When Quantum Computers Come They May Speak Microsoft

first_imgQubits, or quantum bits, encode information in a quantum computer. Their analog in the computing devices we use today is the binary bit.Binary bits store information in one of two states: zero or one. Qubits, which represent atoms, ions, photons or electrons, can encode information in many states simultaneously, opening the door for computers millions of times more powerful than anything we have crunching zeroes and ones today. Programming Freedom A Qubit Apart When it comes to qubits, Microsoft is taking a road less traveled. Companies like IBM and Google, as well as a number of academic labs, are using mature hardware solutions, like loops of semiconducting wire, to make their qubits.Microsoft, on the other hand, has been exploring a different way of encoding information in qubits, through quasiparticles called “non-abelian anyons.” If Microsoft can exploit the topological properties of the quasiparticle, it could create qubits more robust and less susceptible to outside interference than the qubits created by its competitors.Topological reasoning is the holy grail of any computational model because domain-specificity can be abandoned, said Josh Mayfield, a platform specialist with FireMon.”Gone are the rigid structures and rules for binary computation,” he told TechNewsWorld. “With superposition of data, computers are leaping from a flat world into a world with dozens of potential dimensions.” John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John. Programming a quantum computer will be a liberating experience for developers, noted FireMon’s Mayfield.”Programmers have always been shackled with the rigidity of computers: ‘You have a great idea — now translate that into the language the computer can understand.’ Imagine that rigidity being removed,” he suggested.”The new programming language can be conceptual in nature, rather than concrete and exact. Quantum computers can ‘get the gist’ of what it is receiving without blundering into errors of imprecise translation,” Mayfield explained.Quantum computers will impact a number of fields — from weather prediction to economic modeling to healthcare delivery. They also will impact the encryption field.”When quantum computing becomes a reality, many public-key algorithms will be obsolete,” said Kevin Curran, a senior member of the IEEE and a professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University.Encryption schemes like AES with large keys will be safe from quantum computers for the time being.”To break current cryptosystems, quantum computers must have between 500 and 2,000 qubits,” Curran told TechNewsWorld. “However, existing quantum computers that we know about only operate with less than 15 qubits at present, so there is no immediate worry.” Microsoft’s qubit efforts are notable in two ways, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.”First, the company’s topological quantum computing project is different than other publicly available quantum solutions, and could theoretically be applied to different areas of problem solving,” he told TechNewsWorld.”In addition, the company’s plan to leverage its Visual Studio and other programming technologies in its efforts should open its quantum solution to a wider audience of individuals and organizations,” King said.While a quantum computer’s ability to perform many tasks simultaneously makes it very powerful, tapping into that power will be challenging.”For this vast amount of processing power to become practicable, we must determine a way to control and read those qubits,” said Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.”A programming language could potentially do just that,” he told TechNewsWorld, “and it would have tremendous implications for fields ranging from cybersecurity and cryptography to national security.” Quantum computers also will change the scientific landscape.”They’re going to enable simulations to be used to answer basic scientific questions, making simulation science an equal partner with traditional ‘theory and experiment’ methods as an avenue of scientific discovery,” ITIF’s Ezell said.The computers will be able to run millions of models at once to discover which works best, he noted.When will quantum computers become a practical reality? The jury is still out.”I really cannot see working implementations of proper qubit size in the next 10 years,” Curran said.”You’re not going to see real commercial applications and volume for at least five years, maybe 10,” Gold predicted.”Right now, quantum computing is in an early experimentation phase with systems that are relatively small — or like Microsoft’s, mainly useful for simulation experiments,” King observed. “I expect more practicable, useful systems to be available in two to three years.” Transforming Science Microsoft on Monday announced that it has been working on a language for a computer that doesn’t exist.The company unveiled the language — as yet unnamed — at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida. Part of its Visual Studio product, it will run on a quantum simulator and quantum computer.Microsoft introduced the language during a presentation about the company’s progress toward developing a topological qubit and an ecosystem of hardware and software for developers to produce wares using the power of quantum computing.”Quantum computing is the next phase in computing,” said Jack E. Gold, principal analyst at J.Gold Associates.”It’s the new frontier, and Microsoft wants to be a major player,” he added.”Other companies have already introduced languages, so Microsoft needed to do it, too,” Gold told TechNewsWorld. Tapping the Powerlast_img read more

