A look at the evidence behind the latest claim of the universe’s earliest stars shows nothing of the sort. And that’s not the biggest whopper.“Astronomers claim first glimpse of primordial stars,” Nature News announces. Daniel Clery at Science Mag is even more brazen: “Astronomers spot first-generation stars, made from big bang.” The elusive “Population III” stars, made entirely of hydrogen, have at last been found! (one would think). These are supposedly members of the first generation of stars after the big bang, before any heavy elements had been made by supernovas. Science Daily tantalizes, “until now the search for physical proof of their existence had been inconclusive,” under its bold headline, “Best observational evidence of first generation stars in the universe: VLT discovers CR7, the brightest distant galaxy, and signs of Population III stars.”But it’s not true. Read the fine print. Nature says,Now astronomers think they may have spied a late-blooming cluster of such stars, in the brightest distant galaxy observed to date. The stars, seen as they were when the Universe was around 800 million years old, appear to be primordial in composition – but also to have formed more recently than some second-generation stars.These can’t be first-generation stars if they are younger than second-generation stars, especially when theory expects first-generation stars to burn out quickly. The statement only says they “appear to be primordial in composition.” But they are found in a galaxy with stars containing heavy elements. Those stars (according to current theory) could only form well after the “primordial” Population III stars had gone supernova, sending heavy elements into the galaxy’s gas and dust.Only below the bold headlines does the reader hear that the discovery creates other problems. Even then, some heavy interpretation is needed to keep the story going:But the galaxy is not where astronomers had imagined they would find the Universe’s earliest stars. CR7 also hosts second generation stars, made from recycled material. Sobral and colleagues suggest that the primordial stars may be late-developers, formed from a cloud of pristine and uncontaminated gas that was prevented from cooling and coalescing by the heat of strong radiation from earlier-blooming stars. “We think we’re seeing the last episode of Population III star formation,” he says.That primordial stars should turn up in such a large and already-evolved galaxy presents a challenge to the group’s interpretation, but is probably the least exotic of the possible explanations for CR7’s light signal, says Naoki Yoshida, an astrophysicist at the University of Tokyo. Further observations of the galaxy will be needed to rule out other possibilities, admit the authors.But Wait: There’s MoreThat was downright deceitful. But it’s not the first time astronomers have misrepresented their empirical evidence. A positivist story on PhysOrg from May 28, “Shining message about the end of the Dark Ages” promises enlightenment about the time before the first stars began to shine. This story, too, delivers darkness rather than light. After confident claims based on just three stars assumed to be primitive, the article admits difficulties:The current discoveries allow a fascinating new insight into the events surrounding the emergence of the first stars. Accordingly, these stars must not have arisen in isolation but in groups, Prof. Klessen underlines. The high-mass stars exploded after only a few million years, but far less violently than had been assumed. The Heidelberg scientist explains: “Only then could the lighter elements such as carbon or oxygen be projected far enough into the cosmos to be of use to the new stars, which have a lower mass but a longer life.” However, there is another puzzling question. The three newly discovered stars display no trace of lithium, although this chemical element is also contained in the original gas. For Dr. Marco Limongi from the Rome observatory, which is also part of the international research team, this is another mystery waiting to be elucidated.Frame grab: Then there’s a PhysOrg article from June 8 that takes a snapshot and builds a movie out of it. Data from the ALMA Long Baseline Interferometry Campaign show a gravitationally lensed galaxy forming a classic “Einstein ring” shape. That’s the snapshot. From there, the reader is treated to a story about galaxies merging and creating huge numbers of new stars, which “will likely turn into new giant star-forming regions in the future.” The positivism morphs into a promissory note stamped What Scientists Will Learn Some Day. “It also shows how ALMA will enable astronomers to make more discoveries in the years to come, also uncovering yet more questions about the nature of distant galaxies.” They can’t lose; either they can claim it’s a discovery, or a question. If it doesn’t fit theory, keep