first_imgA businesswoman cheated serious injury after a stray bullet shattered a window at her countryside home.The shattered glass at Ms Barnett’s Dunfanaghy home.Gillian Barnett was sitting watching television at her picturesque Co Donegal home when she heard a massive bang.When she went to investigate, she found a large window at her Dunfanaghy home had been shattered. Even more worrying for Ms Barnett was that the window was made from 2.3cm toughened glass.The reinforced glass was put in to protect the building from strong Atlantic weather conditions and it cost €1,300 to replace.Ms Barnett said she suspects the window was shattered by a stray bullet – possibly from someone out hunting.She admits that she is very lucky saying she could have been struck by a bullet under different circumstances. She told the People’s Press “I’m lucky I wasn’t out getting a bucket of coal or something like that and I’m lucky I had this toughened glass and not just ordinary glass.“There was a very definite loud bang and then it all began to shatter. It just started to go.“I was in the living room when it happened. I saw it and it scared the life out of me. I think it was lucky that it hit my window and not somebody else’s.”Ms Barnett said she feels the incident may not be malicious.But she wants to send out the message that people need to be careful when out shooting or lamping. Workmen needed a sledgehammer and crowbar to take out the remaining glass, emphasising how tough the glass was.“I’m glad it was toughened glass or otherwise it might have come straight through,” she said.She added that she would like people to be aware of the dangers of stray bullets.“In this area it is common place for lamping. I just want the people who do this as a hobby to be aware of what can happen. “Nobody was hurt this time, which is important and I’m glad I wasn’t a neighbour’s window,” she added.Gardai have confirmed that an investigation has ben carried out into the incident.However, the evidence has so far proved inconclusive.WOMAN CHEATS INJURY AFTER BULLET SHATTERS WINDOW was last modified: January 26th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:bullet. GardaidonegalDunfanaghyGillian BarnettWINDOWlast_img read more

49ers vs. Giants: Game still on schedule amid smoky air

first_imgSANTA CLARA — Tonight’s 49ers game against the New York Giants remains scheduled for a 5:15 p.m. kickoff at Levi’s Stadium, despite poor air quality from the Camp Fire in Butte County.Here is what you need to know:THE AIR: Even though the air quality index was at 120 and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” Monday morning, that is a little better than the previous couple days and well below the 200-API that would prompt the NFL to postpone the game. Breathing masks are not expected to be …last_img

