March 21, 2019

Computer professionals celebrate 10th birthday of A.L.I.C.E.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005File:Turing1.jpg

More than 50 programmers, scientists, students, hobbyists and fans of the A.L.I.C.E. chat robot gathered in Guildford, U.K. on Friday to celebrate the tenth birthday of the award winning A.I. On hand was the founder the Loebner Prize, an annual Turing Test, designed to pick out the world’s most human computer according to an experiment laid out by the famous British mathematician Alan Turing more then 50 years ago. Along with A.L.I.C.E.’s chief programmer Dr. Richard S. Wallace, two other Loebner prize winners, Robby Garner and this year’s winner, Rollo Carpenter, also gave presentations, as did other finalists.

The University of Surrey venue was chosen, according to Dr. Wallace, not only because it was outside the U.S. (A.L.I.C.E.’s birthday fell on the Thanksgiving Day weekend holiday there, so he expected few people would attend a conference in America), but also because of its recently erected statue of Alan Turing, who posed the famous A. I. experiment which inspired much of the work on bots like A.L.I.C.E. University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre organizers Lynn and David Hamill were pleased to host the event because it encourages multi-disciplinary interaction, and because of the Centre’s interest in interaction between humans and computers.File:ALICE Birthday Cake.jpg

Dr. Wallace gave a keynote address outlining the history of A.L.I.C.E. and AIML. Many people commented on the fact the he seemed to have moved around a lot in the last ten years, having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, San Francisco, Maine, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, while working on the Alicebot project. The A.L.I.C.E. and AIML software is popular among chat robot enthusiats primarily because of its distribution under the GNU free software license. One of Dr. Wallace’s PowerPoint slides asked the question, “How do you make money from free software?” His answer: memberships, subscriptions, books, directories, syndicated ads, consulting, teaching, and something called the Superbot.

Rollo Carpenter gave a fascinating presentation on his learning bot Jabberwacky, reading from several sample conversations wherein the bot seemed amazingly humanlike. Unlike the free A.L.I.C.E. software, Carpenter uses a proprietary learning approach so that the bot actually mimics the personality of each individual chatter. The more people who chat with Jabberwacky, the better it becomes at this kind of mimicry.

In another interesting presentation, Dr. Hamill related present-day research on chat robots to earlier work on dialog analysis in telephone conversations. Phone calls have many similarities to the one-on-one chats that bots encounter on the web and in IM. Dr. Hamill also related our social expectations of bots to social class structure and how servants were expected to behave in Victorian England. He cited the famous Microsoft paperclip as the most egregius example of a bot that violated all the rules of a good servant’s behavior.

Bots have advanced a long way since philanthropist Hugh Loebner launched his controversial contest 15 years ago. His Turing Test contest, which offers an award of $100,000 for the first program to pass an “audio-visual” version of the game, also awards a bronze medal and $2000 every year for the “most human computer” according to a panel of judges. Huma Shah of the University of Westminster presented examples of bots used by large corporations to help sell furniture, provide the latest information about automotive products, and help customers open bank accounts. Several companies in the U.S. and Europe offer customized bot personalities for corporate web sites.

Even though Turing’s Test remains controversial, this group of enthusiastic developers seems determined to carry on the tradition and try to develop more and more human like chat bots.Hugh Loebner is dedicated to carry on his contest for the rest of his life, in spite of his critics. He hopes that a large enough constituency of winners will exist to keep the competition going well beyond his own lifetime. Dr. Wallace says, “Nobody has gotten rich from chat robots yet, but that doesn’t stop people from trying. There is such a thing as ‘bot fever’. For some people who meet a bot for the first time, it can pass the Turing Test for them, and they get very excited.”

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March 20, 2019

Sightseeing On Hawaii’s Big Island}

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Sightseeing on Hawaii’s Big Island


Homer Molina

Are you interested in taking a Hawaiian sightseeing vacation? If you are, you may want to visit Big Island. Big Island is Hawaii’s largest island. What does that mean for you? It means that you often have more attractions to visit and more activities to participate in. That alone is what increases the popularity of Big Island trips.