sending money; it will be “another mystery waiting to be elucidated.”Dork side of the farce: We won’t dignify Space.com‘s putrid excuse for a teaser headline, “Band Of Galaxies Imitates Real Rock N’ Roll Lifestyle.” What? “Comparing this ‘cosmic quartet’ is akin to every day life of the Rock greats, where you find internal strife (black holes, tidal tails), struggles for stardom (star formation) and sexual encounters (galactic mergers).” Good grief; the data is about four galaxies (clumps of burning gas). Well, maybe there is something to the metaphor. They quote Carl Sagan, “We are made of starstuff.” Well, then, act like it!Dark Matter is another perennial no-show in astrophysics. PhysOrg offered the latest “fresh theories about dark matter” on May 15, and New Scientist recently got even more bizarre, proposing that dark matter may be composed of exotic “WIMPzillas from the dawn of time.” but more recently, New Scientist asked a very good question: “How long can we keep looking for dark matter?” The public has been led down this primrose path since the 1930s. Expensive detectors have failed to find it. The biggest particle detector in the world, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, hasn’t found it. “The search can’t go on forever,” the anonymous article says.It’s true that some hunches have borne fruit in the history of science, but there have been false leads, too, like the epicycles invented to prop up Ptolemaic cosmology. Is this the next “luminiferous aether” destined to be forgotten? Are astronomers “looking for something that isn’t there?”But pragmatically, the real issue is not the science, but the money. Most physicists would say it’s worth persevering with the search, given its potentially huge ramifications. But how long can they persuade their funders to keep paying for it? Consider the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, which, despite its potential impact, now receives no public money and relatively little private support. That’s easily explained: the scale of the task and the limits of our technology mean the chances of finding intelligent aliens seem slim. Given a few more years of null results, dark matter might come to seem a less worthwhile investment to cash-strapped funding bodies too.The unspoken option is to cut your losses, admit you were wrong, backtrack, and start on a whole new path.Galaxy evolution: Need more? PhysOrg promises that “‘Galaxy fingerprinting’ yields new clues about galaxy evolution,” but then ends by taking it all back. Keck Telescope observation show that distant galaxies are just like low-mass galaxies in the Milky Way’s neighborhood. So after all these years, working with the largest and most modern telescopes ever made, “We still don’t have an understanding of how parts of the Milky Way system formed, and our results now tell us what chemistry to go look for to answer this question.” Suggestion: report the facts and just leave it at that.Bonus: Had enough yet? Read Calla Cofield’s entry on Space.com, “Cosmic Confusion: Talk of Multiverses and Big Errors in Astrophysics.” Mario Livio recently confessed to the public some severe embarrassments in his field. “With three other prominent astrophysicists on the panel, Livio delved into one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics, which led to a discussion of whether or not our universe might be just one of an infinite number of multiverses— and whether a theory of the multiverse is good or bad for science.” He described how astronomers are off on their estimate for the vacuum energy of the universe by 120 orders of magnitude.“This is a large number even in astronomy,” Livio said. “Especially for a discrepancy.“One of the panelists, Josh Frieman, drove home how alarming this error is.“To make a math error that big you know you really have to work hard at it. It’s not easy,” said Frieman, who is a senior staff scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the current director of the Dark Energy Survey.These same people say that the matter and energy we observe only makes up 5% of what exists (the rest being inscrutable dark matter and dark energy), and that an infinite number of universes might exist (the multiverse), because this is the only way to avoid the appearance of design (the anthropic principle, the “A word” to this panel). One of the panelists admitted that astronomers “are in a very awkward situation” with their failures. “So I think we need to be open to all matter of speculations, given the sort of awkward situation we find ourselves in.”And the public trusts these guys to tell us about reality?Just send more money and maybe some day they will have their Theory of Everything (see Science Daily and The Conversation). They promise! Whom else would you trust but a scientist?There you have it; the queen of the sciences—the venerable science of astronomy—corrupted