How beginners can learn to read music more efficiently | ScienceNordic

Article from University of Stavanger.

The University of Stavanger (UiS) is located in Stavanger, Norway and has about 8,500 students and 1200 administration, faculty and service staff. "New research shows that literacy learning methods may help beginners to read music" inform Elin Nyberg, Journalist, Universitetet i Stavanger.

Photo: Storyblocks.com
Many music students find it difficult to learn to play an instrument, and struggle with music reading. Even after long practice, few children are able to sight read music off the page in the same way they read a book.

“Can this be explained by differences in how they learn to read text and music?” Katarzyna Julia Leikvoll wondered. In March 2017, she defended her PhD thesis in Literacy Studies at the University of Stavanger.

Her thesis focuses on how writing, visual recognition and understanding may provide a more efficient way of learning to read and play music.

Leikvoll examined how beginner piano students learn to read music in the Norwegian extra-curricular music schools. She then compared this to how reading and writing is taught in primary schools.

The researcher points out that text reading and music reading have many similarities...

Learning to read music 
The most popular piano methods for beginners are on the other hand usually based on using single notes as commands to the fingers on which keys to press.

“Piano teachers explain music reading to beginners by pointing to the sheet music saying ‘This is note C, D, E. Here are the C, D and E keys. Now play!’ No child is taught how to read by being told ‘This is the letter A. This is B. This is C. Now read!’, ” Leikvoll points out.

“Furthermore, there are no exercises for writing music and no information as to what is important to look for in an unfamiliar sheet of music. Notes are not explained as visual symbols representing particular sounds, but as commands on which keys to press,” she continues.

Lack of writing and understanding  
Leikvoll calls for exercises in music writing and focus on understanding how harmonic relationships between groups of notes form a kind of scaffold which the piano piece is built upon. Then harmonic structures can be recognised as meaningful units when you read and play unfamiliar music.
Read more... 

Katarzyna Julia Leikvoll: Listen, write, play: About music reading skills of piano pupils at the beginner level). Doctoral thesis, Department of Music and Dance, University of Stavanger. (2017)

Katarzyna Julia Leikvoll: Maurizio i Pianodalen. Piano lesson book based on «Listen, write, play». Musikk-husets forlag. (2018)

Source: ScienceNordic

Managing automation: Employment, inequality and ethics in the digital age | IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research

Check Out This Interesting Discussion Paper published by  IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research below.
As machines become increasingly capable of performing tasks once thought to be the sole preserve of people, some commentators have raised the spectre of mass unemployment and profound economic disruption.Photo: IPPRYet despite the growing capability of robots and artificial intelligence, we are not on the cusp of a ‘post-human’ economy. Automation will produce significant productivity gains that will reshape specific sectors and occupations. In aggregate, however, these gains are likely to be recirculated, with jobs reallocated rather than eliminated, economic output increased, and new sources of wealth created.

This discussion paper argues that public policy should seek to accelerate automation to reap the productivity benefits, while building new institutions to ensure the dividends of technological change are broadly shared.

Managing Automation Employment, inequality and ethics in the digital age (PDF) Source: IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research

A three-day work week? It’s possible with artificial intelligence | Livemint - Technology

"Not only will artificial intelligence improve the way we live but also give us more time to live life—by saving us from mundane and repetitive tasks that cause job dissatisfaction and burnouts" continues Livemint.

AI-driven can take care of transactional activities that take up a large chunk of working hours of the staff at an organization.
Photo: Bloomberg

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a perception problem in India. In the emerging debate around AI, it is either a bugaboo or the tech industry’s secret potion for profiteering. It is also seen as a gigantic steamroller that is flattening the IT jobs landscape.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. AI is making the future brighter; it represents civilizational progress. Look at it this way. If the collective human intelligence took 25 years to double, with AI it could happen every year. Imagine billions of AI bots working together to create new inventions and cures for terminal diseases. Okay, let’s talk about stuff that is slightly less profound. AI and robotics, as we speak, are changing the way we consume services, experience products and interact with devices.

Powerful sensors combine with intelligent self-learning systems to let your TV screen know who is watching. Your energy meter will know what your home requires, and your smart home will know who is around and who isn’t. The car would start automatically seconds before your travel (you won’t need to scramble for the bunch of keys every morning), and the machines could create an accurate shopping list based on your conversations. Your AI-driven device would also place an online order using the list—and choose from the best available offers, saving you a bob or two for a vacation in Kotor, Montenegro. Why Kotor, you ask? If, for instance, you mentioned to your AI device that you’d like to spend a week in a medieval town with cosy piazzas and Juliet balconies, the Montenegrin town might be one of the most accurate suggestions.

So, why wouldn’t you want AI?

What about the spectre of job losses? When digital photography replaced silver halide paper, more people began to take pictures. There was little barrier to enter the ranks of amateur photographers.

Source: Livemint

LinkedIn: Machine learning jobs are on the rise | SDTimes.com

"Machine learning engineers, data scientists, and Big Data engineers are among the top emerging jobs in technology. This is based off of a recently released report from LinkedIn" notes Jenna Sargent, Online and Social Media Editor for SD Times.

