a smoker has a heart attack or a stroke, it is more likely than not that it was caused by smoking.”In what Professor Banks describes as “extremely alarming”, the research also found a doubling in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease among those smoking an average of five cigarettes a day.”A lot of people underestimate the risks of light smoking,” said Professor Banks.In good news, the research shows quitting smoking markedly reduces your risk of heart attacks, stroke and dying from cardiovascular disease compared with continuing to smoke.”This study really reinforces how important it is to prioritise quitting,” said Dr Sarah White, Director of Quit Victoria.”Quitting at any age provides a whole host of health and other benefits and quitting by age 45 avoids about 90 per cent of the cardiovascular risks of smoking.”And if you are a light or social smoker who thinks ‘just a few’ won’t hurt, this study really shows you’re kidding yourself that it’s not doing damage.”No matter how much you smoke or how long you have smoked, the best time to stop is right now. Call the Quitline, or talk to your GP or other health professional for advice.”The research is published in the international journal BMC Medicine and was undertaken in partnership with the Heart Foundation and Sax Institute.Dr Martin McNamara, Deputy CEO of the Sax Institute and Chief Investigator on the 45 and Up Study, said: “The 45 and Up Study is the biggest long-term health study in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world – and these results make clear how the study can help us uncover new findings with important implications for health care services.” Source:Australian National UniversityJournal reference:Banks, E. et al. (2019) Tobacco smoking and risk of 36 cardiovascular disease subtypes: fatal and non-fatal outcomes in a large prospective Australian study. BMC Medicine. doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1351-4. Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 3 2019Smoking is killing at least 17 Australians a day from preventable heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular conditions, new research led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found.The study, the most in-depth in the world, shows for the first time how smoking harms all of the cardiovascular system – the heart and major blood vessels.Lead researcher, Professor Emily Banks from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, said the study examined the impact of smoking for every possible cardiovascular disease.”That includes investigating the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart muscle disease, rhythm problems, and gangrene in Australians from every walk of life: men, women, city, country, rich, poor,” Professor Banks said.”We found there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Smoking causes terrible harm across the board.”Our study shows that a population almost twice the size of Port Douglas is being wiped out in Australia each year – with smoking causing more than 6,400 cardiovascular deaths, including from heart attack and stroke.”CEO of the Heart Foundation John Kelly said:
Knowledge of these biases will not automatically translate into behavior change. A starting point for change may be acknowledging that we all carry these biases and considering how they may be affecting our perception of reality.”By understanding how our interpretation of situations varies based on the biases we carry, we can attempt to predict how these biased interpretations might affect our behaviors and identify tangible strategies to mitigate the effects of implicit bias.”Fahima Dossa, and Nancy Baxter, Authors By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJul 8 2019Enrolment data for medical schools in the United States has shown an almost equal representation of men and women since 1999. However, new research has shown that there is a discrepancy between the way that men and women are perceived in medicine and healthcare. Although several factors may have contributed to such gaps, the role of gender biases needs to be evaluated.Researchers from Washington University, St. Louis published their recent work on estimating gender differences. They looked at records to check into both “implicit and explicit gender bias”. The results of their study titled, “Estimating Implicit and Explicit Gender Bias Among Health Care Professionals and Surgeons,” was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.Lenetstan | ShutterstockDefinitions and tools used in the studyImplicit biases are those that influence beliefs outside of one’s conscious awareness. These compel people to behave unlike their explicit ideas. These biases are influenced by our environment and affect the role of men and women in medical careers.Direct evidence of such gender biases is unproven, though they exist in subtle ways. For example, women physicians are often addressed as “nurse” instead of “doctor” or by their first names. Studies show that women are less likely to be invited as speakers, less commonly awarded, considered less hirable and offered lesser salaries for identical qualifications as their male counterparts.An Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a tool to measure implicit biases that exist in hospitals and health care systems. To estimate the degree of gender bias several thousand health care professionals were enrolled in the Project-implicit with a host of online IATs. For the study, a Gender-Career IAT was taken by health care professionals to assess how strongly career or family were associated with either male or females. A Gender-Specialty IAT was undertaken among surgeons attending the national surgical meeting, where surgery and family medicine were the two attributes instead of career and family. This was based on the hypothesis that men would be more commonly associated