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André Haynes
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Do you remember the Ginzu knife infomercials on TV, showing off more and more amazing feats and features, then asking: "Now how much would you pay?" Except now we're talking about an amazing bundle of data science and AI ebooks from O'Reilly Media! It's good for you, good for the publisher and authors, and good for the selected nonprofit. So I'm SUPER excited to say that we are doing our best-ever Humble Bundle starting today. The Humble Bundle is a real innovation in ebook, software, and game distribution - a "pay what you want" bundle of amazing value, with minimum thresholds unlocking ever more value. A portion of what you pay goes to a nonprofit, in this case, Code for America, which brings the power of technology to bear helping government services work better for the people who need them most. Now how much would you pay? Check it out!

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Nobel Laureate in Economics Oliver Hart and his colleague Luigi Zingales provide a fascinating analysis and refutation of Milton Friedman's intellectual basis for shareholder value maximization theory, explaining why they believe that "shareholder welfare maximization should replace market value maximization as the proper objective of companies.”

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Interactive chart of which jobs most vulnerable to automation, updated with 2016 and 2017 statistics.

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Can we teach robots to understand semantic concepts, to get them to follow simple commands specified through categorical labels or user-provided examples? Below on the Google Research blog, we discuss some of our recent work on robotic learning that combines experience that is autonomously gathered by the robot, which is plentiful but lacks human-provided labels, with human-labeled data that allows a robot to understand semantics.

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The myth of a superhuman AI, according to +Kevin Kelly. "The assumptions behind a superhuman intelligence arising soon are: artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate, we'll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own, we can make human intelligence in silicon, and intelligence can be expanded without limit."

"In contradistinction to this orthodoxy, I find the following five heresies to have more evidence to support them: intelligence is not a single dimension, so 'smarter than humans' is a meaningless concept, humans do not have general purpose minds, and neither will AIs, emulation of human thinking in other media will be constrained by cost, dimensions of intelligence are not infinite, and intelligences are only one factor in progress.

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> We did analysis on hundreds of factors across centuries worth of data from hundreds of countries to determine what drove the levels of violence in a society. [...] What we found was that the most significant factor was the number of individuals aged 13–19 relative to the number of individuals aged over 35. If the teenage group ever exceeded the over 35 group, violence increased to the point there was a very high chance of civil war. Furthermore, the opposite was true. If the 35+ year-olds outnumbered the teenagers, there was no chance of civil war. [...]

> ... numerous children then receive less attention, less affection, and less education. They don't have productive means of employment, and when they get hit with the wave of hormones we all experienced during our teenage years, they aren't in school, don't have a job, and don't have a mother to give them the love they need. All it takes is some charismatic leader to rally them behind a populist cause and boom the powder keg explodes.

> The craziest part of my story was that we did this research in 2007. At the time, there were several countries that had the same population pyramid with tons of teenagers but low violence and no civil war: Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iran (Tunisia wasn't as bad, actually).

> The "bosses" said this was a real problem with our theory, and we tried to explain it away by saying maybe in the 21st century where dictators have access to fighter jets and tanks that they can hold the teenagers back from starting a civil war. Little did we know we had accidentally predicted the Arab Spring by nearly three years! [...] ... there is no way we are overthrowing our government in the United States through violence. There just aren't enough teenagers.

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"Artificial intelligence is making human speech as malleable and replicable as pixels. Today, a Canadian AI startup named Lyrebird unveiled its first product: a set of algorithms the company claims can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a single minute of sample audio."

"The results certainly aren’t indistinguishable from human speech, but they’re impressive all the same, and will no doubt improve over time. Below you can hear the synthesized voices of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton discussing the startup."

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