by dogmatic adherents to a godless worldview. They’re like snake oil salesmen who’ve been to the university and learned some big words and math operations. “Buy a bottle of our secular materialism, and we promise you big dividends—real soon!” Years go by; nothing. It happened with SETI; it’s happening with dark matter; and you’ve just seen astronomers and reporters willing to lie about “primordial stars.” Against that is the backdrop of being so wrong that “not even wrong” fails to capture the magnitude of their error. This is what David Klinghoffer calls science abuse (Evolution News & Views). They’re living in a fantasyland of unobservable universes and occult phenomena, where they can act like clowns and still get paid.It’s not just us saying this about the modern batch of secular cosmologists (10/06/04). We’ve been reporting others’ complaints about their pointy-headed wrongness for over a decade (6/18/03). Are you better off than you were 12 years ago? How much more time do they get to shape up?Scientists and reporters are just like everyone else, Klinghoffer reminds us (ENV). Some are “bright men and women with a gift that’s of value in their field, but otherwise subject to all the temptations that the rest of us are.” (After what these astronomers confessed, that is much too charitable.) They get away with it because undeserved respect has been heaped on them from the legacy of the good science days. Well, wake up. We’ve been had by a group of charlatans in science costumes. It’s not going to get better until more reporters like us hammer them with hard questions and (as wise old Phillip Johnson said) refuse to take bluffing and evasion for an answer. No snake oil salesman can endure a crowd that laughs out loud, and then gets righteously indignant about folly. Do your duty. 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Anne Frank was an inspiration to Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment on Robben Island. In celebration of Mandela Month, see this video where Mandela shares how the experience of a young Jewish girl gave him hope and encouragement. Anne Frank and seven others were in hiding in the secret annex on the Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. It’s become the Anne Frank House, a museum that commemorates her life. (Image: Wikipedia)Media Club South Africa reporterIn an interview conducted shortly after he was released, Nelson Mandela told Dutch filmmakers that Anne Frank had been his inspiration. He drew courage from her book, The Diary of a Young Girl as she faced injustice during the turbulent World War II.Mandela is often remembered as a reader, an analyst and a man who never stood still in his thinking. He had read Anne’s posthumous diary before going to prison, but when he read it behind bars again, he saw the work differently. He said that he never lost hope in returning as a free man [from Robben Island] because he knew he could follow in the footsteps of great fighters for human rights like Anne.About Anne Frank“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” ― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young GirlAnne died at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in February or March 1945, before the camp was liberated. She was just 15. Her diary, which she began writing while she was in hiding with her family, was found by her father, Otto, and published in 1947.During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the Jewish Frank family hid in a secret annex of Otto’s manufacturing business. Sharing the space with two other families, Anne used her diary to write about the world she was not able to enjoy any longer.Watch this interview from the Anne Frank House:Watch Tobey Krafft give a tour of The Secret Annex here:Mandela MonthThis year the Mandela Month campaign focuses on education and literacy, food security, shelter and the environment. International Mandela Day is celebrated on Mandela’s birthday, 18 July. South Africans and international supporters are called to take action and inspire change throughout the month in commemoration of Mandela’s life.
A BJP booth level leader was shot dead and a party worker seriously injured when unidentified miscreants attacked them in West Bengal’s Paschim Burdwan district, police said Monday.The BJP booth level president Sandip Ghosh and party worker Jaidip Banerjee were returning home after attending a meeting when they were attacked by the miscreants at Malandighi Saraswatigunj area of the district on Sunday night, they said. Banerjee has been admitted to a private hospital in Durgapur. Bijay Ghosh, the father of the deceased, said his son had told him that he was going to attend a picnic. The BJP alleged that Ghosh was killed by TMC goons. Denying the allegations, a Trinammol Congress district leader said that BJP’s internal party rivalry was responsible for Ghosh’s death.