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When it comes to planning your next Big Island sightseeing vacation, you may want to start making your travel arrangements right away. While it is more than possible to not do so, you may first want to take the time to examine Big Island, namely what you can do and see while there. Doing so can help you pinpoint the perfect overnight accommodation for you, especially when it comes to location.As previously stated, one of the many benefits to taking a Hawaii vacation on Big Island is your options. There is so much for you to do and see. What is nice about examining Big Island activities and attractions is that you have a number of different options. For instance, you can use the internet to your advantage. A standard internet search should help you familiarize yourself with Hawaii vacation activities, namely those for Big Island. If you plan ahead enough, you can also request free vacation guides.Although it is relatively easy for you to examine Big Island vacation activities on your own, there are two places that are often referred to as “must visits,” by vacationers. One of those locations is the Hamakua Coast, which is located in Hilo. Hilo is the capital of Big Island. In addition to driving down a forty mile stretch of coast and examining the scenic mountains and waterfalls, there is much more for you to do. For instance, you can also visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, visit the “Valley of Kings,” as well as hike up the Akaka Falls.Another must visit, if you are looking to plan a Hawaii sightseeing vacation on Big Island is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As with the Hamakua Coast, you will find an unlimited number of things to do and see at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. For instance, you can hike, drive, and bike to examine summits, craters, and much more. You can explore certain areas of the park on your own or you can take guided hiking tours. In fact, you can even camp at two main campground areas, which are free with park admission.Once you have developed a list of Big Island attractions that you would like to visit, as well as Big Island activities you would like to participate in, you may want to then start examining all of your overnight accommodation options. As previously stated, doing the proper amount of research first will better enable you to choose the Big Island vacation rental that is perfect for your next Hawaii sightseeing trip. If you are truly looking to have a fun and memorable vacation, this is important. So, what harm can a few minutes worth of researching Big Island vacation rentals do?Speaking of your overnight accommodations, when on a Big Island vacation, you will find that you have a number of options. These options include hotels, resorts, vacation home rentals, villa rentals, cottage rentals, condo rentals, as well as apartment rentals. While you do not necessarily need to decide which type of vacation rental you want first, you may find that it makes searching for the perfect rental a little bit easier. If you are interested in staying in the same place for your whole trip, you may find a vacation rental, such as a home, villas, condo, or cottage to be your best option, as they are ideal for extended vacations and most are private.The above mentioned steps are just a few of the many steps that you will want to take, when planning your next Big Island sightseeing vacation. To have the perfect Hawaii sightseeing vacation, you will want to carefully plan all of your vacation, including your overnight accommodations, the activities that you want to participate in, and the attractions that you want to visit.

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Sightseeing on Hawaii’s Big Island}

Dale Ogden, 2010 California gubernatorial candidate, talks with Wikinews

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dale Ogden, a 2010 California gubernatorial candidate, talks with Wikinews reporter Mike Morales about his platform.

Ogden is a member of the United States’ Libertarian Party.

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March 19, 2019

Experts raise serious questions over safety of U.S. oil industry and warn another spill may be ‘unavoidable’

Saturday, April 16, 2011

One year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster which caused the largest oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry and caused huge environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico, experts have warned there are serious questions over the safety of deep water drilling as the United States government approves more exploration without improving safety measures.

I have seen no evidence that they have marshaled containment efforts that are sufficient to deal with another major spill. I don’t think they have found ways to change the corporate culture sufficiently to prevent future accidents.

Scientists have raised major concerns over repeated assurances from the industry and the government, who insist lessons have been learned from the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Charles Perrow, a professor at Yale University, said the oil industry “is ill prepared at the least” to deal with another oil spill. “I have seen no evidence that they have marshaled containment efforts that are sufficient to deal with another major spill,” he said.

While the government has implemented new regulations, technical systems for stopping oil flowing from a leaking well, and increased oversight from oil officials, Perrow said deep water drilling had become no less dangerous. “I don’t think they have found ways to change the corporate culture sufficiently to prevent future accidents,” he said. “There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong that major spills are unavoidable.”

