“The best or worst thing to happen to humanity” – Stephen Hawking launches Centre for the Future of Intelligence


Artificial intelligence has the power to eradicate poverty and disease or hasten the end of human civilisation as we know it – according to a speech delivered by Professor Stephen Hawking this evening.



Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.
Stephen Hawking



Speaking at the launch of the £10million Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) in Cambridge, Professor Hawking said the rise of AI would transform every aspect of our lives and was a global event on a par with the industrial revolution.

CFI brings together four of the world’s leading universities (Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley and Imperial College, London) to explore the implications of AI for human civilisation. Together, an interdisciplinary community of researchers will work closely with policy-makers and industry investigating topics such as the regulation of autonomous weaponry, and the implications of AI for democracy.

“Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation,” said Professor Hawking. “But it could also be the last – unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers like powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.

“We cannot predict what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.”

The Centre for the Future of Intelligence will initially focus on seven distinct projects in the first three-year phase of its work, reaching out to brilliant researchers and connecting them and their ideas to the challenges of making the best of AI. Among the initial research topics are: ‘Science, value and the future of intelligence’; ‘Policy and responsible innovation’; ‘Autonomous weapons – prospects for regulation’ and ‘Trust and transparency’.

The Academic Director of the Centre, and Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, Huw Price, said: “The creation of machine intelligence is likely to be a once-in-a-planet’s-lifetime event. It is a future we humans face together. Our aim is to build a broad community with the expertise and sense of common purpose to make this future the best it can be.”

Many researchers now take seriously the possibility that intelligence equal to our own will be created in computers within this century. Freed of biological constraints, such as limited memory and slow biochemical processing speeds, machines may eventually become more intelligent than we are – with profound implications for us all.

AI pioneer Professor Maggie Boden (University of Sussex) sits on the Centre’s advisory board and spoke at this evening’s launch. She said: “AI is hugely exciting. Its practical applications can help us to tackle important social problems, as well as easing many tasks in everyday life. And it has advanced the sciences of mind and life in fundamental ways. But it has limitations, which present grave dangers given uncritical use. CFI aims to pre-empt these dangers, by guiding AI development in human-friendly ways.”

“Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars or a computer game winning at the game of Go, are signs of what’s to come,” added Professor Hawking. “The rise of powerful AI will either be the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which. The research done by this centre is crucial to the future of our civilisation and of our species.”

Transcript of Professor Hawking’s speech at the launch of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, October 19, 2016

“It is a great pleasure to be here today to open this new Centre. We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it is a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence.

Intelligence is central to what it means to be human. Everything that our civilisation has achieved, is a product of human intelligence, from learning to master fire, to learning to grow food, to understanding the cosmos.

I believe there is no deep difference between what can be achieved by a biological brain and what can be achieved by a computer. It therefore follows that computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence — and exceed it.

Artificial intelligence research is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, or a computer winning at the game of Go, are signs of what is to come. Enormous levels of investment are pouring into this technology. The achievements we have seen so far will surely pale against what the coming decades will bring.

The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one — industrialisation. And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.

But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own — a will that is in conflict with ours.

In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which. That is why in 2014, I and a few others called for more research to be done in this area. I am very glad that someone was listening to me!

The research done by this centre is crucial to the future of our civilisation and of our species. I wish you the best of luck!”

[University of Cambridge]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
Watch a fully autonomous Tesla drive through the city and find a parking spot

Fully autonomous Teslas are getting closer to reality. Yesterday, the electric carmaker announced that all new vehicles will come with extra hardware to support “full self-driving capabilities,” and this morning, the company posted a video showing exactly what that hardware can do.

The self-driving software is not finished and has yet to be approved by regulators, but the four-minute clip is nonetheless impressive, showing a Tesla leaving a garage, driving across town, and finding its own parking spot — all autonomously. There is someone sat in the driver’s seat, as per current legal requirements, but they never touch the wheel. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who posted the clip to Twitter, notes that the car is even smart enough to driver past a disabled parking spot, knowing it’s not allowed to park there. He also highlighted the car’s summon function:




All of this technology is a long way from being implemented, but it does raise some interesting questions. Like, what happens if you summon a Tesla on your phone then get on a train — will the car follow you round indefinitely, or will it only drive to the initial summon location? And when is someone going to mod this function so owners can whistle to call their Tesla, like summoning a horse in a video game? It’s all to come.

[The Verge]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
5 Things That Could Damage Your Personal Brand



If you want to develop a savvy, successful personal brand, avoid these overlooked offenders.


At risk of stating the obvious, your personal brand should say a lot about you. In fact, when done well, it IS your essence to a core and everything you want to portray. Regardless of who you are or what you do, you have a personal brand—even if you don’t realize it.  The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to developing your public persona in a way that breeds success and develops a following.

There’s no room for personal brand sloppiness in the success-driven economy. If you want to make a mark while simultaneously building your business, you must craft your personal brand with intention.

But sometimes, despite those best intentions, efforts to build your personal brand could be backfiring. Why? Simply, we don’t know what we don’t know—and it’s in the “not knowing” that trouble can brew.

Here are the 5 fastest ways to damage your personal brand without even trying.


  • Inappropriate images

One of the quickest ways to damage your personal brand is to post unflattering photos of yourself on your social media platforms. Unfortunately, we live in a judgmental society. As consumers, we want to put things in a box because it helps us make decisions. You don’t want your audience putting you in the wrong box.

Instead: Be sure to make your photos consistent across all platforms and social channels. This subconsciously shows audiences that they can trust you, that you are the same person wherever you are.


  • Outdated content and images

Outdated content gives the appearance that you’ve shut down and are no longer relevant to the bigger conversation.

Instead: Regularly posting content shows that you are active, relevant, and in-the-know. Leaders don’t have an occasional word to say, they have a point of view on just about everything. They aren’t just involved in conversations—they lead them. Make sure to keep your blogs, podcasts, social channels (and images) updated to create a voice people can depend on.


  • Unbranded assets

Nobody thinks their kid is ugly, so it’s difficult to look at your personal brand objectively. Many people “design” their assets based upon their own taste rather than what will resonate with an audience. How are you perceived? What are you known for? What do people say about you when you’re not in the room? These are things that need to be considered when producing any creative elements that are associated with your brand, such as logo, business card, wardrobe, or website. Having generic elements as part of your brand drives down your credibility.

Instead: Create a logo that defines you and your brand. Don’t clip-art it—it’s elementary and a very bad judgment call. Create a web presence that elicits a ‘wow!’ from visitors. Your logo and web design, colors, line styles and other qualities should align with how you want people to see you. As visual people, logos really do make an impact.


  • Neglected website

Outdated websites are a drain on your reputation. Nobody wants to follow somebody who is supposedly savvy, but has a website that feels like it stepped out of the ‘90s.

Instead: Review your website and ensure that it portrays the same ‘you’ that you want the world to see. Your audience is always evolving, which is why you should be ahead of that curve. Let your website do the speaking to prove your savvy leader style. Don’t just be on top of trends—be ahead of them.


  • Over-promoting yourself

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you don’t toot your own horn, you’ll never get ahead”? There’s a fine line between telling others about yourself and what you stand for, and only talking about yourself and your accomplishments. Find a balance between sharing pieces of yourself and demonstrating your knowledge so you don’t come off as bragging or narcissistic. Promotion is necessary—to a degree. But too much promotion looks gimmicky and like you’re just out for a dollar—and will say anything to get it.

Instead: As a business leader, your goal is to serve (and make a profit of course). Keep your vision of meeting others needs front and center and focus on how you can help in the conversation.

Brands are funny things because they can be really difficult to capture. Personal brands are no exception. They need to be nurtured and reviewed on a regular basis. Once you get your personal brand where you want it to be, make sure to keep an eye on it for potential kinks in its armor. You need to look in the mirror once in awhile and ensure nothing has changed and if anything has, it should be reflected in both your online and offline presence. Be mindful of the collective impression and mutterings about you to ensure your brand is perceived exactly as you want it to be. Remember, you get to influence that perception—if you choose. [Inc]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Bendable electronic color ‘paper’ invented

Chalmers’ e-paper contains gold, silver and PET plastic. The layer that produces the colors is less than a micrometer thin. (credit: Mats Tiborn)

Chalmers University of Technology researchers have developed the basic technology for a new kind of reflective electronic “paper” that is micrometer-thin and bendable. It can display all colors displayed on an LED display, but with ten times less energy than a Kindle tablet.


This Chalmers logotype shows how RGB pixels can reproduce color images. The magnification shows which pixels are activated to create elements of the image. (credit: Kunli Xiong)

The technology is based on electrically controllable optical absorption of a conducting polymer, which is used to modulate the reflected light from ultrathin nanostructured plasmonic metasurfaces. (KurzweilAI has covered a number of research projects using reflective plasmonic designs, such as this one and this one.)


The plasmonic metasurfaces. (a) Schematic of the plasmonic metasurface, which has three layers. A 150 nm silver film was first deposited on the substrate to provide a high base reflection. The next alumina spacer layer tuned the reflective color by Fabry–Pérot interference. (b) Then 150 nm nanoholes in a 20 nm gold film were prepared on alumina by colloidal self-assembly and tape stripping. (c) The color palette was created by varying the alumina thickness for the primary colors red, green, and blue, corresponding to an alumina thickness of 48, 93, and 83 nm respectively. (d) A photo of samples with the primary colors under ambient light. (credit: Kunli Xiong et al./Advanced Materials)

“The ‘paper’ is similar to the Kindle tablet,” says Chalmers researcher Andreas Dahlin. “It isn’t lit up like a standard display, but rather reflects the external light which illuminates it. Therefore it works very well where there is bright light, such as out in the sun, in contrast to standard LED displays that work best in darkness. At the same time it needs only a tenth of the energy that a Kindle tablet uses, which itself uses much less energy than a tablet LED display.”

The material is not yet ready for production. One obstacle is that there is gold and silver in the display, which makes the manufacturing expensive, Dahlin explains.

He says optimal applications for the displays will be well-lit places such as outside or in public places for displaying information. This could reduce the energy consumption and at the same time replace signs and information screens that aren’t currently electronic today with more flexible ones.


Abstract of Plasmonic Metasurfaces with Conjugated Polymers for Flexible Electronic Paper in Color

A flexible electronic paper in full color is realized by plasmonic metasurfaces with conjugated polymers. An ultrathin large-area electrochromic material is presented which provides high polarization-independent reflection, strong contrast, fast response time, and long-term stability. This technology opens up for new electronic readers and posters with ultralow power consumption.

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
PZ Thinking Routines



Visible Thinking

At the core of Visible Thinking are practices that help make thinking visible: Thinking Routines loosely guide learners’ thought processes and encourage active processing.

Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based conceptual framework, which aims to integrate the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters.
Visible Thinking began as an initiative to develop a research-based approach to teaching thinking dispositions. The approach emphasized three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking, and reflective professional practice. It was originally developed at Lemshaga Akademi in Sweden as part of the Innovating with Intelligence project, and focused on developing students’ thinking dispositions in such areas as truth-seeking, understanding, fairness, and imagination. It has since expanded its focus to include an emphasis on thinking through art and the role of cultural forces and has informed the development of other Project Zero Visible Thinking initiatives, including Artful Thinking, and Cultures of Thinking.


PZ Thinking Routines from Sue Borchardt on Vimeo.


A short introduction to Project Zero’s thinking routines:

  • what are they?
  • why would I want to use them?
  • how can I get started?


[Harvard Graduate School of Education]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , ,
Top 10 Job Titles That Didn’t Exist 5 Years Ago

The workplace is constantly changing and how we define what we do is no exception. Since we just welcomed the new 2014, we thought it’d be fun to see how much our work has changed in the past few years.

We examined the data of over 259 million members’ profiles to determine the top 10 most popular job titles that were nowhere to be found in 2008. Here is what we came up with:




October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Why The Teacher Of The Future Will Be Neither Man Nor Machine

It’s a classic human v. machine scenario: as AI gets better at teaching and providing educational assistance, the question inevitably turns to whether and when human teachers will be replaced by computers.

Students across the U.S. are currently enrolled in online schools that provide the benefits of a teacher and curriculum with the comfort and convenience of homeschooling, and although these schools still have human teachers ready to answer questions from students, much of the teaching is done by computer program.

This symbiotic relationship between human teacher and computer seems to be the next frontier for education.

No, cyborgs are not going to take over our classrooms. But in the very near future, teachers and AI computers may team up to provide stronger, better educational experiences for students at every level from primary school up to university.

The argument is not that computers and AI should replace human teachers but that they can be used to augment the capabilities of human teachers in beneficial ways:

  • AI can automate basic, repetitive activities like grading. Today essay grading software is not up to par with human teachers, but computer programs can accurately grade all kinds of multiple choice and fill in the blank style homework. Freeing teachers from grading would give them more time to prepare and interact in class.
  • Educational software can adjust to meet each student exactly where he or she is. One problem often seen in classrooms is that teachers tend to teach to the middle, and students who are advanced or falling behind get left out. Educational programs can adjust the speed at which individual students go through coursework, provide additional help when a student struggles, or provide additional enrichment when a student is working ahead of the rest of the class. A human teacher would struggle to keep up with providing a unique lesson plan for every student.
  • AI can go beyond the classroom and support students at home. As any parent knows, it can be a huge challenge when a child struggles with homework. Educational programs that can be accessed from home can provide support at any time of day or night, and can even provide additional tutoring to students who need it.
  • AI can help the teacher provide better learning experiences. If educational software notes that a large percentage of students are missing a particular question, it can flag the question, which can provide important feedback to the human teacher that his or her lesson may need additional details or clarity.
  • Computer systems can provide valuable feedback to parents, educators, and administrators. Because so much data can be recorded in a computer environment, it’s an excellent way for everyone involved in the process to receive feedback and understand both where they excel and where they could improve. It could reduce the need for separate standardized testing and provide a level playing field for helping to assess teacher and school performance.

These computer systems are poised to radically change where students learn, from whom they learn, and even how they acquire basic skills. For example, researchers know that being willing to experiment and learn through trial and error is an important part of learning, but many students are afraid to fail in front of their classmates or even their teacher. A computer learning environment can provide a judgement-free zone for children to learn — and fail — and thereby gain the important skills needed for additional learning.


shutterstock-3328811929211 Shutterstock


Imagine a world in which students can learn from anywhere in the world, where your teenager can sleep in until 10 and still participate in his maths class, and where a child can access specific courses, information, and materials from teachers all across the globe.
With the right balance of human and machine interaction, it could be a net positive for education around the world.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker. His new book: ’Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results


October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
How to raise successful kids — without over-parenting


By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.



Julie Lythcott-Haims speaks and writes on the phenomenon of helicopter parenting and the dangers of a checklisted childhood — the subject of her book, “How to Raise an Adult.”


Why you should listen

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. The book emerged from her decade as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen, where she was known for her fierce advocacy for young adults and received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for creating “the” atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience. She was also known for her fierce critique of the growing trend of parental involvement in the day-to-day lives of college students. Toward the end of her tenure as dean, she began speaking and writing widely on the harm of helicopter parenting. How to Raise an Adult is being published in over two dozen countries and gave rise to her TED Talk and a sequel which will be out in 2018. In the meantime, Lythcott-Haims’s memoir on race, Real American, will be out in Fall 2017.

Lythcott-Haims is a graduate of Stanford University, Harvard Law School, and California College of the Arts. She lives in Silicon Valley with her partner of over twenty-five years, their two teenagers and her mother.

October 20, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , ,
The voices of Twitter users


In the year leading up to this talk, the web tool Twitter exploded in size (up 10x during 2008 alone). Co-founder Evan Williams reveals that many of the ideas driving that growth came from unexpected uses invented by the users themselves.



Evan Williams is the co-founder of Twitter, the addictive messaging service that connects the world 140 characters at a time.


Why you should listen

Evan Williams helps the world answer the question “What are you doing?” Twitter, the tiny, free world-changing app Williams helped launch, has become a vital connector of people and communities (as well as a fantastic way to keep up with Shaq and Demi Moore).

Before Williams worked on Twitter, he was part of a previous revolution in mass communication, Blogger, while working at Google. He left Google in 2004 to launch the podcasting service Odeo, and Twitter spun out from this in 2006 as a side project based on an idea of Jack Dorsey’s.

October 20, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
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