About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Mazzarri adamant Torino deserved two spotkicks for Juventus defeatby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveTorino coach Walter Mazzarri is adamant they didn’t deserve defeat to Juventus.The Derby della Mole was decided by a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty when Mario Mandzukic pounced on Simone Zaza’s poor back-pass.However, when it was still 0-0, Toro had two of their own appeals waved away.“I have to compliment my lads, because they put in a strong performance and played on a par with a tank like Juventus,” Mazzarri told DAZN.“In these cases, the incidents ultimately make the difference. We lost Salvatore Sirigu to injury early on, but Ichazo did well too. It’s a pity to have missed out on a point that we would’ve deserved.“You can take something from Juve only if they underestimate you, but they rested Giorgio Chiellini in the Champions League midweek, which shows how much they were thinking about this derby.“An unfortunate incident proved decisive. Perhaps there could’ve been a penalty or two in our favour, we certainly got that impression… In other games, VAR went back to look at this sort of situation.“Belotti was jumping to head the ball, which is his specialty, and he has a good chance of scoring if he connects with it cleanly. If you are pushed when mid-air, in my view that is a clear penalty.“People say we complain, but since the last time there was a meeting about VAR, they have generally gone to check on incidents. Belotti and Zaza appealed and asked for it to be viewed on VAR.”
New Delhi: The CBI on Friday arrested a drug inspector of the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under bribery charges in a case where officials of the CDSCO were allegedly demanding bribes in exchange for approving cardiac medication that had already failed tests by the testing authority.The Central Bureau of Investigation had booked Ankur Bansal, a drug inspector with the CDSCO along with the Managing Director of Kwality Pharmaceuticals and other officials of the pharma company in the case, where Bansal had demanded Rs 1.5 lakh to approve a cardiac medication called dobutamine. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Agency sleuths also arrested officials of Kwality Pharmaceuticals in the case, including the Managing Director, a director, the Chief Pharmacist and a driver. Officials here said that premises of the accused in Amritsar and Delhi were also searched. According to the probe agency’s case, Kwality Pharmaceuticals had manufactured a dobutamine injection, which is most commonly used in cardiac surgery to give a boost to cardiac functioning, in case of sudden heart failure. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHowever, when the injection was sent to the CDSCO for testing, the samples of the medication failed the required tests and Ramesh Arora, the MD of the company challenged the test results, sending another batch of samples to the test laboratories. Subsequently, Karunakar Tiwari, Kwality’s Chief Pharmacist allegedly approached Bansal with Arora and sought to “settle the matter” on July 18. A few days later, Bansal told Tiwari that the second batch of samples had also failed the tests and that he would need to visit Kwality’s premises in Amritsar to investigate. While officials of Kwality and Bansal were negotiating the bribe amount required to close the case and get a favourable decision, Bansal had indicated that senior officials of the CDSCO were also involved in the scam. The CBI’s investigation in the case continues as all the arrested were sent to four days of CBI custody on August 14.
