Summary of “How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science”

“The approach is to say, ‘I think I know what the underlying physical laws are that give rise to everything that I see in the system.’ So I have a recipe for star formation, I have a recipe for how dark matter behaves, and so on. I put all of my hypotheses in there, and I let the simulation run. And then I ask: Does that look like reality?” What he’s done with generative modeling, he said, is “In some sense, exactly the opposite of a simulation. We don’t know anything; we don’t want to assume anything. We want the data itself to tell us what might be going on.”
The apparent success of generative modeling in a study like this obviously doesn’t mean that astronomers and graduate students have been made redundant – but it appears to represent a shift in the degree to which learning about astrophysical objects and processes can be achieved by an artificial system that has little more at its electronic fingertips than a vast pool of data.
“I just think we as a community are becoming far more sophisticated about how we use the data. In particular, we are getting much better at comparing data to data. But in my view, my work is still squarely in the observational mode.”
These systems can do all the tedious grunt work, he said, leaving you “To do the cool, interesting science on your own.”
Whether Schawinski is right in claiming that he’s found a “Third way” of doing science, or whether, as Hogg says, it’s merely traditional observation and data analysis “On steroids,” it’s clear AI is changing the flavor of scientific discovery, and it’s certainly accelerating it.
Perhaps most controversial is the question of how much information can be gleaned from data alone – a pressing question in the age of stupendously large piles of it.
In The Book of Why, the computer scientist Judea Pearl and the science writer Dana Mackenzie assert that data are “Profoundly dumb.” Questions about causality “Can never be answered from data alone,” they write.
“Anytime you see a paper or a study that analyzes the data in a model-free way, you can be certain that the output of the study will merely summarize, and perhaps transform, but not interpret the data.” Schawinski sympathizes with Pearl’s position, but he described the idea of working with “Data alone” as “a bit of a straw man.” He’s never claimed to deduce cause and effect that way, he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Triton is the world’s most murderous malware, and it’s spreading”

The malware made it possible to take over these systems remotely.
Dragos, a firm that specializes in industrial cybersecurity, and where Gutmanis now works, says it’s seen evidence over the past year or so that the hacking group that built the malware and inserted it into the Saudi plant is using some of the same digital tradecraft to research targets in places outside the Middle East, including North America.
Since the workstation communicated with the plant’s safety instrumented systems, the hackers were able to learn the make and model of the systems’ hardware controllers, as well as the versions of their firmware-software that’s embedded in a device’s memory and governs how it communicates with other things.
There have been only a few previous examples of hackers using cyberspace to try to disrupt the physical world.
It’s almost certainly no coincidence that the malware appeared just as hackers from countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea stepped up their probing of “Critical infrastructure” sectors vital to the smooth running of modern economies, such as oil and gas companies, electrical utilities, and transport networks.
The hackers behind Triton had tested elements of the code used during the intrusion to make it harder for antivirus programs to detect.
Safety instrumented systems are highly tailored to safeguard different kinds of processes, so crafting malware to control them involves a great deal of time and painstaking effort.
Experts at places like the US’s Idaho National Laboratory are urging companies to revisit all their operations in the light of Triton and other cyber-physical threats, and to radically reduce, or eliminate, the digital pathways hackers could use to get to critical processes.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Do hold your breath: on the benefits of conscious breathing”

Last year, the Bajau ‘sea nomads’ of southeast Asia, who have been free-diving on a daily basis for thousands of years, were found to possess enlarged spleens that help them hold their breath for remarkable stretches of time.
The potential for marginal athletic gains is not the reason why conscious breathing is currently having a moment.
A century of philosophical globalisation has seen a broadly Eastern conception of conscious breathing move from the esoteric to the mainstream.
Scientific research on conscious breathing is hard to gather up.
All the good research accepts that the chief physiological mechanism is the interface of conscious breathing with the parasympathetic nervous system.
Conscious breathing appears to be associated with moderate improvements in many areas of cognition, especially attention and memory retrieval.
Yes, conscious breathing is a fad; yes, there is something faintly ridiculous about people learning how to do something that they do every second of their lives without even thinking about it.
Mine is a specific use of conscious breathing, but they all come down to this: to connect with the breath is to connect with what is most vital in you, as a creaturely thing.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The revolutionary idea revealing the body’s hormonal democracy”

Grasping the logic of a control system in which the body’s organs are both the targets of hormonal commands and the source of them is still only beginning, but the clinical implications are sure to be profound.
There were the endocrine organs – most of them glandular tissues, whose primary function was evidently to make and secrete things – and there were the organs on which hormones acted.
If it isn’t a restricted set of glandular tissues that direct the behaviour of the body’s various organs – a control system complementary to the nervous system – how should we conceptualise it instead? It appears to be something far more pervasive and democratic – a system through which all the body’s organs broadcast their status by discharging molecules into the blood and so, together, shape what the body is doing at any given time.
Some support for the idea came from the discovery of a different molecule made and released by bone that was quickly recognised as a hormone.
The researchers collect all the fly’s other organs, one by one, to generate lists of all the proteins that organ X releases to end up in organ Y. Much as with mammals whose muscles and fat release hundreds of different proteins, these screens have identified comparable numbers in fruit flies.
As Karsenty puts it, ‘no organ is an island in our body.
‘We need to break open the boundaries between these silos, organ by organ’.
We need to break open the boundaries between these silos, organ by organ.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Debate over eliminating private health insurance offers a false choice”