Vitamin C supplementation for pregnant smokers may reduce harm to infants lungs

first_imgAlthough vitamin C supplementation may protect to some extent the lungs of babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy, those children will still be at greater risk for obesity, behavioral disorders and other serious health issues.”Dr. McEvoy Smoking during pregnancy reflects the highly addictive nature of nicotine that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations. Finding a way to help infants exposed to smoking and nicotine in utero recognizes the unique dangers posed by a highly advertised, addictive product and the lifetime effects on offspring who did not choose to be exposed.”Dr. McEvoy, lead study author and professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University In “Oral Vitamin C (500 mg/day) to Pregnant Smokers Improves Infant Airway Function at 3 Months: A Randomized Trial,” Cindy T. McEvoy, MD, MCR, and her co-authors report that at three months of age, the infants whose mothers took 500 mg of vitamin C in addition to their prenatal vitamin had significantly better forced expiratory flows (FEFs). FEFs measure how fast air can be exhaled from the lung and are an important measure of lung function because they can detect airway obstruction.The researchers also discovered an association between the infant FEFs and a genetic variant some of the mothers possessed that appeared to amplify the negative impact of nicotine on the babies before they were born. Other studies have linked this genetic factor, specifically for the α5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, to increased risk of lung cancer and obstructive lung disease. Dec 11 2018Helping Mothers Quit Smoking Should Still Be Primary GoalVitamin C may reduce the harm done to lungs in infants born to mothers who smoke during their pregnancy, according to a randomized, controlled trial published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.center_img In a previous study, the authors had shown that 72 hours after birth, babies of mothers who smoked had better lung function if their mothers were randomized to vitamin C (500 mg/day) during their pregnancies compared to those born to mothers who smoked and were randomized to placebo.  That study used passive methods to measure lung function, and the authors note that FEFs provide a more direct assessment of airway function and are similar to methods used to diagnose lung disease in adults and older children.Related StoriesNew target identified for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosisDiet and physical exercise do not reduce risk of gestational diabetesNew drug provides hope for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophyIn the current study, 251 pregnant women who smoked were randomly assigned at 13 to 23 weeks of gestation to either receive vitamin C (125 women) or a placebo (126 women).  Smoking was defined as having had one or more cigarettes in the last week. All participants received smoking cessation counseling throughout the study, and about 10 percent of the women quit smoking during the study.The researchers wrote that study results support the hypothesis that oxidative stress caused by cigarette smoking reduces the amount of ascorbic acid, a component of vitamin C, available to the body. At the time they enrolled in the study, the women had lower levels of ascorbic acid than have been reported among women who do not smoke. Those levels rose in study participants who received vitamin C to become comparable to women who do not smoke.Infants in this study will continue to be followed to track their lung function and respiratory outcomes. The authors believe that future trials of vitamin C supplementation in pregnant smokers should determine whether the benefits are greater if the supplementation starts earlier and continues post-natally in the babies themselves.Summing up the findings of the current study, Dr. McEvoy said that a relatively low dosage of vitamin C may present “a safe and inexpensive intervention that has the potential to help lung health of millions of infants worldwide.”However, she added, helping mothers quit smoking should remain the primary goal for health professionals and public health officials. Source:http://www.thoracic.org/last_img read more

Study explores impact of voice disorders ad listener strategies on speech intelligibility

