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Messages - vox_mundi

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1
Congress to Halt Military Use of Toxic Foam Contaminating Drinking Water
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-congress-halt-military-toxic-foam.html

Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to place stronger regulations on the chemicals.

The bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, has been the focus of intense negotiations for months. House Democrats saw it as their best chance to force President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to increase its oversight of a class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances—commonly known as PFAS—that have contaminated drinking water sources across the country.

Senate Republicans resisted these measures, wary of forcing chemical companies and the Defense Department to undertake extensive cleanups.

But when hopes of a compromise faded last week, Democrats were left with little choice but to agree to significantly weaker provisions or kill the entire defense spending bill.

The bill that emerged out of a joint House-Senate committee this week had been stripped of measures that would require the EPA to designate the chemicals as "hazardous" and set a nationwide safety standard for PFAS in drinking water.

A proposal requiring contaminated sites across the country to be cleaned up under the Superfund program had also been removed, as had one that would limit how much PFAS chemical manufacturers could dump into water supplies.


... The military would also be barred by 2021 from giving service members ready-to-eat meals packaged in containers treated with PFAS.



------------------------------

Background:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,428.msg189529.html#msg189529

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,428.msg189625.html#msg189625

-------------------------------

... Each Republican Senator & Congressman should be forced to drink a quart of this shit as a token of appreciation on behalf of a grateful nation.

2
Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: Today at 12:48:39 AM »
Congress to Halt Military Use of Toxic Foam Contaminating Drinking Water
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-congress-halt-military-toxic-foam.html

Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to place stronger regulations on the chemicals.

The bill, called the National Defense Authorization Act, has been the focus of intense negotiations for months. House Democrats saw it as their best chance to force President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to increase its oversight of a class of chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances—commonly known as PFAS—that have contaminated drinking water sources across the country.

Senate Republicans resisted these measures, wary of forcing chemical companies and the Defense Department to undertake extensive cleanups.

But when hopes of a compromise faded last week, Democrats were left with little choice but to agree to significantly weaker provisions or kill the entire defense spending bill.

The bill that emerged out of a joint House-Senate committee this week had been stripped of measures that would require the EPA to designate the chemicals as "hazardous" and set a nationwide safety standard for PFAS in drinking water.

A proposal requiring contaminated sites across the country to be cleaned up under the Superfund program had also been removed, as had one that would limit how much PFAS chemical manufacturers could dump into water supplies.


... The military would also be barred by 2021 from giving service members ready-to-eat meals packaged in containers treated with PFAS.



------------------------------

Background:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,428.msg189529.html#msg189529

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,428.msg189625.html#msg189625

-------------------------------

... Each Republican Senator & Congressman should be forced to drink a quart of this shit as a token of appreciation on behalf of a grateful nation.

3
Greenland Ice Losses Rising Faster Than Expected
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-greenland-ice-losses-faster.html

Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than in the 1990s and is tracking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's high-end climate warming scenario, which would see 40 million more people exposed to coastal flooding by 2100.

... The findings, published today in Nature today, show that Greenland has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992—enough to push global sea levels up by 10.6 millimetres. The rate of ice loss has risen from 33 billion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 254 billion tonnes per year in the last decade—a seven-fold increase within three decades.

In 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that global sea levels will rise by 60 centimetres by 2100, putting 360 million people at risk of annual coastal flooding. But this new study shows that Greenland's ice losses are rising faster than expected and are instead tracking the IPCC's high-end climate warming scenario, which predicts 7 centimetres more.



Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2018, Nature (2019)

4
Consequences / Re: Widespread Ocean Anoxia to be Noticeable by 2030
« on: December 10, 2019, 01:15:01 PM »
Dark Carbon May Be Hiding the True Scale of Ocean 'Dead Zones'
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-dark-carbon-true-scale-ocean.html

Dead zones within the world's oceans—where there is almost no oxygen to sustain life—could be expanding far quicker than currently thought, a new study suggests.

...Researchers measured the stable isotopes of organic carbon in sediment cores taken from the floor of the Arabian Sea, one of the world's large natural dead zones, in order to get a clear understanding about what is contributing to the organic matter contained within them.

This value is a mixture of all the distinct signatures from all the organisms that produced this carbon—thought to be mostly algae and bacteria living in the oxygen-rich, light, surface ocean where it sinks from.

However, using a distinct biomarker produced by anaerobic bacteria, they suggest that around one fifth of the organic matter on the seafloor could in fact stem from bacteria living in or around these dead zones.

They in fact believe the dead zones could be expanding much faster than previously thought, and that future calculations must take the bacteria into account in order to accurately predict the full impacts of climate change and human activity on the marine environment.

... Our study shows that organic matter that sinks to the seafloor is not just coming from the sea surface, but includes a major contribution from bacteria that live in the dark ocean and can fix carbon as well. Existing models could be missing out on a key contribution as a result of which people have underestimated the extent of the oxygen depletion we are to expect in a future, warming world.

Sabine K. Lengger et al, Dark carbon fixation in the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone contributes to sedimentary organic carbon (SOM), Global Biogeochemical Cycles (2019)

5
The rest / Re: Unsorted
« on: December 09, 2019, 07:21:18 PM »

6
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 09, 2019, 07:09:55 PM »
Quit Worrying About Killer Robots, They Are Coming Whether You Like It or Not – and They Absolutely Will Not Stop
https://www.theregister.co.uk/AMP/2019/05/15/lethal_ai_weapons/

The use of fully automated AI systems in military battles is inevitable unless there are strict regulations in place from international treaties, eggheads have opined.

Their paper, which popped up on arXiv [PDF] last week, discusses the grim outlook of developing killing machines for armed forces. The idea of keeping humans in the loop has always been favoured because modern AI systems like neural networks are like black boxes, their inner workings are inherently difficult to understand. Plus, you know, we've all seen Terminator.

Having said that, the trio of researchers – who hail from ASRC Federal, a company focused on supporting US federal intelligence and defense agencies, and the University of Maryland in the US – believe lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) could be employed by the military, anyway.

“We explore the implications of increasingly capable AI in the kill chain and how this will lead inevitably to a fully automated, always on system, barring regulation by treaty,” the abstract of the paper – Integrating Artificial Intelligence into Weapon Systems – stated.

... Eventually, the machines will gradually push the humans out of the loop. First, they stand in supervisory roles and finally they’ll end up as “killswitch operators” that monitor these autonomous weapons. Machines can be much faster than humans. The act of killing an enemy is based on reflexes, and if soldiers realise that these types of tools can outperform them, they’ll eventually come to trust and rely on them.

... “It is our strong belief that intelligent weapons systems of the future will move and think at machine speed. This disproportionate capability and the inevitable system trust human operators will place in these machines means that most if not all lethal and sub-lethal interactions will only be analyzable in hindsight,” the paper said.

As these systems advance, the ones that rely less on human supervision will dominate. Instead, humans will be given other roles such as analyzing the behavior of these systems and concentrating on other strategic areas.

DARPA, the US military research arm, for example wants to develop fighter jets that can perform combat maneuvers for dogfighting autonomously. If it succeeds, human pilots will be able to trust their planes to do things dodging enemy fire to keep them safe. As the technology improves, the jets may be able to perform other tasks too like aiming and firing missiles mid air.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1905.03899.pdf



---------------------------

The Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program seeks to create military planes that are capable of performing combat maneuvers for dogfighting without the help of human pilots. Vehicles won’t be completely unmanned, however. DARPA is more interested in forging stronger teamwork between humans and machines.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/09/ai_fighter_planes_darpa/

The end goal is to have autonomous jet controls that can handle tasks like dodging out the way of enemy fire at lightning speeds, while the pilot takes on more difficult problems like executing strategic battle commands and firing off weapons. (... a plane can take 12 G, can the pilot?)

“We envision a future in which AI handles the split-second maneuvering during within-visual-range dogfights, keeping pilots safer and more effective as they orchestrate large numbers of unmanned systems into a web of overwhelming combat effects,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dan Javorsek, ACE program manager.

