Day: June 11, 2017

Emmanuel Macron's takeover of French politics is all but complete – Chicago Tribune

Politics

Emmanuel Macron's takeover of French politics is all but complete – Chicago Tribune

Emmanuel Macron’s takeover of French politics is all but complete. The newly elected French leader’s gamble that voters wanted to throw out old faces and try something new is paying off in full — first by giving him the presidency and, on Sunday, the crucial first step toward securing the legislative power to deliver on his pledge of far-reaching change.

As when voters turned the previously unelected Macron into France’s youngest president last month, Sunday’s first round of voting in two-stage legislative elections again brought stinging black eyes to traditional parties that, having monopolized power for decades, are being utterly routed by Macron’s political revolution.

His fledgling Republic on the Move! — contesting its first-ever election and fielding many candidates with no political experience at all — was on course to deliver him a legislative majority so crushing that Macron’s rivals fretted that the 39-year-old president will be able to govern France almost unopposed for his full five-year term.

Record-low turnout, however, took some shine off the achievement. Less than 50 percent of the 47.5 million electors cast ballots — showing that Macron has limited appeal to many voters.

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Conservatives say they're losing health care bill fight – CNN

Politics

Conservatives say they're losing health care bill fight – CNN

The walls of this Russian technology exhibit are imprinted with a circuit board design – The Verge

Technology

The walls of this Russian technology exhibit are imprinted with a circuit board design – The Verge

Moscow is home to the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, an enormous recreation and museum complex. One of its buildings is decked out with a spectacular exterior that’s designed to look like the conductive tracks on a circuit board.

The building in question is the Pavilion of Moscow Information Technology Department, a 1,600 square meter presentation space that showcases Russia’s electrical achievements. Russian architectural firm Wall designed the exterior of the pavilion in 2016, according to Dezeen. The outer panels were formed out of concrete in a local factory, and house an exhibition space, business center, and children’s play area.

Архитектурное бюро WALL |
[МАТРИЦА] | павильон [ДИТ] | ВДНХ | барельеф | бетон | 2016

Posted by WALL on Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Архитектурное бюро WALL |
[МАТРИЦА] | павильон [ДИТ] | ВДНХ | барельеф | бетон | 2016

Posted by WALL on Monday, December 26, 2016

Posted by WALL on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Posted by WALL on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Posted by WALL on Thursday, October 13, 2016

The structure is supposed to stand for another ten years, and the result is really something. The detailing adds an intriguing texture to the walls, which lends itself nicely to the purpose of the building itself: promoting the country’s technological achievements.

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If you think AHCA politics are rough for Republicans now, imagine if it passes – Business Insider

Politics

If you think AHCA politics are rough for Republicans now, imagine if it passes – Business Insider

Paul RyanHouse
Speaker Paul Ryan leaves a Success Academy charter school in
Harlem on Tuesday.
Carlo
Allegri/Reuters

As Senate Republicans hash out what their
healthcare bill should look like
, senators are
discussing a long “glide path” for the
Medicaid expansion — instead of ending it abruptly in 2020, the
federal government would phase down its payments to state
governments gradually, perhaps through 2027.

The idea is that the extra time would help states find the money
to pay for more of expanded Medicaid themselves, should they
choose to do so. Republican senators from states that have
expanded medicaid, like Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Capito of
West Virginia, have insisted on it.

But in practice, this policy choice would set up the next
six congressional elections to be fought, in large part, over the
issue of Medicaid.

Even though the American Health Care Act cuts nearly a trillion
dollars out of Medicaid over a decade, and even though a majority
of the loss of insurance coverage the CBO expects due to the bill
results from those
Medicaid cuts
, the political discussions of the bill have
tended to focus more on its effects on health insurance sold in
the individual market.

But if the AHCA goes from a proposal to public policy, Medicaid
will become the bigger deal, politically. As the “glide path”
proceeds, and the federal government starts cutting payments to
states for Medicaid, about 14 million people will lose health
insurance coverage. Hospitals will close. State budgets will be
squeezed.