As technology changes and expands, employment trends change with it. As a result, the skills that are important to have to be successful in the workforce are constantly changing. LinkedIn’s report is from its data over the last five years on what jobs and skills are becoming the most popular.

“It may come as no surprise that technology-centric roles stole the show among emerging jobs in the United States, but the prevalence of machine learning and data science roles and skills indicate a shift in the types of technology we can expect to be using in the near future, as well as what professionals should be preparing themselves for,” the LinkedIn economic graph team wrote in a post. 
Read more... 

Additional resources 
LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report 

Source: SDTimes.com

It Was a Big Year for A.I. | Slate Magazine - Technology

"2017 has been a booming year for the field of artificial intelligence. While A.I. and data-focused machine learning have been around for decades, the algorithmic technologies have made their presence known in a variety of industries and contexts this year" reports Christina Bonnington, Freelance writer & editor.

AlphaGo beat the world's best Go player in May. A few months later, a new version beat the human-defeating version 100 to 1.
Photo: Saran_Poroong/Thinkstock
Microsoft UK’s chief envisioning officer Dave Coplin has called A.I.the most important technology that anybody on the planet is working on today,” and Silicon Valley companies seem to have taken that to heart: They’ve been hiring A.I. experts right and left, and with those in short supply, they’ve started teaching employees the fundamentals of A.I. themselves.
Not every A.I. achievement has been met with admiration and applause, though. Some are worried about the human prejudices that are being introduced into A.I. systems. ProPublica found in 2016, for example, that the software algorithms used to predict future criminals were heavily biased against black defendants. And earlier this year, Facebook came under fire for the algorithmically generated categories advertisers could use to target users, which included hateful groups and topics such as “Jew hater.” Situations like these have prompted experts to urge companies and developers to be more transparent about how their A.I. systems work. However, in many other cases—especially of late—A.I. has been used to good end: To make discoveries, to better itself, and to help us expand beyond the limits of our human brains.
A.I. Spotted An Eight-Planet Solar SystemSuccessful astronomical discoveries often center around studying data—lots and lots of data—and that is something A.I. and machine learning are exceedingly good at handling. In fact, astronomers used artificial intelligence to sift through years of data obtained by the Kepler telescope to identify a distant eight-planet solar system earlier this month. This solar system now ties our own for the most known planets circling its star, in this case Kepler-90, located more than 2,500 light years away.
From 2009 to 2013, the Kepler telescope’s photometer snapped 10 pixel images of 200,000 different stars every half hour in search of changes in star brightness. If a star dimmed and brightened in a regular, repeating pattern, that could be an indication that it has planets orbiting. (You can also use that information to estimate the size and length of orbit of a planet circling a particular star.) University of Texas at Austin astronomer Andrew Vanderburg and Google software engineer Christopher Shallue developed the neural network that made the discovery using 15,000 known exoplanet indicators. They zeroed in on 670 stars with known exoplanets, but focused specifically on weak signals—smaller exoplanets previous researchers may have missed. The planet the duo discovered, dubbed Kepler-90i, appears to be the third planet orbiting its star, much like our own Earth.

Source: Slate Magazine

Workbook incorporates all genres of music | Trinidad Guardian - Lifestyle

"Workbook incorporates all genres of music" says Paula Lindo, The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper.   

The newly released music workbook, Claire’s Intermediate Workbook, incorporates classical music, elements of jazz, traditional West Indian music and the steelpan in one 400-page book.

Claire's Music Workbook - Intermediate Edition
Edition: First Edition, Publisher: Eros Mungal
Published: November 21, 2017
UK-based writer Eros Mungal said the workbook teaches not only piano and keyboard, but music in general and is designed to take the student to the next level.

Mungal said this is the second workbook he has published, with the first one encompassing Grades One to Three in the Royal Music Examinations. This new workbook addresses the Theory of Music up to and including Grade 5 as well as the requirements of the CSEC music syllabus for CXC exams. Mungal said he went through the CSEC syllabus with a fine-tooth comb when putting the book together, and while it might not address everything, it does give a comprehensive review.

He said: “I think the book is filling a serious gap in education and I use phrases and exercises that point people toward what CXC is looking for, and if they’re taking the formal music examinations, this will fulfill all of that, so it’s one solution to just about everything.”...

In Trinidad the basic workbook has sold over 8,000 copies and has been used in private schools and by music teachers. The cover includes the flags of the major Caribbean countries, pictures of musical instruments, and a photo of Darren, one of Mungal’s sons, interacting with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.

A special feature of this workbook is the addition of a steelpan supplement with a specially written foreword by Liam Teague, Associate Professor of Music at Northern Illinois University.
Read more... 

Supplementary Information
Liam Teague's Website
Source:Trinidad Guardian

Artificial Intelligence In 2017: Skynet, Is That You? | Tech Times

Aaron Mamiit, Tech Times inform, "Artificial intelligence research made great strides in 2017, increasing the capabilities and opening up new applications for the technology."