with surgery and women with family medicine. Upon completion of the IAT, explicit questions regarding gender biases were asked. Data from almost 1 million IAT records and 131 surgeons were reviewed to reach a conclusion.ResultsThe results revealed that women were more commonly associated with family and men with career among women than men. In contrast, the association of men with highly demanding careers and women with family was less common among women than men.The IAT scores for Gender-Specialty indicated a significant association between men and surgery, and women with family medicine. This belief was true for both men and women, however, explicit bias was more among men than women.Related StoriesGovernment policy and infrastructure have substantial impact on hospitalization of seniorsStudy estimates health care costs of uncontrolled asthma in the U.S. over next 20 yearsFirst smartphone app to detect childhood ear infectionThe data suggests that healthcare professionals commonly see surgery as a male-oriented specialism and family medicine as a female-oriented career path. These biases were similar across all social categories, but the biases in were greater among men.Explicit gender-specialty biases among male surgeons were similar to explicit gender-career biases among male health care professionals. However explicit gender-specialty biases among female surgeons were lesser than gender- career bias among female health care professionals.Further studies are needed to evaluate whether these biases are caused due to existing gender inequalities. Earlier studies reveal that women are more likely to abandon surgical residency and gender disparity exists in leadership roles.Tackling gender inequalities in healthcare and medicineEqual representation of all groups is a requirement for a successful organization. Half of the population consists of women and ensuring their equal representation in the medical field would satisfy patients . Women should also be employed in leadership roles, as role models and mentors to ensure greater productivity and profit.A better understanding of factors that lead to underrepresentation of women can improve recruitment and retention of them in organizations. Realization of existing biases is important to minimize their effects.The current study is a step forward in raising awareness of gender biases in health care sector. The data will allow junior doctors to understand and prepare themselves for their future work environment, while organizations can use the data to encourage diversity and reduce gender inequality/biases.The main purpose of this study was to understand implicit gender bias within the health care system. Further studies are required to evaluate the implications of such biases on gender discrepancy and discrimination.There is research that assesses interventions to address gender bias like improving transparency of hiring and promoting, using diversity as a metric for organizations and allowing flexibility of leaves to women employees.Understanding the implicit associations that are psychological obstacles to women’s success is important to device interventions that reduce gender inequality.The article was accompanied by an invited commentary by Fahima Dossa, and Nancy Baxter, both from University of Toronto. Journal reference:Salles A, Awad M, Goldin L, et al. (2019). Estimating Implicit and Explicit Gender Bias Among Health Care Professionals and Surgeons. JAMA Netw Open. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.6545.
© 2018 AFP Michelle Chau sits on her bed in a co-sharing building in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, where spiralling housing prices have forced young professionals into ever-shrinking spaces With the ability to buy a flat increasingly out of reach for the majority of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million residents, developers are creating smaller spaces to reach a wider market. Under Hong Kong law there is no limit to how small a flat can be.Ryan Ip, senior researcher at public policy think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, describes it as an “unhealthy” trend with developers putting profit above quality of life. “If you count the per-square-foot price for smaller-size flats, it is even higher than larger flats,” said Ip, who believes mental and physical health will suffer if properties continue to shrink.Rental prices have also rocketed and the wait for government-subsidised public housing can be five years. Fed-up Spanish cities are bursting Airbnb’s bubble Blocks of sleek miniature apartments packed with mod cons are springing up around the densely packed city, pitched as an attractive and more affordable lifestyle choice, but still at an eye-watering cost. Finance worker Adrian Law, 25, paid more than HK$6 million ($765,000) two years ago for his tiny studio apartment in a new development in the gentrified Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood.The slim glass building squeezes four apartments onto each floor and includes “nano-flats”, a new term for homes of under 215 square feet (20 square metres).Law’s studio is a fraction bigger at 292 square feet, with a price per square foot of nearly HK$20,000.He has adapted to the limited space by buying transformable furniture—his bed folds away against the wall to reveal a desk tucked underneath—and he keeps most of his belongings at his parents’ home. But with a fingerprint-activated door lock, washing machine, TV, fridge and even curtains, Law says the flat came with everything he needed.”Property developers are marketing the concept to buyers that they only need a place to sleep and can do anything else outside,” he told AFP, admitting he eats mostly take-away food as the kitchen is too small for cooking.Law’s parents helped him put down a 30 percent deposit when he bought the apartment and he sees it as an investment. He pays HK$24,000 per month for the mortgage, around 40 percent of his salary.”One can only get into a winning position by owning a place,” he said. Jezz Ng in a small living space in a co-sharing building in Hong Kong, where box-like ‘nano-flats’ and co-shares have been touted as fashionable solutions to eye-wateringly high property prices As housing prices spiral in Hong Kong, young professionals are living in ever-shrinking spaces, with box-like “nano-flats” and co-shares touted as fashionable solutions. Citation: Tight squeeze for Hong Kong’s young professionals (2018, June 13) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-tight-hong-kong-young-professionals.html Explore further All tenants have access to communal facilities, from shower areas and a kitchen to activity rooms and study rooms.”When I started to look for places to rent, my maximum budget was $8,000 including utilities, but a simple, decent studio room could easily go over this price,” Ng told AFP.She now pays $5,600 per month, which she says allows her to support her parents financially and pay her sister’s tuition fees for a master’s degree—a common practice for young adults who are working.Ng adds she feels less cramped than when she lived at home. Founder of the co-share, Keith Wong, says it is designed for young professionals who need time to “accumulate wealth” by limiting their outgoings. For now it is an ideal solution, says Ng.”I want to strive for an apartment, but at the moment, there’s no way for me to achieve that goal,” she explained.”Even though I have a stable job and the salary goes up steadily, it will never catch up with the increase in property prices.” “If you’re renting, you are spending all your money without gaining anything at the end.”Health threatHong Kong’s real estate is the most expensive in the world, with median house prices at 19.4 times median incomes—the worst ratio globally according to the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey 2018.Property prices have been fuelled by an influx of money from wealthy mainland Chinese investors and developers, and the city government stands accused of failing to control the red-hot property market.More than 60 percent of new flats under 430 sq ft are taken up by investment buyers, according to government figures. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Ip says expanding land supply by any means, including reclamation from the sea, is the only way to solve the affordable housing shortage.But other local land research groups argue Hong Kong should develop under-utilised brownfield sites and idle government land first.The government is considering a host of options, from new artificial islands to developing the city’s cherished country parks. Designers are also putting forward their own new concepts, including converting concrete pipes into living spaces and transforming shipping containers into homes.Sharing spaceMany poorer Hong Kong residents resort to renting dingy “subdivided” flats—apartments carved up into multiple living spaces. But even for those on a good salary, a decent home is often unaffordable.Jezz Ng, 29, earns a monthly wage of HK$32,000 as a teacher and has chosen to live in a new co-share housing set-up, rather than shelling out for her own rent. At weekends she goes home to her parents.Ng shares a unit with seven other women where she has her own small room, which can fit a single bed and a desk. Housed in a revitalised residential building in the working class neighbourhood of Yau Ma Tei, privately owned Bibliotheque offers 166 bed spaces across 15 units, with monthly rents ranging from HK$3,500 to HK$6,200. Finance worker Adrian Law, 25, paid more than US$765,000 for his 292 square foot (27 square metre) studio flat Adrian Law, 25, has adapted to the limited space by buying transformable furniture—his bed folds away against the wall to reveal a desk tucked underneath and he keeps most of his belongings at his parents’ home
The focus of Gugerli’s narrative is not so much the machines, but the question as to what it took to use them: the people who had to prepare the jobs in such a way as to make the fast calculating machines able to work. For instance, he describes the experiences of Eduard Stiefel, a Professor of Applied Mathematics and a computing pioneer in the early 1950s. He and his group at ETH Zurich operated Konrad Zuse’s “Z4” and found that the preparation typically took far more time and mental effort than carrying out the one-off calculations manually. Stiefel postulated that creating a library of standard programs could allow the machines to be used without so much preparation. He considered the work of programming boring.Gugerli provides many such examples to demonstrate the resistance that needed to be overcome and the discussions that had to be held before the new machines could be used efficiently. He illustrates the huge organisational efforts that were required, the way that companies adapted their work processes, and how, in the nascent days of computing, rules were agreed that facilitated the sharing of the scarce mainframe infrastructure. Particularly strikingly, he describes the complex technical and organisational interplay involved, using the American space agency NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston by way of example.New industries, new professionsGugerli describes the emergence of new groups of professions, such as programmers and operators, some of which then disappeared again on the back of subsequent technological advances. We as readers become aware of how quickly the IT sector has developed and how fundamentally it has changed our lives and our work. In the course of the book, the author traces the emergence of the software industry, operating systems, the birth of the first personal computer, and finally the World Wide Web – all prerequisites for the smart digital devices we rely on today.The book’s title Wie die Welt in den Computer kam (roughly translatable as “How the world came to be in the computer”) suggests where Gugerli’s interests lie: the decisions and adaptations in the real world that are required to make the latter a digital reality. As a consequence, the book ends where “systems (…) are becoming so complex that the interaction of their components cannot be installed, configured, optimised, maintained or assembled, even by highly specialised experts.” In other words, at the point where decisions are delegated from humans to the computer. Where we are today. For the world to be managed and organised using computers, it has to follow the digital logic of machines. Historian David Gugerli tells the story of this thrilling process of adaptation with marvellously entertaining flair. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Eduard Stiefel’s colleagues Heinz Rutishauser (l) and Ambros Speiser (r) in front of the relay cabinets of the Zuse Z4. Credit: ETH Library Zurich, picture archive Ausschalten (“Switch off”) is the heading of the last chapter in David Gugerli’s newly published book, which traces the history of the computer through the engineers (the vast majority of which, incidentally, are male) and the users of their machines and programs. In that respect, the book ultimately revolves around all of us.These days we are online all the time, watching the latest news, sending emails, uploading posts, planning trips and checking the weather forecast. Anyone interested in the developments that have made computers an integral part of our daily lives over the last 70 years should take the last chapter’s heading to heart by switching off their smartphone and yielding to Gugerli’s narrative exuberance – starting with chapter one: Einschalten (“Switch on”).Nimble treatment of a heavyweight topicDavid Gugerli has taken on a major theme: nothing less than the emergence of digital reality. But nowhere in the book by the professor of technological history at ETH Zurich will you find him delivering a lecture – quite the opposite: the essayistic style of the writing with its ironically distanced tone finds resonance with the reader and creates an easy – and very pleasant – summer read. Using official publications, assessments and forecasts by contemporary protagonists – and occasionally their retrospective revisions of history – the author’s 200-page narrative describes what it takes for a new technology to prevail. A technology which, in this case, has captured the very essence of our society and continues to wreak change in it. Notwithstanding the relaxed style, the 20 pages or so of annotations, and 25-page bibliography underline the rigour of the work.The story begins with the mainframe computers of the 1950s, when Remington Rand presented the UNIVAC. That said, it actually begins with the question of what a computer is: “Even those who were building them were unable to agree on what constituted the essential characteristics of a computer,” writes Gugerli. Everyone agrees on the high-speed arithmetic benefits of computers. So it is all the more surprising that the film advertising the UNIVAC never stressed the process, only the result. “The process had already vanished into the black box of the machine,” notes a stunned Gugerli, who points out that the French word for computer is still “ordinateur”, a term that emphasises the sorting and classification of information – activities that precede the actual arithmetic process and which were the first to be carried out by a computer. Zuse Z4 relay computer at ETH Zurich: the first computer at a continental European university. Credit: ETH Library Zurich, picture archive Explore further Provided by ETH Zurich Overcoming resistance Citation: How the world came to be in the computer (2018, August 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-world.html Humanity confronts a defining question: How will AI change us?
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Mountain View has asked the other cities to meet on Dec. 6 and is planning a public forum Dec. 13. Mountain View police recently met with Waymo, and they are talking about a future training session.Is that outreach enough? In Silicon Valley, Google/Waymo’s self-driving cars with drivers behind the wheel have been a common sight for a long time. Each accident involving the vehicles—17 so far this year—has been documented, as required by the DMV. But despite Waymo’s years of testing, its move to fully driverless vehicles on public roads concerns some Silicon Valley residents.”I followed a Waymo on Castro, the principal street in Mountain View, and it proceeded at 12 mph (in a 25 mph zone) with a queue of cars behind and caught us all at a red light,” John Joss said last week. “It then turned right after stopping but only gave a turn signal after it had stopped. Severely dumb.”The 84-year-old Mountain View resident added that when a Waymo vehicle reaches the intersection of Cuesta and Bonita Avenue, “it goes into a state of fibrillation, saying, ‘oh, we can’t go, we can’t turn!'”It’s too soon” for fully autonomous vehicles, Joss said.Other residents agree. Karen Brenchley said she recently saw a Waymo vehicle make a right turn from a left-turn lane.”I’m like, ‘Did that really happen’?” said the 55-year-old Sunnyvale resident, who has a master’s degree in computer science and works in artificial intelligence. “Thirty years ago I took an AI class in grad school. One of the things we wrote was how to change lights based on traffic patterns. We’re still trying to figure that out. How long have we had self-driving cars? I’m delighted that they’re doing what they’re doing, but I think they’re not ready.”The company is hearing people’s concerns. In September, Barbara McCarthy of Los Altos saw a Waymo vehicle fail to stop at an intersection with a flashing light, which means