Last year, Doug Inkley, a scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, said the culture of an “addiction to oil” was ultimately responsible for the catastrophe. “How long must we wait for lawmakers to act to prevent future disasters? How many more lives, livelihoods and animals must be claimed by our addiction to oil?” Greenpeace also slammed BP, who ran Deepwater Horizon, for how they allowed the disaster to happen. “The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now,” the organization said.

However, under pressure from industry executives the administration of president Barack Obama has resumed issuing drilling permits. It is understood regulators are still allowing oil companies to obtain drilling permits before reviewing new spill response plans. “I’m not an oddsmaker, but I would say in the next five years we should have at least one major blowout,” Perrow said. “Even if everybody tries very hard, there is going to be an accident caused by cost-cutting and pressure on workers. These are moneymaking machines and they make money by pushing things to the limit.”

BP has insisted it has changed safety procedures. The oil giant came under heavy criticism for how it handled the crisis, and other major oil companies insisted Deepwater Horizon was a result of a culture exclusive to BP. Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), the U.S. government agency responsible for regulating offshore drilling, said the view was “as disappointing as it is shortsighted,” and the issue of deep water safety was “a broad problem.”

The warnings came as it emerged BP had attempted to take control of an independent study into the environmental consequences of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Internal emails expose how BP executives attempted to influence the study, which was funded by a US$500m grant from the oil company. The study may be part of the final verdict as to what penalties, fines and criminal charges are brought against the company. Greenpeace, who uncovered the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request, attacked the reportedly unsuccessful attempts to influence the supposedly independent study as “outrageous”.

My community is dead. We’ve worked five generations there and now we’ve got a dead community. I’m angry, I’ve been angry a long time.

Protesters rallied outside BP’s annual conference in London this week, where shareholders met for the first time since the disaster off the Gulf coast. Executives faced questions over their competence and large salaries from angry shareholders, many of whom disapproved of the appointment of Carl-Henric Svanberg as chairman and Sir Bill Castell as the head of BP’s safety board.

Some demonstrators purchased shares in BP in an attempt to get inside the meeting; one woman, a fisherwoman who lives on the Gulf Coast was arrested after pouring a black substance down herself at the entrance to the conference centre and refusing to move. “I have travelled all the way over from the Gulf Coast and I just wanted to talk those responsible for destroying my community,” she said as she was led away by police. “My community is dead. We’ve worked five generations there and now we’ve got a dead community. I’m angry, I’ve been angry a long time.”

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March 18, 2019

Toronto to have socialized city-wide wi-fi access

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Toronto’s public utility, Toronto Hydro Telecom, will make Canada’s largest city into a huge wireless hotspot.

“This is both an exciting and very important initiative for the city of Toronto”, said Toronto’s mayor, David Miller. “It puts us on the leading edge of the telecommunications industry nationwide and globally.”

Toronto Hydro Telecom will offer customers free access for the first six months. After that, it will begin to charge for services.

“Wi-Fi technology is the new benchmark for urban living”, stated Toronto Hydro president David Dobbin. “It’s standard equipment in many electronic devices, from laptops to portable entertainment units.”

Private telephone companies are questioning why a public utility needs to compete with the private sector.

Mike Lee of Rogers Communications Inc. questioned why the city of Toronto wanted to enter the internet access business.

“It will not be an easy business”, Lee told the National Post. “In this day and age, the focus should be on core operations more than anything. I was surprised to see they are looking to get into this business.”

Brian Sharwood, a telecom analyst in Toronto, said the municipality will likely install the wireless transmitters and receivers on its lamp posts as a way to blanket the city, a process known as “wireless mesh networking”.

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March 17, 2019

US Senate committee investigates credit card practices

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Tuesday, the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs‘s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing titled “Credit Card Practices: Unfair Interest Rate Increases.” The hearing examined the circumstances under which credit card issuers may increase the interest rates of cardholders who are in compliance with the terms of their credit cards. It was a follow-up to a March 2007 hearing.

Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin said in his opening statement: “Today’s focus is on credit card issuers who hike the interest rates of cardholders who play by the rules — meaning those folks who pay on time, pay at least the minimum amount due, and wake up one day to find their interest rate has gone through the roof — again, not because they paid late or exceeded the credit limit, but because their credit card issuer decided they should be ‘repriced’.”

Present to testify on behalf of credit card issuers were Roger C. Hochschild of Discover Financial Services, Bruce L. Hammonds of Bank of America Corporation, and Ryan Schneider of Capital One Financial Corporation.

Much of the 90 minute hearing focused on specific cases where interest rates were raised, allegedly because credit scores of the debtor dropped, and not because they were delinquent or otherwise behind on payments. According to Levin, this practice made it so that almost all payments went towards finance charges with almost none toward repaying the principal. This, he felt, is an unfair practice, as the credit card companies were negligent in informing their customers of the rate hikes and the reason for such hikes.

Families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt.

The collective credit card debt of Americans totals an estimated US$900 billion. Issuers have come under pressure to disclose their policies in regards to setting fees and interest rates. The US Truth in Lending Act requires that terms of a loan be set forth up front. Fluctuating interest rates on credit cards would, on the surface, appear to violate this act.

Roger C. Hochschild disagreed, arguing that “every card transaction is a new extension of credit … This makes it difficult — and risky — to underwrite, and price, the loan based solely on the borrower’s credit-worthiness at the time of application [for the card].”

Ryan Schneider, agreed: “The ability to modify the terms of a credit card agreement to accommodate changes over time to the economy or the credit-worthiness of consumers must be preserved.”

“Attempts to interfere with the market here … will inevitably result in less credit being offered,” warned Bruce Hammonds. “Risk-based pricing has democratized access to credit,” he added.

All three credit card executives also mentioned an ongoing Federal Reserve System review of credit card rules that already proposes a 45-day notification ahead of any rate changes.

Committee members criticized the industry for varying practices. Included in the criticism was the practice of mailing checks to card-holders, failing to notify applicants that obtaining additional cards could lower their credit score and raise their rates, and “ambushing” card-holders with raised rates.

Ranking minority member of the subcommittee, Norm Coleman said, “families find themselves ensnared in a seemingly inescapable web of credit card debt. They particularly report being saddled with interest rates that skyrocketed on them seemingly out of the blue.”

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March 16, 2019

Discover The Many Benefits And Advantages Of Kitchen Renovations}

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Discover the many benefits and advantages of kitchen renovations


Winnipeg RealtorsYou have waited long enough. For years you have wanted to completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Your current set up is unacceptable. It is cramped and ugly. There are, in fact, few redeeming qualities in your kitchen. You have an idea of the kind of kitchen you want. You are now ready to put such notions into effect. To do so you should work with a firm that specializes in kitchen renovations Perth.

You have ideas, but your conception of the way the final kitchen will look is still a bit vague. Working with kitchen renovation experts can help you clear up such cloudiness. The vendor you work employs experts who will be able to take the rough principles you’ve developed and the few images that stick out in your mind and turn them into a clear and compelling plan for a new kitchen.

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The look of your kitchen reflects your sense of style. You should feel comfortable every time you walk into it. Your kitchen should also be of the utmost utility. You should be able to do all that you want to. Part of your reason for undertaking a renovation is to expand the capabilities now present in your kitchen. Working with a professional designer will allow you to get to the specifics of how your new kitchen will work and what you will be able to do in it.

A kitchen renovation is a serious project. It is not something that should be entered into lightly. You will be sinking a considerable amount of capital into the project and you deserve to get what you pay for. The new kitchen should come as close to being perfect as is possible. Working with a professional will certainly help you toward that end. It will give you purpose and direction. Most importantly, it will ensure you have a concrete plan for getting to your desired end state.

It is important to remember, however, that not all kitchen renovation firms are the same. They do not all adhere to the same standard of quality and service. The vendor you work with should be honest and transparent in its operations. It should also offer a range of services and products. Cost is also important. The investment you make in your new kitchen will be well worth it. However, you should not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the services and products you purchase.