Artificial intelligence research made great strides in 2017, with many new advancements and applications for the technology. There are concerns, however, that AI is forming into something like Skynet from the "Terminator" franchise. 
Photo: Manjunath Kiran | Getty Images
Unfortunately, the topic always raises concerns that someday, machines will enslave the human race and conquer the Earth like Skynet did in the Terminator franchise.

Here's a look back at artificial intelligence in 2017, and how far (or near) humans are from something like Skynet happening.

What Did Artificial Intelligence Achieve In 2017? 
Artificial intelligence is defined as the study and design of intelligent agents, which are systems that can perceive their environment and take actions that maximize the chance of success. AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experiences and perform tasks just like humans.

Many believe that the technology will play a huge role in our technological future, which is why companies like Samsung and countries like China are making huge investments into AI.

In 2017, artificial intelligence went on a gaming spree to prove its capabilities. In January, an AI named Libratus, developed by researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University, was able to beat professional players in the game of poker...

The Threat Of Artificial Intelligence
The growth of artificial intelligence, however, is still viewed as a threat despite the technology's many useful applications. It does not help the technology's public image that Anthony Levandowski, a former Uber executive, established a religion to worship AI... 

The Future Of Artificial Intelligence
It remains to be seen what else artificial intelligence research will achieve in 2018. However, what is sure is that the world will keep a close eye on the technology, both for the new applications that will arise and because of the warnings against it.

Source: Tech Times  

Researchers: Artificial Intelligence is dumber than a 5-year-old and no smarter than a rat | TechStartups.com - TechStartups Team

We’ve all heard or read about how robots are going to take away our jobs. Saudi Arabia even went as far as granting citizenship to “Sophia the robot” back in October (See the video below).

Robot Sophia speaks at Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative 

With crytocurrency at the top of daily headlines, 2017 may be remembered as the year artificial intelligence (AI, pronounced AYE-EYE) goes mainstream with more organizations adopting AI than ever. Two weeks ago, we wrote about Professor Geoffrey Hinton, known worldwide as the Godfather of AI, and how his research work in the area of Neuro Net was used in speech recognition and Android voice search. Yes, we’ve made a lot of progress since AI started as an academic discipline in 1956. However, AI still has a long way to go.

Over the years, AI has experienced several waves of optimism but it was also followed by series of unmet expectations, slow progress and disappointment. The disappointment comes from AI hypes. You can read more about AI marketing hypes. So what is AI? AI is the process of simulating human intelligence using machines, especially computer systems. The process includes learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. AI has many applications, including expert systems, speech recognition, machine vision and cancer research. AI use cases span could be used in any areas where automation and deep learning is needed...

In an article titled: Stanford-led artificial intelligence index tracks emerging field,” emeritus professor Yoav Shoham said “In many ways, we are flying blind in our discussions about artificial Intelligence and lack the data we need to credibly evaluate activity.” “AI has made truly amazing strides in the past decade,” Shoham said, “but computers still can’t exhibit the common sense or the general intelligence of even a 5-year-old.” The report went on to say:
In terms of human-level performance, the AI Index suggests that in some ways AI has already arrived. This is true in game-playing applications including chess, the Jeopardy! game show and, most recently, the game of Go. Nonetheless, the authors note that computers continue to lag considerably in the ability to generalize specific information into deeper meaning.Professor Shoham is not alone. Raymond Perrault, a scientist at SRI International, told the New York Times, “The public thinks we know how to do far more than we do now.”  Facebook’s head of AI, Yann LeCun, said, “our most advanced AI systems are dumber than a rat.” Another article warns of AI’s magical promises, as seen in IBM Watson’s underwhelming cancer play. Conner Forrest, the author of the article said, “AI could still “bring about massive change in many industries, but it is still in its infancy and business leaders need to see through the marketing hype.” Overall, AI is trending in the right direction but this is still a long way to go.

Source: TechStartups.com (blog) and Arab News Channel (YouTube)

Universities warned over free speech by Jo Johnson | The Times

Follow on Twitter as @nicolawoolcockNicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent at The Times reports, "Student beliefs must be challenged, says minister."

Jo Johnson has set out the dangers of shielding students from views that differ from their own through “safe spaces” and “no-platforming”
Photo: Chris Radburn/PA
Universities must “open minds, not close them” and face tough new penalties if they do not promote freedom of speech, Jo Johnson will warn today. 

Students should expect to encounter controversial opinions and “frank and rigorous discussions”, the universities minister will argue. 

His defence of open debate comes amid a row at Oxford University, where dozens of academics have criticised a professor for arguing that Britain’s imperial history was not entirely shameful. Nigel Biggar, regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at the university, has been criticised by colleagues and students after writing an article in The Times calling for a more nuanced appraisal. 

In a speech to be delivered in Birmingham at the Limmud Festival, a celebration of Jewish learning and culture, Mr Johnson sets out the dangers of shielding students from views that differ from their own through “safe spaces” and “no-platforming”.   