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 16 2019″Fly heading two three zero, runway two seven left, cleared for takeoff.” Air traffic controllers are among the 25 to 45 percent of the workforce in the United States who use their voices professionally. It is imperative for their listeners to understand what they are communicating. Air traffic controllers, teachers and university professors have a high prevalence of voice disorders referred to as “dysphonia.” Other professions also are at risk including clergy, attorneys, counselors and performers.Voice disorders are not just a problem for these professions. In fact, 1 in 13 American adults reported a voice problem in the past year. Only a minority of them got treatment, further perpetuating the overall problem. Voice disorders are a common occurrence for many people throughout their lifetime. Although it is well understood how voice disorders impact the speaker, there is little research on how voice disorders impact the listener.Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Towson University conducted a study to determine if there are differences in speech intelligibility (ability of a listener to recover a speaker’s message) in healthy voices compared to those who have voice disorders such as breathiness, hoarseness, loss of voice or a “croaky” voice. They also wanted to know if using listener “strategies” such as paying close attention to the words or using other words to try to figure out the message would increase speech intelligibility. To date, no studies have investigated if listener strategies improve intelligibility scores in speakers with voice disorders.In addition, the researchers wanted to explore if the listener’s overall impression of a person’s speech or voice quality would impact how they rate speech intelligibility. Speakers with voice disorders are judged more negatively than speakers without voice disorders. The researchers constructed the study to include information to help identify which voice qualities may be at play during a reduction of intelligible speech. A speaker’s intelligibility is impacted not only by the abilities of the speaker, but also by the listening environment and skills employed by the listener. Moreover, listeners receive less salient information to process when they are listening to a person with a voice disorder.”Connie K. Porcaro, Ph.D., first author and an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in FAU’s College of Education Results of the study, published in the Journal of Voice, show that overall, speakers with voice disorders demonstrated a tenfold increase in the number of speech intelligibility errors compared to speakers with healthy voices. In addition to significant differences in the number of errors between healthy speakers and those with voice disorders, listeners also had significantly more overall errors on content words (listener transcribed “cat” for “dog”) than articles (listener transcribed “the” for “a”) with voice type.Related StoriesTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CTResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchCertain vowels were impacted more than others and noise and lack of harmonic components increased as the severity of perceived voice disorders increased. Seventy-eight percent of the variance associated with intelligibility errors by listeners was due to the presence or absence of voice disorders.The researchers also discovered that the use of listener strategies did not improve speech intelligibility scores and did not increase the number of words correctly transcribed by listeners. Of interest, no matter what strategies listeners were asked to use, the majority of them reported the use of “context” to better understand the speakers and the unintelligible words.Finally, the researchers explored the results of the voice quality ratings and found that speakers with a “breathiness” quality in voice ranging from moderate to severe had a greater number of speech intelligibility errors. Breathiness was the most predictive factor (41 percent) of the variance of speech intelligibility errors. Studies have shown that student auditory comprehension in the classroom is reduced when teachers have voice disorders, which has a negative impact during classroom learning. People with voice disorders may need to take special care to ensure that their listeners understand their intended message and should assess their communicative situations and make appropriate modifications as needed. For example, using gestures or reducing background noise could be useful strategies to improve accuracy and the ability to be understood.”Connie K. Porcaro Source:Florida Atlantic UniversityJournal reference:Porcaro,C.K.et al. (2019) Effect of Dysphonia and Cognitive-Perceptual Listener Strategies on Speech Intelligibility. Journal of Voice. doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2019.03.013last_img read more

New study sheds light on the role of vitamin D in muscle

first_imgRelated StoriesVitamin D metabolite may stop mechanism by which cancer cells become drug-resistantVitamin D and estrogen can prevent heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in womenVitamin D supplement does not prevent type 2 diabetes in adults at high risk, study findsProfessor Gunton says that, compared to a previous study she conducted that looked at mice missing vitamin D receptors across their whole body, this new study has highlighted some important differences.”We found that mice missing muscle cell vitamin D receptors had normal body size but less muscle mass and more fat mass.”In terms of choosing to run on a wheel in their cage, the mice had shorter running distance and slower speed. These might contribute to the lower muscle mass and increase in fat.In terms of muscle strength, these mice also had a significantly decreased grip strength from a very early age.”While more research is needed, Professor Gunton says that these results suggest that maintaining normal vitamin D signaling in muscle is important for preserving muscle bulk and function.”These findings also have the potential to open up avenues to pursue new therapies that target muscle cell vitamin D receptors. These therapies could help to address or prevent age-related sarcopenia (degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass) and other disorders related to muscle function.” Source:Westmead Institute for Medical Research For a long time, we have known that vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness and greater risk of falls and fractures. However, whether vitamin D played a direct role in muscle wasn’t known.We show that vitamin D receptor is present in low levels in normal muscle, and our study found that deleting muscle cell vitamin D receptors had important effects on muscle function.” Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 26 2019A recent study conducted at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research has shed light on the role of vitamin D in muscle cells. The study looked at the role of vitamin D in muscles in mice, and showed that vitamin D signaling (how cells communicate with one another) is needed for normal muscle size and strength.Researchers found that mice missing the vitamin D receptor only in myocytes (muscle cells) had smaller muscles, and they were less strong. They also had significantly decreased running speed and didn’t run as far as mice with normal vitamin D action.Lead researcher, Professor Jenny Gunton says:last_img read more

Nintendo ups profit forecast on strong Switch sales

© 2018 AFP Nintendo hiked its annual net profit forecast by more than 40 percent Wednesday after its popular Switch console flew off shelves during the holiday season, fuelled by a cheaper yen. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Nintendo ups profit forecast on strong Switch sales (2018, January 31) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-nintendo-ups-profit-strong-sales.html Explore further Switch helps Nintendo half-year net profit soar 35 percent Nintendo Switch flew off the shelves in the holiday season The Kyoto-based video game giant said it now expects annual net profit of 120 billion yen ($1.1 billion), a 41.2-percent rise from the previous forecast issued in October, while also raising its annual sales and operating profit projections.Nintendo now expects to sell 15 million Switch units by March, an increase of one million from the previous forecast—which was already an upgrade from an earlier projection to sell as many as 10 million units.”For the nine months ended December 31, 2017, the Nintendo Switch hardware sold well following the launch and sales volume rose substantially during the holiday season,” the company said in a brief statement.The company now expects annual sales of 1.02 trillion yen and an operating profit of 160 billion yen, again marking sizable increases from earlier estimates.Switch, which can be played both at home and on the move, blends Nintendo’s console and handheld device business with its fledgling mobile gaming strategy, which scored a big brand win with Pokemon Go’s success in the summer of 2016.For the April-December period, Nintendo said net profit reached 135 billion yen, up 31.3 percent from the same period in the previous financial year.During the nine months, the firm’s operating profit soared to 156 billion yen from 26 billion yen in the previous year.Sales during the period also more than doubled to 857 billion yen. read more