Six stories in the news for Thursday, Aug. 29———B.C. ANTI-GANG UNITS TARGETING KIDS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLSA senior officer in the RCMP’s gang enforcement unit in Surrey, B.C., says he didn’t expect to find himself working in elementary schools. Sgt. Mike Sanchez says there are already signs of kids glorifying what he describes as a “gang lifestyle.” He says they wear clothes mimicking older kids who sell drugs and show no surprise when his team gives its presentation. A task force on gang violence found that while many promising programs, they often operate in silos and with limited budgets. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit says the average age of a gangster on the Lower Mainland remains in the late 20s. But the task force found teens and young adults can be attractive partners for older, more entrenched gangsters who may direct them to kill, which reduces the risk of retaliation and criminal charges.———FACTS AREN’T FAIL PROOF IN POLITICS: SURVEYA survey probing how people use facts to form beliefs suggests that even when given accurate information, many people still get the facts wrong. The Digital Democracy Project told poll participants that Canada is not on track to meet its climate-change commitments, which is true. But even when armed with that fact, barely half of those surveyed then correctly answered a question on the subject. Researchers say the results show it is possible for journalists and politicians to correct the record, but not easy. The project, led by the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University, is exploring how people’s ideas are shaped by the information they consume and in turn how that might shape their vote this fall.———FUNERAL TODAY FOR B.C. TEEN WHO DIED OF APPARENT OVERDOSEDA celebration of life is set to be held today for a 14-year-old British Columbia boy whose apparent drug overdose death was captured on video and posted to social media. Carson Crimeni’s death on Aug. 7 in Langley, B.C., is under investigation by RCMP and B.C.’s police oversight body, the Independent Investigations Office. Crimeni was found that night in an area near the skateboard park and was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead. RCMP have set up a 24-hour tip line seeking anyone who may have seen Crimeni in the hours before he died, as well as anyone who might have seen him with any other groups of people. An obituary published by Crimeni’s family last week described the teen as a “fun-loving jokester” who had “dreams of becoming a veterinarian or chef.” The funeral is to take place this afternoon in a Langley church.———HOSPITAL TO DEVELOP THERAPY GEARED TOWARD SOUTH ASIANSCanada’s largest mental health hospital is developing a specialized form of psychotherapy that will be catered toward Canadians of South Asian origin. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto says it hopes to have a culturally adapted manual on the specialized form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, as well as a therapist training package ready by November. CAMH psychiatrist Dr. Farooq Naeem says he will be consulting with patients, caregivers, mental health professionals and community leaders on the project. He says evidence shows that CBT is as good as medications to treat depression and anxiety, as well as to prevent relapse. He says he hopes the culturally adapted C-B-T will help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health for South Asians and encourage members of the community to seek help if needed.———LIBERALS PLEDGE $1.5M TO TACKLE CAMPUS ASSAULTThe Liberal government is committing up to $1.5 million to help colleges and universities get better at dealing with sexual violence on campus. Maryam Monsef, the minister for women and gender equality, says the money is to be spent over two years to fill gaps in resources that post-secondary institutions need to tackle the problem. Student groups welcomed the effort but said those promises should be backed up by the resources and oversight needed to make them work. The Liberal government committed $5.5 million over five years toward the initiative in the 2018 federal budget, which also came with a threat. The budget said that beginning this year, the federal government would consider holding back funding from institutions that are not putting “best practices addressing sexual assaults on campus” into place.———YOUR WARD NEWS PUBLISHER SET TO BE SENTENCEDThe publisher of a free Toronto newspaper that promoted hatred against Jews and women is expected to be sentenced today. The prosecution wants 77-year-old LeRoy St. Germaine jailed for six months. St. Germaine was found guilty in January of two hate counts but sentencing has been delayed repeatedly. A week ago, the editor of Your Ward News was given a one-year term. The judge said he would have given James Sears a stiffer sentence had the law had allowed. The judge said the publication promoted hate to a large audience, both in print and online.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi makes a coal mine reclamation project announcement.— B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin is expected to sentence James Oler, a former leader of a polygamous sect in Bountiful, B.C. Oler was convicted of removing a child from Canada to marry a member of his fundamentalist church in the United States.— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan will make an announcement today at the BC Hydro Trades Training Centre.— Closing arguments take place today in the trial of David and Collet Stephan. They are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life in the death of their son Ezekiel from meningitis.— Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault to announce federal funding to help Alberta commercialize health-care products.The Canadian Press
