I miss the days when I had Donald Trump on speed dial. Not that I enjoyed our conversations—if converse is the right term. Even then, years before he hit the campaign trail, the Donald was a monologist.
In the ongoing quest to build artificial intelligence (AI) that more closely mimics the human brain, some computer scientists at Berkeley are focusing on one crucial piece of the puzzle: curiosity.
For the last three years Deepak Pathak and Pulkit Agrawal, Ph.D. students in the Berkeley computer science department, have worked to create software that can learn on its own. Now the team is looking at creating systems that can not only learn, but keep asking questions.
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Posted on December 19, 2017 - 12:07pm
The tenure of Federal Reserve Board chairwoman Janet Yellen is drawing to a close. In February, she’ll leave her post—arguably the second-most powerful position in Washington after the presidency—and will be replaced by Trump appointee Jerome Powell, a member of the Fed Board of Governors.
Posted on December 18, 2017 - 4:19pm
You’ve probably been told, “Wikipedia is not a source. Don’t cite it. Don’t use it.”
Many high school and university instructors warn students against using Wikipedia, but new research illuminating the online encyclopedia’s impact on academia might prompt teachers to reconsider.
Posted on December 16, 2017 - 12:19pm
Bugs and the Power Ranger
In life, as in fishing, there are always a few that get away. And so it is with most issues of the magazine. Take our Bugged issue, for example. We had all kinds of bugs in there: insects, cyberbugs, surveillance devices, viruses, even VW bugs. The one thing we wanted to include but didn’t find a solid enough Berkeley connection to was Bugs Bunny. We looked and looked.
But we didn’t look hard enough.
Posted on December 15, 2017 - 4:03pm
Things were looking pretty sunny for alternative energy sources back in 2005. Though still resisted by conservative politicians and allied voters, human-caused climate change was accepted as fact by the vast majority of scientists, many business leaders, and even the Pentagon. Energy security was a major concern for the armed services, given that U.S. troops were fighting and dying in Iraq, home to the world’s fifth largest reserve of oil—the substance that America was “addicted to,” according to President (and former oil man) George W. Bush.
In September, the university went to extraordinary lengths to support our commitments to free speech and the safety of our campus community. On September 14, at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans, the conservative speaker Ben Shapiro addressed an audience at Zellerbach Hall. His speech was not interrupted, and protests outside the hall were peaceful.
I live with my boyfriend, Chris, in a rent controlled, one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. It’s cozy, old, and definitely not big enough to fit both my extensive rock/bone/shell collection and his growing assemblage of street art—but overall, it feels clean. Or at least it did. Until about a year ago, when we found our first visitor crawling out of the kitchen sink, like a scene in some Japanese horror film.
This —2017—has been the year of liberal vs. conservative free speech arguments—from qualms over t-shirt logos at polling places to violent protests of alt-right speakers. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) the Supreme Court has decided to take on four free speech cases this year, all brought by conservative plaintiffs. This decision, according to UC Berkeley lecturer and constitutional law expert William Turner, author of Free Speech: Supreme Court Opinions from the Beginning to the Roberts Court, could provide a huge leg up for politically conservative causes.
Posted on December 13, 2017 - 3:37pm
The year was 1956. Barry Barish was a junior at Cal doing research at the California Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab (known today as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory). When his professors were too busy to see him, he’d wander into the 184-inch cyclotron—a larger sequel to Ernest Lawrence’s fabled particle accelerators—invented at Berkeley and famous for blasting into existence an array of new heavy elements, including plutonium, berkelium, and californium.
In a letter to an Anglican bishop in the late 19th century, English Catholic Baron John Dalberg-Acton would drop what would become one of the most popular aphorisms about the nature of man: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” For a hundred some years post-Acton, the bulk of scientific research supported this ubiquitous idea, with countless studies revealing that when humans are handed power, they become more self-serving and ruthless.