------------------------------------------


https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/a29610393/robot-soldier-boston-dynamics/

[/parody]  8)

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Air France Hopes to Reduce Delays With Self-Driving Luggage Carts
https://gizmodo.com/air-france-hopes-to-reduce-delays-with-self-driving-lug-1840313455


7
The rest / Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« on: December 09, 2019, 06:43:42 PM »
Documents Reveal Misleading Public Statements on War in Afghanistan
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/09/world/asia/afghanistan-war-documents.html

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable. ...

Thousands of pages of documents detailing the war in Afghanistan released by The Washington Post on Monday paint a stark picture of missteps and failures — and delivered in the words of prominent American officials, many of whom publicly had said the mission was succeeding.

8
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: December 09, 2019, 06:40:43 PM »
Newly Identified Jet-Stream Pattern May Imperil Global Food Supplies
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-large-atmospheric-jet-stream-global.html

Scientists have identified systematic meanders in the globe-circling northern jet stream that have caused simultaneous crop-damaging heat waves in widely separated breadbasket regions-a previously unquantified threat to global food production that, they say, could worsen with global warming. The research shows that certain kinds of waves in the atmospheric circulation can become amplified and then lock in place for extended periods, triggering the concurrent heat waves. Affected parts of North America, Europe and Asia together produce a quarter of the world food supply. The study appears this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.

... Combing through large amounts of climate data from 1979 to 2018, Kornhuber and colleagues zeroed in on two Rossby waves with specific wavelengths, termed wave-5 and wave-7; that is, north-south wobbles in the jet stream that produce either 5 or 7 peaks and corresponding troughs around the planet's circumference. They found that while waves of lower or higher lengths seem to wobble around randomly, wave-5 and wave-7 patterns can lock into a grid of symmetric, often much larger meanders centered over predictable regions. The wave-5 patterns tend to hover over central North America, eastern Europe and eastern Asia; the wave-7 patterns over western-central North America, western Europe and western Asia. In both cases, the results are the same: hot air swirls up from the south into the peaks, producing abnormal spikes in temperature that can go on for weeks. This in turn reduces rainfall, dries up soils and vegetation, and kills crops in each region.

"Normally, low harvests in one region are expected to be balanced out by good harvests elsewhere," said study coauthor Dim Coumou of the Institute for Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam, who has been studying Rossby waves for years. "These waves can cause reduced harvests in several important breadbaskets simultaneously, creating risks for global food production."

Quote
... "We found a 20-fold increase in the risk of simultaneous heat waves in major crop-producing regions when these global-scale wind patterns are in place," ... "Until now, this was an underexplored vulnerability in the food system. During these events there actually is a global structure in the otherwise quite chaotic circulation. The bell can ring in multiple regions at once."


Researchers have identified two wavelengths of meanders in the northern hemisphere jet stream that can cause massive heat waves across several major agricultural regions at once. Here, a wave-7 pattern, which over the past 40 years has hurt crop yields in the red-marked areas of central/west North America, western Europe and western Asia.

The scientists showed that in years when these amplified waves occurred during two or more summer weeks, cereal production went down 4 percent when averaged across all the affected regions, and as much as 11 percent in a single affected region. Food-price spikes often followed. The waves have hit in 1983, 2003, 2006, 2012 and 2018, when many temperature records fell across the United States, Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia. In addition to killing crops, the waves have killed thousands of people, especially in Europe and Russia, where air conditioning is far less common than in North America.

While the study focuses mainly on hot spells in the Rossby waves' northern peaks, it also suggests that opposite extremes can occur in the southerly troughs. A precursor study by Kornhuber and others earlier this year noted that during the 2018 northern heat waves, more southerly regions including the Balkans and Japan saw extraordinary rains and destruction from flooding and landslides. During a 2010 northern heat outbreak in Russia, concurrent flooding on the Indus River in Pakistan displaced millions and destroyed crops.


A wave-5 pattern, which has simultaneously affected crops in central North America, eastern Europe and eastern Asia.

... Many scientists believe that Rossby waves will grow and stall more often as the planet warms. Kornhuber said that this scenario is quite plausible-almost all the global events have occurred since 2000- but that says is not yet enough data to form a consensus on this. Regardless, he said, "even if the frequency or the size of the [Rossby] waves doesn't change, the heat extremes linked to the patterns will become more severe, because the atmosphere as a whole is heating."

Kai Kornhuber, et.al. Amplified Rossby waves enhance risk of concurrent heatwaves in major breadbasket regions , Nature Climate Change (2019).

----------------------------------------------------

Climate Change and the Threat to Global Breadbaskets
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-climate-threat-global-breadbaskets.html

In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, IIASA researcher Franziska Gaupp and colleagues looked at the risk of simultaneous breadbasket failures due to climatic extremes, and how the risk has changed over time. "Climatic connections between global phenomena such as the El Niño Southern Oscilliation (ENSO) and regional climate extremes such as Indian heatwaves, or flood risks around the globe pose a risk to the global food system," notes lead author Gaupp. "Climatic shocks to agricultural production contribute to food price spikes and famine, with the potential to trigger other systemic risks, including political unrest and migration. This analysis can provide the basis for a more efficient allocation of resources to contingency plans and strategic crop reserves that would enhance the resilience of the global food system."

The study looks at climatic and crop yield data for the main agricultural regions within the highest crop producing countries by mass from 1967 to 2012. The analysis shows that there has been a significant increase in the probability of multiple global breadbasket failures for particularly wheat, maize, and soybeans. For soybeans, for example, the implications of crop failure in all major breadbaskets associated with climate risk would be at least 12.55 million tons of crop losses. This exceeds the 7.2 million tons of losses in 1988-1989, one of the largest historical soybean production shocks. ...

Gaupp, F., Hall, J., Hochrainer-Stigler, S. et al. Changing risks of simultaneous global breadbasket failure. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2019)

-------------------------------------

Favorable Environments for Large Hail Increasing Across U.S.
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-favorable-environments-large-hail.html

A group of atmospheric scientists have uncovered an environmental footprint that could help explain why the cost of hailstorm damage is rapidly increasing in the United States.



The scientists, led by Brian Tang at the University at Albany, combined 38 years of weather data—from 1979 to 2017—to determine how many days per year had favorable conditions for large hail, greater than the size of a golf ball, across the U.S.

Consistent increases over the 38-year period were observed east of the Rocky Mountains, including a 10 to 15-day uptick in parts of the Central Plains and Midwest. Most of the Northeast also experienced an increase of about three to eight days. The findings were consistent with increases in reported large hailstones in these regions.

A report in 2018 found that each year since 2008 has produced well over $10 billion in U.S. insured losses from severe thunderstorms. That's more than twice the inflation-adjusted damage rate that was typical in the early 2000s and more than four times the rate seen in the 1980s. Hail makes up the majority of these losses, typically between 50 percent and 80 percent. Total damages from hail, including uninsured losses, most likely are varying between $12 and $20 billion per year.


Trends in annual large hail environment days.

Open Access: Brian H. Tang et al. Trends in United States large hail environments and observations, npj Climate and Atmospheric Science (2019)

9
Consequences / Re: Volcanoes
« on: December 09, 2019, 06:22:13 PM »
Five Dead, Many Missing and ‘No Signs of Life’ After Volcanic Eruption on New Zealand Island
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/12/08/white-island-whakaari-eruption-new-zealand-jacinda-ardern/

At least five people are dead with many others reported missing — and authorities fearing the worst — after a volcano erupted Monday at a popular tourist site in New Zealand.

Several dozen visitors, including some from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, were on or near White Island when it erupted at 2:11 p.m. local time, releasing thick clouds of ash about 12,000 feet into the air. Some 18 people suffered serious burn injuries and were rescued.

Police do not believe there are any survivors among the missing, following what scientists called a “throat-clearing kind of eruption.”

“No signs of life have been seen at any point,” New Zealand Police said in a statement. “Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation. Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”

Deputy Commissioner John Tims said at a news conference that he didn’t know how many are still unaccounted for, estimating that figure to be in the “double digits.”