7 Texas Artists Who Turned Heads At ACL 7-texas-artists-who-turned-heads-austin-city-limits-festival News From hip-hop to western swing, punk rock to pop, get the scoop on which Lone Star State artists are in for a proud homecomingRiley Van StewardGRAMMYs Oct 7, 2018 – 12:36 pm The Austin City Limits Festival brings together a wide variety of artists across many genres, styles and backgrounds for three days of Texas-sized fun every year. But for some performers, the stages of ACL are on home turf, making the heat and energy that come from the crowd that much sweeter. Let’s take a look at seven artists who had a home-field advantage this weeked.Jackie VensonAustin-based singer/songwriter Jackie Venson blew her hometown away by performing songs from her album, Live at Strange Brew. Jackie played monstrous guitar solos between riffing on her band members’ names. She gave many shout-outs to Austin and Texas, but her biggest “Thank you” was to festival organizers C3 for not “forgetting about the locals.” Jackie had vowed to, “Never attend ACL unless I was playing… but I put a five-year limit on it,” she said. She kept her promise and delivered a scorching set for the audience with her first performance at the festival.BrockhamptonBrockhampton took the stage to showcase their No. 1 album Iridescence. Lighting up the stage with enough band members to start two basketball teams, backups and all, it was clear their chemistry as a group has not wavered at all. Hailing from San Marcos, Texas, the band has deep roots in the state. Besides growing up in Texas, band member Merlyn Woods even went to school at The University of Texas at Austin before leaving school to dedicate himself to the boy band.Sailor PoonKnown for their eclectic style, Sailor Poon graced the ACL stage with their brand of hilarious punk rock. And nothing could be more Austin than an anime-inspired local punk band with comedic tendencies. If titles like “Daddy Issues,” “The D***,” and “Fap and Nap” don’t tickle your fancy, then we may need to revoke your Austin citizenship.Asleep At The WheelGRAMMY winners Asleep at the Wheel have been bringing roots country to ACL in style since the very beginning of the festival. Their unique take on traditional music could be heard across Zilker Park as they kicked off things at noon on Friday. Hot off a new album, New Routes, this band is anything but asleep at the wheel. Bandleader Ray Benson commented on playing ACL every year since the festival’s inception, saying, “Obviously it’s changed a bit but it’s still one of the greatest music festivals in the world.” Facebook 7 Texas Artists Who Turned Heads At Austin City Limits Festival NETWORK ERRORCannot Contact ServerRELOAD YOUR SCREEN OR TRY SELECTING A DIFFERENT VIDEO Oct 6, 2018 – 4:43 pm In Austin With Asleep At The Wheel KhalidGRAMMY nominee Khalid gave shout-outs to his city of El Paso throughout his set. His backdrop was often graced with a cartoonish green road sign that spelled it’s name out. The border town has always been happy to call Khalid one of its own, and he responds in kind. Like the star he’s become, Khalid makes his location known.Molly BurchMolly Burch released her sophomore album, First Flower, on day one of the festival and performed many of its already irresistible songs on the second morning on ACL’s Barton Springs stage. Although not originally from Texas, Molly launched her start in Austin, saying the city has been “A really supportive, comforting place to start out.” With Burch’s lovely ballads and indy pop, in many ways, the Barton Springs stage was the perfect place to cool off from the higher-energy performers.Travis ScottDallas and Houston may have long-lasting beef, but GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott has come to neutral ground here in Austin. The land of hippies, cowboys, and weirdos is excited to be graced by one of the kings of trap rap. With Astroworld earning him another No. 1 album, Scott headlines the American Express stage both Sundays.Asleep At The Wheel Talk ‘New Routes,’ Willie Nelson & More At ACLRead more Twitter Email
