Study Finds Social Intelligence to be AI’s Next Barrier
While Siri and Google Assistant may be able to organize meetings on demand, they currently lack the social intelligence to prioritize the appointments on their own. Chinese researchers claim that while artificial intelligence (AI) may be intelligent, it is limited by a dearth of social skills.
On 10th March 2023, they issued an evaluation of the current situation and a call for future directions in CAAI Artificial Intelligence Research.
Artificial intelligence has changed our society and our daily life. What is the next important challenge for AI in the future? We argue that Artificial Social Intelligence (ASI) is the next big frontier.
Lifeng Fan, Study First Author, National Key Laboratory of General Artificial Intelligence, Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence
The researchers defined ASI as a collection of siloed subfields that include social perception, Theory of Mind (the understanding that others think from their own point of view), and social interaction.
Fan believes the field will advance if cognitive science and computational modeling are used to discover the gap between AI systems and human social intelligence, in addition to existing difficulties and future prospects.
Fan added, “ASI is distinct and challenging compared to our physical understanding of the work; it is highly context-dependent. Here, context could be as large as culture and common sense or as little as two friends’ shared experience. This unique challenge prohibits standard algorithms from tackling ASI problems in real-world environments, which are frequently complex, ambiguous, dynamic, stochastic, partially observable, and multi-agent.”
As a result, ASI calls for an integrated approach because upgrading single components of an ASI system may not necessarily result in enhanced performance—unlike modern AI systems.
Rather, ASI needs the ability to interpret latent social signs like eye-rolling or yawning, to comprehend other agents’ mental states like belief and intent, and to collaborate in a shared activity.
“Multidisciplinary research informs and inspires the study of ASI: Studying human social intelligence provides insight into the foundation, curriculum, points of comparison, and benchmarks required to develop ASI with human-like characteristics,” Fan further stated.
He further added, “We concentrate on the three most important and inextricably linked aspects of social intelligence: social perception, Theory of Mind, and social interaction, because they are grounded in well-established cognitive science theories and are readily available tools for developing computational models in these areas.”
The optimal approach, according to Fan, is a more holistic one that mimics how individuals interact with one another and the environment around them. This necessitates an open-ended and interactive environment, along with consideration of how to include more human-like biases in ASI models.
Fan stated, “To accelerate the future progress of ASI, we recommend taking a more holistic approach just as humans do, to utilize different learning methods such as lifelong learning, multi-task learning, one-/few-shot learning, meta-learning, etc.”
He concluded, “We need to define new problems, create new environments and datasets, set up new evaluation protocols, and build new computational models. The ultimate goal is to equip AI with high-level ASI and lift human well-being with the help of Artificial Social Intelligence.”
Manjie Xu, Zhihao Cao, and Song-Chun Zhu of BIGAI, along with Yixin Zhu of Peking University’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence are the other study contributors.
Xu is also associated with the Beijing Institute of Technology’s School of Computer Science and Technology, Cao and Zhu with Tsinghua University’s Department of Automation, and Zhu with Peking University’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
This study was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China and the Beijing Nova Program.
Fan, L., et al. (2023) Artificial Social Intelligence: A Comparative and Holistic View. CAAI Artificial Intelligence Research. doi:10.26599/AIR.2022.9150010
'Astronomical lightshow' – Gazette
Next year, 2024, is Solar Eclipse Year.
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the south Pacific Ocean, northern Mexico, across the U.S. and through the Atlantic provinces of Canada.
More importantly, the total solar eclipse will be visible from southwestern Newfoundland, in the areas of Stephenville and across central Newfoundland through Terra Nova Park and Gander.
A partial eclipse will be visible across the province, with St. John’s and Corner Brook just outside the range of a total eclipse, an 80 per cent eclipse in Labrador City and a 70 per cent eclipse in Nain.
The 2024 solar eclipse will be the first eclipse crossing the province since 1970 and the only one until 2079.
For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event to see a total solar eclipse in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.”
We are fortunate to even be able to observe a solar eclipse.
The Earth is the only place in our solar system where there is a moon that is about the same size in the sky (0.5 degree) as the sun.
Solar eclipses are special events in many cultures and have allowed scientists to make great discoveries.
When the moon passes in front of the sun, most of the light is blocked and we can see the sun’s corona (more about the corona below).
A note: make sure to wear appropriate eye protection during an eclipse to look at the sun.
The late Dr. Jay Pasachoff, an American astronomer, was so inspired by solar eclipses that he chased them around the world to experience more than 70 eclipses in about 50 years.
In a New York Times 2010 op-ed, he wrote: “There’s also the primal thrill this astronomical lightshow always brings the perfect alignment, in solemn darkness, of the celestial bodies that mean most to us.”
There is the thrill of observing solar eclipses and there is the thrilling science of them, too.
Thanks to solar eclipses, we learn about the sun’s corona, a thin layer of plasma that is just above the sun’s surface.
We normally can’t see it because it is so thin and has such a small density, but the temperature of the corona is about one million degrees Celsius.
It is believed that the corona is related to the sun’s magnetic field and to things like solar flares and mass ejections.
These flares and mass ejections impact the Earth through space weather and the aurorae — phenomena that those of us in the Northern Hemisphere recognize as the Northern Lights.
And it’s not just the sun.
Solar eclipses were important to provide some of the early evidence of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
Einstein predicted that light is bent by the gravity of stars.
So, if we can see stars behind the sun, they will appear to be in a slightly different location in the sky relative to each other than when we see them normally.
In 1919 scientists observed stars behind the sun that became visible during a solar eclipse and found that, indeed, their observations agreed with Einstein’s theory.
Town of Gander a major partner
Solar eclipses are fantastic events that connect humans to nature, celestial bodies and to the universe.