When you look out at the rest of the world – at the dozens of countries that run universal health care systems – you find that every universal health plan relies, in some form or another, on private insurance.
How other countries use private health insurance, it turns out, can actually tell you a lot about what countries value in a health care system – and how they think access to care ought to be organized.
The three ways other countries use private health insurance When you look out at our peer countries, you essentially see them using private health coverage in three distinctive ways.
Second, there are some countries where private insurance supplements public insurance.
Third, there are some countries where private insurance complements public insurance.
“The UK is very committed to solidarity and equity in its health system, but at the same time, they are still very comfortable with this private insurance role,” she says.
Why we’re having a debate about eliminating private coverage in the United States The debate we’re having around universal coverage in the United States right now often centers on the health care plan offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Should private insurance allow you to jump the queue? Should it allow you to get a private room? These are big policy debates in other countries.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “This is why AI has yet to reshape most businesses”

Plus, the company is still wrestling with costly IT upgrades that have been necessary to pump data into Philyra from disparate record-­keeping systems while keeping some of the information confidential from the perfumers themselves.
Such productivity gains are largest at the biggest and richest companies, which can afford to spend heavily on the talent and technology infrastructure necessary to make AI work well.
Last September, a data scientist named Peter Skomoroch tweeted: “As a rule of thumb, you can expect the transition of your enterprise company to machine learning will be about 100x harder than your transition to mobile.” It had the ring of a joke, but Skomoroch wasn’t kidding.
If companies don’t stop and build connections between such systems, then machine learning will work on just some of their data.
Even if a company gets data flowing from many sources, it takes lots of experimentation and oversight to be sure that the information is accurate and meaningful.
When Genpact, an IT services company, helps businesses launch what they consider AI projects, “10% of the work is AI,” says Sanjay Srivastava, the chief digital officer.
Smaller companies often require employees to delve into several technical domains, says Anna Drummond, a data scientist at Sanchez Oil and Gas, an energy company based in Houston.
Fluor, a huge engineering company, spent about four years working with IBM to develop an artificial-intelligence system to monitor massive construction projects that can cost billions of dollars and involve thousands of workers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Walgreens Tests New Smart Coolers”

Walgreens is piloting a new line of “Smart coolers”-fridges equipped with cameras that scan shoppers’ faces and make inferences on their age and gender.
On January 14, the company announced its first trial at a store in Chicago in January, and plans to equip stores in New York and San Francisco with the tech.
Retailers want to know what people are buying, segmenting shoppers by gender, age, and income and then targeting them precisely.
These machines can draw all kinds of useful inferences: Maybe young men buy more Sprite if it’s displayed next to Mountain Dew.
Maybe older women buy more ice cream on Thursday nights than any other day of the week.
Crucially, the “Cooler Screens” system does not use facial recognition.
Shoppers aren’t identified when the fridge cameras scan their face.
Instead, the cameras analyze faces to make inferences about shoppers’ age and gender.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘Ugly Produce’ Subscription Boxes Have Ignited a Food War”

Depending on who you ask, ugly produce is either the salvation or destruction of America’s food system.
Last week on Twitter, the crop scientist Sarah Taber wrote a long thread arguing that ugly produce isn’t the problem or solution.
“The food system is a hot mess but using ugly produce is one thing it’s actually really good at,” she says in the thread. In her estimation, my carrot nuggets are proof of concept: Odd produce might not go to Whole Foods, but much of it still does go to stores that serve working-class people, or gets sent to processors who turn it into salsa or apple juice.
The vast majority of American produce does indeed make it to a packinghouse for processing and distribution, but farmers point out that efficiency varies wildly depending on what kind of producer you are.
According to David Earle, the business manager for the farm collective Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative, in Pennsylvania, around 20 percent of the produce from his organization’s small growers doesn’t meet stringent grocery-store or restaurant standards.
Tuscarora has started distributing its excess produce through the ugly-produce-box company Misfits Market, and Earle says it’s been a boon to the business.
In an interview with The New Republic, Imperfect Produce, the start-up that serves Terra Organics’ former community, conceded that it works with industrial-scale producers like Dole to source food, which critics say can make these start-ups an ally of exactly the food system that creates waste and hunger in the first place.
If affluent consumers can feel as if they’re making ethical purchases while enjoying the savings and convenience of wonky vegetables delivered from commercial producers, they might be less likely to buy from local producers and cooperatives.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Have Aliens Found Us? An Interview with the Harvard Astronomer Avi Loeb About the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua”

On October 19, 2017, astronomers at the University of Hawaii spotted a strange object travelling through our solar system, which they later described as “a red and extremely elongated asteroid.” It was the first interstellar object to be detected within our solar system; the scientists named it ‘Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for a scout or messenger.
The first one is that we didn’t expect this object to exist in the first place.
If we assume all planetary systems around other stars are doing the same thing, we can figure out what the population of interstellar objects should be.
So we checked that and found that you need the thickness of the object to be less than a millimetre in order for that to work.
The point is that this is the very first object we found from outside the solar system.
My motivation, in part, is to motivate the scientific community to collect more data on the next object rather than argue a priori that they know the answer.
We have seen an object from outside the solar system, and we are trying to figure what it is made of and where it came from.
If you put the probability at zero per cent of an object coming into the solar system, you would never find it!

The orginal article.

Summary of “How To Beat Procrastination”

Procrastination has been around since the start of modern civilization.
Historical figures like Herodotus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and hundreds of others have talked about how procrastination is the enemy of results.
The funny thing about procrastination is that we all know that it’s harmful.
Even compare procrastination to alcohol and drug abuse.
Procrastination is a habit that just sneaks into your system.
“The present evidence suggests that procrastinators enjoy themselves rather than working at assigned tasks, until the rising pressure of imminent deadlines forces them to get to work. In this view, procrastination may derive from a lack of self-regulation and hence a dependency on externally imposed forces to motivate work.”
The truth is: Procrastination has nothing to do with what you’re trying to do – small or big, it can wait until later.
Systems Do. What you really need is a system for doing work.

The orginal article.