1 Tags The Amazon Echo Dot wants to talk. Ben Fox Rubin/CNET Someday, you may ask Amazon’s Alexa about the weather in Miami and that query will quickly flourish into an extended conversation with the voice assistant about booking weekend getaways there.That kind of back-and-forth dialogue with any digital assistant isn’t possible today, except in limited settings, like asking for local movie times. But Amazon is working on this very big concept of chatting with a robot with the help of its Alexa Prize Socialbot Grand Challenge, a competition among colleges to build the best social bot.On Wednesday, the Alexa Prize unveiled its latest class of colleges for its third year of competition. The announcement coincided with the kick off of Amazon’s inaugural re:MARS science and tech conference in Las Vegas.Here are this year’s competing schools:Carnegie Mellon UniversityCzech Technical University in PragueEmory UniversityMoscow Institute of Physics and TechnologyStanford UniversityUniversity of California, DavisUniversity of California, IrvineUniversity of California, San DiegoUniversity of California, Santa CruzUniversity of Michigan”We are very early,” Rohit Prasad, the head scientist for Alexa’s artificial-intelligence team, said in an interview. “While there’s been progress over the past two years, I think we’re at least five to eight years away before we can meet the ultimate goal of having a real, coherent and engaging conversation for 20 minutes with any of these bots.”The Alexa Prize is part of Amazon’s broad mission of making its voice assistant smarter, more human-like and more conversational, so it can become more useful and engaging for its users. The benefits of creating a better digital assistant could be huge. It could allow Amazon to have a technology millions of customers rely on, helping it sell more smart speakers and products through voice shopping, while also helping it capture useful data about its users. But, Amazon isn’t alone in this pursue, with Google, Apple and Samsung all working on their own assistants.Also, with consumers focusing more on their data privacy, Alexa may face a less receptive audience in the future, no matter how clever it becomes.Prasad said the Alexa Prize is already paying dividends in a number of ways. First, the prize is helping familiarize and inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers with voice computing. Also, concepts from past years’ social bots have served as inspiration or mirrored some of the predictive and conversational elements Amazon has already introduced into Alexa.Lastly, the longer-form conversations customers have with Alexa as part of the competition have already helped Alexa get smarter. The assistant is typically fed short bits of dialogue that involve a request and an Alexa response. The Alexa Prize offers a useful way of training the artificial intelligence on more substantial conversation, Prasad said.To take part in the Alexa Prize, consumers can simply say, “Alexa, let’s chat,” to talk to a social bot. The newest group of social bots will become available in September.Prasad said the audio from these conversations is never shared with the competing schools and consumers are able to delete these chats if they want. Text transcripts are provided to the schools to help them improve their bots.Applications for this year’s competition came in from 15 countries. University of California, Davis, which was last year’s winner, was automatically allowed to enter this year’s competition without having to apply again.The selected schools will receive research grants from Amazon, Alexa team support and Alexa-enabled devices to complete their work. Last year’s winner received $500,000. Czech Technical University in Prague, another repeat entrant this year, received a second-place prize of $100,000 last year. Alexa Amazon Voice recognition Comment Share your voice Smart Home
Narendra Modi and those who still have faith in him, in his policies and style, have every right to feel overwhelmed over the high-octane Wembley show. They also have a right to feel proud about the fact that Modi became the first Indian to address the British Parliament. Modi and his admirers can also take pride in Modi’s stay at the country house retreat of the Prime Minister of United Kingdom—Chequers Court—to the south of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, and his first ever meeting with Queen Elizabeth-II over lunch at Buckingham Palace, where he arrived riding a Jaguar. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceBut, then these very people owe us answers to certain pertinent questions raised during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to the United Kingdom which houses the “mother of Parliaments”. Why is it that for the first time the Palace of Westminster in London bore a large image of India’s Prime Minister wielding a sword with a logo behind him of the symbol “Om” slowly transforming into the Swastika? Why splashed across the image were the words in bold letters “Modi not welcome”? Why did Indian activists oppose the visit of the Prime Minister of their own country by projecting an image that stayed on the British Parliament’s building for eight and a half minutes on a Sunday night? Also Read – Turning a blind eyeFor the first time an Indian Prime Minister had to face questions in his joint press conference by British media such as “Prime Minister Modi, India is becoming an increasingly intolerant place. Why?” Should we not feel deeply concerned about the fact that a responsible British newspaper—The Guardian—chose to publish an article written by a local journalist of