Robots Learn about Feelings and Maybe Plot Their Takeover | Nextgov

The signs of the pending rise of the machines are everywhere.

Let’s start with the recently released Frost and Sullivan report detailing the military’s plans for combat vehicle development through 2024. According to the report, the Defense Department is expected to spend $56.25 billion on combat vehicles by 2024.

That is a lot of wheels and tracks on the ground.

Research Fellow in the Behavioral Science Group at Warwick Business School Charlotte Edmunds conducted a study where a robot was programmed to guess at what people were feeling based on visual and other social clues.

To conduct the study, a team of psychologists and computer scientists filmed pairs of children playing with a robot and a computer. They later asked 284 people to decide whether the children were excited, bored or sad. They were also asked if the children were co-operating, competing or if one of the children had assumed a dominant role in the relationship.

Sadly, the results for the human participants were exactly the same as if someone was simply guessing at the results having never watched the videos.

But when a trained robot took the same test, it scored significantly higher.

The robot was correct most of the time even if it couldn’t see the children’s faces or hear their voices. The full study was published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

Source: Robots Learn about Feelings and Maybe Plot Their Takeover – Nextgov

Reason Won’t Save Us | Nautilus

As a senior neurologist whose career began before CAT and MRI scans, I have come to feel that conscious reasoning, the commonly believed remedy for our social ills, is an illusion, an epiphenomenon supported by age-old mythology rather than convincing scientific evidence.

If so, it’s time for us to consider alternate ways of thinking about thinking that are more consistent with what little we do understand about brain function. I’m no apologist for artificial intelligence, but if we are going to solve the world’s greatest problems, there are several major advantages in abandoning the notion of conscious reason in favor of seeing humans as having an AI-like “black-box” intelligence.

Source: Reason Won’t Save Us – Issue 77: Underworlds  – Nautilus

Money to burn |

Harmful EU private sector financing driving deforestation shows the need for Commissioner designate Frans Timmermans to commit to new rules on corporate responsibility for deforestation and environmental harm, writes Giulia Bondi.

Our new investigation Money to Burn shows the urgent need for the EU to introduce new regulation requiring companies and investors to conduct due diligence throughout their entire supply chain and investments in order to identify, prevent, and mitigate environmental, social and human rights risks and impacts.

The burning of the Brazilian Amazon this summer illustrated in the most graphic way possible humanity’s war on the planet. But such scenes play out every year in rainforests all around the world to make way for big agribusiness, away from the horrified stare of global television audiences.

Source: Money to burn –

Sustainable finance drive can help address EU’s political challenges |

Sustainability and inclusivity have correctly been placed as guiding principles for Europe’s finance policy. The next few months – with decisions on the EIB and the start of a new European Commission – will be decisive in order to put those principles into action, write Tom Jess and Sandrine Dixon-Declève.

The future European Commission, headed up by Ursula von der Leyen, will put sustainability and inclusivity at the heart of the European financial policy. Over the last weeks, as the European Parliament elected Ms von der Leyen and approved most of her team, it was clear that advancing sustainable finance will be a key driver in their ambition for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent.

Source: Sustainable finance drive can help address EU’s political challenges –

Something fishy this way comes |

We can have more fish in the sea and secure a profitable future for our fishermen and women if we respect the sustainable limits of catches and let the stocks recover, writes Chris Davies.

Just when there were signs of improvement in the seas around Europe, with fish stocks managed more sustainably, comes news of drastic cuts required in Baltic catches to prevent the complete collapse of stocks.

Will EU ministers meeting on Monday (14 October) in land-locked Luxembourg respect the scientific advice or slip back to the bad old ways of making short term decisions with disastrous long term consequences?

Source: Something fishy this way comes –

Buildings and the forgotten 90% |

Human beings spend on average 90% of their lives indoors. Buildings are also a huge drain on energy resources and create a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. This Special Report looks deeper into the places we live and work.

At the annual Healthy Buildings Day on 10 October in Paris, organised by Danish window manufacturer Velux, industry experts and lawmakers discussed the challenges posed by our homes, schools and offices.

Source: Buildings and the forgotten 90% –

Healthy homes: ‘The biggest health and business opportunity of a lifetime’ |

Indoor environment quality and healthy homes play an ever more substantial role in human well-being, according to new research unveiled at a high-level event last week (10 October).

Last Thursday, Danish firm Velux released the fifth edition of its ‘Healthy Homes Barometer’, an in-depth look at the state of housing and other buildings, plus the effect they have on human health.

Statistics show that Europeans spend on average 90% of their lives indoors, be it at home or work, which has prompted the company to invest resources in finding out how that affects our health.

Source: Healthy homes: ‘The biggest health and business opportunity of a lifetime’ –

French MP: ‘We try to bring method to the madness of building renovation’ |

The Yellow Vest movement has actually boosted France’s ambition to be a building renovation champion as it positioned the economy front and center in the debate, the government’s ‘co-pilot’ for the project told EURACTIV.

I try to go as much as possible and I’m trying to go more and more, as I’m absolutely convinced that every European country has already experimented and tried things that will save us time in what we’re doing. We’re all trying to reinvent things that have already been done elsewhere. If something works, we can find out why, but also if something doesn’t work, that is knowledge that can be shared.

It’s true that we have all sorts of problems ourselves. Renovating in the mountains is very different to urban and seaside renovations. All sorts of factors you would not have expected and plenty to experiment on. Actually, maybe we are experimenting too much because so many schemes are being tested and it is so difficult to share information. Setting up a comprehensive database that can be used and reproduced is proving to be complex.

Source: French MP: ‘We try to bring method to the madness of building renovation’ –

Accelerating integrated energy systems for a climate-neutral EU |

Achieving the EU climate objectives – a reduction of the overall GHG emissions by 80-95% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels – requires a complete transformation of our energy systems. To get there, we need to take a holistic approach, and to maximize synergies between sectors and systems.

Heating and cooling in buildings and industry today account for half of the EU’s final energy consumption. Optimizing this sector is therefore essential if the EU wants to be climate-neutral by 2050.

To do that, integrating heating and cooling, electricity, transport, water and industry, to create smart energy systems is key. In interlinking the different parts of the energy system, sector coupling can contribute to a cost-efficient, secure and reliable energy transition over the next decades.

Source: Accelerating integrated energy systems for a climate-neutral EU –

Biotechnology: Europe’s next ‘hot potato’ |

The discussion over the future of biotechnology in Europe heated up after the EU Court ruled in July last year that gene editing should, in principle, fall under the GMO Directive.

Several stakeholders and policymakers emphasize that Europe needs to adjust to rapidly changing biotechnology as a way to tackle alarming climate change and simultaneously feed a rising population and help boost farmers’ income.

On the other hand, environmentalists warn about the negative implications of biotechnology.

Source: Biotechnology: Europe’s next ‘hot potato’ –