Only some of the problems that would emerge in the
healthcare market over this period would actually be due to
the AHCA. But as Republicans should know from their war of
attrition against Obamacare, the first rule of healthcare
politics is that if you make changes, you get blamed for
everything that happens.

This is also a reason to expect that main policy effects of the
AHCA may never materialize, even if the law passes.

Most of the law’s effects would be delayed at least until
2020. In the intervening time, the main change is likely to be
the abolition of the individual insurance mandate. This change
would prompt insurers to raise premiums, which
would make the law even less popular than it is now, as a
mere bill.

In 2020 and later, the AHCA might lead to lower premiums for many
healthy customers, because health insurance markets with medical
underwriting would make it possible for consumers to buy policies
that give them credit for their good health, or that exclude
benefits they don’t expect to use. (Such medical underwriting
would also make it extremely expensive or
impossible
for people with chronic illnesses to buy health
insurance, or even for women of childbearing age to buy plans
that cover pregnancy, but then, all public policy is trade-offs.)

In 2018 and 2019, those lower premiums wouldn’t have materialized
for anyone, and so the 2018 congressional elections would be
fought in a political environment driven by high insurance rates
for 2018 (which Republicans would surely, if not effectively,
seek to blame on Democrats) and even higher announced insurance
rates for 2019.

The AHCA is already a weight on Republican congressional
candidates now. One can only imagine how voters will feel about
it once they actually feel its effects.

The passage of Obamacare was not the end of the politics of
Obamacare; it was only the beginning. The law helped Republicans
win back the House of Representatives in 2010, and if Mitt Romney
had won the presidential election in 2012, they would likely have
been able to stop the law before most of its provisions went into
effect.

Similarly, if the AHCA becomes law, that will be only the
beginning of the fight over the AHCA.

The billionaire GOP patron behind Trump's social media bot army – New York Daily News

Politics

The billionaire GOP patron behind Trump's social media bot army – New York Daily News

A GOP donor who once had ties to IBM is the man behind the millions of Twitter bots President Trump counts on as followers who could be employed to target voters with misleading or fake news on social media.

In order for it to work, the scheme relies on the quiet guidance of Robert Mercer, a reclusive Republican mega-donor and staunch Trump supporter, sources told the Daily News.

Mercer, who during the campaign with help from his daughter Rebekah, played a below-the-radar — but integral — role in raising money for Trump and connected him with critical figures like Stephen Bannon.

He’s a former computer scientist who, decades ago, helped build the technology at IBM that the computer giant would later use to create its Watson super-computer. He also helped other companies like Apple form the basis for its Siri platform.

Trump Twitter bots, numbering in millions, could be used for evil

Trump, meanwhile, has accrued among his 30 million Twitter followers — 15 million of which are actually bots that experts have told the Daily News could be “weaponized” to spread fake and misleading news stories that favor the White House or distract from the scandals it now faces.

But with the subtle introduction of advanced technology, by individuals familiar with artificial intelligence, their effectiveness as it pertains to targeting users and interacting with them could escalate rapidly.

“Fooling humans into doing things in the electronic realm turned out to be really easy,” said Simon Crosby, the chief technology officer at a firm called Bromium, pointing to well-documented campaigns that are thought to have influenced the 2016 presidential race and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom.

“But with a few extra steps that seem available in the right circles, it could get even easier,” he added.

Half of President Trump’s Twitter followers are bots

Some of the technology that’s part of Watson, explained Crosby and two other computer scientists who preferred to keep their identifies private, can “quickly build, test and deploy bots or virtual agents across mobile devices or messaging platforms to create natural conversations between apps and users.”

That technology is even built to understand a user’s personality, tone and emotion and interact naturally with people.

“You have arbitrary and ridiculous information spread very quickly, and now to targeted user more susceptible to believing it and spreading it, and we now know that it influences people. We saw it in the election, with Brexit,” he said.

Relatively few users following the President’s @realDonaldTrump account are real people, experts say.

Relatively few users following the President’s @realDonaldTrump account are real people, experts say.