---------------------------------------

Volcano F is Origin of 'Floating Stones'
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-volcano-stones.html


Stones do not float in water—this is a truism. But there is hardly a rule without exception. In fact, some volcanic eruptions produce a very porous type of rock with a density so low that it does float: Pumice. An unusually large amount of it is currently drifting in the Southwest Pacific towards Australia. When it was first sighted in the waters around the island state of Tonga at the beginning of August, it almost formed a coherent layer on the ocean's surface. The "pumice raft" made it into headlines all over the world.

Various underwater volcanoes were discussed at that time as the potential source. But direct proof for the exact origin of the pumice was missing so far. Researchers at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), together with colleagues from Canada and Australia, are now publishing evidence in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research that clearly identifies the culprit. It is a so far nameless underwater volcano just 50 kilometres northwest of the Tongan island of Vava'u. "In the international scientific literature, it appears so far only under the number 243091 or as Volcano F," says Dr. Philipp Brandl of GEOMAR, first author of the study.

... The team found what they were looking for on of freely accessible satellite images. On an image of the ESA satellite Copernicus Sentinel-2 taken on 6 August 2019, clear traces of an active underwater eruption can be seen on the water surface. Since the images are exactly georeferenced, they could be compared with corresponding bathymetric maps of the seafloor. "The eruption traces fit exactly to Volcano F," says Dr. Brandl.


10
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: December 07, 2019, 10:20:40 PM »
Floor Pavements in Pompeii Illustrate Surveying Technology
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/12/floor-pavements-in-pompeii-illustrate-surveying-technology/



Decorative pavements in the floor of a recently unearthed Roman house in Pompeii offer a glimpse into the life and work of an ancient land surveyor. The pavements depict a stylized drawing of an ancient surveyor’s tool called a groma, along with a diagram of a surveying technique and the plan of a construction project in Pompeii. So far, they’re the only original Roman illustrations of the tools and techniques the Romans used to help build an empire and its infrastructure.

Only a few metal fragments of a Roman groma exist today (also recovered from Pompeii), and archaeologists have found only a few images carved into surveyors’ tombstones. Otherwise, we know the tool only from descriptions in medieval versions of ancient Roman surveying manuals.

The newly unearthed pavements at Pompeii suggest that those medieval copies were pretty close to the original ancient texts. An image on the floor of the entrance hall is nearly identical to illustrations in medieval copies of Roman texts, attributed to Roman surveyor Hygius and famed architect Vitruvius.

... For some reason, Hygius and Vitrivius didn’t include illustrations of a groma in their texts, so modern scholars have to rely on their descriptions and on fragments of a real groma found at Pompeii. The instrument consisted of a set of crossed arms balanced at the end of a horizontal pole so they could spin freely around the center. Four weighted plumb lines hung from the ends of the arms. A Roman land surveyor would line up two of the plumb lines on a distant point and then use the four arms of the groma to calculate an angle in relation to that line.

That seems to be what’s depicted in the pavement: a cross in a circle, at the top of a long straight line. ...

11
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 07, 2019, 07:03:08 PM »


From fears about work and privacy to a rivalry between the U.S. and China, FRONTLINE explores the promise and perils of AI. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.

12
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 07, 2019, 06:54:51 PM »
Remember; the X-Files was a documentary ...

------------

Israeli Researchers Manipulate Memories in Mice, Say Could Apply to Humans
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-researchers-manipulate-memories-in-mice-say-could-apply-to-humans-610174

A team of Israeli researchers have succeeded in implanting emotions in mice that were never experienced.

"We were able, for the first time, to cause mice to assign a negative value to an event that never took place, and accordingly, to remember a feeling that was not experienced in reality," said University of Haifa PhD student Haneed Kayyal, who led the study with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Adonis Yiannaks.

Specifically, in a three-part study, the scientists identified a neural pathway in the brain that determines whether a particular taste will have a positive or negative emotional value (impacting future consumption), and to use these neurons to erase or transplant memories that were never experienced in reality.

Since these neural pathways are highly similar across mammals, including mice and humans, the researchers believe the study will be applicable in people, too.



---------------------------------

Soft Neural Implant Allows Scientists to Manipulate Brain Cells via Smartphone
https://www.dezeen.com/2019/11/22/brain-neural-implant-smartphone/

...For neuroscience researchers, the main advantage of the new wireless implant is ease of use. The inventors describe its replaceable drug cartridges as "Lego-like" and "plug-and-play", while set-up happens over an "elegant, simple" smartphone interface.

----------------------------------

... and because it's the Holiday season



Helping New York celebrate the festive season, twelve ABB robots are interacting with visitors to Bloomingdale’s iconic holiday celebration at their 59th Street flagship store. ABB’s robots are the main attraction in three of Bloomingdale’s twelve-holiday window displays at Lexington and Third Avenue, as ABB demonstrates the potential for its robotics and automation technology to revolutionize visual merchandising and make the retail experience more dynamic and whimsical. (... aww ... just like grandma used to do  ;) )


13
The rest / Re: US intervention in foreign lands
« on: December 07, 2019, 06:41:32 PM »
Six Saudis Said Questioned After Pensacola Navy Base Shooting
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/us/pensacola-florida-navy-shooting.html

A member of the Saudi Air Force armed with a handgun fatally shot three people and injured eight others on Friday morning during a bloody rampage in a classroom building at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., where he was training to become a pilot.

... Six other Saudi nationals were detained for questioning near the scene of the shooting, including three who were seen filming the entire incident, according to a person briefed on the initial stages of the investigation. A group that monitors online jihadist activity said that shortly before the shooting, a Twitter account with a name matching the gunman’s posted  a “will” calling the United States a “nation of evil” and criticizing its support for Israel.

---------------------------------

Pentagon Moves Forward with Saudi Defense Mission
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/pentagon-moves-forward-with-saudi-defense-mission/2019/11/27/e1a36444-112a-11ea-b0fc-62cc38411ebb_story.html

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The United States is negotiating cost-sharing terms with Saudi Arabia for an expanding military mission aimed at ensuring the kingdom is protected from attacks on critical oil infrastructure, officials said.

Trump authorized a boost to the relatively light U.S. footprint in Saudi Arabia, from an advisory mission that stood around 800 to a force of about 3,000, following the Sept. 14 assault on Saudi oil facilities

----------------------------------

Trump Mulls Sending Additional 14,000 Troops to Middle East
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-considers-14-000-more-troops-for-mideast-11575494228

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East to counter Iran, including dozens more ships, other military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops, U.S. officials said.

-----------------------------------

Pentagon Officials Struggle to Explain Plans for Middle East Deployments
https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/05/american-troops-middle-east-iran-076369


14
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 06, 2019, 10:26:50 PM »
Japanese Researchers Teaching Robots to Repair Themselves
https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/japanese-researchers-teaching-robots-to-repair-themselves



At Humanoids 2019 in Toronto, researchers from the University of Tokyo showed how they taught a PR2 to perform simple repairs on itself by tightening its own screws. And using that skill, the robot was also able to augment itself, adding accessories like hooks to help it carry more stuff. Clever robot!

It can also check its screws autonomously from time to time, or rely on a human physically pointing out that it has a screw loose, using the human’s finger location to identify which screw it is. Another challenge is that most robots, like most humans, are limited in the areas on themselves that they can comfortably reach. So to tighten up everything, they might have to find themselves a robot friend to help.

The other neat trick that a robot can do once it can tighten screws on its own body is to add new bits of hardware to itself. PR2 was thoughtfully designed with mounting points on its shoulders (or maybe technically its neck) and head, and it turns out that it can reach these points with its manipulators, allowing to modify itself.


15
Research Reveals Past Rapid Antarctic Ice Loss Due to Ocean Warming
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-reveals-rapid-antarctic-ice-loss.html

New research from the University of Otago has found the sensitive West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during a warming period just over a million years ago when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were lower than today.

Using biomarkers to reconstruct past ocean temperatures, and through ice sheet computer models, the study published in Quaternary Science Reviews shows that the accepted maximum global warming of 1.5°C under the Paris Agreement could lead to a runaway retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The study found that one million years ago in the ocean surrounding Antarctica, the summer ocean temperature was on average 5°C (±1.2°C) warmer than today.

"Using the data, the ice sheet simulation indicates a complete collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with additional melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet resulting in sustained global sea-level rise of centimetre to decimetres per decade."

