ROBOTICS: 8 industries robots will completely transform by 2025
Paul Szoldra | Business Insider
“These are just some of the interesting — and sometimes scary — predictions to come from a 300-page report released by Merrill Lynch in November, which estimates the global market for robots and AI will grow from $28 billion to more than $150 billion just five years from now. There’s plenty of disruption bound to happen across the world as drones and much-smarter-than-you AI take over.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Teaching AI to Play Atari Will Help Robots Make Sense of Our World
Cade Metz | Wired
“If a machine’s move results in a higher score—the digital dopamine—it will adjust its behavior accordingly. ‘Each decision—whether to take action one versus action two—is driven by rewards,’ [Itamar] Arel explains. ‘In a game environment, the rewards are points. The system tries to maximize points.'”

FUTURE OF WORK: Automation Is a Job Engine, New Research Says
Steve Lohr | The New York Times
“Using government data, James Bessen, a researcher and lecturer at the Boston University School of Law, examined the impact of computer automation on 317 occupations from 1980 through 2013. His conclusion, in a sentence, was: ‘Employment grows significantly faster in occupations that use computers more.’ Historically, it is well established that the advance of technology has generated more jobs than it has replaced, regardless of the angst of the moment.”

ROBOTICS: The High-Stakes Race to Rid the World of Human Drivers
Adrienne Lafrance | CityLab
“If self-driving vehicles deliver on their promises, they will save millions of lives over the course of a few decades, destroy and create entire industries, and fundamentally change the human relationship with space and time. All of which is why some of the planet’s most valuable companies are pouring billions of dollars into the effort to build driverless cars.”

PRIVACY: It’s time to give up on the ideal of perfect privacy online
Evan Selinger & Woodrow Hartzog | Aeon
“If information is hard to find or understand – when it’s obscure – it’s safer. We rely upon obscurity all the time to protect both trivial and significant personal information. Indeed, we grasp this point in our everyday lives by recognising that face-to-face conversations are protected by zones of obscurity which revolve around constraints such as our limited memories and the limited number of people who know what we look like.”

NEUROSCIENCE: The Science of Gratitude
Chris Mooney | Nautilus
“In the case of gratitude, scientists consider that the desired behavior is forming bonds of trust with others. We naturally help our relatives because what’s good for them helps promote the genes that we share with them. But why should we ever help out a non-relative? We might expend valuable resources and get nothing back. That’s a key problem in evolutionary theory. Yet researchers agree that there’s a benefit to being part of a wider, cooperative community that can protect you in difficult times.”

DIGITAL MEDIA: Wikipedia Deploys AI to Expand Its Ranks of Human Editors
Cade Metz | Wired
Aaron Halfaker just built an artificial intelligence engine designed to automatically analyze changes to Wikipedia…In one sense, this means less work for the volunteer editors who police Wikipedia’s articles. And it might seem like a step toward phasing these editors out, another example of AI replacing humans. But Halfaker’s project is actually an effort to increase human participation in Wikipedia. ”


GOVERNANCE is the Global Grand Challenge
for the Month of December

Learn more about Global Grand Challenges in Singularity University’s 2015 Impact Report


FAILURES OF STATE: If governments fail on climate change, extremists will step in
Kamil Ahsan | Aeon
“In June, a deadly heat wave hit Karachi, Pakistan, claiming close to 1,300 lives…In a city plagued by constant power outages, a seemingly unlikely champion emerged: the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). The TTP issued a clear threat to K-Electric, the private electricity company responsible for the power outages.”

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: Agricultural policy: Govern our soils
Luca Montanarella | Nature
“Without governance to assure wise management and equitable access, we are heading towards increased poverty, hunger, conflict, land grabs and mass migration of displaced populations, such as that seen during the Great Depression5. The world now stands at a moment of opportunity. A Global Soil Partnership (GSP) exists, and could implement a voluntary system of global governance. But the GSP needs to develop clear, concrete proposals for action to secure more funding and move forwards.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

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