(@realDonaldTrump via Twitter)

“Ultimately, the problem is that anybody can talk to anybody, especially if ‘anybody’ is a bot on Twitter or Facebook who knows a lot about you.”

All of the scientists were keen to point that such efforts would not be employed by Watson, an entity owned and patented by IBM.

Rather, they indicated, it would appear to make sense for a man familiar with its inner workings to draw on his own expertise to help hone a bot-operation for a political candidate.

While pretty much any one computer scientist with the right motives could help someone in the Trump camp do such a thing — most AI technology at this moment is open source and freely available online if one knows where to look — the proximity of Mercer to the Trump camp, in particular, raises questions.

Long before making his fortune at Renaissance Technologies, his current hedge fund, Mercer, 70, worked at IBM, where his name appeared on several patents and on in many publications and studies about “Brown clustering,” which the computer giant used to create its Watson Artificial Intelligence systems.

Mercer did not respond to questions about his involvement with the Trump campaign.

Mercer, who helped get Breitbart News off the ground years ago with millions of dollars in donations, also invested at least $5 million in a firm called Cambridge Analytica, a small tech operation “that mines online data to reach and influence potential voters” and “uses secret psychological methods to pinpoint which messages are the most persuasive to individual online viewers,” The New Yorker magazine reported earlier this year.

That kind of technology has already been employed in campaigns candidates whom Mercer supported, including Trump’s, and could easily be used in future efforts to target voters on social media, Crosby said.

“We’re in deep trouble in the sense that it’s extraordinarily easy to automate a generation of arbitrarily absurd and ridiculous stuff,” he said.

Tags:
robert mercer
donald trump
twitter

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TTI project using technology to improve road-evaluation process – Bryan-College Station Eagle

Technology

TTI project using technology to improve road-evaluation process – Bryan-College Station Eagle

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A new project by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute could soon make Texas Department of Transportation road evaluations more consistent, efficient and effective using technology similar to what is being developed for autonomous vehicles.

The project is among a number of innovative studies being overseen by TxDOT’s Office of Research and Technology Implementation. 

Paul Carlson, head of TTI’s Traffic Operations and Roadway Safety Division, said the monitoring system would replace the agency’s current method of evaluating roads by eye — a practice he said often lends itself to subjectivity and inconsistency. 

“The idea is to add low-cost sensors to TxDOT vehicles so that they essentially act like robotic eyes, looking at the infrastructure, providing infrastructure information and condition assessment information,” Carlson said. “[Right now] TxDOT employees have to drive their roadways twice per year doing windshield inspections, driving down the road and judging what needs to be rehabilitated and what needs to be maintained. … This provides a much more objective way for that to be done with consistency across the board.”

TxDOT RTI project manager Chris Glancy said while the technology is still in the testing phase, it already is garnering attention from department employees across the state.  

“Every time I show district personnel the project, they want to implement it locally,” Glancy said in a statement. “This is an example of what we expect to be many future innovative opportunities to utilize new vehicle technologies to improve safety and efficiency of many of the field operations that the department must undertake to effectively maintain our transportation system.”

Carlson said the technology is now in the field for testing to measure accuracy and the cost-benefit of the system. He said four fleet vehicles of TxDOT’s Bryan District already have been equipped with the system, and 26 are scheduled for installation across the state by the end of the year.

Should the system prove successful, Carlson said the technology could provide transportation officials with a more timely and cost-efficient way to get the most out of the “limited dollars” in maintenance funding they receive each year.

Carlson said the “unobtrusive” technology is designed to cost less than $1,000 per vehicle.

In addition to its potential cost-saving benefits, Carlson said the monitoring system is automatic and connected to a cloud service in which data is collected and analytics are compiled. 

“The idea is that we provide the TxDOT personnel with no additional duties,” Carlson said. “[The drivers] just go do their normal work.”

He said the information then would be available to officials in the form of a “near-real-time map” of road conditions.

Carlson said in addition to its potential use in TxDOT vehicles across the state, the technology could also be commercialized and marketed to other state transportation agencies as well. 

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