The study proposes a two-step model for West Antarctic ice loss which initially involves mild ocean warming forcing ice margin retreat, followed by a rapid warming primarily driven by the extensively modified oceanic and hydrologic system following further ice sheet retreat.



Beltran Catherine et al. Southern Ocean temperature records and ice-sheet models demonstrate rapid Antarctic ice sheet retreat under low atmospheric CO2 during Marine Isotope Stage 31, Quaternary Science Reviews (2019)

Highlights

• Quantification of the Southern Ocean warming during MIS31 using molecular temperature reconstructions at high latitudes.

• Sustained surface Southern Ocean warming & collapse of the sub-Antarctic ocean fronts under low atmospheric CO2 conditions.

• Use of sea surface temperature data to test scenarios for the AIS retreat using coupled ice-sheet/ice-shelf model.

• Two steps WAIS retreat: 1) mild ocean warming forcing ice margin retreat 2) rapid ocean warming as the ice sheet retreats.

We show that the Paris Agreement target temperature of 1.5°C is sufficient to drive runaway retreat of the WAIS.

16
Antarctica / Re: What's new in Antarctica ?
« on: December 06, 2019, 06:21:43 PM »
Research Reveals Past Rapid Antarctic Ice Loss Due to Ocean Warming
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-reveals-rapid-antarctic-ice-loss.html

New research from the University of Otago has found the sensitive West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed during a warming period just over a million years ago when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were lower than today.

Using biomarkers to reconstruct past ocean temperatures, and through ice sheet computer models, the study published in Quaternary Science Reviews shows that the accepted maximum global warming of 1.5°C under the Paris Agreement could lead to a runaway retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The study found that one million years ago in the ocean surrounding Antarctica, the summer ocean temperature was on average 5°C (±1.2°C) warmer than today.

"Using the data, the ice sheet simulation indicates a complete collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with additional melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet resulting in sustained global sea-level rise of centimetre to decimetres per decade."

The study proposes a two-step model for West Antarctic ice loss which initially involves mild ocean warming forcing ice margin retreat, followed by a rapid warming primarily driven by the extensively modified oceanic and hydrologic system following further ice sheet retreat.



Beltran Catherine et al. Southern Ocean temperature records and ice-sheet models demonstrate rapid Antarctic ice sheet retreat under low atmospheric CO2 during Marine Isotope Stage 31, Quaternary Science Reviews (2019)

Highlights

• Quantification of the Southern Ocean warming during MIS31 using molecular temperature reconstructions at high latitudes.

• Sustained surface Southern Ocean warming & collapse of the sub-Antarctic ocean fronts under low atmospheric CO2 conditions.

• Use of sea surface temperature data to test scenarios for the AIS retreat using coupled ice-sheet/ice-shelf model.

• Two steps WAIS retreat: 1) mild ocean warming forcing ice margin retreat 2) rapid ocean warming as the ice sheet retreats.

We show that the Paris Agreement target temperature of 1.5°C is sufficient to drive runaway retreat of the WAIS.

17
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 06, 2019, 06:04:43 PM »
Accel Robotics Gets $30 Million Investment for AI-Enabled Cashierless Stores
https://techxplore.com/news/2019-12-startup-cashierless-storesand-30m.html

A technology startup in San Diego has just raised $30 million from investors to continue building out its software for cashier-less, "grab-and-go" stores. The model, popularized by Amazon Go, allows shoppers to simply walk into a store, grab items from the shelves, and walk out—with the receipt sent directly to their mobile device.

The startup, Accel Robotics, is developing computer vision software—along with cameras, sensors and store equipment—to make this concept work. In fact, the startup can build out an entire modular store for its customers, preloaded with the computer brains to enable a "checkout-free" experience.

Accel has a lot of competition in the world of grab-and-go retail tech. Technology titan Amazon recently announced big ambitions for the cashier-less store model, with plans to expand to larger formats and license the technology out to other retailers. Plus, Amazon is joined by a slew of technology startups looking to create cashier-less checkout systems, including Trigo, Grabango and Standard Cognition.

---------------------------

AI-Enabled Assistant Robot Returning to the Space Station with Improved Emotional Intelligence
https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/05/ai-enabled-assistant-robot-will-return-to-the-space-station-with-improved-emotional-intelligence/

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (or CIMON, for short) recorded a number of firsts on its initial mission to the International Space Station, which took place last November, including becoming the first-ever autonomous free-floating robot to operate aboard the station, and the first-ever smart astronaut assistant. But CIMON is much more than an Alexa for space, and CIMON-2, which launched aboard today’s SpaceX ISS resupply mission, will demonstrate a number of ways the astronaut support robot can help those working in space — from both a practical and an emotional angle.

... So for example, on the artificial intelligence side, we have something called emotional intelligence, based on our IBM Watson Tone Analyzer, with we’re trying to understand and analyze the emotions during a conversation between CIMON and the astronauts to see how they’re feeling — if they’re feeling joyful, if something makes them angry, and so on.”

That, Biniok says, could help evolve CIMON into a robotic countermeasure for something called “groupthink,” a phenomenon wherein a group of people who work closely together gradually have all their opinions migrate toward consensus or similarity. A CIMON with proper emotional intelligence could detect when this might be occurring, and react by either providing an objective, neutral view — or even potentially taking on a contrarian or “Devil’s advocate” perspective, Biniok says.



--------------------------------

Facebook Taught an AI the 'Theory of Mind'
https://www.engadget.com/2019/12/06/facebook-taught-an-ai-the-theory-of-mind/

When it comes to competitive games, AI systems have already shown they can easily mop the floor with the best humanity has to offer. But life in the real world isn't a zero sum game like poker or Starcraft and we need AI to work with us, not against us. That's why a research team from Facebook taught an AI how to play the cooperative card game Hanabi (the Japanese word for fireworks), to gain a better understanding of how humans think.

Specifically, the Facebook team set out to instill upon its AI system the theory of mind. "Theory of mind is this idea of understanding the beliefs and intentions of other agents or other players or humans," Noam Brown, a researcher at Facebook AI, told Engadget. "It's something that humans developed from a very early age. But one AIs have struggled with for a very long time."

"It's trying to put itself in the shoes of the other players and ask why are they taking these actions," Brown continued, "and being able to infer something about the state of the world that it can't directly observe."

"What we're looking at is artificial agents that can reason better about cooperative interactions with humans and chatbots that can reason about why the person they're chatting with said the thing they did," ... "Chatbots that can reason better about why people say the things they do without having to enumerate every detail of what they're asking for is a very straightforward application of this type of search technique."

“One of the really exciting things about this is that the improvement we’re observing is really orthogonal to the improvements that are being observed with deep reinforcement learning: You can add this on top of any strategy, and it will make it much stronger,” Brown said



--------------------------



---------------------------

Intel’s Neuromorphic Loihi Processor Scales to 8M Neurons, 64 Cores
https://www.extremetech.com/computing/295043-intels-neuromorphic-loihi-processor-scales-to-8m-neurons-64-cores

Intel has announced a significant advance for its neuromorphic research processor, codenamed Loihi. The company has now scaled up its Loihi implementation to the 64-processor level, allowing it to create a system with more than 8M neurons (8.3M). This new configuration (codenamed Pohoiki Beach) delivers 1,000x better performance than conventional CPUs

... Neuromorphic computing is a subset of computing that attempts to mimic the brain’s architecture using modern technological analogues. Instead of implementing a typical CPU clock, for example. Loihi is based on a spiking neural network architecture. The basic Loihi processor contains 128 neuromorphic cores, three Lakefield (Intel Quark) CPU cores, and an off-chip communication network. In theory, Loihi can scale all the way up to 4,096 on-chip cores and 16,384 chips.


18
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 06, 2019, 05:57:22 PM »
AI Judges and Verdicts Via Chat App: Brave New World of China's Digital Courts
https://techxplore.com/news/2019-12-ai-verdicts-chat-app-brave.html

China is encouraging digitisation to streamline case-handling within its sprawling court system using cyberspace and technologies like blockchain and cloud computing, China's Supreme People's Court said in a policy paper.

