Pope Francis Ready To Intervene If Climate Talks Stall

TN Note: As already noted, religion and faith are interceding to bolster the shaky foundation of climate-change science. While science may be questioned, apparently religion gets a free pass. Pope Francis already delivered the keynote speech and the 2030 Agenda conference in September, so he is no stranger to the UN mechanisms.

If international climate talks really stall, don’t be surprised if there might be an ever-so-slight intervention by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace who helped draft the pope’s June encyclical on global warming, said the pontiff has “deep trust” that negotiators in Paris will get the job done. But just in case they don’t, the pope might possibly send a gentle message, he said.

“If it gets to a stalemate or whatever, he may utter a statement or make a comment or whatever, but he will refrain from exercising any coercive power on the things over here, because that would not belong to his style,” Turkson told The Associated Press after a press conference by Vatican officials Tuesday at the Paris climate talks.

If the pope did intervene with a gentle statement if negotiations bog down, it would “show the gravity of the situation and highlight what’s at stake,” said Jennifer Morgan, global climate program director for the World Resources Institute.

Joe Ware, a protestant spokesman for Christian Aid, welcomed the remark, saying such action “would just give that final nudge to the negotiations.”

There appeared to be no need for that just yet at the talks, where government ministers wrapped up Tuesday’s session with no signs of the animosity that have plagued negotiations in the past. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a new draft agreement would be prepared by 1 p.m. (1200 GMT) Wednesday, reflecting the progress made so far. That would leave two days for ministers to work out the most difficult issues, like how to spell out who should do what.

Turkson said the Vatican has great interest in seeing the negotiations succeed, particularly getting the world to stop using carbon power by mid-century to save the Earth, especially for the world’s poorest people.

“We cannot profess love of God when we cannot love what God has made,” Turkson said.

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2015 Was A Breakthrough Year For Artificial Intelligence

TN Note: The growth of AI is staggering. In 2012, a tech startup named CrowdFlower sold some 2 million spreadsheet data rows to customers to use in training their AI systems. In 2015, they have sold almost 100,000,000. The field is accelerating according to a geometric progression. Much of AI is being applied to simple, linear tasks like image recognition, but the larger applications remain in analysis of so-called big data – and this is precisely where Technocracy will enter into its own.

After a half-decade of quiet breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, 2015 has been a landmark year. Computers are smarter and learning faster than ever.

The pace of advancement in AI is “actually speeding up,” said Jeff Dean, a senior fellow at Google. To celebrate their achievements and plot the year ahead, Dean and many of the other top minds in AI are convening in Montreal this week at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference. It started in 1987 and has become a must-attend event for many Silicon Valley companies in the last few years, thanks to the explosion in AI. NIPS was where Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg chose in 2013 to announce the company’s plans to form an AI laboratory and where a startup named DeepMind showed off an AI that could learn to play computer games before it was acquired by Google.

There should be plenty to discuss this week. The unprecedented advancements in AI research this year can be attributed to a confluence of nerdy factors. For one, cloud computing infrastructure is vastly more powerful and affordable, with the ability to process complex information. There are also more plentiful datasets and free or inexpensive software development tools for researchers to work with. Thanks to this, a crucial class of learning technology, known as neural networks, have gone from being prohibitively expensive to relatively cheap.

That’s led to rapid uptake by the tech industry’s largest companies, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Each operates its own AI lab that conducts important research in the field and publishes much of it for the academic community to build upon. This year, Google researchers nabbed the cover of scientific journal Nature with a system that can learn to play and master old Atari games without directions. Facebook built a way to let computers describe images to blind people; Microsoft showed off a new Skype system that can automatically translate from one language to another; and IBM singled out AI as one of its greatest potential growth areas.

Startups are also contributing meaningfully to AI. Preferred Networks is making AI systems that will go into industrial robots made by Japan’s Fanuc, and Indico Data Labs worked with a Facebook researcher to teach a computer how to paint faces using its own sort of imagination.

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China Plans To Replace Millions Of Low-Paid Workers With Robots

TN Note: As a Technocracy, China is showing its proclivity for efficiency regardless of cost to humans.

China is laying the groundwork for a robot revolution by planning to automate the work currently done by millions of low-paid workers.

The government’s plan will be crucial to a broader effort to reform China’s economy while also meeting the ambitious production goals laid out in its latest economic blueprint, which aims to double per capita income by 2020 from 2016 levels with at least 6.5% annual growth. The success of this effort could, in turn, affect the vitality of the global economy.

The scale and importance of China’s robot ambitions were made clear when the vice president of the People’s Republic of China, Li Yuanchao, appeared at the country’s first major robotics conference, held recently in Beijing. Standing onstage between two humanoid entertainment robots with outsized heads, Li delivered a message from China’s leader, Xi Jinping, congratulating the organizers of the effort. He also made it clear that robotics would be a major priority for the country’s economic future.

Many of the robots on show at the conference’s exhibition hall were service or entertainment robots such as automated vacuum cleaners, cheap drones, or quirky looking machines designed to serve as personal companions. But there were also many industrial robots that signaled the real impetus for China’s robot push: its manufacturing sector.

China is already the world’s largest producer of everything from clothes to electronics, but much of it depends on low-cost, low-skill labor. And even as economic growth has slowed, wages continue to rise across the country as the economy evolves. The Chinese government is also eager to see its workforce diversify and its manufacturing industries become more technologically advanced.

Robots might offer a clever solution to some of these challenges. If more robots can be deployed successfully in many manufacturing plants, this would increase efficiency while also allowing some workers to be replaced. At the same time, because more capable robots will require advanced sensing, manipulation, and intelligence, the drive could help promote the technical expertise of the remaining manufacturing workers, as well as those employed in designing, building, and servicing these manufacturing machines.

The scale of this robot revolution could be enormous. Two years ago China became the world’s largest importer of robots, and the International Federation of Robotics, an industry group, estimates that China will account for more than a third of all industrial robots installed worldwide by 2018. Yet the number of robots per worker in China is far lower than in many industrially advanced countries, indicating a huge potential for growth.

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