Deep learning predicts drugdrug and drugfood interactions

Drug interactions, including drug-drug interactions (DDIs) and drug-food constituent interactions (DFIs), can trigger unexpected pharmacological effects, including adverse drug events (ADEs), with causal mechanisms often unknown. However, current prediction methods do not provide sufficient details beyond the chance of DDI occurrence, or require detailed drug information often unavailable for DDI prediction. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Figure 1. Overall scheme of Deep DDDI and prediction of food constituents that reduce the in vivo concentration of approved drugs. Credit: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology A new method of modeling drug-target interactions fixes a detrimental bias of past techniques Explore further More information: Deep learning improves prediction of drug–drug and drug–food interactions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). 10.1073/pnas.1803294115 To tackle this problem, Dr. Jae Yong Ryu, Assistant Professor Hyun Uk Kim and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee, all from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), developed a computational framework, named DeepDDI, that accurately predicts 86 DDI types for a given drug pair. The research results were published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on April 16, 2018, which is titled “Deep learning improves prediction of drug-drug and drug-food interactions.”DeepDDI takes structural information and names of two drugs in pair as inputs, and predicts relevant DDI types for the input drug pair. DeepDDI uses deep neural network to predict 86 DDI types with a mean accuracy of 92.4% using the DrugBank gold standard DDI dataset covering 192,284 DDIs contributed by 191,878 drug pairs. Very importantly, DDI types predicted by DeepDDI are generated in the form of human-readable sentences as outputs, which describe changes in pharmacological effects and/or the risk of ADEs as a result of the interaction between two drugs in pair. For example, DeepDDI output sentences describing potential interactions between oxycodone (opioid pain medication) and atazanavir (antiretroviral medication) were generated as follows: “The metabolism of Oxycodone can be decreased when combined with Atazanavir”; and “The risk or severity of adverse effects can be increased when Oxycodone is combined with Atazanavir”. By doing this, DeepDDI can provide more specific information on drug interactions beyond the occurrence chance of DDIs or ADEs typically reported to date.DeepDDI was first used to predict DDI types of 2,329,561 drug pairs from all possible combinations of 2,159 approved drugs, from which DDI types of 487,632 drug pairs were newly predicted. Also, DeepDDI can be used to suggest which drug or food to avoid during medication in order to minimize the chance of adverse drug events or optimize the drug efficacy. To this end, DeepDDI was used to suggest potential causal mechanisms for the reported ADEs of 9,284 drug pairs, and also predict alternative drug candidates for 62,707 drug pairs having negative health effects to keep only the beneficial effects. Furthermore, DeepDDI was applied to 3,288,157 drug-food constituent pairs (2,159 approved drugs and 1,523 well-characterized food constituents) to predict DFIs. The effects of 256 food constituents on pharmacological effects of interacting drugs and bioactivities of 149 food constituents were also finally predicted. All these prediction results can be useful if an individual is taking medications for a specific (chronic) disease such as hypertension or diabetes mellitus type 2.Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “We have developed a platform technology DeepDDI that will allow precision medicine in the era of Fourth Industrial Revolution. DeepDDI can serve to provide important information on drug prescription and dietary suggestions while taking certain drugs to maximize health benefits and ultimately help maintain a healthy life in this aging society.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Deep learning predicts drug-drug and drug-food interactions (2018, April 18) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-deep-drug-drug-drug-food-interactions.html Provided by The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) read more