How Science Could Destroy Itself

first_img(Visited 351 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Without this essential ingredient, long taken for granted, science could collapse.Imagine a world where science journals could not be trusted. In this imaginary world, at least half of all journal articles have been generated by artificial intelligence (AI), but are fake. The algorithms have gotten so good in this imaginary world, nobody can tell the difference—not editors, not peer reviewers, not even other AI algorithms. And as another consequence, suppose that reporters are fooled, and write up these fake research findings as fact. Is this dystopian vision possible?We hear a lot about fake news in politics. Each election season, journalists worry about disinformation campaigns by the Russians using social media to stir up partisan attitudes based on bogus claims. Is science immune from the Big Lie? New Scientist looked into the very real problem that AI can generate fake science. In “Fake news generating AIs could be the best weapons to fight fake news,” Donna Lu included two fake science stories, generated by AI, that mimicked the content and style of New Scientist itself. One of them claimed, “Eating bread crusts actually gives you curly hair.” Another headline made in the experiment proclaimed, “Overweight dogs have barks that sound cuter to humans.” Amusing as these spoofed articles are, it’s scary how believable they look. When more credible articles appear, who will be able to detect the fakery? Donna Lu thinks that AI can heal itself.Fake news spreads faster than the truth on social media, and as fake news generating machines get more sophisticated, distinguishing real from fake is becoming more difficult than ever.Artificial intelligence that can quickly generate convincing paragraphs of text from a simple prompt already exists and can be used to churn out convincing but untrue stories for influencing public opinion. But paradoxically, these problem AIs may also offer a solution.Lu is trusting in an algorithm by “Rowan Zellers at the University of Washington and colleagues” who “have created an AI that can both write and detect fake news.”Most likely Zellers and team have the public good in mind. But let’s ask a simple question. Can you trust Rowan Zellers?They trained the AI, called Grover, on tens of millions of articles from news websites totalling 120 gigabytes of data. Grover learned to write articles, adjusting its style to mimic pieces published during a particular time period or that feature on a specific news website, such as newscientist.com.Given fake headlines such as “No substantial evidence for climate change” or “New study provides evidence that vaccines cause autism”, within seconds it spits out articles complete with invented statistics and faked quotes, often from real experts or politicians….A little bit of thought leads to the concern that such a tool could be used for either side of an issue. Grover can only blindly do whatever it is ordered to do by its creator. It could generate fake science to support either side. And the higher the stakes for influencing the outcome, the higher the temptation to cheat. If those in power want more climate skepticism, they could generate “science” for that side. If those in power want more support for the climate consensus, they could generate “science” to support that side. Reality need not be part of the equation.Powerful interests will have plenty of money to perfect the AI algorithms so that they can generate even more convincing material. A drug company could write a journal paper that demonstrates high efficacy of its questionable product. A foreign power could publish fake research to build up its image in the scientific community. And scientists with a political agenda their funding agency likes could generate tons of fake science that give their position an aura of legitimacy.Peer Review, Reproducibility and Self-CheckingSome may argue that fake science could never succeed for long, because science is self-checking and reproducible. But as many journals have worried, there is a “reproducibility crisis” going on, and peer review has also come under scrutiny (18 May 2019). Many science projects are too expensive or difficult to reproduce. Who will build another LHC to check an exotic particle? And what if peer reviewers have the same political bias as the research they are reviewing? Who will watch the watchers?Fake-science algorithms using AI should worry scientists as well as politicians. Lu hopes that AI algorithms can become better, but the spy-vs-spy scenario is turning into AI-vs-AI, where watchers may have to choose which algorithm does a better job. One algorithm given a mix of fake news and real news achieved 73 percent accuracy. Grover achieved 92 percent. That means that 6 percent got through the screener. In cyber warfare, the effectiveness of the algorithms will depend on skill of the programmers to understand what the adversary is trying to do. Programmers differ on their opinions about the advisability of sharing the algorithms. The creators of Grover want to make the code open to all, but Elon Musk’s Open AI group disagrees.“It seems quite possible that the release of generators is going to be quite harmful,” says Open AI’s Jeff Wu. In the wrong hands it would equip people with the ability to rapidly generate tens of thousands of articles, he says.The Essential IngredientAs possibilities for Big Lie tactics proliferate, the spy-vs-spy scenario morphs into lie-vs-lie. Leaders from the top down are going to really need to know whom they can trust. Somehow, somewhere, there needs to be a real, live, breathing human being with the essential ingredient:Integrity.In its 3 June editorial, Nature pointed out that “Research integrity is much more than misconduct.” A morality-colored word creeps into the sub-heading: “All researchers should strive to improve the quality, relevance and reliability of their work.” What does science know about “should”? The word connotes responsibility to a moral standard. They continue: “Conducting research with integrity, honesty and accuracy is something to which every scientist should proudly aspire.” They use the word four times.AI algorithms will do what they are told, whether good or evil. Only a righteous-minded scientist or engineer with integrity will respond to the should word. If all scientists come to have ulterior motives, and look at every directive only for how it can promote their selfish interests, science is doomed.In the same issue of Nature, C. K. Gunsalus believes she has a solution. “Make reports of research misconduct public.” But notice how this strategy can backfire. What if an unscrupulous lab manager accuses one of his underling’s work to be misconduct? He follows the advice of Gunsalus and makes it public, ruining his career. Worse, any reporter could dox a scientist they don’t like, threatening his safety as well as his career.If the ones writing reports of research misconduct have no integrity, no amount of should-ing will solve the problem. In the asymptotic limit, science collapses into the fatalistic dystopia, “Everybody lies, but nobody listens.”How did integrity evolve? That is the conundrum Darwinism cannot answer. Darwin’s world is one of rampant self-interest. Even when self-interest morphs into group-interest, the only value is survival. Whatever works to pass on genes of the population is “moral” in that view. For those Darwinians who worship science as their sole pathway to truth, abandon all hope.If you are a scientist who values trustworthy science, promote the teachings that give human beings the desire and the power to achieve integrity. An essential start is the command, “You shall not bear false witness.” Given human nature, though, a command only condemns; it cannot empower. The same Voice that gave the command later promised He would write His law on men’s hearts, implying they would become able to obey joyfully and willingly. Read how here. Exercises.Look at this article on Phys.org, “Changing minds: How do you communicate with climate deniers?” The protagonist, Emma Frances Bloomfield, a communications specialist at the University of Nevada, is portrayed as a nice, gentle lady only trying to help people overcome their wrong views. She listens. She interacts. She engages. This is all fine and good, but the entire article conveys a narrative of the elitist persuading the buffoon. Bloomfield takes the consensus as undeniable fact, and she is there to heal the “deniers” who (predictably) are portrayed as motivated by religion. How could Bloomfield be replaced by an AI robot to achieve the same objective?Read this article on Medical Xpress, “Where to draw the line between mental health and illness?” Given that psychology’s values and categories evolve, how could powerful science lobbies use fake science and AI to marginalize skeptics of their consensus with the label ‘mental illness’?last_img read more