pedestrians were getting ready to cross. She was concerned enough that she contacted Waymo.”They were very helpful,” McCarthy, 67, said. She spoke with a community manager by phone and email. That made her feel like Waymo will take residents’ concerns into account, she said.In Phoenix, Waymo has been testing a fully autonomous program since April 2017. There, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans shuttle early-rider volunteers to work, school, the mall and elsewhere. The company has signed up more than 400 riders since it began the program, and a recent report indicates that it will start a new driverless car service in the area next month.In Silicon Valley, Waymo’s first testers will be its own employees. Then it will open up the program to members of the public, as it has done in Arizona. The company will test vehicles day and night on city streets, rural roads and highways with speed limits of up to 65 miles per hour. The DMV approved testing of 39 vehicles, all Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids.Waymo started as Google’s self-driving car division in 2009 before it was spun off as a standalone subsidiary in 2016. Last month, Waymo CEO John Crafcik boasted that its vehicles had reached 10 million miles driven on public roads in 25 cities.Merely having all those miles under its belt is not enough, some critics say.”The DMV is letting Waymo turn all of us into human guinea pigs for testing their robot cars, without an adequate explanation of what’s going on,” said John Simpson, Privacy and Technology Project director for Consumer Watchdog, a longtime Google critic, in a statement at the time the California DMV announced its approval of Waymo’s permit.In an interview, Simpson expressed concern about Waymo’s plan for remote “drivers” who will be monitoring the vehicles. A Waymo spokeswoman would not say how many vehicles at a time each remote driver will be watching.”It’s like they’re playing a video game,” he said, “but if something goes wrong, somebody might get killed.”Consumer Watchdog also is urging the DMV to release more information about Waymo’s insurance coverage, pointing to redactions in its insurance documents.But DMV spokesman Marty Greenstein said Waymo has met the agency’s requirements: “The insurance information was redacted from Waymo’s public application because it was deemed to relate to confidential business strategies that have competitive significance.” Explore further Citation: Is Silicon Valley ready for fully autonomous Waymo vehicles? (2018, November 28) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-silicon-valley-ready-fully-autonomous.html Google spinoff to test fully driverless cars in California For example, what happens if one of its vehicles—which won’t have a driver behind the wheel—gets into an accident?The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, equipped with a two-way cellular communication link, will notify Waymo’s fleet-response specialists. Those specialists will call 911 if needed. Then Waymo will send a response team to help passengers and first responders on the scene.That’s what Waymo has shared on its website and with police, including officers in Los Altos, one of the cities where the company will be doing the testing.”Waymo has been very proactive and very cognizant of community concerns,” said Captain Scott McCrossin of the Los Altos Police Department.Waymo first talked to Los Altos city officials in April, when the company submitted an application to test its fully driverless vehicles to the DMV. In late October, the DMV approved Waymo’s application for testing in five cities. Besides Los Altos, the cars will be tested in Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto.The Alphabet-owned company has not publicly announced when testing will begin, and the cities say they have not been informed of a timeline.But Waymo has been engaged in various levels of outreach, according to those cities’ representatives and correspondence included in the company’s application with the DMV.Waymo held a safety training for first responders in September where the company explained its safety and law-enforcement interaction protocols, McCrossin said. In September and October, Waymo held public forums in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.Over the summer, Waymo displayed a self-driving vehicle at the Sunnyvale library. In September, the company was at a tech expo downtown. And Waymo has held a training session with the city’s public-safety officials.In Palo Alto, there’s a public forum scheduled Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Cubberley Community Center, where residents will hear from Waymo and get a chance to ask questions. The police department is in talks with the company about scheduling a meeting. Waymo, the first company to get approval from the Department of Motor Vehicles to test fully self-driving vehicles on California roads, faces questions and concerns galore as it prepares to roll out the cars in Silicon Valley. ©2018 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. Many of the older coal-fired generators being retired are being replaced by gas-fired ones and renewable sources like wind and solar energy. The share of electricity powered by natural gas rose to 32 percent in 2017 from 18 percent in 1990, as the share from coal fell to 30 percent from 76 percent in the same time period. Natural gas costs much less than it used to, and gas-fired generators are more flexible. It is far easier to turn gas-fired power plants on and off, for example, than nuclear reactors. What’s more, natural gas plants can ramp production up or down quickly to smooth out the inevitable variability in electricity generation from wind turbines and solar panels – when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.As renewable energy accounts for bigger shares of electricity generation, power