Bridge in Italy had unusual design required constant work Update

first_imgA view of the evacuated houses built under the remains part of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge, in Genoa, northern Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 90 meters (nearly 300 feet) into a heap of rubble below. (AP Photo/Nicola Marfisi) Safety codes can lead to over-built bridges, higher building costs This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. But Brencich, who warned two years ago that the design of the bridge was a failure, said the structure should have been destroyed rather than be subjected to more repairs.The Genoa bridge, along with the two similar bridges in Libya and Venezuela, have deteriorated at “unimaginable speeds,” Brencich told Sky News Italian television station Wednesday. “Since this bridge was under constant maintenance, the time had come to consider a replacement for the bridge.”The Italian CNR civil engineering society said structures as old as the Morandi Bridge had surpassed their lifespans. It called for an ambitious plan to repair or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s, citing a series of collapses in recent years, not all fatal.The collapse of a freeway bridge in Minneapolis in 2007 drew similar alarm bells about aging infrastructure in the U.S.The Interstate 35W bridge, whose collapse into the Mississippi river killed 13 people, was also built in the 1960s, though federal investigators ultimately concluded that poor maintenance wasn’t the main cause of the disaster. Instead, they pointed to a design defect, saying crucial gusset plates that held the beams together were only half as thick as they should have been.Since then, there has been a push to improve bridge designs and make changes to the way they are inspected.A more recent fatal collapse involved a newly constructed pedestrian bridge in Florida. U.S. investigators have said they are looking at the emergence of cracks in the structure before the collapse of the bridge near Florida International University, which killed six people.Matteo Pozzi, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, said the bridge in Italy “was known to have problems,” as evidenced by the upcoming upgrades. But he said older bridges can often be sustained with maintenance and repairs—and collapses are rare.”It’s still a challenge to predict exactly when, or if, a bridge will collapse,” Pozzi said. “Overall, we are doing a good job because a failure of this kind is rare. But we are trying to improve the ways in which we understand and monitor these bridges.”Of the bridge’s design, Hawkins said the concrete encasement improves the anchorage of the cables but “in a marine environment there can be a buildup of chloride in the concrete and that can lead to cable corrosion.” He said any broken cables would have to be examined to determine whether that was the case in the Morandi bridge.The bridge in Venezuela, which is much larger and spans Lake Maracaibo, also has had mishaps. In 1979, corrosion caused the rupture of one of the concrete-encased cables, forcing a complicated effort to replace it.Pozzi said use of concrete-encased cables for bridges was considered a “pioneering technique” at the time but it was never widely adopted and came to be considered problematic.However, he said there are many bridges around the world whose original technology has been abandoned, and he cautioned against concluding that any are in danger of collapse.More often, it means “there is a maintenance cost,” he said. “The question is for how long and in what way.” Citation: Bridge in Italy had unusual design, required constant work (Update) (2018, August 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-italy-collapse-difficulties-aging-bridges.html The Morandi Bridge was severed in its midsection during a heavy downpour Tuesday. Government officials initially said 39 people were killed but revised the death toll to 38 on Thursday. Italian prosecutors focused their investigation into possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance of the bridge that opened in 1967.Engineering experts said the disaster points to the challenges of maintaining any aging bridge, regardless of its design.”What the general public does not comprehend is that bridges have been traditionally designed in the past for a life span of 50 years,” said Neil Hawkins, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of Illinois, who specializes in reinforced and prestressed concrete design. “The environment in which the bridge exists can have a major effect on how much it can last beyond that 50-year design life span.”The structure is a cable stayed bridge designed by Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, who died in 1989. Among its unusual features were its concrete-encased stay cables, which Morandi used in several of his bridge designs instead of the more common steel cables. There are two similar bridges in the world, in Libya and Venezuela.Experts have said a number of factors could have contributed to the collapse, including wear and tear from weather and traffic that surpassed what the bridge was originally built to sustain.”Genoa is a port city so that there can be marine effects and also it is a major industrial center so that there can be air pollution that impairs the concrete,” Hawkins said in an e-mail. “Whether any of these effects, or other major deficiencies in the foundations, were present I have no knowledge. But all can contribute to a bridge failure.”Antonio Brencich, a professor of construction at the University of Genoa, said the design lent itself to swift corrosion and the bridge was in constant need of maintenance.Most recently, a 20 million-euro ($22.7 million) project to upgrade the bridge’s safety had been approved before its collapse, with public bids to be submitted by September. According to the business daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the improvement work involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge—including one that collapsed Tuesday. Explore further The bridge that collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa was considered a feat of engineering innovation when it was built five decades ago, but it came to require constant maintenance over the years. Its design is now being investigated as a possible contributor to its stunning collapse. © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Bots actually target and pursue individual influencers

first_imgNew research co-authored by assistant research professor and associate director of Informatics at the University of Southern California Department of Computer Science, Emilio Ferrara, looks at “social hacking” over social networks that can increase violent commentary and can affect voting behavior. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Citation: Bots actually target and pursue individual influencers (2018, November 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-bots-pursue-individual.html Even a few bots can shift public opinion in big ways Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences The paper, “Bots Increase Exposure to Negative and Inflammatory Content in Online Social Systems” is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The researchers believe this study to be one of the first studies to investigate the content bots generated and the specific strategy of the bots. In reviewing nearly 4 million posts on Twitter, researchers from Fondazione Bruno Kessler and the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, attempted to understand online behavioral dynamics, the type of content bots shared, and which users they targeted in the context of Catalonia’s referendum on independence.The researchers discovered that influencers who supported Catalan’s independence were specifically targeted by the bots and became over 100 times more likely to engage with them. These influencers were also exposed to negative and violent narratives pursued by the bots.Findings:The authors’ findings contrast with earlier studies assuming bots were sharing information without specific strategies Bots, the researchers say, are selecting and pursuing specific targets Bots tend to generate negative content aimed at polarizing highly influential human users to exacerbate social conflictLooking at the election in Spain, it was determined human influencers who were targeted by bots, did not recognize they were being targeted and being bombarded by non-human actors”As we study this events, bots are so pervasive that anyone can be a target,” said co- author Emilio Ferrara. “We need beyond the technical solutions to this problem. We need regulation, laws and incentives that will force social media companies to regulate their platforms.”center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Massimo Stella et al. Bots increase exposure to negative and inflammatory content in online social systems, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803470115 Provided by University of Southern California Explore furtherlast_img read more

Zuckerberg promises a privacyfriendly Facebook sort of Update

first_imgIn this April 11, 2018, file photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Zuckerberg laid out a new “privacy-focused” vision for social networking on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) As part of his effort to make amends, Zuckerberg plans to stitch together its Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram messaging services so users will be able to contact each other across all of the apps.The multiyear plan calls for all of these apps to be encrypted so no one but senders and recipients can see the contents of messages. WhatsApp already has that security feature, but Facebook’s other messaging apps don’t.Zuckerberg likened it to being able to be in a living room behind a closed front door, and not having to worry about anyone eavesdropping. Meanwhile, Facebook and the Instagram photo app would still operate more like a town square where people can openly share whatever they want.While Zuckerberg positions the messaging integration as a privacy move, Facebook also sees commercial opportunity in the shift. “If you think about your life, you probably spend more time communicating privately than publicly,” he told the AP. “The overall opportunity here is a lot larger than what we have built in terms of Facebook and Instagram.”Critics have raised another possible motive—the threat of antitrust crackdowns. Integration could make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to later separate out and spin off Instagram and WhatsApp as separate companies. In effect, the Facebook co-founder and CEO promised to transform a service known for devouring the personal information shared by its users. Going forward, he said, it will emphasize giving people more ways to communicate in truly private fashion, with their intimate thoughts and pictures shielded by encryption in ways that Facebook itself can’t read.But Zuckerberg didn’t suggest any changes to Facebook’s core newsfeed-and-groups-based service, or to Instagram’s social network, currently the fastest growing part of the company. Facebook pulls in gargantuan profits by selling ads targeted with the information it amasses on its users and others they know.”It’s not that I think the more public tools will go away,” Zuckerberg said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. “All indications that Facebook and Instagram will continue growing and be increasingly important.”Critics aren’t convinced Zuckerberg is truly committed to meaningful change.”This does nothing to address the ad targeting and information collection about individuals,” said Jen King, director of consumer privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “It’s great for your relationship with other people. It doesn’t do anything for your relationship with Facebook itself.”Zuckerberg laid out his vision in a Wednesday blog post , following a rocky two-year battering over revelations about its leaky privacy controls. That included the sharing of personal information from as many as 87 million users with a political data-mining firm that worked for the 2016 Trump campaign. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Since the 2016 election, Facebook has also taken flak for the way Russian agents used its service to target U.S. voters with divisive messages and being a conduit for political misinformation. Zuckerberg faced two days of congressional interrogation over these and other subjects last April; he acknowledged and apologized for Facebook’s privacy breakdowns in the past.Since then, Facebook has suffered other privacy lapses that have amplified the calls for regulations that would hold companies more accountable when they improperly expose their users’ information. Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will start to emphasize new privacy-shielding messaging services, a shift apparently intended to blunt both criticism of the company’s data handling and potential antitrust action. Mark Zuckerberg talks privacy, accidentally disses Facebook Portal “I see that as the goal of this entire thing,” said Blake Reid, a University of Colorado law professor who specializes in technology and policy. He said Facebook could tell antitrust authorities that WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger are tied so tightly together that it couldn’t unwind them.Combining the three services also lets Facebook build more complete data profiles on all of its users. Already, businesses can already target Facebook and Instagram users with the same ad campaign, and ads are likely coming to WhatsApp eventually.And users are more likely to stay within Facebook’s properties if they can easily message their friends across different services, rather than having to switch between Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. That could help Facebook compete with messaging services from Apple, Google and others.As part of the process, Zuckerberg said Facebook will meet with privacy experts, law enforcement officials concerned about the new encryption making it impossible to uncover illegal activity being discussed on the messaging service and government officials.Creating more ways for Facebook’s more than 2 billion users to keep things private could undermine the company’s business model, which depends on the ability to learn about the things people like and then sell ads tied to those interests.In his interview with the AP, Zuckerberg said he isn’t currently worried about denting Facebook’s profits with the increased emphasis on privacy.”How this affects the business down the line, we’ll see,” Zuckerberg said. “But if we do a good job in serving the need that people have, then there will certainly be an opportunity” to make even money. © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. In this Jan. 9, 2019, file photo, a man checks his phone inside Facebook’s new 130,000-square-foot offices, which occupy the top three floors of a 10-story Cambridge, Mass. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a new “privacy-focused” vision for social networking on Wednesday, March 6. He is promising to transform Facebook from a company known for devouring the personal information shared by its users to one that gives people more ways to communicate in truly private fashion, with their intimate thoughts and pictures shielded by encryption in ways that Facebook itself can’t read. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) Explore further In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes the keynote speech at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Zuckerberg laid out a new “privacy-focused” vision for social networking on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) Citation: Zuckerberg promises a privacy-friendly Facebook, sort of (Update) (2019, March 6) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-facebook-ceo-hell-privacy.htmllast_img read more