The efforts include a "mobile court" offered on popular social media platform WeChat that has already handled more than three million legal cases or other judicial procedures since its launch in March, according to the Supreme People's Court.

In a demonstration, authorities showed how the Hangzhou Internet Court operates, featuring an online interface with litigants appearing by video chat as an AI judge—complete with on-screen avatar—prompts them to present their cases.

"Does the defendant have any objection to the nature of the judicial blockchain evidence submitted by the plaintiff?" the black-robed virtual judge sitting under China's national emblem asked in a pre-trial meeting.

"No objection," a human plaintiff answered.



Since the Hangzhou court's establishment, China has set up similar chambers in Beijing and the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.

Together, they have accepted a total of 118,764 cases, and concluded 88,401, the Supreme People's Court said.

19
Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: December 06, 2019, 05:37:35 PM »
Study Finds BPA Levels in Humans Dramatically Underestimated
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-12-bpa-humans-underestimated.html

Researchers have developed a more accurate method of measuring bispehnol A (BPA) levels in humans and found that exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical is far higher than previously assumed.

The study, published in the journal the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Dec. 5, provides the first evidence that the measurements relied upon by regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are flawed, underestimating exposure levels by as much as 44 times.

... BPA can be found in a wide range of plastics, including food and drink containers, and animal studies have shown that it can interfere with the body's hormones. In particular, fetal exposure to BPA has been linked to problems with growth, metabolism, behavior, fertility and even greater cancer risk.

Despite this experimental evidence, the FDA has evaluated data from studies measuring BPA in human urine and determined that human exposure to the chemical is at very low, and therefore, safe levels. This paper challenges that assumption and raises questions about other chemicals, including BPA replacements, that are also assessed using indirect methods.

Open Access: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(19)30381-X/fulltext

20
Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: December 05, 2019, 10:39:48 PM »
California Bans Insurers from Dropping Policies in Fire-Ravaged Areas
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-05/california-bans-insurers-from-pulling-policies-in-fire-ravaged-areas?_amp=true

State regulators on Thursday pulled the emergency brake on insurers fleeing California’s fire zones.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced a one-year moratorium banning insurers from not renewing policies for homeowners in wildfire-ravaged areas of the state.

“I have heard the same story again and again. People getting dropped by their insurance after decades,” Lara said. “To add insult to injury, many struggle to find coverage.”

... A California Department of Insurance report last year found that the number of homeowners in the wildland-urban interface who complained about getting dropped by their plans more than tripled from 2010 to 2016. Complaints about increased premiums rose 217%.

The state estimates that more than 1 million California homes are considered at high risk for wildfires.

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-wildfire-homeowners-insurance-20180830-story.html

21
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: December 03, 2019, 05:08:17 PM »
Australia's Threatened Birds Declined 59% Over the Past 30 Years
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-australia-threatened-birds-declined-years.html



Australia's threatened birds declined by nearly 60% on average over 30 years, according to new research that reveals the true impact on native wildlife of habitat loss, introduced pests, and other human-caused pressures.

Alarmingly, migratory shorebirds have declined by 72%. Many of these species inhabit mudflats and coasts on their migration from Siberia, Alaska or China each year.

These concerning figures are revealed in the world-first Threatened Bird Index. The index, now updated with its second year of data, combines over 400,000 surveys at more than 17,000 locations.



Jeremy S. Simmonds et al. A composite measure of habitat loss for entire assemblages of species, Conservation Biology (2019)

22
The rest / Re: Economic Inequality
« on: December 03, 2019, 05:01:24 PM »
England: Atlas of Inequality Challenges Assumptions of Rich and Poor Areas
https://phys.org/news/2019-12-atlas-inequality-assumptions-rich-poor.html

The English Atlas of Inequality, developed by Professor Alasdair Rae and Dr. Elvis Nyanzu from the University of Sheffield's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, maps 149 commuting zones—known as Travel To Work Areas (TTWAs)—across England, showing levels of inequality within the areas.

Researchers used the most commonly used inequality measure, the "Gini coefficient," which looks at income distribution, alongside the "20:20 Index," a measure of economic imbalance within areas and also "Moran's I' which measures geographic clustering of different income groups.

The results of their work highlight the risks of using one single measure to understand the issue of inequality in England. So to complete the atlas, the researchers also measured inequality within all local authority districts and parliamentary constituencies.

Professor Alasdair Rae, said: "When we look at the income distribution in Sheffield, the city is less unequal than some other major English cities, such as London or Cambridge. However, when we look at Sheffield's neighborhoods, 81 feature as being among the least deprived 20 percent in England on income, whereas 116 neighborhoods feature among England's most deprived 20 percent.

When using the Gini coefficient to measure inequality, researchers found that some of England's most deprived coastal communities such as Skegness, Sunderland and Bridlington wouldn't be seen as a priority; as despite being among the poorest local economies, they are some of the most equal within their own boundaries.

Professor Alasdair Rae, said: "Our atlas highlights the fact that no one measure of inequality paints the full picture and that methodological diversity is needed before we start to think of solutions to inequality at a local, sub-national and national level.

http://ajrae.staff.shef.ac.uk/atlasofinequality/

23
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: December 02, 2019, 10:51:23 PM »
A French Fry Shortage Coming After Weak Potato Harvest
https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2019/12/02/a-french-fry-shortage-could-be-coming-after-weak-potato-harvest.html

Cold temperatures and the impact of Hurricane Dorian damage potato crops in the U.S. and Canada.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is estimating that domestic potato output will drop 6.1% this year.

The United Potato Growers of Canada forecasts that about 18% of Manitoba's planted area was left unharvested, according to Bloomberg.

24
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 02, 2019, 10:41:46 PM »
Quote
Synergy
Good philosophy. See good in bad. I like.

Mr. Kim - Fifth Element


------------------------
Quote
Which is first to arrive? ...


It's a horse race.

25
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: December 02, 2019, 06:21:11 PM »
Three Teams Selected to Design Project Blackjack’s Brains
https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2019/11/21/three-teams-selected-to-design-project-blackjacks-brains/

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected three teams to design Pit Boss, a system that can take data from satellites in low earth orbit, process that information in space and disseminate that information to users on Earth without any human input or instructions.

Pit Boss is an autonomous mission management system that DARPA is building for another of its casino-themed initiatives, Project Blackjack. That program aims to demonstrate the value of a large proliferated constellation of low earth orbit satellites for a variety of military uses. Pit Boss aims to use an advanced architecture, processors, and encryption to autonomously collect and process data from the entire Blackjack constellation. It is also envisioned to be able to incorporate future advanced algorithms, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Pit Boss connects the brains of each Blackjack satellite, making it one exceptionally smart, networked system,” said Raytheon Space Systems Director Mike Rokaw in a statement Nov. 19. “Rather than sending data down to a ground station for processing, which takes time we don’t have, Pit Boss will send data from space straight to the right operator at the right time.”

“Self-knowing satellites are the next step in autonomous space-based mission planning,” he said. “And, this isn’t limited to missile warning and defense. Future constellation management systems will migrate to this type of methodology.”



---------------------------

DARPA Seeks to Improve AI at the Military Edge with 'Hyper-Dimensional Data Enabled Neural Networks'
https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/news/darpas-hyper-dimensional-data-enabled-neural-network-proposal-seeks-improve-ai-military-edge/

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking to fund research into shallow neural network architectures that could run accurately on low-powered Edge systems.

Hyper-Dimensional Data Enabled Neural Networks (HyDDENN) would be able to provide similar results compared to existing state-of-the-art (SOA) Deep Neural Networks (DNN) running in hyperscale data centers, but without the latency and large computational requirements.

26
The U.S. Army Versus a Warming Planet: The Strange Case of the Disappearing Report
https://www.redanalysis.org/2019/11/12/us-army-versus-warming-planet/

In August 2019, the Centre for Climate and Security published an article about a recent publication by the U.S Army War College. The document, entitled “Implications of Climate change for the U.S Army”, however, cannot be found anymore on the “publications” page of the U.S Army War College.

The version posted by the Centre for Climate and Security has neither foreword, nor commissioning letter, nor date of publication. However, according to the CCS, it would have been “commissioned by then-Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley (who is now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)”.