South Africa’s banks ‘in strong position’

first_img15 March 2012 South Africa’s banks remain well positioned despite global economic uncertainty, are trading profitably, and boast some of the highest capital levels in the world, well in excess of the minimum Basel 3 rules, according to a survey by professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC’s latest annual survey of South Africa’s major banks was released on Wednesday. According to the survey, the financial results of South Africa’s four major banks – Absa, First Rand, Nedbank and Standard Bank – for the six months ended 31 December are a positive reflection of the financial health of the local industry, show that the banks have weathered the recent global economic uncertainty well. “Although the banks may have experienced tough operating conditions at the start of the global financial crisis, when South Africa dipped into the recession, they have since strengthened their positions through a combination of increasing capital levels, changing funding strategies, reducing risk appetite and holding significantly more liquid assets,” PwC’s Tom Winterboer said in a statement.Good returns on equity, additional capital buffers Absa, First Rand, Nedbank and Standard Bank reported aggregate return on equity of 16% for the year ended 31 December, up 10.3% on the previous year and up 13.2% for the six months ended 31 December 2010. Headline earnings grew to R39.9-billion, an increase of 17.7% from the previous financial year. “These return on equity levels remain lower than levels prior to the financial crisis for the major banks, but are commendable given that they are holding additional capital buffers as they await final implementation guidance for Basel 3 in South Africa,” said PwC’s Johannes Grosskopf.Containment of costs Grosskopf said the four banks’ main driver of earnings growth had been the containment of costs, up only 2.6% from the previous year and 1.6% up on the six months ended 31 December 2010, and more particularly the reduction in impairment charges of 14.8% for the year. It was possible that the reduction in non-performing loans – down 15.2% from the previous year – meant that impairment levels had now bottomed out and that the boost to earnings provided by the decline in impairment charges had come to an end, Grosskopf noted. “This could see an increase in pressure on earnings growth targets for the 2012 financial year and beyond.”Deposit growth According to the survey, the four banks’ deposit growth had benefited from the frugal conduct of both businesses and consumers. Deposits were up 11.2% from the previous year and 6.8% for the six months ended 31 December 2010. This had helped maintain margin levels, as these kinds of deposits continue to provide the cheapest form of funding for credit growth and negate the effect of increases in wholesale funding costs. Grosskopf said this would be pleasing to the banks as they continued to debate the structural funding challenges of the South African market, with a view to implementing the net stable funding ratio proposed in Basel 3.Widening the retail net In respect of retail customers, the South African market remained focused on widening the net and banking the unbanked, PwC found. “In doing so, the banks are finding innovative ways to reach their clients,” Grosskopf said, noting that all four banks reported customer gains, increases in access points such as ATMs, non-traditional branches and a continued focus on electronic and mobile channels. Grosskopf said that containing or reducing costs would remain a priority for South Africa’s banks. “At the same time, this will be affected by regulatory reform and continuing core banking IT enhancements. The focus therefore will be on operational effectiveness, simplifying processes and the rationalising of businesses to achieve more focused strategic objectives.” Winterboer pointed out that there was also competition in the South African market from new digital players. “The banks are embracing new electronic channels, such as mobile banking and the internet.” SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

