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Archive for the ‘policy’ category

Aug 8, 2018

Uncertain human consequences in asteroid risk analysis and the global catastrophe threshold

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, existential risks, policy

By pure coincidence, the article by Seth Baum was published just 5 days after a small asteroid exploded over early warning Tule station in Greenland.


This paper studies the risk of collision between asteroids and Earth. It focuses on uncertainty in the human consequences of asteroid collisions, with emphasis on the possibility of global catastrophe to human civilization. A detailed survey of the asteroid risk literature shows that while human consequences are recognized as a major point of uncertainty, the studies focus mainly on physical and environmental dimensions of the risk. Some potential human consequences are omitted entirely, such as the possibility of asteroid explosions inadvertently causing nuclear war. Other human consequences are modeled with varying degrees of detail. Direct medical effects are relatively well-characterized, while human consequences of global environmental effects are more uncertain. The latter are evaluated mainly in terms of a global catastrophe threshold, but such a threshold is deeply uncertain and may not even exist. To handle threshold uncertainty in asteroid policy, this paper adapts the concept of policy boundaries from literature on anthropogenic global environmental change (i.e., planetary boundaries). The paper proposes policy boundaries of 100 m asteroid diameter for global environmental effects and 1 m for inadvertent nuclear war. Other policy implications include a more aggressive asteroid risk mitigation policy and measures to avoid inadvertent nuclear war. The paper argues that for rare events like large asteroid collisions, the absence of robust data means that a wide range of possible human consequences should be considered. This implies humility for risk analysis and erring on the side of caution in policy.

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Jul 31, 2018

Neil deGrasse Tyson scolds cherry picking climate science

Posted by in categories: climatology, policy, science, sustainability

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says lawmakers and the media cherry pick scientific papers to reinforce political ideals on climate change and says it’s irresponsible to create public policy while ignoring the scientific community’s consensus.

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Jul 24, 2018

Google Employees’ Secret to Never Getting Phished Is Using Physical Security Keys

Posted by in categories: policy, security

If you’ve been hacked in recent years, odds are you fell for that perfectly crafted phishing message in your email. Even the most mindful individuals can slip up, but Google’s employees have reportedly had a flawless security record for more than a year thanks to a recent policy requiring them to use physical security keys.

Krebs on Security reports that in early 2017, Google started requiring its 85,000 employees to use a security key device to handle two-factor authentication when logging into their various accounts. Rather than just having a single password, or receiving a secondary access code via text message (or an app such as Google Authenticator), the employees had to use a traditional password as well as plug in a device that only they possessed. The results were stellar. From the report:

A Google spokesperson said Security Keys now form the basis of all account access at Google.

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Jul 24, 2018

Beyond silicon: $1.5 billion U.S. program aims to spur new types of computer chips

Posted by in categories: computing, military, nanotechnology, particle physics, policy

Silicon computer chips have been on a roll for half a century, getting ever more powerful. But the pace of innovation is slowing. Today the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced dozens of new grants totaling $75 million in a program that aims to reinvigorate the chip industry with basic research into new designs and materials, such as carbon nanotubes. Over the next few years, the DARPA program, which supports both academic and industry scientists, will grow to $300 million per year up to a total of $1.5 billion over 5 years.

“It’s a critical time to do this,” says Erica Fuchs, a computer science policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made the observation that would become his eponymous “law”: The number of transistors on chips was doubling every 2 years, a time frame later cut to every 18 months. But the gains from miniaturizing the chips are dwindling. Today, chip speeds are stuck in place, and each new generation of chips brings only a 30% improvement in energy efficiency, says Max Shulaker, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Fabricators are approaching physical limits of silicon, says Gregory Wright, a wireless communications expert at Nokia Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey. Electrons are confined to patches of silicon just 100 atoms wide, he says, forcing complex designs that prevent electrons from leaking out and causing errors. “We’re running out of room,” he says.

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Jul 21, 2018

Online portal of thousands of clinical trials could aid disease research

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, policy

Vivli, which spun out of a policy think tank at Harvard University–affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is part of a push to encourage drug developers to share trial data—even negative results, findings that show a treatment has no benefit. Companies seeking U.S. regulatory approval for a drug, as well as investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health, must post limited, summary results on ClinicalTrials.gov. But many researchers and policy analysts believe sharing detailed raw data on individual patients, stripped of identifying information, would be valuable. Researchers could confirm that a drug works, look for side effects, or explore new questions.


Vivli aims to ease sharing of anonymized clinical studies.

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Jul 16, 2018

Aston Martin

Posted by in categories: law, policy, security, transportation

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Jul 7, 2018

What if AI made actors immortal?

Posted by in categories: climatology, life extension, policy, robotics/AI

I’m not that interested in this on the movie end, because i think most movies already suck, and couldnt really get any worse.


AUDREY HEPBURN DIED in 1993, but in 2013 she nevertheless starred in an advertisement for Galaxy, a type of chocolate bar. She was shown riding a bus along the Amalfi coast before catching the eye of a passing hunk in a convertible. In 2016 Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, reprised his role as the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin in the Star Wars film “Rogue One”. Such resurrections are not new, but they are still uncommon enough to count as news. Yet advances in special effects—and, increasingly, in artificial intelligence (AI)—are making it ever easier to manufacture convincing forgeries of human beings.

In recent months this has led to concern that propagandists will use the technology to generate videos in which political figures appear to say compromising things. A video created by BuzzFeed, a news website, in April shows Barack Obama apparently saying “We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time,” for example. In May a Belgian political party produced a fake video of Donald Trump saying implausible things about Belgium’s climate policy. In both cases the video looks slightly off, and the voice is provided by an impersonator. But the technology is improving fast, prompting a dozen AI researchers to place bets on whether a fake video will disrupt America’s midterm elections later this year. (Tim Hwang, a Harvard academic, is overseeing the wager.)

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Jul 7, 2018

An Overview of National AI Strategies

Posted by in categories: education, ethics, policy, robotics/AI

Dont really care about the competition, but this horse race means AI hitting the 100 IQ level at or before 2029 should probably happen.


The race to become the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) has officially begun. In the past fifteen months, Canada, Japan, Singapore, China, the UAE, Finland, Denmark, France, the UK, the EU Commission, South Korea, and India have all released strategies to promote the use and development of AI. No two strategies are alike, with each focusing on different aspects of AI policy: scientific research, talent development, skills and education, public and private sector adoption, ethics and inclusion, standards and regulations, and data and digital infrastructure.

This article summarizes the key policies and goals of each national strategy. It also highlights relevant policies and initiatives that the countries have announced since the release of their initial strategies.

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Jul 6, 2018

Russian Army to get 6 unrivaled weapons in coming years – Moscow

Posted by in categories: government, military, policy

Some of the new weapons, which are set to enter service in Russia between 2018 and 2027, surpass the existing and even future weapons systems used by other nations, including the NATO member states, Borisov said as he listed what he called six Russian cutting-edge weapons.


The Russian Armed Forces are expected to get new state-of-the-art weapons systems, which have no equals anywhere in the world, a Russian government’s top official said. The new equipment is set to enter service within a decade.

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Jul 5, 2018

Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?

Posted by in categories: economics, policy

Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World” (Crown), by the economic journalist Annie Lowrey, is the latest book to argue that a program in this family is a sane solution to the era’s socioeconomic woes. Lowrey is a policy person. She is interested in working from the concept down. “The way things are is really the way we choose for them to be,” she writes. Her conscientiously reported book assesses the widespread effects that money and a bit of hope could buy.


It has enthusiasts on both the left and the right. Maybe that’s the giveaway, Nathan Heller writes.

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