Next year’s celebration is an opportunity to celebrate science, nature and humanity.
Thanks to the enthusiasm and excitement of its staff and council, Prof. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and I are partnering with the Town of Gander to host a solar eclipse viewing party on April 8, 2024, and a science festival in the days before the eclipse.
The town is excited to be a major partner bringing people from across Newfoundland and Labrador to learn, discover and experience a total solar eclipse together.
The town has pledged to develop a budget to assist with the costs of this unique science festival, along with providing facilities, viewing sites and in-kind assistance.
The event is being planned in collaboration with a continuing science and community outreach program led by Prof. Barkanova and her team.
They deliver a large-scale scientific and cultural outreach program for youth in our province, especially rural youth, girls and Indigenous students, and is currently developing in-person and online seminars and workshops leading up to the solar eclipse.
“It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields.”
This is a call to faculty, students and staff at Memorial University across all campuses to join in the celebration and help it grow and expand.
Not only will we have the opportunity to experience an amazing celestial event, it is a chance to come together in central Newfoundland and share the stories of what we do at Memorial from how we understand the sun and moon in astrophysics, in cultures, in literatures, in humanities and so on.
This is a call to action for your involvement; more participating colleagues means more public talks, Science on Tap events, outreach in schools and more.
It is an ideal chance for us at Memorial to do what we do best — share what is great about our fields and do so around this rare event in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Come join in for Solar Eclipse Year 2024 in Gander. Contact me via email.
Co-authored by Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, Department of Physics, Grenfell Campus, and Brian Williams, tourism development officer, Town of Gander.
Another Animal That Speckles with Age: Dolphins – Hakai Magazine
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As humans age, our bodies are often graced with fine lines, gray hairs, and flecks of hyperpigmentation on our skin known as age spots. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins get spots with age, too. And as scientists have revealed in a recent study, the onset of dolphins’ speckling is so predictable it can be a noninvasive way to gauge the dolphins’ age.
Age is a crucial metric for understanding dolphin populations. Many ways of calculating a dolphin’s age exist, such as counting the layers of dental material in their teeth or analyzing DNA from a skin sample. But they’re all somewhat invasive. That’s why developing a model for estimating age by simply looking at dolphins’ dots is so interesting.
Ewa Krzyszczyk, a dolphin researcher at Bangor University in Wales who was not involved in the study, says the new technique “is a really useful tool.” By estimating a dolphin’s age, Krzyszczyk says, scientists can answer important questions, such as when a dolphin stops weaning, when it reaches sexuality maturity, or when a dolphin shows signs of deterioration from old age. “It gives a more well-rounded idea of what’s going on in your population that can then help with conservation,” she says.
The discovery that dolphins’ dots reflect aging stems from research led by Genfu Yagi, a marine mammal researcher at Mie University in Japan. Previously, Yagi had analyzed a compendium of underwater footage taken of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Mikura Island, near central Japan. Since many of the individual dolphins were known from birth, Yagi could trace how their speckles emerged as they grew.
“The speckles first appear around the genital slit at 6.5 years of age,” says Yagi. Over time, he says, this treasure trail expands toward the head and up toward the back. By the time dolphins are around eight years old, speckles start on their chest, and by around 17, the spots reach their jaw. Wild bottlenose dolphins typically live between 30 and 50 years.
To use these speckles to estimate age, Yagi created a new system that quantifies the density of speckles on various parts of the body. This weighted speckle density score is then correlated with age. Yagi says his speckle-counting method works for dolphins between the ages of seven and 25 and has a margin of error of 2.58 years—more accurate than estimating age from DNA samples.
“The strength of this study is that it does not require special techniques, facilities, high costs, or any invasive surveying,” says Yagi. “Anyone can estimate a dolphin’s age.”
At the moment, Yagi’s formula can only be used for the Mikura Island Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin population because speckling onset could differ between geographic locations. He says, however, that the same modeling technique could work for other dolphin populations.
So far, dolphins are the only cetacean known to develop spots, with pantropical and Atlantic spotted dolphins getting dark spots on their bellies and light spots on their backs. Yagi says scientists don’t know exactly how or why these speckles form.
“This is a very rare trait, as few mammals other than dolphins continue to change body coloration throughout their lives,” he says.
CME storm effect! Sun sparks auroras without even hitting Earth – HT Tech
CME is one of the most influential drivers of solar storms and leads to powerful Geomagnetic storms on Earth. According to NASA, they are huge bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours. Although CMEs usually occur with solar flares, they can occur on their own too, and have the potential to disrupt sensitive electronics on Earth, as well as affect power grids. Surprisingly, a CME doesn’t need to strike Earth to have an effect.
Just a couple of days ago, a CME passed close by Earth and this caused, what is known as a, ‘Ripple Effect’. According to a report by spaceweather.com, the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This usually occurs when a CME passes by closely. Despite the CME not striking Earth, it still had a spectacular effect on our planet. Auroras were seen and captured over the Arctic Circle.
The spaceweather.com report said, “Yesterday, March 20th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth suddenly rotated by almost 180 degrees. This kind of magnetic ripple is a typical sign of a CME passing nearby. The “ripple effect” ignited colorful lights inside the Arctic Circle.”
What happens when solar particles hit the Earth?
As the particles erupted during the CME reach Earth, they interact with Earth’s magnetic field and cause the formation of Geomagnetic storms. When solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the planet’s magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large.
Auroras form because of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun which sends solar fares hurtling towards Earth. Geomagnetic storms are often the precursor to stunning streaks of green light across the sky known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.
How NASA monitors solar activity
Among many satellites and telescopes observing the Sun currently, one is the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The SDO carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities.
They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun’s extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.
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