Despite the atypical character of its appearance, this report is quite interesting, in as much as it is written by military staff and researchers, based on a dense corpus of research papers published by civil as well as by national security organizations since 2003, and for the Chief of Staff. A such, it opens a window on a way the U.S military thinks about climate change.

In the very words of its authors,

Quote
“ … , if climate change is occurring and we choose to do nothing, we invite catastrophe, though we cannot know just how bad this payoff would be … Prudent risk management therefore suggests that we should work to avoid the catastrophic outcome and prepare for and mitigate climate change. Based on this argument, this report accepts as a core assumption the reality of climate change and climate-change related global warming, and therefore focuses on what the Army should do to prepare itself”.

Report: https://climateandsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/implications-of-climate-change-for-us-army_army-war-college_2019.pdf

27
Consequences / Re: Places becoming less livable
« on: December 02, 2019, 04:25:15 PM »



28
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: November 30, 2019, 03:32:15 AM »
18,000-Year-Old Puppy Found Frozen and Almost Perfectly Preserved in Permafrost
https://gizmodo.com/found-frozen-and-almost-perfectly-preserved-in-permafro-1840093915

Researchers are trying to determine whether an 18,000-year-old puppy found in Siberia is a dog or a wolf.

The frozen puppy, found near Yakutsk in eastern Siberia, was just two months old when it died, reports CNN. Scientists from the Centre for Palaeogenetics—a joint project between Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History—used radiocarbon dating on its rib bone to place its brief time on Earth to 18,000 years ago, during the tail end of the last Ice Age.

As to which species this animal belonged is now an intriguing question, as the DNA analysis was inconclusive. The little critter doesn’t seem to fit the genetic profile of a dog or a wolf, and it quite possibly represents an intermediary stage during the domestication of dogs.

The origin of dogs is still not completely clear, hence the importance of the new discovery. The first domesticated dogs emerged in Asia around 14,000 to 16,000 years ago, but genetic evidence suggests the divergence date between dogs and ancient wolves happened at some point between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. To complicate matters, dogs may have been domesticated twice, once in Asia and once in Europe.

That the newly discovered puppy is some kind of evolutionary missing link is wholly plausible, as the timing appears to be right. But more evidence is needed.

29
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: November 29, 2019, 07:42:01 PM »
Global Warming and Possible Simultaneous Impact on Agriculture and Marine Fisheries
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-simultaneous-impact-global-agriculture-marine.html


Dimensions of agriculture and marine fisheries vulnerability to climate change

... Researchers have sought to demonstrate what will happen to our two main sources of food—agriculture and fisheries—when looked at simultaneously. They note that other studies have looked at the impact of climate change on both sources, but until now, none of them have looked at what will happen to food availability when both are impacted at the same time.


Vulnerability of agriculture and marine fisheries as a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change.

... The researchers report that the model showed that the worst-case scenario was rather dire—90 percent of the global population will be living in an area where production from agriculture and fisheries is falling by the end of this century. More specifically, the model showed a 25 percent reduction in average global productivity in the agriculture sector. For fisheries, the model showed declines of up to 60 percent. The researchers note that the model also showed different outcomes based on possible global warming mitigation efforts. They also noted that poorer countries will on average be more strongly impacted than richer, more advanced countries.

Open Access: Lauric Thiault et al. Escaping the perfect storm of simultaneous climate change impacts on agriculture and marine fisheries, Science Advances (2019)

30
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 28, 2019, 06:04:22 PM »
^ +1

Papers please ...

Your Next Car Will Be Watching You More Than It's Watching the Road
https://gizmodo.com/your-next-car-will-be-watching-you-more-than-its-watchi-1840055386/amp

... Chooch is developing a facial recognition system to detect the rightful owners of cars. When someone is renting a car, they hold up their passport and show their face to the car’s camera. The car’s built-in AI then uses facial recognition to identify them and make sure the right person is sitting behind the steering wheel. (... what's it do if you don't have a passport; lock the doors and gas you? )

(... they might want to rethink the company name; see https://definedictionarymeaning.com/topic/42682/chooch )

31
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 28, 2019, 02:08:28 AM »
Former Go Champion Beaten By DeepMind Retires Because AI 'Cannot Be Defeated'
https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/technology-50573071
https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2019/11/27/20985260/ai-go-alphago-lee-se-dol-retired-deepmind-defeat

The South Korean Go champion Lee Se-dol has retired from professional play, telling Yonhap news agency that his decision was motivated by the ascendancy of AI.

“With the debut of AI in Go games, I’ve realized that I’m not at the top even if I become the number one through frantic efforts,” Lee told Yonhap. ..“Even if I become the number one, there is an entity that cannot be defeated.”

... Since the tournament DeepMind has only improved its AI Go systems. In 2017, it created AlphaGo Zero, a version of the program which surpassed even AlphaGo.


32
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: November 27, 2019, 09:32:14 PM »
Inbreeding and Population/Demographic Shifts May Have Led to Neanderthal Extinction
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-inbreeding-populationdemographic-shifts-neanderthal-extinction.html

Small populations, inbreeding, and random demographic fluctuations could have been enough to cause Neanderthal extinction, according to a study published November 27, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE

Using data from extant hunter-gatherer populations as parameters, the authors developed population models for simulated Neanderthal populations of various initial sizes (50, 100, 500, 1,000, or 5,000 individuals). They then simulated for their model populations the effects of inbreeding, Allee effects (where reduced population size negatively impacts individuals' fitness), and annual random demographic fluctuations in births, deaths, and the sex ratio, to see if these factors could bring about an extinction event over a 10,000-year period.

The population models show that inbreeding alone was unlikely to have led to extinction (this only occurred in the smallest model population). However, reproduction-related Allee effects where 25 percent or fewer Neanderthal females gave birth within a given year (as is common in extant hunter-gatherers) could have caused extinction in populations of up to 1,000 individuals. In conjunction with demographic fluctuations, Allee effects plus inbreeding could have caused extinction across all population sizes modelled within the 10,000 years allotted.

Vaesen K, Scherjon F, Hemerik L, Verpoorte A (2019) Inbreeding, Allee effects and stochasticity might be sufficient to account for Neanderthal extinction. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0225117

33
Policy and solutions / Re: UN Climate Agreement - Paris 2015 and beyond
« on: November 27, 2019, 08:06:03 PM »
Nine Climate Tipping Points Now 'Active,' Warn Scientists
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-climate-scientists.html

"A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated," said lead author Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.



This threatens the loss of the Amazon rainforest and the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, which are currently undergoing measurable and unprecedented changes much earlier than expected.

This "cascade" of changes sparked by global warming could threaten the existence of human civilisations.

Evidence is mounting that these events are more likely and more interconnected than was previously thought, leading to a possible domino effect.


... we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.

"This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.

"The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response."



Exiting the fossil fuel economy is unlikely before 2050, but with temperature already at 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperature, it is likely Earth will cross the 1.5°C guardrail by 2040. The authors conclude this alone defines an emergency.

Quote
... "The situation is an emergency if both risk and urgency are high. If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left (τ / T > 1), we have lost control."

Open Access: Timothy M. Lenton, et.al. Comment: Climate tipping points—too risky to bet against, Nature (2019)

34
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: November 27, 2019, 08:02:52 PM »
Nine Climate Tipping Points Now 'Active,' Warn Scientists
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-climate-scientists.html

"A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated," said lead author Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.



This threatens the loss of the Amazon rainforest and the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, which are currently undergoing measurable and unprecedented changes much earlier than expected.

This "cascade" of changes sparked by global warming could threaten the existence of human civilisations.

Evidence is mounting that these events are more likely and more interconnected than was previously thought, leading to a possible domino effect.


... we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.

"This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.

"The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response."



Exiting the fossil fuel economy is unlikely before 2050, but with temperature already at 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperature, it is likely Earth will cross the 1.5°C guardrail by 2040. The authors conclude this alone defines an emergency.

Quote
... "The situation is an emergency if both risk and urgency are high. If reaction time is longer than the intervention time left (τ / T > 1), we have lost control."