Next year the newly created Office for Students (OfS) will be given the power to fine, suspend or deregister universities that fail to uphold free speech.

“Universities should be places that open minds, not close them, where ideas can be freely challenged,” Mr Johnson says. “In universities in America and worryingly in the UK, we have seen examples of groups seeking to stifle those who do not agree with them. 

“We must not allow this to happen. Young people should have the resilience and confidence to challenge controversial opinions and take part in open, frank and rigorous discussions...

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Universities are absolutely committed to promoting and securing free speech and will not allow legitimate speech to be stifled.
Read more... 

Source: The Times 

That’s Maths: Darkening mornings and brightening evenings around Christmas | Irish Times - Science

Peter Lynch, emeritus professor at the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University College Dublin – he blogs at thatsmaths.com inform, "The unsteady path of the earth around the sun means we see a stretch in the evenings weeks before the mornings start to become noticeably brighter." 

Sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice, at Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Photo: Eric Luke
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. We might expect that the latest sunrise and earliest sunset also occur today. In fact, the earliest sunset, the darkest day of the year, was on December 13th, over a week ago, and the latest sunrise is still more than a week away. This curious behaviour is due to the unsteady path of the earth around the sun. Our clocks, which run regularly at what is called mean time, move in and out of synchronisation with solar time.
The difference between clock time and solar time is encapsulated in a mathematical expression called the Equation of Time. The extent of the discrepancy between apparent solar time, following the sun, and mean solar time, with noons always 24 hours apart, can be up to about 15 minutes. Technically, the difference is due to the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit and the obliquity of the ecliptic. In plain language, the orbit of earth is not perfectly circular, but is slightly elongated and the axis of rotation of earth has a tilt.
Imagine that the path of earth around the sun were a perfect circle, and the axis of rotation were perpendicular to the plane of the orbit. Then there would be a symmetry in the day: the time between sunrise and noon would equal the time between noon and sunset. Thus, if sunrise is at 7am, five hours before noon, sunset should be at 5pm, five hours after noon. But suppose now that your watch is one hour fast. Then sunrise is at 8am by your watch, four hours before noon. And sunset is at 6pm, six hours after noon. The symmetry is broken.
As a result of this asymmetry, noon is not normally halfway between sunrise and sunset. This happens on only four days every year, when mean time and solar time agree. One of those days is Christmas Day. Just before Christmas, the sun is running fast so that, by our clocks, both sunrise and sunset seem slightly early.Read more...
Source: Irish Times

Artificial intelligence and Christmas | Jamaica Observer

(The views expressed here are not written on behalf of CARPHA)
Photo: Derrick AaronsDerrick Aarons, Consultant Bioethicist / Palliative Care & Family Physician says, "...Christmas, a day that carries religious as well as secular significance in the western world."

Artificial intelligence
For Christians, the day is celebrated as the day on which Jesus Christ was born in a manger as the son of God, of virgin birth to two young people, Mary and Joseph.
Christmas is preceded by the period of Advent, a four-week period during which there is a spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ and much foretelling of the birth of baby Jesus.

For individuals of more secular persuasion, the day is the cumulation of a period of anticipatory joy, punctuated by extensive shopping (consumerism), decoration of house and home, the purchasing of gifts for friends, family, and loved ones, and preparation of food and drink for the family gathering that brings together many from both near and far.

Expressing love at Christmas
The two approaches to the season are not, however, mutually exclusive. Many Christians prepare their homes lavishly, indulge in baking 'Christmas' cakes, the 'drawing' of sorrel, the preparation of ham, and the buying of gifts that are presented at Christmas as an expression of love for others. Many secular individuals, despite not actively involved in organised religion and its various manifestations, nevertheless express their spirituality in several ways. This may be expressed and shared through their involvement in charity to others, or in creative expressions or tangible offerings that may bring joy to many people.

Religion, religious expressions and spirituality lie along a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum are the strong, and in some circumstances fanatic believers in the existence of God. At the other end are those who avow atheism. Between these two poles are to be found people of varying faith, agnostics, and individuals seeking to make sense of the world. This pluralism exists in many societies around the world and individuals from all sectors of society have contributed positively to society's advancement and development.

Artificial intelligence
Mankind has made so much progress in technological innovations in recent times that artificial intelligence is now predicted to overtake human intelligence in the very near future.

Under these circumstances, however, for those who believe in Jesus as the son of God and his virgin birth, how might they reconcile the existence of an all-powerful God and his dictates for mankind going forward with the rapid advances in artificial intelligence that falls under no religious guidance?

Artificial intelligence has no religious beliefs or spiritual existence, emotions, or reasoning that may be swayed by political or other considerations. For instance, when artificial intelligence acts through computerised technology, mistakes are not made since mistakes are often a manifestation of man's poor judgement, while artificial intelligence functions solely on evidence, logic and computerised precision.

