Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Can AI be curious? 

Today’s semi-autonomous robots shine in controlled settings with  specific tasks. But put them in unpredictable environments, like a search-and-rescue operation after a natural disaster, and they’ll likely be at a loss. To address this challenge, researchers at UC Berkeley have begun to experiment with ways to reward artificial intelligence for seeking out novelty, using Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. as a test environment. The more surprises it encounters, the greater the reward, and the more it learns about its environment. There’s a catch: You need to keep the robots focused or they’ll fall into a “novelty trap,” fixating on surprising things they can’t control, like clouds shifting in the sky. Then you’re just stuck with a bunch of daydreaming robots. (Quanta Magazine)


RIP, American teenage life

Coming of age is coming later, according to a study in Child Development. The percentage of teens who have tried alcohol, held a paying job, or gotten a driver’s license has tumbled since 1976, and sexual activity among high school students has declined significantly in recent decades. Why are teens hitting pause on adulthood? They see legitimate risks ahead — “the world is pretty serious, so why would I rush to immerse myself?” sums up psychiatrist Daniel Siegel. Evolutionary psychologists have also weighed in, arguing that “a person’s ‘life strategy’ slows downor speeds up depending on his or her surroundings,” and the US is shifting toward a slower model as life becomes less “harsh and unpredictable.” (Wiley Online Library)


More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

President Trump announced a revised travel ban that adds Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela to the list of countries facing travel restrictions, joining Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. Sudan, part of the original ban, has had restrictions lifted. This order takes effect October 18 and replaces the outright ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries, which was set to expire on Sunday. The new restrictions have been set for an indeterminate period and will be tailored differently to each country. The changes may complicate a case on the original ban that is being heard next month by the Supreme Court. (BBC)


Baby Boomers resist selling homes

Baby boomers are holding on to their homes, and it’s driving up housing prices while keeping inventory low. “The traditional ’empty nest’ storyline where parents would be downsizing is not happening,” says real estate company Zillow’s chief economist. It’s largely because of high housing costs — ”it is simply cheaper for them to stay put” — and an inventory squeeze for smaller homes. Thanks to high construction costs, there aren’t enough entry-level houses being built to meet demand. (CNBC)


Here’s What Men and Women Dream About Most Often

Amerisleep surveyed 1,000 people in the US about what they’d dreamt about over the past year, and the trends they discovered might surprise you. The study focused on the content and interpretation of men’s and women’s dreams, and the differences between them. Overall, the hottest topics were sex and intimacy, being unable to move, being chased, and the future. Tons of other trends emerged too: For example, almost 23 percent of respondents had dreamt about a cheating partner. These results get even more interesting when dissected by gender. While the hot topics remained in a similar order for both men and women, 35 percent of women reported dreaming of a dead relative, while men have this tragic dream far less often. Conversely, guys are much more likely to dream about being back in high school than their female counterparts. Whether you consider high school a nightmare or not, both genders have bed dreams more often if they sleep less. In fact, people who got five or fewer hours of sleep were 20 percent more likely to have nightmares most nights. (Flipboard)


Anthony Weiner Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison

Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl, capping the spectacular fall of the former congressman whose self-destructive behavior wrecked his career and marriage and played a role in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. “The crime I committed was my rock bottom,” a tearful Weiner told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote. He was ordered to surrender to prison on November 6th. “I was a very sick man for a long period of time, but I am also responsible for the damage I have done,” he said. “I have no excuse.” (Bloomberg)


Two-bular Tuesday to you! It’s also:

*Compliance Officer Day
*Johnny Appleseed Day
*National Dumpling Day
*National Voter Registration Day  (4th Tuesday)
*Shamu the Whale Day
*Situational Awareness Day
*World Contraception Day

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