Going to the worldwide web is the best way to find a kitchen renovation firm that meets the above criteria. Using the web will enable you to see for yourself what the various companies that do kitchen renovation are offering. The web will enable you to assess the service, price, and quality of each one. It will also allow you to compare and contrast different companies. Most importantly, you will be able to read the comments, reviews, and recommendations of clients of the company you’re thinking about working with. This will give you in-depth insight into who you’re dealing with.

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March 14, 2019

HIV-positive man receives 35 years for spitting on Dallas police officer

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An HIV-positive man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday, one day after being convicted of harassment of a public servant for spitting into the eye and open mouth of a Dallas, Texas police officer in May 2006. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no one has ever contracted HIV from saliva, and a gay-rights and AIDS advocacy group called the sentence excessive.

A Dallas County jury concluded that Willie Campbell’s act of spitting on policeman Dan Waller in 2006 constituted the use of his saliva as a deadly weapon. The incident occurred while Campbell, 42, was resisting arrest while being taken into custody for public intoxication.

“He turns and spits. He hits me in the eye and mouth. Then he told me he has AIDS. I immediately began looking for something to flush my eyes with,” said Waller to The Dallas Morning News.

Officer Waller responded after a bystander reported seeing an unconscious male lying outside a building. Dallas County prosecutors stated that Campbell attempted to fight paramedics and kicked the police officer who arrested him for public intoxication.

It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears.

Prosecutors said that Campbell yelled that he was innocent during the trial, and claimed a police officer was lying. Campbell’s lawyer Russell Heinrichs said that because he had a history of convictions including similarly attacking two other police officers, biting inmates, and other offenses, he was indicted under a habitual offender statute. The statute increased his minimum sentence to 25 years in prison. Because the jury ruled that Campbell’s saliva was used as a deadly weapon, he will not be eligible for parole until completing at least half his sentence.

If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.

The organization Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund), which advocates for individuals living with HIV, says that saliva should not be considered a deadly weapon. Bebe Anderson, the HIV projects director at Lambda Legal, spoke with The Dallas Morning News about the sentence. “It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears,” said Anderson.

The Dallas County prosecutor who handled the trial, Jenni Morse, said that the deadly weapon finding was justified. “No matter how minuscule, there is some risk. That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death,” said Morse. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins stated: “If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.”

Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.

A page at the CDC’s website, HIV and Its Transmission, states: “HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients.” The subsection “Saliva, Tears, and Sweat” concludes that: “Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.” On Friday the Dallas County Health Department released a statement explaining that HIV is most commonly spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, or transfusion from an infected blood product.

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Australian government considers controlling fuel supplies

Monday, June 16, 2008

The gas crisis in Western Australia continues to deepen with more businesses standing people down without pay. Businesses have been instructed to turn off non-essential items including limiting the number of lifts and reduced lighting; domestic customers are also urged to reduce energy use.

In the Federal parliament today Resources Minister Martin Ferguson raised the prospect of activating the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act. “During such a situation, I can control the production, transfer and stock levels of crude and liquid fuel…While I sincerely hope that this will not be required, the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act provides authority for the Australian Government to prepare for and manage a national liquid fuel supply emergency,” he said.

Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter called on all Western Australians to reduce energy usage, saying that the situation could be managed with on going co-operation, while reassuring everyone that the crisis will be short, with the Apache Corporation expected to begin partial operations in two months. Supplies were interrupted after a fire at Apache’s Vanarus Island refinery, which supplied 30% of the state’s natural gas requirements.

An Alinta spokesman has said that with the expected cold weather during the next week demand will put further pressure on supplies, advising that it is critical that all consumers limit energy usage.

Alinta requests that residential customers;

  • use only essential heating and limit it to one room
  • turn down hot water system by 10 degrees
  • reduce shower times
  • wash in cold water.

While suggesting small businesses;

  • shift production schedules
  • bring forward maintenance and shut down schedules
  • turn off equipment not essential to the business.
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