Indian origin under the title “India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban”? Why has the international community started to look at India with suspicious eyes in matters related to social harmony? During his performance at Wembley event, even singer Jay Sean underlined the need to respect each other’s differences. After completing his first song, he began to narrate his personal story and told the audience that his real name is Kamaljit Singh Jhooti. Moreover, the singer said he takes pride in the fact that this country has recognised his talent ignoring all the considerations for caste and creed. Why should Jay Sean feel it necessary to express such sentiments between the two romantic songs he sang on the occasion, including his most famous “Down”?Wembley could have been a great gala event for Modi’s fans. But the basics of diplomatic visits should not be allowed to be wrapped up under the heavy curtains of pop singer Sonna Rele “Every day with Love”—the title song of the film Cinderella, or the fusion by Jyotsna Srikant, Geeta Patel, and Shiamak Davar. The hard questions cannot be answered through Vidya Patel’s Kathak or Dandiya and Garba dances. The realities of diplomatic successes depend on the solid outcomes of the serious efforts made by any government and not on the decibel level of “Modi-Modi” chants. The funniest, rather insulting, part of the Wembley event was when British singer Navin Kundra sang “Bachna Ai Haseeno, Lo Mai Aagaya” just before the arrival of Modi and then tried to merge it with the songs like “Mere Desh Ki Dharti”, and Slum Dog Millionaire’s “Jai Ho”. But for the national anthem sung by Kanika Kapoor and a meaningful short speech delivered by British Prime Minister David Cameron, it would have been better if there was no Wembley event at all.Ignoring developments such as the protests held by the Nepali people can come at a huge price. It is also for the first time that our neighbours flocked the streets on foreign soil, carrying placards reading anti-India slogans. UK Chapter of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), Prabasi Nepali Manch-UK, and Nepali Janasamparka Samiti UK, among three dozen Nepali organisations, took part in the protest to express solidarity with their cause. We will be drastically failing in our diplomatic responsibilities if the sentiments strongly expressed during Modi’s UK visit by the South Asia Solidarity Group, Sikh Federation of UK, South Hall Black Sisters, Dalit Solidarity Network of UK, Indian Muslim Federation, Indian Workers Association, Muslim Parliament, and Voice of Dalit International are not addressed properly.Parallel to the notes of Wembley music there were strong doses of analytical pieces in the British media on Modi’s fast decreasing popularity, which has been proven by the outcome of Bihar Assembly elections. “The loss is more personal than a party loss,” noted The Guardian, “since Narendra Modi took a personal interest in the Bihar state Assembly polls and he almost became the face of the campaign”. The report further said, “India’s ruling party has conceded defeat in a provincial election seen as a test of the vote-winning abilities and political strategy of Modi”. Leila Nathoo of The Independent wrote, “Instead of relying on local BJP leaders to fight the election on local issues, Mr Modi, a crisply dressed, and highly skilled orator, personally took control of the campaign in the hope that his reputation and charisma would seal the victory.”The destiny of one-sixth of humanity lies in the honest efforts of making India a nation based on its true values—tolerance, inclusiveness, and equality to all. India’s destiny does not lie in gimmickries like opening up a branch of Madame Tussauds’ wax museum in New Delhi and getting a copy of the Magna Carta for touring displays in India for the 2017 cultural exchange or firecrackers in Wembley.(Author is Editor and CEO of News Views India. The views expressed are strictly personal)
The English Premier League has launched an invitation to bid for UK TV rights to the three seasons from 2013-14. The League is offering live rights to an increased total of 154 matches split into seven packages and a free-to-air highlights package including catch-up rights.Live rights are split across five packages of 26 matches and two packages of 12 matches. No single buyer will be allowed to buy more than 116 matches.“This creates a more attractive and compelling offering for both broadcasters and fans; whilst allowing the continued protection of the Saturday 3pm ‘closed window’ and minimising further displacement of Premier League fixtures,” the Premier League said.The League will open a separate sales process for two near-live packages each containing 226 matches – one for linear and one for video-on-demand – and an online clips package for all 380 matches.Despite the controversy around the recent court case to determine whether the League could block access to foreign transmissions in the UK, the rights on offer will be for the UK only, with international rights to be sold separately as before. There had been speculation that the League would move to a system of awarding rights on a pan-European basis.