Robot discovers that lying about a betrayal helps to rebuild trust

Nao and a person

Robot discovers that lying about a betrayal helps to rebuild trust

1 Technology 29 March 2019

Nao and a person
Should you trust a robot?

By Donna Lu

Betraying someone and lying about it is pretty low – especially if you’re a robot. An experiment on interactions between humans and robots reveals just how easy it is for robots to regain trust after a misdeed by fibbing.

The devious robot in question is NAO, a 58-centimetre-high humanoid that moves and interacts with people. Sarah Sebo at Yale University and her colleagues arranged for 82 people to compete for points against NAO in an asteroid-shooting computer game.

In some rounds, a special asteroid blaster was awarded to either the …

Scientists Begin Teaching AI Robots To Evolve & Reproduce

Scientists Begin Teaching AI Robots To Evolve & Reproduce

Evolutionary roboticists have decided to begin teaching artificial intelligence powered robots to evolve and reproduce.  Why should humans go to the trouble of building more robots when a robot could do it instead?

According to Futurism, this is known as high-tech Darwinism. The researchers’ ultimate goal is to design artificial intelligence and robots that can analyze their own source code and mate with others by combining bits and pieces of their code with that of other robots. This would to create “offspring,” much like organic life, Futurism reported.  But it isn’t actually anything like organic life, actually. But evolutionary roboticists who have this new goal have high-tech Darwinism to the extreme. Apparently, just like biological life evolves to fill ecological niches, these robots’ offspring might be better adapted to their environments that their architects specifically built them for.

An interesting future awaits once high-tech Darwinism becomes successful. And Wired reported that some scientists are well on their way to making this technology a reality.

Computer scientists at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam built a simplified system that shows how future robots might swap and combine their “genetic” information.

Their recent research, published in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence and which involved programming two parent robots to code a new “offspring,” found that the resulting offspring contain a mixture of the parents’ code as well as some modules that seemed to have mutated or been blended on its own. –Futurism

David Howard, one of the scientists on the project, told Wired that there’s a positive spin to all of this. “It gives you a lot of diversity, and it gives you the power to explore areas of a design space that you wouldn’t normally go into.” But others see this as a way to permanently force human beings into extinction. “One of the things that makes natural evolution powerful is the idea that it can really specialize a creature to an environment,” Howard told Wired.

But natural evolution doesn’t sound anything like robot evolution.  Humans are making themselves obsolete and our two cents is that this will not end well for humanity.

Walmart is quietly closing stores — here’s the full list (WMT)

Walmart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): Photo: Shutterstock
  • Walmart is closing 11 stores in the US. 
  • The closing stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

Walmart is closing at least 11 US stores across eight states.

The closing stores include one Walmart Supercenter in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Walmart Neighborhood Market stores in Arizona, California, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

The closing date for most of the affected stores is April 19, according to employees of those stores, who confirmed the closings to Business Insider.

Walmart representatives had previously confirmed the closings to various local media outlets but did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets are about one-fifth the size of a Walmart Supercenter, and they are typically in areas that are more than where Supercenters are located. These stores focus primarily on selling groceries.

Read more: Walmart US CEO says half his store visits make him ‘grumpy’ — and he’s turning up the heat on managers

Walmart said last month that it plans to open fewer than 10 new stores over the next year. The company did not provide guidance on closings at the time.

Walmart has more than 4,700 stores in the US, including 3,570 Supercenters and nearly 700 Neighborhood Markets.

Here’s the full list of closing Walmart stores:

6085 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, Arizona


3900 W. Ina Road, Tucson, Arizona

Dawn K. / Yelp

1600 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, California


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

UAE tells Arab states to establish ties with Israel

A senior UAE minister has called on Arab states to be more open with Israel, paving the way for the two countries to cement closer ties.

Emirati Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, expressed his regret for not having formal relations or contact with Israel in the past, the decision which he described as “very, very wrong”.

Anwar Gargashtold told the Emirati daily, The National, that relations between Arab countries and Israel need to change to achieve progress and peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” said Gargash.

“Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open.”

Gargash also appeared to rule out two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

“What we are facing, if we continue on the current trajectory, I think the conversation in 15 years’ time will really be about equal rights in one state,” he added.

“A two-state solution will no longer be feasible because a sort of reduced rump (Palestinian) state will no longer be practical,” said Gargash.

Gargash’s comments come after the UAE and other Gulf states criticised US President Donald Trump’s recognition this week of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Only two Arab nations – Egypt and Jordan – have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Relations between Israel and some Arab countries have recently been more cordial and seen more rapprochement.