In light of this reality, therefore, some have been proposing that artificial intelligence may well present an alternative to organised religion. This possible role has recently emerged through the expansive effects of technology and its applications.

The capital of computerised technology is Silicon Valley in California, USA, where recently there has been what is described as religious 'start-ups'.

Start-ups are businesses that 'begin from scratch', supposedly on a novel idea or premise that may prove successful in the medium or long term. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other technological giants all began as start-ups, requiring investments and confidence in the product that eventually proved remarkably successful.

Source: Jamaica Observer

How reading, giving and receiving books can tackle the January blues | iNews - Comment

Photo: Sue Wilkinson"Christmas is a lovely time of year if you are lucky enough to be well, to have friends and family around you and to feel in control of your life" summarizes Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency.

Photo: Getty
However, for many people it is a time that they dread. As the clocks go back and the nights draw in during the winter, many older people talk about how much more difficult it is to be on your own.

In a recent interview Jacqueline Wilson expressed her concerns about children, too, feeling worried and isolated. But I was heartened by her suggestion in another interview that she hopes her books will reassure children going through a difficult time and “make them feel as if they’re not alone.” 

If reading can, as Jacqueline suggests, provide reassurance and a sense of connection with others, it has never been more important. We are facing a “rising tide of mental health issues among young people”, according to a 2016 survey by the Association of Schools and College Leaders. Reading could be transformative for the 1 in 4 adults who experience mental health issues in their lifetime,the 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and the 1 in 10 older people who feel isolated and lonely.

Reading boosts wellbeing We always knew that a book could be a great Christmas present, but can it also really be a life changer?...

Giving books Of course, many people face barriers to reading or feel that it isn’t for them, so those of us who do read can play an important role in bringing books into other people’s lives.
Read more... 

Source: iNews

8 essential books to get reading over Christmas | Wired.co.uk - Books

"Whether you're in the mood for a novel, some non-fiction or a collection of comic books, WIRED has got you covered"

Photo: Storyblocks.com
Christmas is the perfect time for stuffing yourself with food before getting cosy and wiling away the long winter nights with a great book. Take a look at this list of what we've been reading this year, and maybe you'll find some inspiration for your own bookshelves – virtual or otherwise – this Christmas.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness 

The Soul of an Octopus:
A Surprising Exploration into
the Wonder of Consciousness
Looking for alien life? 
Start by taking a closer look at the remarkable world of the octopus. In The Soul of an Octopus, naturalist Sy Montgomery explains how these creatures aren’t just super-intelligent, but also full of personality. During her studies, Montgomery explores the fledgling field of octopus intelligence, showing them at their playful, ingenious best. This book sets out to change your preconceptions of what intelligence means and – in a roundabout way – gives a glimpse of how these ideas might be further challenged when we eventually find equally bizarre life elsewhere in the universe. And you’ll fall in love with a few octopuses along the way 

The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world

The Runaway Species:
How human creativity
remakes the worldThe Runaway Species is a beautifully illustrated deep dive into human creativity by Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman and composer Anthony Brandt. Covering the neuroscience of why and how we innovate, using examples of Picasso’s offensive art and the agenda-setting iPhone, this is a must-read for anyone with curiosity about the workings of the human mind. 

To Be a Machine 

To Be a Machine:
Adventures Among Cyborgs,
Utopians, Hackers, and
the Futurists Solving the Modest
Problem of Death

Humans and robotics are merging. Leading this movement is a dedicated bunch of transhumanists who want to augment their bodies with technology. With a gonzo-style reporting aproach, Mark O'Connell meets the people who want to become machines and those who have already taken the first steps.  

Enjoy your reading and merry Christmas!

Source: Wired.co.uk

The best science books of 2017 | PRI - Arts, Culture & Media

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. Check out the full list of 2017’s best science books at Science Friday

Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova, editor and founder of BrainPickings.org and a MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology join Ira Flatow to run down the year’s best science books. 
It’s that magical time of year, when Science Friday rounds up the best science books to hit shelves in 2017, according to Julia Franz, freelance writer who contributes to PRI.org.

Many great science-related books were published in 2017. Some of our favorites are detailed below.
Photo: Dom J/CC0. Image cropped.
Maria Popova, the founder and editor of Brain Pickings, and Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, joined host Ira Flatow to share a few of their favorites. For their full list of picks, check out Science Friday's website.

"Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II," by Liza Mundy
For Blum, "Code Girls" was one of those books. “I sort of hounded my husband around the house, saying, ‘Let me read you this. Let me read you this. This is really amazing,’” she says. “And the book is a really riveting story of the women who — during World War II — were engaged in the secret … deciphering of codes, of both the Japanese and the German codes."

Code Girls:
The Untold Story of
the American Women
Code Breakers of World War II
Many of the women hadn’t had the chance to train as scientists, she says. “One of the things I love about the book is these were school teachers and actuaries and factory workers who just had an unusual gift for math and pattern and language. They came from small towns all around the country, and they went wholeheartedly into trying — as they saw it — to save the soldiers abroad, understand what was going on.”

"Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space," by Janna Levin
"Black Hole Blues" is so good that Popova used a loophole to include it on this year’s list. “It’s a book that was published last year, though the paperback came out a couple of months ago,” she says. “But what merits its inclusion this year — quite apart from the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read in my entire life — is that it’s the definitive chronicle of the discovery that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics, which is certainly the most significant discovery in astrophysics in our lifetime, and probably since Galileo: the detection of gravitational waves, the sound of spacetime.”

Black Hole Blues
and Other Songs
from Outer Space
Listen to Janna Levin on Science Friday, and read an excerpt from Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, by Nate Blakeslee
“[It’s] the story of the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone, and it’s just so beautifully written,” Blum says. “I could not put the book down, even though — you know, it explores issues of politics and science and natural history and what it means to bring back an often-hated species into an ecosystem, and conflicts between hunters and scientists and biologists and wilderness.

American Wolf:
A True Story of Survival
and Obsession in the West
“You know, it wraps into this incredible story of wolves and who they are — the story of how we take care of the world around us.”

Source: PRI   

IIT Madras student chosen for Google PhD Fellowship | The Hindu - Education

Preksha Nema shares what it took for her to become a Google PhD Fellow. 

Photo: The Hindu
IIT-Madras student Preksha Nema is one of four recipients in the country, of the Google PhD Fellowship 2017. This programme recognises graduate students doing “exceptional work in computer science and related research areas.” Besides connecting the chosen Fellows to a Google Research Mentor, the programme provides monetary support and a stipend.

Preksha is jointly guided by Professor Mitesh M. Khapra and Professor B. Ravindran at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Under their supervision, she does research in machine learning for natural language processing (NLP), specifically, a machine learning method known as deep learning. It is this exciting area that is responsible for a variety of applications such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, chatbots, and personalised music or shopping recommendations. 

Excerpts from an interview with Preksha.

I really liked programming from the time it was introduced in school. It makes you think step by step on how to reach a solution; it helps you enumerate your thoughts. It is like solving puzzles, which I always liked.

Quitting my job, and returning to higher education after working for three years was a bit worrisome. I was not sure if I would be able to perform well. But once the coursework started, I got accustomed to the routine. Luckily, I have a strong support system comprising my advisors, family, and friends. The dedication and patience with which my father does any work always amazes me. I keep trying to be like him.

I work in deep learning for NLP. The broader goal here is to make machines understand and generate semantically and syntactically correct sentences in English (or any other natural language). Google Translate and Google Search are some common applications of NLP.

My initial PhD work introduced a novel method for computers to generate human-like summaries of an article. For example, a trained machine can read a document on biogas and then generate a summary based on a given query. For example, “What are the environmental benefits of using biogas?”

Now, I am focussing on Q&A systems; we would like the system to accurately answer questions based on some contextual information. We are also exploring ideas to get the system itself to generate meaningful questions.
Read more... 

Source: The Hindu

AI Weekly: The 3-pronged AI startup test | VentureBeat - AI

Photo: Blair Hanley FrankCheck out this article below by Blair Hanley Frank, staff writer for VentureBeat covering artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Photo: dotshock/Shutterstock
Hey, everybody!

When I talk with people about being an AI reporter, one of the topics that tends to come up is the issue of evaluating companies that claim to be working with AI in some capacity. It can be hard to evaluate how different companies compare, especially with new startups cropping up on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

To help with my own workload, I’ve developed a three-point test, which I apply to every company that lands in my inbox. To pass, companies need to have these three elements: AI experts on staff; experts in the field that they’re focusing on; and a unique dataset. An early-stage company that is weak in one of those areas may still turn into a remarkable business, but I’d want to see some level of self-awareness about either bringing in the needed expertise or data.

Here’s the reasoning behind my criteria. Experienced staff is necessary because building an AI system is hard and requires specialized skills, which calls for people who have past work in the field.

Depending on how sophisticated and novel a company’s application of AI is, they’ll need varying degrees of expertise in that field. If you’re trying to build a machine learning system using techniques nobody else has, the people building that system better be at the top of their game.

Subject matter experts, meanwhile, are needed to make sure that the AI application being built is solving the right problems. People don’t go out and buy two quarts of AI. They buy a product to solve a problem, so the application of artificial intelligence should create results that outperform predecessors and fit into customers’ existing workflows. People who understand the market that a product will enter are critical to getting that piece right...

If a company only meets two of these three criteria in the long run, they’re open to attack by a better prepared competitor. Businesses without sufficient AI expertise will have a hard time developing the intelligent applications they need. Those without relevant subject matter experts will have to learn what their customers need in order to apply AI to it. And without the right data, the systems won’t provide the best insights that they could.

For AI coverage, send news tips to Blair Hanley Frank and Khari Johnson, and guest post submissions to Cosette Jarrett — and be sure to bookmark our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,

Blair Hanley Frank
AI Staff Writer

P.S. Please enjoy this video:
How Machines Learn 

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Photo: Shutterstock.com / Zapp2Photo
4 predictions for conversational AI in 2018 by Jonathan Shriftman, Director of Business Development at Snaps, a mobile messaging service. 