Open Access: Timothy M. Lenton, et.al. Comment: Climate tipping points—too risky to bet against, Nature (2019)

35
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 27, 2019, 07:30:50 PM »
FedEx sends a Special Delivery package to Mayor de Blasio ...  ;)


36
Science / Re: Trump Administration Assaults on Science and the Environment
« on: November 26, 2019, 10:45:51 PM »
Six Scientific Journals Denounce Trump Environmental Reform
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-scientific-journals-denounce-trump-environmental.html

The editors-in-chief of six major scientific review journals on Tuesday denounced a pending US regulation that would limit the scientific process for developing environmental and public health policies.

... The rule would require EPA rule-makers to use only studies based on public data, in the name of transparency.

Such a requirement would make it impossible, for example, to use the countless studies that were based on individuals' medical data.

This type of analysis—showing the effects of air pollution on quality of life—is the foundation of a large number of environmental regulations.

The EPA also intends to make the transparency rule retroactive, according to The New York Times, which could call into question decades of regulations on air quality, water mercury levels or lead levels in paint.

"As leaders of peer-reviewed journals, we support open sharing of research data, but we also recognize the validity of scientific studies that, for confidentiality reasons, cannot indiscriminately share absolutely all data," wrote the editors-in-chief of Science, Nature, PLOS, PNAS, Cell Press and The Lancet.

37
The rest / Re: The Trump Presidency
« on: November 26, 2019, 10:40:35 PM »
Other colloquialisms appropriate to the occasion ...

Dumber than dirt

As fucked-up as a football bat

38
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 26, 2019, 10:13:49 PM »
 8) :o :)
Can one be purchased and modified "in house"?
Lease, no purchase. I'm sure you can mount a Picatinny rail to it.

The Picatinny rail, or Pic rail for short, also known as a MIL-STD-1913 rail or STANAG 2324 rail, is a military standard rail interface system that provides a mounting platform for firearm accessories.

Quote
Are "Caution Attack Robot" signs required - in all jurisdictions?
That would clash with it's stealth matte black finish.

Quote
How many can be deployed in an autonomous Cyber-naught Urban Attack/Delivery Vehicle?
They always hunt in packs. What one sees, they all see. It makes it easier to triangulate a target.

Watch DARPA Test Out a Swarm of Drones
https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2019/8/9/20799148/darpa-drones-robots-swarm-military-test

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is experimenting with using a swarm of autonomous drones and ground robots to assist with military missions. In a video of a recent test, DARPA showed how its robots analyzed two city blocks to find, surround, and secure a mock city building.



It envisions using 250 drones and robots at once. ... Yikes!!!

Quote
Will an urban drug dealer be able to afford one, or are they reserved for the oligarchy?
Elite only. Others need not apply. ( ... unless they pay cash)

Quote
How many would be required to protect a dealer on his rounds?
That's what drones are for.

Quote
Are lethal and non-lethal models available?
You can only charge a human with murder. Anything else is an industrial accident.

Quote
Are they legal even where pitbulls are banned?
Ya sure; you betcha.

Quote
Are saddles available?
Standard, dressage, or side?

Quote
Can they be put in harness?
Are you plowing the north 40?

Quote
Is Amazon's search for an autonomous delivery robot over?
It needs 2 'hands' to hold a package.

That's what it's big brother 'Handler' is for ...



Quote
Seriously, where were the compliance officials when someone presented the patents for those! Bradbury's tales were meant to be cautionary, not instructive.
As the hologram said in the movie, "I Robot" - "That is the right question."

39
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: November 26, 2019, 08:16:55 PM »
Losing Nemo: Clownfish 'Cannot Adapt to Climate Change'
https://phys.org/news/2019-11-nemo-clownfish-climate.html

... "The reproductive success of a population is what guarantees (its ability) to adapt," CNRS researcher Benoit Poujol told AFP.

And clownfish have a "very particular" reproductive cycle, dependent on a stable, benign environment.

Each anemone is home to one female fish, a sexually active male and several other males who are not sexually active.

"When the female dies, the male becomes female and the largest of the non-sexually active males became sexually active," Poujol said.

"The clownfish does not have the genetic variation which will allow it to modify its reproduction (method) if there are environmental constraints."



... Under 2C of warming coral, and the vital ecosystems it supports, would be virtually wiped out.

40
The rest / Re: Archaeology/Paleontology news
« on: November 26, 2019, 03:51:19 PM »
Archaeologists Fear Bolsonaro Agenda Will Kill Amazon Civilisation Research
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/26/brazil-amazon-archaeologists-bolsonaro-civilisation

Brazil’s president has cut science funding while opening the region to loggers, miners and farmers – putting priceless evidence of ancient cultures at risk.

... Recent findings are radically changing our understanding of the region’s prehistory. New evidence suggests that pre-Columbian Amazonian civilisations were comparable in scale and complexity to better-known Andean and Mesoamerican cultures. They had populations numbering in the millions, living in interconnected, fortified villages.
They left rock art, vast ceremonial earthworks, sprawling irrigation channels and causeways, but any stone buildings, described in fanciful accounts by conquistadors, have not survived. Perhaps even more intriguingly, a growing body of research suggests that much of the world’s largest rainforest was moulded by humans.

But archaeologists across the Amazon warn that progress is imperilled by the policies of Brazil’s nationalist president, Jair Bolsonaro. The field is facing dramatic funding cuts, while proposed legal changes on salvage archaeology will endanger priceless physical evidence.

And the mass displacement of indigenous communities – resulting from Bolsonaro’s promises to turn the Amazon over to loggers, miners and farmers in the name of development – risks destroying the local knowledge needed to reconstruct the Amazon’s past, and potentially safeguard its future.

... In March, Bolsonaro’s administration announced a surprise budget cut of 42% to the science ministry and of 30% to university funding.

In September, the government indicated that CNPq, the main grant-providing body for trainee scientists will lose 87% of its research budget in 2020, while another scientific funding agency, Capes, will suffer cuts of 50%.

... Bolsonaro’s administration has revived proposals that prior surveys are only carried out where archaeological material is already proven to exist. Most describe this as absurd: in most cases the archaeology is completely unknown until surveyed. “If they change the law, archaeology in Brazil is over.”


41
Policy and solutions / Re: Robots and AI: Our Immortality or Extinction
« on: November 26, 2019, 12:21:58 PM »
Saddles! Yeeehaaa ;D
Come on Terry, saddle up and let's ride out. ...
China's Robot Dog Takes A Walk
http://www.popsci.com/chinas-big-dog-robot-da-gou-takes-walk


Better than a pony - G'et Along, Little Dogies'


Need to take the training wheels off

 China has global ambitions to be a leader in military robotic exports, having already sold armed drones to Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Expect also to see Da Gou baling about future battlefields in the coming decades.

42
Consequences / Re: Weird Weather and anecdotal stories about climate change
« on: November 24, 2019, 09:09:45 PM »
New Study Reveals Italy At Risk From Extreme Weather
https://www.thelocal.it/20191119/new-study-shows-which-italian-cities-are-most-at-risk-from-extreme-weather

A new Italian study has mapped the areas most likely to be affected by floods, heatwaves and other "extreme weather events" as they become increasingly common.

... Italy was hit by 148 weather-related disasters in 2018, which killed a total of 32 people and left some 4,500 people displaced, according to a new report, titled "The Climate has Changed", released by Italian environmental watchdog Legambiente on Tuesday.

The rising number of extreme events such as storms, floods and heatwaves hitting the country has pushed government spending up in the past five years, according to the report, presented today in Rome as much of the country is dealing with the damage caused by a week of severe storms and flooding.


The map details extreme weather events across Italy in the past five years.

The risk is greatest in cities, the report found.

“Cities are the areas most at risk from the consequences of climate change, because that's where the majority of the population lives and because episodes of rain, tornadoes and heatwaves have increased, and are destined to increase further, along with the estimates of the damage they can cause, the report's authors wrote.

Of all Italian cities, Rome suffered the highest number of extreme weather-related events, the report found, with 33 during 2018.

Milan was next with 25, followed by Genoa 14, Naples 12, Palermo 12, Catania 9, Bari 8, Reggio Calabria 8 and Turin 7.