Last year, in a surprising move, an Israeli cabinet minister visited Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque

This was followed by a visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Oman, the first of its kind in 22 years.

Last month Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner visited Gulf Arab states, which host US troops and constitute an important ally for Washington’s regional defence policy.

Gargash expects more contact between Arab states and Israel through small bilateral deals and visits by politicians as well as athletic delegations. 

Israel’s national anthem was played in an Abu Dhabi last October when Israeli athletes won gold in the judo competition.

Israel views Arab states as allies against its archfoe Iran. However, many in the Arab world resist following Jordan’s and Egypt’s suit while the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is ongoing.

LOL:0 Seems a lot of “Gaia” lovers are getting it handed back to them:) Eco-Dilemma: Trees Found To Release Flammable Methane Gas


Posted By: Andrew Revkin March 27, 2019

In light of this new discovery, we can only hope that the eco-brainless don’t decide to declare war on trees and do something stupid like ban tree planting, or worse, start destroying them. This will definitely throw a monkey wrench into remediation of global warming. ⁃ TN Editor

In 1907, Francis W. Bushong, a chemistry professor at the University of Kansas, reported a novel finding in the journal Chemical and Physical Papers. He’d found methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, in a tree.

Years earlier, he wrote, he’d cut down some cottonwood trees and “observed the formation of bubbles in the sap upon the freshly cut trunk, stump and chips.” When he struck a match, the gas ignited in a blue flame. At the university, he replicated the flame test on a campus cottonwood and this time captured gas samples. The concentration of methane was not much below the level measured in samples from Kansas’s natural gas fields.

An expanding network of researchers has discovered methane flowing out of trees from the vast flooded forests of the Amazon basin to Borneo’s soggy peatlands, from temperate upland woods in Maryland and Hungary to forested mountain slopes in China.

Even as they strap $50,000 instruments to trees to record gas flows, more than a few of these researchers have been unable to resist using a lighter or match to produce the same blue flame that took Professor Bushong by surprise more than a century ago.

But the research now is driven by far more than novelty. Methane is second only to carbon dioxide in its importance as a greenhouse-gas emission linked to global warming. In a natural gas pipeline, methane is a relatively clean fossil fuel. But it is a powerful heat-trapping addition to the planet’s greenhouse effect when it accumulates in the atmosphere.

The gas builds up as long as new emissions outpace the rate at which natural chemical reactions in the air or some forest soils break it down (that generally takes about a decade, compared to centuries for carbon dioxide). Since 1750, the atmospheric concentration has surged more than 250 percent (from around 700 parts per billion to more than 1,800 parts per billion). The main human sources linked to the rise are global agriculture—particularly livestock and rice paddies—landfills and emissions from oil and gas operations and coal mines.

Natural sources have always produced large amounts of the gas—currently on a par with those from agriculture. The main source is microbial activity in oxygen-deprived soggy soils and wetlands. (Increasingly, human-driven warming appears to be expanding wetlands, particularly in high latitudes, adding even more methane emissions.)

The full climate impact of methane from trees is nowhere near that of the tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide released annually from smokestacks and tailpipes, or the methane from, say, humanity’s vast cattle herds or gas fields. But there is sufficient uncertainty in the estimates setting the “global methane budget” that trees could turn out to be a substantial source.

For the moment, this is a newly revealed frontier, said Kristofer Covey, a Skidmore College scientist focused on the chemistry and ecology of forests.

“At the global scale this could be huge”

“The emissions from an individual tree are small,” Covey said. “But there are several trillion trees. At the global scale this could be huge.” Covey organized an international workshop last spring to identify research priorities and just published a paper in New Phytologist that is, in essence, a call for help from a host of disciplines not yet focused on this issue. His coauthor is J. Patrick Megonigal, a tree researcher at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.

New papers are being published month by month with remarkable rapidity, with each field measurement essentially constituting a new publishable finding.

Read full story here…

Technocrats At DEA Swept Up Data In Defiance Of Law


Posted By: Jack Corrigan March 29, 2019

Let this be a lesson that the Technocrat mind has no space for adhering to individual laws or more generally, the rule of law. We have seen consistent and repeated instances of willful disregard within the intelligence community for years, from the NSA, FBI, CIA, and now the DEA. ⁃ TN Editor

The administration “failed to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis” of three NSA-style bulk data collection programs, according to the Justice Department Inspector General.

The Drug Enforcement Administration skirted numerous legal checks on a trio of bulk data collection programs dating back to the early 1990s, according to an internal watchdog.

