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PP: AI Beats Out Supreme Court Experts

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 05/05/2017 - 01:07

Researchers designed a new algorithm that predicts Supreme Court decisions with pinpoint accuracy. The algorithm draws from data from the Supreme Court Database, which contains records dating back to 1791. The algorithm compiles information between 1816 and 2015 and analyzes factors such as judges, votes, term, issues, and court circuits. To test the algorithm, it sequentially goes through the years, starting at 1816, and tries to make a prediction based on the previous year’s data. The algorithm was able to predict the results with 70.2% accuracy. Well qualified experts have 66% accuracy. This can be big as court decision predictions can help the plaintiffs chose which courts to appeal, companies can choose how to handle cases, lawyers can determine how to proceed with the case, and appellants in high profile cases can decide whether to pursue the case. The researchers hope to factor in expert and public statistics and opinions to make the predictions more precise. 

Deep-Stack Can Beat World Class Poker Players

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 05/05/2017 - 01:06

Already, algorithms, which have surpassed human skill, have been developed for games such as chess, checkers, go, backgammon, and more. A team of researchers seek to develop an algorithm that can beat world class poker players in a game that is termed a symmetric. That game is heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em. This game combines a public state of probability between the hands of each player with the strategy of wit and deception. Previous iterations of algorithms have tried and failed to challenge players at major tournaments. The previous renditions used an abstract set of states to predict the how the entire game will unfold. They do this by condensing the available possible states to a fraction of options. However, the loss of information has set these algorithms to fail. A new algorithm, known as DeepStack, is lauded to have the ability to beat these algorithms and players. It uses a modified version of learning and combines past experience with reason and probabilistic states. In essence, DeepStack is beginning to model a human mind, and its success shows that these techniques can be effective in predicting asymmetric situations outside of games like poker.

Link to Article: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6337/508.full

AI Beats Out Supreme Court Experts

Submitted by eriklee on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 00:45

Researchers designed a new algorithm that predicts Supreme Court decisions with pinpoint accuracy. The algorithm draws from data from the Supreme Court Database, which contains records dating back to 1791. The algorithm compiles information between 1816 and 2015 and analyzes factors such as judges, votes, term, issues, and court circuits. To test the algorithm, it sequentially goes through the years, starting at 1816, and tries to make a prediction based on the previous year’s data. The algorithm was able to predict the results with 70.2% accuracy. Well qualified experts have 66% accuracy. This can be big as court decision predictions can help the plaintiffs chose which courts to appeal, companies can choose how to handle cases, lawyers can determine how to proceed with the case, and appellants in high profile cases can decide whether to pursue the case. The researchers hope to factor in expert and public statistics and opinions to make the predictions more precise.

Link to Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/artificial-intelligence-prevails-predicting-supreme-court-decisions  

EUPA: The Biggest Factory in the World

Submitted by eriklee on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 03:31

 

EUPA, a factory city in China, functions like a well-oiled machine. It combines work life and personal life for more than 17,000 workers. While the company has an extremely impressive scale, workforce, and output, there is an eerie, unnatural feeling about EUPA. The most obvious issue is the bias of the documentary. No serious issues were shown nor did the workers explain day-to-day dangers or issues. Although the documentary made sense as a propaganda piece, the entire philosophy and environment seems to be in stark contrast with any North American factories. As a result, I cannot accept that this is indeed the factory of the world nor is it the factory of the future.

I speculate that a majority of the workers live unsatisfied and are silenced by EUPA. It was reported that workers spend 40 hours a week to make $90-300 USD per month. With simple division, these workers make $0.56-1.88 per hour. Even though food is $0.50 per meal on average, its low price is due to EUPA subsidizing workers meals. There are also living and personal expenses that may put workers at breakeven or negative in income. In addition, the documentary failed to mention any other worker’s compensation such as healthcare, sick time, vacation, etc. It seems that anyone who works there will not be able to save money to move out nor are they able to keep up with expenses. And this type of breech in workers’ rights does not sit well with me. But this style of mass exploitative labor seems normal for China.

What is extremely odd is the combination of work and personal life at EUPA. The workers at EUPA live where they work and all aspects of life from the food on the table to the roof over workers’ heads are provided by EUPA. This amount of control over workers lives should not be in the hands of a company. It will only allow the company to cut costs at the expense of workers. Moreover, I worry about the mental health of workers. Since they live in such close proximity of work, the practice of relaxation or disconnect from the work environment is never present. Even from experience, as a college student living on campus, the stress of classes and school work still affect me being physically on campus. It is only when I return home that I can enter relaxation mode and not worry about school. I feel the workers lack the ability to get away from work and the cumulative effects of stress will weaken their mental and physical health over time.

To be fair, I’m sure some of the products I use at home may have been produced at the EUPA factory. The products I buy for personal use, mostly electronic devices, come from China. And while I appreciate having these devices for personal use, I cannot help but feel guilty about the relation between these products and exploitative labor. Once consumers learn the truth behind how these products are made, they will be more careful about purchases. And nothing hurts companies like EUPA more than declines in sales. 