South Africa marks Africa Day

first_img26 May 2014 South Africa joined the rest of the continent in commemorating Africa Day on Sunday. Africa Day, held on 25 May each year, marks the anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union (AU), by 32 governments in 1963. Twenty other nations gradually joined the founder states over time. South Africa became the 53rd member of the AU on 23 May 1994. Since its inception, the African Union has advocated for enhanced cooperation and unity of the continent. “This has manifested in a shared commitment towards inclusive economic growth for Africans in the continent,” the South African government said in a statement on Sunday “The AU has also been at the forefront in finding solutions to poverty and famine. It has stood firm in the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states, while striving to promote international cooperation and eradication of any form of colonisation and terrorism.” Many African countries, including South Africa, owe their independence from colonialism in large part to the efforts and solidarity of the OAU. Through its efforts, apartheid South Africa was expelled from the United Nations and remained isolated internationally until 1994, when the first democratically elected government came into power. “All Africans should be rightly proud of the strides that have been made since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity 51 years ago,” Phumla Williams, the Acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), said on Sunday. “The continent’s focus has changed from liberation to development, integration and socio-economic growth. Africa’s economic growth is on track and has in many cases surpassed the global average.” Despite these strides, however, the continent faces huge challenges in ensuring food security and finding ways to combat climate change. “South Africa congratulates our African counterparts for rising up to the challenges of the 21st century with vigour and determination so that a better life can be created for all the people of the continent,” Williams said. She added that South Africa joined the rest of the continent and the world in condemning the recent “cowardly acts of terrorism in Nigeria … We call for the immediate release of the 276 girl children who were abducted by Boko Haram, and join the world in the call to bring back our girls.” Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Stickybits: Portal to Another Dimension or Graffiti for Nerds?

first_imgThe Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Tags:#Internet of Things#mobile#NYT#Product Reviews#web Seth Goldstein comes up with a lot of ideas. Some of them work and some of them don’t. He was one of the original backers of Del.icio.us (bought by Yahoo), Etherpad (bought by Google) and Bit.ly (huge via Twitter). He was also President of the short-lived Attention Trust and built a browser plug-in that allowed people to track, manage and sell on the Chicago Board of Trade futures in their browsing history and other online attention data. That didn’t work out so well, though it was a very interesting idea. Two years ago he raised $10m, built an advertising network called SocialMedia.com and then sold it off a big chunk of it in November.Goldstein’s latest idea may be one of his most interesting yet. He’s co-founded a company called Stickybits. It’s a service that uses vinyl barcode stickers and a mobile scanning app to layer social media content on top of physical objects.You scan a Stickybits barcode that you place or find on some thing or some place (perhaps on someone) and you can see all the multimedia that’s been associated with that barcode before and add your own. Erick Schonfeld covered Stickybits this morning on TechCrunch and called it a way to unlock “the secret lives of objects.” Commenters on that post brought up far more questions than Stickybits has answered so far.Someone is going to nail this, though. I’ve long fantasized about being able to use my mobile phone while around town to find out the news, demographic and property ownership history of various locations. Stickybits isn’t doing anything that ambitious yet; it’s mostly just tweets, photos and audio messages. It’s hard to know if a temporary sticker from one particular company will be the way forward into a world of places and objects with social histories made easy to unlock.Stickybits is selling packs of 20 attractive vinyl stickers for $10, a steep price if you ask me, but perhaps calculated to maximize the significance of each one and minimize the annoyance of property owners about to get annotated. How that price point and the need to download a free mobile app will impact the spread of the program remains to be seen. Whether the messages attached to the stickers end up looking more like Foursquare, Gowalla, Wikipedia or ChatRoulette is another one of the many questions that come to mind. In a location-aware world, the primary role of the barcode stickers may simply be in letting people know that there is data associated with a particular location, something that other services that let you “tag your world” have struggled with. There will likely be other user experience subtleties, sublime and profane, that users start to notice after a few Stickybits scanning experiences.Expect to find these things stuck around various places in Austin this weekend. Perhaps on cats, dogs, planes, trains, automobiles and street light poles all around the country soon. Will it work? We’d love to hear your thoughts in comments below. marshall kirkpatrick Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementlast_img read more