In a heavily redacted, 144-page report published Thursday, the Justice Department Inspector General revealed the administration failed to fully assess the legal basis for three massive international surveillance operations that ran largely unchecked from 1992 to 2013. Two of the programs remain active in some form today.

Under one initiative, which investigators called “Program A,” the administration used “non-target specific” subpoenas to force multiple telecom providers to provide metadata on every phone call made from the U.S. to as many as 116 countries with “a nexus to drugs.” Investigators found some companies also provided the officials with data on all calls made between those foreign countries.

The administration also conducted two other bulk surveillance programs during that time without assessing their legality, investigators found. Under “Program B,” officials used similarly sweeping subpoenas to collect information on anyone who purchased specific products from participating vendors. Through “Program C,” DEA purchased telephone metadata for targets of ongoing investigations through a contractor for a separate government agency.

Program B ran from 2008 to 2013, and Program C began in 2007 and remains active today, according to the IG.

Investigators found the administration “failed to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis” of actions under all three programs. Previous court rulings have called into question the use of the sweeping subpoenas under programs A and B, they said. According to the report, the FBI also raised concerns about the legality of the operations.

“We also found the absence of a robust legal review troubling because the DEA utilized the bulk data collected … on an unknown number of occasions in support of investigations by non-DEA federal agencies that had no apparent connection to specific drug investigations,” the IG added. “This utilization raised significant legal questions” because the administration justified its actions by saying the information “was ‘relevant or material’ to a drug investigation.”

The administration also never clearly determined whether its existing subpoena authority extended to the data provided through Program C, investigators said. The IG also found proof that DEA officials exploited certain investigative practices to keep prosecutors from sharing evidence with defendants.

DEA significantly scaled back Program A after Edward Snowden revealed the existence of similar sweeping surveillance programs at the National Security Agency, according to investigators. In 2014, the administration started subpoenaing metadata on calls made from phone numbers specifically tied to federal investigations. This more narrow surveillance program remains active today, the IG said.

Read full story here…

A “Perfect Coup” Is Unfolding In Algeria

Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via,

The ongoing unrest in one of North Africa’s largest oil and gas producers Algeria is reaching boiling point.

After weeks of protests from the opposition, aimed at blocking the possible re-election of long-time president Bouteflika, there still doesn’t seem to be a resolution within reach. Even after the sudden withdrawal by Bouteflika from new elections, demonstrations continued.

Opposition and some regime insiders still feel that the old guard is clinging to power. The Algerian army, however, has stepped into the fray, urging the removal of the current president. Algerian army chief of staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah suddenly stated that Abdelaziz Bouteflika should be deemed unfit to rule. The latter was greeted by support of opposition parties and European analysts. The end to the old guard and Bouteflika clan seems to be near. Officially, the Algerian army has been stepping in to support the “legitimate demands” of the hundreds of thousands of protesters flocking the streets lately. Optimism is growing and Western media is already suggesting the possibility of a new Arab Spring movement. The reality of Algeria’s political upheaval, however, is that it is less Arab Spring 2.0 and more Cairo 2.0, with the re-emergence of the army as the real power broker.

Since the Algerian Revolt against France, the North African country has been ruled by a bipartisan system based on a political party, coming from the Algerian independency groups, and the newly formed Algerian army. This system has endured a multitude of changes and crises, and got almost obliterated during the brief rule of the Islamists after their election victory in the 1990s. Soon after this Islamist victory, the Algerian army with support of the old guard, took over and reinstated their own rule. The current situation looks almost the same, with one big difference. Algerian military strategists seem to have been reading all reports and analysis pieces written during and after the Arab Spring developments in Egypt. Cairo’s long-time ruling elite, headed by president Husni Mubarak, had outlived its time. Democratic and religious opposition combined their forces and removed Mubarak from power. At the same time, the Egyptian army stayed in their barracks, not interfering at all, despite the fact that Mubarak’s rule was built with the support of the army. After the removal of Mubarak, and the electoral victory of the Muslim Brotherhood, the army put in place its own strategy to regain its grip on the fractured country. Within 2 years, Egypt’s minister of defense and general Sissi took over, with a huge mandate from the Egyptian public.

When looking at Algeria, the same structures and strategies seem to be unfolding. An old president, supported by a corrupt and undemocratic political party, is heading for the abyss. Algeria’s economy is struggling at the same time, even though the country holds vast oil, gas and mineral resources. Mismanagement and clientism, combined with paternalistic political views, have brought the country to its knees. Europe’s former 2nd largest gas supplier is even struggling to keep its gas and LNG exports in place, despite its reserves being immense. The time is rife for change, looking at the political disorder and economic crisis scenarios. Read more: