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Microsoft announces AI for Humanitarian Action to help the world

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Putting intelligent computing towards good use, Microsoft A.I. is not so scary after all.

While consumers are still struggling to see the daily realities of artificial intelligence (A.I.) Microsoft is pushing ahead with the technology for other, more philanthropic uses. Today, Microsoft is announcing a new five-year $40 million-dollar initiative using A.I. to assist with "humanitarian crises caused by natural and man-made disasters, oppression and other emergencies."

The project is called AI for Humanitarian Action and it will "harness the power of AI to focus on four priorities – helping the world recover from disasters, addressing the needs of children, protecting refugees and displaced people, and promoting respect for human rights" according to a press release from Microsoft.

AI for Humanitarian Action is part of a more extensive $150 million-dollar five-year program called Microsoft's AI for Good, which includes the previously announced AI for Earth and AI for Accessibility initiatives.

Through a process, Microsoft works with select non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian groups with allocations for "financial grants, technology investments and partnerships that combine our AI and data science know-how with these groups' core expertise."

While all of this may sound a bit squishy without firm examples, Microsoft did present an outline for four significant areas they seek to leverage A.I. solutions for humanitarian issues, including:

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JimB
14 seconds ago
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Labour conference: John McDonnell unveils shares plan for workers

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says he would force all large firms to share ownership with staff.
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JimB
4 hours ago
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Most people do not want shares, they want money. This discourages mobility in the work force. Small shareholdings are astoundingly excitement to manage.
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What did Donald Trump do today?He lied about hiring Rod Rosenstein.Trump appeare...

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about hiring Rod Rosenstein.

Trump appeared on the AM radio show Geraldo in Cleveland this morning and claimed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and not him, had hired Rod Rosenstein. “I was not involved in that process, because, you know, they go out and they get their own deputies, and the people that work in the department. And Jeff Sessions hired him.”

This is false on several levels. The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch and all its employees, regardless of whether hiring authority is delegated through other departments. 

But Rosenstein's job, Deputy Attorney General, is high enough in the DOJ hierarchy that Trump himself, as president, nominated him. Trump made that announcement the very next day after he fired Obama administration holdover Sally Yates from the same position. In fact, Rosenstein was nominated for that position well before Sessions himself was confirmed. 

Even ignoring that, Trump's insistence on absolute personal loyalty meant that every hire, no matter how junior, needed to survive his scrutiny--and not all of them did. Less than a month into his term, Trump forced the firing of Shermichael Singleton, a Republican staffer who had just begun work as an aide to Trump's HUD secretary, Ben Carson.

There is a larger political and dimension to attacks on Rosenstein for Trump. In his attempts to evade scrutiny of his connections to the Putin regime, Trump has insisted that he is the victim of a partisan "deep state" conspiracy. But all of the most significant figures in the Russia investigation--Sessions, Rosenstein, James Comey prior to his firing, and Robert Mueller--are lifelong Republicans.

So what?

  • Even seemingly trivial lies are beneath the dignity of the presidency.
  • Presidents should take responsibility for their actions.
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JimB
4 hours ago
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How is he getting away with lying?
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France removes toxic tyres from failed reef project

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Instead of teeming with marine life, the tyres were leaking toxic chemicals and fish avoided them.
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JimB
4 hours ago
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PPI fuelling fraud culture, says Barclays boss

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The level of bogus claims is enormous and the government is complicit, the bank's chairman says.
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JimB
5 hours ago
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Correct. Good for him actually pointing it out in public.
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What did Donald Trump do today?He lied about wages again--but otherwise laid low...

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about wages again--but otherwise laid low.

As usual for a Saturday, Trump spent the day at one of his luxury golf courses. And as is usual for Trump, if no other president before him, his public schedule was devoid of any work-related activities. 

Unusually, he has otherwise been quiet: his Twitter activity as of 10 p.m. EDT today was limited to one generic boast about unspecified economic "records," and two very brief pre-taped viedo messages.

But even a combined 70 seconds of pre-taped video was enough room for Trump to stray far from the truth. In the first of those videos, he said:
I have good news for you. It was just announced that wages, for the first time in many years, for people in the United States have gone up. ...That means you're working hard, but you're making more money.
It's not clear what Trump was referring to, but as this site noted Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics's latest report shows that year-on-year wages were up two cents per hour, from $10.76 to $10.78. For a standard 2,000-hour work year, that would increase gross pay from $21,520 to $21,560.

In other words, while Trump's tax cuts have resulted in huge corporate windfalls, wages remain flat against inflation as they have since the recessions of the early 1980s.

Image result for wage growth chart inflation adjusted

The reason Trump is laying low today is that he may have singlehandedly ruined his own Supreme Court nominee's chances of confirmation. Yesterday's tweet, in which Trump sarcastically mocked Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, for not reporting a rape attempt when she was 15, has backfired spectacularly. One of the swing votes on Kavanaugh's nomination, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) declared herself "appalled." Twitter was swamped by thousands of women using the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag.

Congressional Republicans, facing an election in which women are likely to be the margin of victory for Democratic challengers, were horrified as the damage to Kavanaugh's chances became clear. As one Republican Senate staffer told NBC, "They had a strategy, which was to keep [Trump] under wraps. I think Trump just couldn't help himself from becoming the center of attention." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had publicly guaranteed Kavanaugh's confirmation regardless of what Ford had to say, called Trump on Friday to make him aware of the damage he'd done.

Why should I care about this?

  • Repeating a lie does not make it true.
  • Presidents shouldn't need to be "handled" just so that they don't get in the way of their own agenda.
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JimB
1 day ago
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