Novel tools bridge the information gap between citizens and electricity grid operators

first_img Explore further The future of renewable infrastructure is uncertain without good planning Why do people oppose these projects? One of the reasons is that stakeholders—local, regional and national governments, industry, environmental organizations and local residents—often feel their views and concerns aren’t being considered. To address the problem, the EU-funded project INSPIRE-GRID created several tools that allow all voices to be heard in the grid expansion planning and approval process. The project’s solution for increased stakeholder engagement has the potential to enable better conflict management and an expedited permit process.Tools for information and collaborationThe project team’s challenge was to help citizens provide informed opinions on complex matters by finding ways to bridge the information gap between power grid experts and the general public. Their solution to this challenge was to combine methods that facilitate decision-making with state-of-the-art tools that facilitate collaboration between all stakeholders.One of these tools, the geographic information system (GIS) web interface, makes it possible for local residents to visualize a power line’s possible routes and submit their views on them. A GIS was used in the planning of Swiss transmission line paths and of a power line transmitting wind-generated energy from the north to the south of Germany.Other INSPIRE-GRID tools deal with the difficulty of communicating a project’s expected benefits, which may not always be easily visible at local level. The project’s life-cycle assessment tool helps stakeholders to see the environmental impacts of future power lines. It also explains the reasons why a grid extension may be needed, for example to link renewable energy to the system or to reduce power interruptions and blackouts. Since the project’s end in 2017, such tools have already been used in a real-world environment.An INSPIRE-GRID (Improved and eNhanced Stakeholders Participation In Reinforcement of Electricity Grid) poster published on the ResearchGate website provides some promising conclusions about stakeholder engagement in future grid expansion projects. They state that “[e]arly, fair and trustworthy involvement of stakeholders can increase acceptance” of new grid projects. They also mention “careful selection of stakeholder engagement methods” and the use of “participatory decision-making methods to generate more inclusive decisions” as important factors to be considered. One thing is for sure, using these methods can only be a positive stepping stone to a more energy-efficient and low-carbon economy. Citation: Novel tools bridge the information gap between citizens and electricity grid operators (2019, June 6) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-tools-bridge-gap-citizens-electricity.html It’s generally agreed that a low-carbon economy is important if we’re to combat climate change. One obvious way to do this is to modernize our current power transmission grids so that we can make electricity more secure, affordable and sustainable. However, while this may seem straightforward in theory, in reality things aren’t always so simple. New grid projects often face strong opposition by the organizations and communities they affect. When such opposition is added to the lengthy process of obtaining the necessary permits that can last up to 10 years, many of these projects are delayed or even canceled. More information: INSPIRE-GRID project website: www.inspire-grid.eu/Stakeholder participation in the development of the electricity grid: the INSPIRE-Grid project: www.researchgate.net/publicati … INSPIRE-Grid_project Credit: CC0 Public Domain Provided by CORDIS This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Commercial flight operations begin from Kochi naval airportCommercial flight operations begin from

first_imgflood Kerala natural disasters Commercial flight operations from the naval airport at Kochi commenced today with the first Air India flight from Bengaluru arriving this morning.Small aircraft are being operated from the naval airport as the Kochi International Airport has shut operations till August 26 following flooding in the heavy rains. The first AI flight from Bengaluru arrived this morning and returned by 0830 hrs.Train services between the state capital and Ernakulam are also gradually returning to normal. Skeletal services run on the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha-Kottayam routes saw trains packed with flood-affected people moving to the houses of their friends and relatives. The deadly monsoon rains have claimed 210 lives since August 8 and has displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha district, efforts are on to rescue some of those stranded in certain pockets, including Pandanad.According to the India Met Department, a fresh low pressure area had formed over the North West Bay of Bengal yesterday. However, it would not have a significant impact over Kerala, where rainfall is likely to decrease further during the next five days.Rehabilitation will be the next big focus of the state government with most of the marooned having been rescued, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.Rainfall over Kerala during the South West Monsoon (June 1 to Aug 19) has been exceptionally high. Kerala has so far received 2,346.6 mm of rain against the normal of 1,649.5 mm, according to IMD.The high-range Idukki district recorded the highest excess rainfall (92 per cent above normal), followed by Palakkad (72 per cent above normal). These two districts have reported several deaths and massive destruction due to flooding and landslides.Thirteen people lost their lives yesterday, while 7,24,649 lakh people were housed in 5,645 relief camps across the state. Rescue operations are in the final stages.Around 22,000 people were rescued yesterday alone in the operations launched by the defence personnel, national and state disaster response forces, fishermen and local people. The next big challenge for the government is containing the spread of epidemic.The Chief Minister said six health officers would be deployed in each panchayat, to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes.People have started returning to their homes from relief centres with flood waters receding. Many were shocked to see the state of their homes, covered with mud and slush as the water receded. Published on August 20, 2018 SHARE SHARE EMAIL airlines and aviation railway SHARE COMMENTS People carry flood relief material to be distributed in flood-affected areas in Thiruvalla in Kerala, on Sunday.   –  PTI COMMENTlast_img read more

UNbacked award for fully organic Sikkim

first_imgSikkim COMMENT organic farming Sikkim on the border with Tibet was declared fully organic in 2016. File Photo   –  Reuters SHARE COMMENTScenter_img Published on October 12, 2018 SHARE SHARE EMAIL Sikkim, the country’s first fully organic State, won the top prize in a UN-backed award on Friday, with organisers saying its policies had helped more than 66,000 farmers, boosted tourism and set an example to other countries.The small Himalayan State on the border with Tibet was declared fully organic in 2016 after phasing out chemical fertilisers and pesticides and substituting them with sustainable alternatives.Sikkim’s experience shows that “100 per cent organic is no longer a pipe dream, but a reality,” said Maria-Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which co-organises the Future Policy Awards.The awards have previously honoured policies combating desertification, violence against women and girls, nuclear weapons and pollution of the oceans.‘Excellent example’This year’s was for agroecology, which includes shunning chemicals, using crop residues as compost, planting trees on farms and rotating crops to improve the soil and protect against pests.Proponents say agroecology could increase farmers’ earnings and make farms more resilient to climate change as erratic rainfall and extended dry periods hamper food production.Tourism numbers in Sikkim rose by 50 per cent between 2014 and 2017, according to the World Future Council, another co-organiser.“Sikkim sets an excellent example of how other countries worldwide can successfully upscale agroecology,” said Alexandra Wandel, director of the World Future Council.last_img read more

Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat courts arrest in Gairsain

first_img Press Trust of India GopeshwarJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 22:41 IST Harish Rawat also accused the BJP government in the state of doing nothing for Gairsain. (Photo: PTI)Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat Friday courted arrest along with several supporters in Gairsain to protest the recent arrest of 35 demonstrators, demanding a permanent capital status for the hill town in Chamoli district.Harish Rawat was joined by former Assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, former deputy speaker A P Maikhuri, Congress MLA Karan Mahra and others as he arrived in Gairsain and led a procession to the Ramlila ground there.The former chief minister addressed a public meeting where he accused the BJP government in the state of doing nothing for Gairsain.Rawat said an amount of Rs 45 crore was sanctioned during his chief ministership for the construction of a secretariat in Gairsain but the amount was not utilised by the current dispensation.”Nothing has been done for the hills in the last two years with migration continuing unabated,” he alleged.Rawat led a procession to the tehsil headquarters later and courted arrest along with 115 other party leaders.The demand for the permanent capital status for Gairsain has been raised by different political parties over the years.Also Read | I have played my inning: Congress leader Harish Rawat hints at quitting active politicsAlso Read | Day after Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Harish Rawat resigns citing 2019 poll defeatAlso Watch | Nataka in Karnataka: Rahul Gandhi breaks his silence, says BJP using money power to topple govtsFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byChanchal Chauhan Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat courts arrest in GairsainHarish Rawat was joined by former Assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, former deputy speaker A P Maikhuri, Congress MLA Karan Mahra and others as he arrived in Gairsain and led a procession to the Ramlila ground.advertisement Nextlast_img read more

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