"As marketers look into 2018, they see the conversational AI landscape is primed for increased consumer adoption." 

Source: VentureBeat and CGP Grey Channel (YouTube)

2017: the year smartphones went all-screen and came with baked-in AI | The Guardian - Technology

Photo: Samuel Gibbs Please take a closer peek at this article as below by Samuel Gibbs, Guardian's assistant technology editor.

But by the end of 2017 it was clear manufacturers needed to go all-screen or go home.
Photo: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
At the beginning of 2017 you could have been forgiven for thinking that smartphone innovation had died, with most phones looking the same and doing the same things, changing very little from the year before.

But by the end of 2017 two things were clear: manufacturers needed to go all-screen or go home, and artificial intelligence had finally made its way into the phone, not just feeding everything you said to a server somewhere over the horizon.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 introduced the new minimal bezel design in April, shrinking the non-screen parts of the front down to the bare minimum and as a result putting a bigger screen in the same sized smartphone. 

It was clearly the future. Even Apple agreed, launching the iPhone X in November. 

While there are many upsides to the so-called “bezel-less” smartphone design, increased fragility is not one of them. As drop tests of the iPhone X showed, an all-screen design and the ground do not mix

Despite these worries, the elongated screens with ratios around 18:9, rather than the regular 16:9 widescreen ratio of phone screens and TVs before, are expected to extendto the middle ranges in 2018 – so no longer the preserve of the top-tier £500+ smartphones.

On the inside, the big smartphone trend for 2018 will be greater use of AI to make devices faster and smarter.

Google’s vice president product manager Mario Queiroz, said: “We’re getting to the point where photo quality is already so good that the focus is turning to the smarts that you build beyond that.” 

Augmented reality is one such task, overlaying virtual items and information on to the real world through the screen. Using AI to do things faster is another.

“How many times do you long press on the word and it just selects that one word,” says Queiroz, using the example of Buckingham Palace. “Why, when you press on Palace does it not take into account Buckingham?”

Using local machine learning (ML), Android’s smart select feature predicts which other words around the one you tapped on you might actually want to select. 
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian

2017 laid the foundation for faster, smarter AI in 2018 | Engadget - Robots

Photo: Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn Low, reviews editor of Engadget says, "We’ve made progress, but there’s still a long way to go."

Watch the Video
"AI is like the Wild West right now," Tim Leland, Qualcomm's head of graphics, told me earlier this month when the company unveiled its latest premium mobile chipset. The Snapdragon 845 was designed to handle AI computing tasks better. It's the latest product of the tech industry's obsession with artificial intelligence. No company wants to be left behind, and whether it's by optimizing their hardware for AI processing or using machine learning to speed up tasks, every major brand has invested heavily in artificial intelligence. But even though AI permeated all aspects of our lives in 2017, the revolution is only just beginning.

This might be a helpful time to clarify that AI is often a catch-all term for an assortment of different technologies. There's artificial intelligence in our digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the Google Assistant. You'll find artificial intelligence in software like Facebook's Messenger chatbots and Gmail's auto-replies. It's defined as "intelligence displayed by machines" but also refers to situations when computers do things without human instructions. Then there's machine-learning, which is when computers teach themselves how to perform tasks that humans do. For example, recently, an MIT face-recognition system learned how to identify people the same way humans do without any help from its creators.

It's important not to confuse these ideas -- machine-learning is a subset of artificial intelligence. Let's use the term machine learning when we're talking specifically about concepts like neural networks and models like Google's TensorFlow library, and AI to refer to the bots, devices and software that perform tasks they've learned.

One of the biggest developments as we head into 2018 is the shift from running machine-learning models in the cloud to your phone. This year, Google, Facebook and Apple launched mobile versions of their machine-learning frameworks, letting developers speed up AI-based tasks in their apps. Chip makers also rushed to design mobile processors for machine learning. Huawei, Apple and Qualcomm all tuned their latest chipsets this year to better manage AI-related workloads by offering dedicated "neural" cores. But barring a few examples like Face ID on the iPhone X and Microsoft Translator on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, we haven't yet seen concrete examples of the benefits of chips tuned for AI.

Basically, AI has been improving for years, but it's mostly been cloud-based. Take an image-recognition system, for example. At first, it might be able to distinguish between men and women who look drastically different. But as the program continues training on more pictures in the cloud, it can get better at telling individuals apart, and those improvements get sent to your phone. In 2018, we're poised to put true AI processing in our pockets. Being able to execute models on mobile devices not only makes AI faster, it also stores the data on your phone instead of sending it to the cloud, which is better for your privacy.

Source: Engadget

Inspired by Babies, AI Robot Vestri can see the Future | Edgy Labs - AI

Berkeley researchers developed an AI optimization technology that enables an AI robot to ‘imagine’ the future of their actions in order to manipulate objects they have never encountered before. 
Photo: Obtained by YouTube"In today’s AI landscape, deep learning neural networks are all the rage because they allow an AI to learn autonomously" according to William McKinney, English teacher, a card carrying nerd.