PP: Virtual Reality to Repair Spinal Injuries

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 04/28/2017 - 12:52

His study involves patients with 3-15 years of being paralyzed by the spinal cord with partial function. He uses a three step system to model the brain signals transmitted when walking or moving around. The first step involves the patient using a virtual reality machine to control the motions of walking with brain waves. The second step puts the patient on a treadmill with mechanical legs, controlled by brain waves. The third step places the patient in an exoskeleton, similar to the one shown in the World Cup to practice walking around. The team has noted that patients have shown signs of partial recovery for the ability to emulate walking. 

Louis Pasteur and Germ Theory

Submitted by eriklee on Thu, 04/27/2017 - 18:34

In 1877, a French biologist named Louis Pasteur discovered a method of vaccination. Pasteur was able to create this vaccination due to Jenner’s works, “he mediated incessantly on the work of Jenner…” (Louis Pasteur). Pasteur was able to recognize that if Jenner could create a vaccination for an incredibly infectious disease, then a vaccine could be found for other diseases. This French biologist is an important scientist because he was able to further investigate and present the germ theory. He learned of this theory after his experiments with chicken and the poultry disease, chicken cholera. Discovering germs, what they were and how they played a role in vaccines and immunization, was crucial to get science to where it was today. With the study of germs, Pasteur was [able to better understand the infectious agent of] rabies and proceed to develop the next immunization for it. And many other vaccinations would have taken longer to come across. [Germ theory: helped scientists understand the “infectious agents of disease” and use the body’s immune system to prepare for the infection.] 

The HOPTER, the next robotic space explorer

Submitted by eriklee on Wed, 04/26/2017 - 01:26

            Landers and rovers sent to mars have several limitations, making traversing the rocky low-gravity environment difficult. Landers have a limited range of travel and rovers have trouble traversing uneven terrain, such as mountains. A new type of vehicle, known as the HOPTER, traverses land by hoping on three legs. It has a low center of gravity, high mobility, robust design, and is capable of hoping up to 4 meters in the air. This allows it to travel across mountains with ease to conduct geological surveys on the surface of Mars.

Link to Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/new-space-robot-would-hop-not-drive-across-other-worlds

Meet your new coworker:

Submitted by eriklee on Mon, 04/24/2017 - 22:52

Baxter is a $25,000 humanoid robot designed by Rethink Robotics. The company’s goal is to design robots that combine human psychology and robotic engineering together. By doing this, the company intends to create smarter robots with the ability to learn from humans and complete repetitively mind-numbing tasks. Baxter is described as a female robot named after female bakers. John Bohannon tested Baxter by instructing her to move objects from a crate to a conveyor belt. To do this, John had to grab the robots hand a transfer an item from the crate to the conveyor belt. Additionally, he had to outline boundaries for the starting and stopping destinations. Baxter is capable of repeating the task after the first demonstration with one drop.

            Beyond completing repetitive tasks, Baxter is programmed to display six emotions ranging from tiredness to surprise. These facial expressions are shown on a monitor displaying digital eyes. The robotic arms and body shift to match the expression. The designers hope to improve safety and improvisation within robots to make them behave like humans. There are several monitors and switches that protect the robot from accidentally or intentionally harming a human nearby.  However, the improvisation has been limited as there needs to be more work on what psychologists call the Theory of Mind. Furthermore, Baxter and many other robots have limited mobility, especially upstairs.

Link to Article: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/346/6206/180.full

PP: Artificial Touch

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 12:12

The task of the two patients of the study describe how electrical stimulation is distinct at varying levels of intensity. The researchers developed a value known as activation change rate (ACR) that represents the “total population spike count in the activated neural population.” It measures the aggregate intensity of the neurons in width and amplification to get a sense of how intense each iteration of electrical stimulation is perceived as. They found that population spikes in nerves correlate with the magnitude of touch. 

Virtual Reality to Repair Spinal Injuries

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 01:29

                In the 2014 World Cup, scientists were able to construct an exoskeleton that allowed a paralyzed individual to kick a soccer ball. Since then, Miguel Nicolelis and his team at Duke University have tried this same methods to restore the connection between the brain and muscles following a spinal cord injury. But instead of bypassing the spinal cord and creating a direct connection between the brain and muscles, Nicolelis’ team has used implanted electrodes or noninvasive EEGs to transmit signals from the brain to a mechanical prosthetic.

            His study involves patients with 3-15 years of being paralyzed by the spinal cord with partial function. He uses a three step system to model the brain signals transmitted when walking or moving around. The first step involves the patient using a virtual reality machine to control the motions of walking with brain waves. The second step puts the patient on a treadmill with mechanical legs, controlled by brain waves. The third step places the patient in an exoskeleton, similar to the one shown in the World Cup to practice walking around. The team has noted that patients have shown signs of partial recovery for the ability to emulate walking.

Link to Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/robo-suit-and-virtual-reality-reverse-some-paralysis-people-spinal-cord-injuries

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