The report also found that the average temperature in Italian cities is “constantly growing ,and at a faster rate than in the rest of the country.”

The study also highlighted 40 areas that are most at risk in Italy due to rising sea levels.

The list includes coastal cities such as Venice, Trieste, Ravenna, and Pescara, as well as the Gulf of Taranto, La Spezia, Cagliari, Oristano, and Trapani.

43
Arctic sea ice / Re: What's new in the Arctic ?
« on: November 24, 2019, 08:39:22 PM »
Extraordinarily Warm Fall a Big Problem in Canadian Arctic
https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/extraordinarily-warm-fall-a-big-problem-in-canadian-arctic-1.4699973

For Keith Morrison, the consequences of this fall's extraordinarily warm weather across the North all came down to an urgent call for help. The fire chief for the Arctic community of Cambridge Bay in Nunavut was at home the evening of Oct. 6 when he got word that a couple had fallen through the ice near a river mouth.

"It was pitch black," Morrison recalled. "It was a close thing."

It shouldn't have been a thing at all. That stretch of ice is normally safe by this time of year, but this autumn has not been normal.

"What differentiated this year was we saw a widespread warmer temperature anomaly across the board in the Arctic," said Environment Canada meteorologist Eric Dykes. "Temperature anomalies that are five degrees above normal are happening a little bit more readily than they have in years past."

Data from around the Arctic bear him out.

In Inuvik, N.W.T., temperatures on every single day between Sept. 1 and Nov. 11 were above normal. In Nunavut, Pond Inlet had only one day of below normal, while above-normal days occurred about 80 per cent of the time in the communities of Cambridge Bay and Pangnirtung.

Not only were temperatures warm, the amount of warming was noteworthy.

The Canadian Forces Station at Alert, on the top of Ellesmere Island, broke a record for Sept. 6 this year by six degrees. Pond Inlet experienced one day that was 11 degrees warmer than average.

And not only did Resolute, Nunavut, record 68 days of above-normal warmth, nearly half of those days were outside the normal temperature variation. Kugluktuk, Nunavut, was similar -- 58 warmer-than-average days, 34 of them outside the normal range.

... It's not the only change.

"There have been more sightings of killer whales, increasing every year," Arreak said.

"Insects are being reported that aren't usually around the area. We don't even know what they're called."

44
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: November 24, 2019, 05:30:38 PM »
Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires Destroy 80% Of Their Habitat
https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2019/11/23/koalas-functionally-extinct-after-australia-bushfires-destroy-80-of-their-habitat/amp/

As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could reproduce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease.

Deforestation and bushfires destroy the main nutrient source of koalas, the eucalyptus tree. An adult koala will eat up to 2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves per day as its main staple of nutrients. While eucalyptus plants will grow back after a fire, it will take months, leaving no suitable food source for koalas and starvation a likely scenario for many.


45
Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: November 24, 2019, 05:30:05 PM »
Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires Destroy 80% Of Their Habitat
https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2019/11/23/koalas-functionally-extinct-after-australia-bushfires-destroy-80-of-their-habitat/amp/

As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could reproduce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease.

Deforestation and bushfires destroy the main nutrient source of koalas, the eucalyptus tree. An adult koala will eat up to 2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves per day as its main staple of nutrients. While eucalyptus plants will grow back after a fire, it will take months, leaving no suitable food source for koalas and starvation a likely scenario for many.


46
Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: November 24, 2019, 05:18:36 PM »
Quote
How long before your car locks it's doors & transports its passengers to the nearest (privatized) jail? Will we be informed when this "feature" is activated - probably by an over the air software "upgrade". 


47
Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: November 24, 2019, 05:01:50 PM »
‘Not Enough Pork in the World’ To Deal With China’s Demand for Meat
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/23/china-pigs-african-swine-fever-pork-shortage-inflation



Since August 2018, when China notified the World Organisation for Animal Health that African swine fever (ASF) was in the country, the disease has spread with extraordinary speed.

Some 40% of Chinese pigs – hundreds of millions of animals – have now been lost, and the result has been a chronic shortage of pork and rocketing prices.

“The producer price has risen 125% since July,” said Rupert Claxton of international food consultancy Girafood. That increase has helped drive up China’s inflation rate, which in October broke through the government target of 3% to hit 3.8%.

Pork imports into China have also rocketed. In September last year 94 million kg were shipped in, but the ASF crisis has pushed imports to 161 million kg this year and officials are now rushing to certify farms in Brazil, Ireland and several other countries for export at an unprecedented rate to satisfy demand. Two weeks ago, they lifted a ban on imports from Canada.

As a result pork prices are rising outside China too. Europe has seen a jump of at least 35% since the beginning of the year.
Quote
... “The problem is that total global pork exports in 2018 were 8 million tonnes, and China is short 24 million,” ... “There just isn’t enough pork in the world to fill the gap.”
ASF is now reported in more than 40 countries, and earlier this week was discovered to have leapt 300km across Poland from its easternmost provinces to farms near its western border.

Alistair Driver of UK monthly magazine Pig World said this was extremely concerning. “That is just 70km from the German border, and Germany is one of the largest pork exporters in the world.”

... “In the UK it is now more a case of being prepared for it to arrive than trying to shut it out,” said Zoe Davies of the National Pig Association. She worries about the large number of smallholders in the UK “who aren’t taking this seriously, who believe that pigs are there to recycle kitchen scraps. Just one pet pig [with the virus] and that’s the UK shut down.”

48
Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: November 24, 2019, 10:28:55 AM »
Thanks for the insight nanning  :)

49
Consequences / Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« on: November 24, 2019, 01:49:07 AM »
Border Patrol Denies Undocumented Immigrants Free Influenza Vaccine
https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Health/border-patrol-denies-undocumented-immigrants-free-influenza-vaccine/story?id=67237256

Peak flu season is fast approaching North America and the U.S. government is actively encouraging anyone over 6 months old to vaccinate – that is, unless you are one of the thousands of people being detained in Customs and Border Protection facilities for undocumented entry

“To us in the medical community the situation is alarming. When the CBP stated in August that they weren’t planning on vaccinating we saw this as egregious to deny basic health care access to people forced to stay in their care," said Dr. Bonnie Arzuaga, a Boston-based pediatrician and one of the founders of Doctors for Camp Closure.

The organization is a volunteer group of 2,000 U.S. based physicians who support the closing of the Customs and Border camps because of public health concerns. The organization volunteered to provide free influenza vaccines to those detained but the government never responded.

“We got no response, not even an acknowledgement of the letter," said Arzuaga.

50
Policy and solutions / Re: Extinction Rebellion
« on: November 24, 2019, 01:36:37 AM »
The Harvard-Yale Football Game Was Delayed After Students and Alumni Stormed the Field to Protest Climate Change
https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/11/23/us/harvard-yale-climate-protest-trnd/index.html



The Harvard-Yale football game was delayed Saturday after more than a hundred students and alumni flooded the field to protest against the schools' endowments from fossil fuel companies.

"Nobody wins. Yale & Harvard are complicit in climate injustice," read a banner held by the students.

Harvard was leading Yale 15-3 during the game in New Haven, Connecticut when the students ran into midfield as halftime was ending. The game was delayed for nearly 30 minutes until students were escorted out of the field by police.

https://twitter.com/ESPNCFB/status/1198321969726406663

Students are calling for both schools to divest their endowments from fossil fuel holdings. Yale students are demanding the school to pressure hedge fund managers to cancel any debt from Puerto Rico.

"Harvard and Yale claim their goal is to create student leaders who can strive toward a more 'just, fair, and promising world' by 'improving the world today and for future generations.' Yet by continuing to invest in industries that mislead the public, smear academics, and deny reality, Harvard and Yale are complicit in tearing down that future,"

... "We demand that our universities take responsibility for their role in perpetuating the climate crisis and global climate injustice -- we call on Harvard and Yale to fully disclose, divest, and reinvest their holdings in the fossil fuel industry, putting an end to business as usual and taking meaningful action towards building a more just and stable future,"
the student groups, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, Fossil Free Yale and Yale Endowment Justice Coalition, said in a statement following the protest.

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