Vestri the robot imagines how to perform tasks

Let me give you a good example: Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have recently developed a new robotic learning technology that lets robots predict the future much like humans do.

The researchers took inspiration from the motor babbling of human babies, which is a term used to describe a baby’s frantic playing with toys and with its body in order to learn how to manipulate itself and objects around it.

But how did they do it, and what does that mean for the future of robotic AI software? To answer that question, let’s get into the details of UC Berkeley’s robot, Vestri.

Building a Smarter AI Robot 
The idea behind Vestri is pretty simple. Whereas conventional robotics implies pre-programmed responses, Vestri is capable of responding on the fly.

Of course, while the idea is simple, the execution is anything but. Let me try to put things into perspective for you. Optimally, Vestri should have the kinds of motor skills that an adult human has. Currently, however, Vestri is still at the level of a toddler.

This is because Vestri is still in the initial stages of learning. Human brains learn through doing, which is why babies make so many awkward movements. It’s that process we referred to, called motor babbling, and it took Vestri about a week to complete.

At this stage, Vestri is more of a proof of concept for greater things involving a relatively new technology called visual foresight. Visual foresight allows an AI to learn simple manual skills without any supervision. The software sees, it reacts, and it learns, and that’s bleeding edge AI technology in a nutshell.
Vestri uses its visual input to create images that it predicts will happen. By using these predictions, Vestri is able to choose the best one. So far, that takes the form of Vestri moving objects around on a table.

In the future, though, it could lead us to an AI that can anticipate mistakes and protect itself and even humans from harm when things go awry.

Control via video prediction requires autonomous observations by the robot. This means that the robot needs to see outcomes for itself, without the copious amount of supervision that other AI gets. Simply put, the AI needs to learn for itself, by itself.

That level of independence requires imagination, which is what video foresight simulates. It leads me to wonder if this kind of technology will set the direction for the AI robot of the future...

It could even lead to an AI with a human-like consciousness.
Read more... 

Source: Edgy Labs (blog) and UC Berkeley Channel (YouTube)

This Hyd-based startup is using deep tech analytics to help students ace exams | The News Minute - Atom - Startups and Tech

Follow on Twitter as @Shilparanipeta"Egnify has developed a deep tech solution which analyses the mark sheets of students and tells them exactly where and why they fared badly" notes Shilpa S Ranipeta, Senior Correspondent at The News Minute.  

Photo: Steven S. via Flickr
What rank did you get in IIT? What is your GPA or CGPA? These are questions students get asked while growing up. Given the highly competitive nature of education today, scoring the highest possible marks in an examination has become paramount.

Everyone wants to increase their marks. But teachers have too many students to handle, students are bogged down by immense pressure and parents are often clueless on how to help their children improve or do better.

According to Kiran Babu, the solution to this problem is analytics. “If you can get analytics into education and develop a feedback loop, it can go a long way in engaging students and helping them understand what exactly they need to focus on,” he adds.

Kiran Babu has developed a deep tech solution that uses machine learning and data science to analyse the performance of students and apart from telling them where they lack, it also gives a detailed breakdown of their marks and exactly what a student needs to focus on.

Founded in 2015, Egnify has developed two different products ACADS and JEET to enable educational institutes give students personalised actionable analysis with feedback and recommendations to improve their performance.   

ACADS is Egnify’s solution for K-10 schools. It has developed a platform where schools can upload the mark sheets of students, which then gets analysed. It analyses where students went wrong, which questions a student is struggling with. 

“For students, they can know which particular concept they are lacking in and it even tells them which chapter that is, what page number it is on for students to go back and study and improve, making their learning smart,” Kiran says. 

There is a detailed analysis of teachers too, in terms of what questions students in a class performed badly on, helping them understand which concept needs to be focused on and where they are lacking in their teaching. A class teacher can track all the subject teachers too, to understand how they are faring in terms of imparting lessons. 

It also tracks their soft skills, their attendance to give parents and the teachers a holistic view of a student’s performance and recommendations for improvement. The real value add here is the fact that feedback is in-depth and personalised for every single student, something a mere report card doesn’t tell.

Apart from schools, the real opportunity for Egnify, Kiran says, is in the space of IIT, JEE, NEET and other competitive examinations. Given the fierce competitive nature of these exams, Kiran says that its solution has more value proposition. It developed its second product JEET for this segment of students. 

Here, the OMR sheets that students answer on are analysed to understand the competency of students in terms of which questions they falter on, which concepts need more focus and how their performance is, compared to the rest of the class. It gives institutes, campus trend analyses, marks-based analysis, error analysis and more. 

“For competitive exams, its all about the marks. A single mark makes a huge difference and can even affect ranks. So we analyse not only which concepts a student needs to focus on but where he or she stands,” Kiran adds.

Source: The News Minute


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