When Robots Are Paralyzed By Choice

Roboticist Alan Winfield of Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK conducted an ethical test on a robot. He wanted to see how a machine would react when confronted with the impossible decision of who to save when more than one person is headed for danger.

Winfield found that in some cases the robot made the worst choice of all: It became paralyzed by its conflicting options and saved no one.

This type of research will become especially more applicable with the growth of self-driving cars. When danger arises, these machines will also have to make the choice of whose life to save.

Norway’s Vault Of Priceless Treasure


In the middle of a savage civil war, a team of scientists in Syria has been quietly rescuing tiny bits of a global treasure: seeds with genetic roots running back to the beginning of civilization.

Most of the seeds, which could prove crucial to feeding millions of people as the world’s climate warms and deserts spread along with pests and diseases, are now in safe storage behind heavy steel doors, deep in a mountainside in Norway’s High Arctic.

The struggle to rescue the Syrian seeds is part of a worldwide effort to preserve and nurture the genetic heritage of plants that feed us today, along with strains abandoned by commercial farmers long ago or others that only grow wild.

Norway’s ‘Doomsday Vault’ holds a priceless treasure: Seeds

Financial Firms And Discretionary Regulations


When America was founded, there were only three specified federal crimes—treason, counterfeiting and piracy. Now there are too many to count. In the most recent estimate, in the early 1990s, a law professor reckoned there were perhaps 300,000 regulatory statutes carrying criminal penalties—a number that can only have grown since then. For financial firms especially, there are now so many laws, and they are so complex (witness the thousands of pages of new rules resulting from the Dodd-Frank reforms), that enforcing them is becoming discretionary.

This undermines the predictability and clarity that serve as the foundations for the rule of law, and risks the prospect of a selective—and potentially corrupt—system of justice in which everybody is guilty of something and punishment is determined by political deals .

The Economist

Data Ownership And Responsibility

Mark Cuban

“I had my little fun with the SEC, and what happened was, every message I sent, everything that I wrote, they decided to create their own context,” he said Wednesday. “If I said, ‘The sky was blue,’ they said, ‘You didn’t really mean that. You were just trying to fool us.’ When I said, ‘I hate to lose,’ in reference to Mavericks games, they said, ‘So, you hate to lose. You’re not willing to take a loss on a share trade.’ I mean, it was just ridiculous. And so it made me realize, along with just other experiences, when you hit ‘send’ on a text, you lose ownership of that. Not only do you lose ownership, you retain responsibility for that text.”

CNBC interviews Mark Cuban about his app Cyber Dust

Flipping Burgers In High School Not The Career-Starter It Used To Be

Teenage fast food worker

We examine whether the benefits of high school work experience have changed over the last 20 years by comparing effects for the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Our main specifications suggest that the future wage benefits of working 20 hours per week in the senior year of high school have fallen from 8.3 percent for the earlier cohort, measured in 1987-1989, to 4.4 percent for the later one, in 2008-2010. Moreover, the gains of work are largely restricted to women and have diminished over time for them. We are able to explain about five-eighths of the differential between cohorts, with most of this being attributed to the way that high school employment is related to subsequent adult work experience and occupational attainment.

The Changing Benefits of Early Work Experience

When It’s Good To Be The Little Guy


We explore the effects of having a large dominant competitor and show conditions under which focusing on a competitive threat, rather than hiding it, can actually help a brand. We demonstrate through lab and field studies that highlighting a large competitor’s size and close proximity can help smaller brands instead of harming them. We find that support for small brands goes up when faced with a competitive threat from large brands, versus when they are in competition with brands that are similar to them, or when consumers view them outside of a competitive context. This support translates into purchase intention, real purchase, and more favorable online reviews in a study of over 10,000 Yelp posts. We argue that this “framing the game effect” is mediated by consumers’ motivation to express their views and have an impact in the marketplace through their purchasing.

Positioning Brands Against Large Competitors to Increase Sales