production from gas is projected to keep growing, too.No easy substituteMost gas heats homes and commercial properties and fuels the manufacturing of everything from newsprint to aluminum and canned tuna. Following years of growth, electricity generation still consumes only about a third of all gas usage in the United States. All energy measured in thousands of megawatt hours. The wind category also includes renewable sources other than hydro and solar power. Credit: Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration And, while utilities have different choices they can make, there is no easy or immediate way to find a substitute for its other uses – especially if they want a relatively clean source. Heating systems take a long time and a lot of money to convert for homeowners, and it’s even harder for manufacturers. To avoid service disruptions, most large industrial and commercial users, as well as local gas companies, establish firm contracts that guarantee delivery of the gas they anticipate needing.The contracts for gas used to generate electricity are different. Many power companies, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, have “interruptible contracts” with gas suppliers. These arrangements let them pay lower prices that allow them to compete in wholesale electricity markets, but have a downside. They make those companies a lower priority than other customers for gas delivery. The electric power industry and its regulators can see that customers don’t want to have to set their thermostats to 65 degrees or less during bitter cold weather. And indeed, they have taken steps to reduce the grid’s vulnerability to gas bottlenecks, such as by adjusting the timing of the wholesale electricity markets to help power plants buy additional gas when they need it. And better communication is improving forecasts regarding demand and making it easier for power plants learn about supply disruptions earlier on.Long-term investmentsCold snaps increase the need for both electricity and natural gas to heat homes and businesses at the same time, making wholesale electricity prices spike as electricity market operators scramble to keep the grid operating smoothly.Demand for electricity fluctuates by the hour, day and season, magnified only occasionally by severe weather events, and the variability in renewable generation compounds swings in demands on gas-fired power plants. Rather than building pipelines that will only rarely be used at full capacity, it makes sense to invest in flexibility for the generation system to adjust more easily to changes in electricity demand and fuel supply.While they won’t raise retail electricity prices immediately, these short-term price spikes signal the need, and provide the justification, for longer-term investments to avoid rate hikes or even outages.One such strategy is to retrofit gas generators for dual-fuel capability. Practically, this means constructing a storage tank for another fuel, like oil, along with the pipes and other equipment to inject it into the chamber where the fuel is burned. It’s a significant investment but, that way, when extreme weather causes the demand for gas to outstrip the capacity of the pipelines available, power plants can switch to an alternative fuel temporarily.Just as any kind of inventory, whether it’s paper cups or hubcaps, will help avert supply chain disruptions, stored gas can also keep the power flowing. Research I conducted with George Gross showed that investments to expand the capacity of gas storage facilities lowered the risk of high electricity prices more effectively than dual-fuel retrofits.Storing large amounts of natural gas is not without risk, as residents of Southern California learned in 2015. Leaks from the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Los Angeles made nearby residents sick and gushed greenhouse gas emissions.But I still believe that a snowy-day reserve of gas may be the best way to keep the lights on when temperatures sink to extreme lows. Citation: What makes natural gas bottlenecks happen during extreme cold snaps (2019, March 1) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-natural-gas-bottlenecks-extreme-cold.html Credit: Chart: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration When temperatures in Minneapolis fell to 27 below zero during the January 2019 polar vortex, the Xcel Energy utility urged all Minnesota customers to lower their thermostats to conserve natural gas needed for power generation. In Michigan, where it was also colder than the North Pole, General Motors even shut several factories as a precaution against outages. This might seem like a paradox. U.S. gas production is at an all-time high, and electricity generation from renewable sources is growing at a record pace.As a engineering economist who studies electricity markets and fuel supply chains, I look for ways to maintain energy delivery despite increasingly uncertain and extreme weather. I also edit an academic journal devoted to analyzing the costs, benefits and risks of capital investment. Based on what I’ve seen, making electrical generation more flexible while increasing access to stored gas would be the best way to help keep the lights on without sacrificing warmth when cold snaps strike.More power from gasThe 2019 gas shortfall was only the most recent in a string of similar situations. Earlier polar vortexes in 2013 and 2014 hit New England especially hard. The “bomb cyclone” that struck the East Coast in the winter of 2018 strained supplies, making gas prices soar. It’s not just that bouts of extreme weather are becoming worse and more common, even though they are. The electricity grid is increasingly relying on natural gas. Provided by The Conversation Utilities are starting to invest in big batteries instead of building new power plants Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.