Camellias and the weevils that attack their seeds seem locked in conflict. The thicker a camellia grows its protective woody covering around its seeds, the longer the feeding tube on some weevil to break through and devour. John R. Thompson talked about such “coevolutionary arms races” in Current Biology1 and asked whether such wars can go on forever, leading to increased exaggeration of traits. The answer is, apparently, there are limits. Traits vary in a mosaic pattern across populations. Not all camellias are infested by beetles with the longest boring tools. As with any war, there are hotspots and coldspots. The dynamics of arms races seem to buffer both species against extremes.Collectively, these studies suggest that coevolution is a pervasive process that continually reshapes interspecific interactions across broad geographic areas. And that has important implications for our understanding of the role of coevolution in fields ranging from epidemiology to conservation biology. Many diseases, for example malaria, vary geographically both in parasite virulence and host resistance, potentially creating regions of coevolutionary hotspots and coldspots. The spread of introduced species seems be creating new geographic mosaics of coevolution as some species become invasive and coevolve with native species in different ways in different regions or drive rapid evolution in native species, sometimes in less than a hundred years or so. The results for Japanese camellia and camellia weevils reinforce the developing view that interactions coevolve as a geographic mosaic across landscapes, and it is often difficult for one partner to get ahead of the other (or others) everywhere. (Emphasis added.)1John R. Thompson, “Coevolution: The Geographic Mosaic of Coevolutionary Arms Races,” Current Biology, Volume 15, Issue 24, 24 December 2005, pages R992-R994, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.11.046.This appears to provide more slippage on the evolutionary treadmill (see 03/17/2003 entry). Though the word “evolution” is involved, don’t be confused; this has nothing to do with macroevolution, like bacteria evolving into people. Coevolution leads to exaggerated traits between two interacting species, like the beaks of hummingbirds and the flowers they pollinate. As with all other observed forms of microevolution, including Darwin’s famous finches, it involves the modification of existing traits – not the origin of new ones. Notice how quickly changes can result; Thompson referred to rapid “evolution” in native species in less than 100 years after an intruder was introduced. Young-earth creationists could use such concepts to explain the rapid diversification of varieties and species within created kinds, and there would be nothing Thompson or the Darwinists could do to prove them wrong. Studies like this do not establish that coevolution can be extrapolated endlessly into macroevolution. In fact, the quote above seems to indicate otherwise: there are limits to the amount of change in the “coevolutionary arms race.” World War II did not produce Superman. (Visited 65 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Public trust in scientists exceeds their trustworthiness, experts warn.Nature is worried. People trust scientists too much. In the Nature Editorial this week (“Misplaced faith”), the subtitle is suggestive. “The public trusts scientists much more than scientists think. But should it?” On one hand, the editors are glad that polls show the majority of people giving scientists high marks for reliability despite a flurry of scandals in recent news. The recent retraction of that gay-marriage paper (see 12/12/14 and Science Magazine report; see more below) is a case in point. But on the other hand, they know better.Media coverage of the same-sex-marriage retraction was laced with portentous language, claiming that faith and trust in science had been profoundly shaken. Yet, as researchers who follow misconduct issues will know, faith and trust in science have survived worse in recent years.That should not be taken as an excuse to ignore the problem of research misconduct or to minimize its importance. And although high-profile fraud makes headlines, a broader and more common set of unappealing behaviours — from corner-cutting to data-juggling — lie under the surface. Convention says that a tiny minority of scientists cheats, yet academics and researchers frequently make the case that irregularities are widespread. A 2014 survey of hundreds of economists, for example, found that 94% admitted to having engaged in at least one “unaccepted” research practice (S. Necker Res. Policy 43, 1747–1759; 2014).… it seems that the wider public’s view of science and research is rosier than that of many people who are directly involved. For how long can this continue?As insiders, Nature’s editors get a view of science’s dirty laundry that the public is blissfully unaware of. And they’re not alone. Other writers have pointed out reasons to doubt the iconic image of the scientist in the white lab coat, altruistically researching nature’s secrets for the pure love of the truth.Influence or influencer? Anna Gielas, in a PLoS Blog printed on PhysOrg, turns scientific journals into carts pulling the horses. Rather than depicting them as channels for research dissemination, she argues that journals are often instruments that shape science and academia. Tracing the history of academic journals over centuries, she shows them to be dynamic, evolving instruments that often made or broke personal reputations and, sometimes, shaped political decisions. “I wish to learn how we have created this unique and intricate communication system,” she ends, “—and why we have endowed it with so much power.”Measurement power corrupts: What’s science without measurement? In The Conversation, Aussie academics Mike Calver and Andrew Beattie warn that “Our obsession with metrics is corrupting science.” Specifically, the process of ranking scientific papers by citations and other arbitrary measures lets some scientists game the system, and consigns other worthy research into dustbin of obscurity. Ranking has been a poor predictor of Nobel Prizes, they point out. (See also Nature‘s list of “sleeping beauty” papers whose merits were not recognized till after the author’s deaths.) Merlin Crossley, another Aussie dean of science, replies in The Conversation that “All academic metrics are flawed, but some are useful.” Useful to whom? He presents the “best-in-field” fallacy by arguing that it’s “better than the alternative.”Correlation not causation: Speaking of measurement, Science Magazine enjoyed a list of “spurious correlations.” These come about through “a technique known as ‘data dredging,’ in which one data set is blindly compared to hundreds of others until a correlation is identified.” For instance, one can show that “The number of civil engineering doctorates awarded in the United States between 2000 and 2009 was strongly correlated (95.9%) with mozzarella cheese consumption during the same period.” The editors comment, “Presented as a series of graphs prepared from real data sets, Spurious Correlations serves as a hilarious reminder that correlation most certainly does not equal causation.” It also implies that drawing valid conclusions requires honesty and training in logic.Conflict of interest: A Policy Forum statement in Science Magazine shows that scientists are also stakeholders in government decisions. Fifteen academics from Harvard, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Science and Democracy and some other foundations are upset that Congress is making “attacks on science-based rules.” But rules are not discovered by scientists; they are matters of policy decided by parties with competing interests (including taxpayers who have to foot the bill, and legislators who have to prioritize limited resources). Rules might be informed by science or metrics, but as we have just seen, metrics can corrupt if not properly interpreted. These academics vent the emotion of righteous indignation, pretending their own interests are not part of the equation.There is a growing and troubling assault on using credible scientific knowledge in U.S. government regulation that will put science and democracy at risk if unchecked. We present five examples, and the false premises on which they are based, of current attempts in the U.S. Congress in the supposed pursuit of transparency and accountability but at the expense of the role of science in policy-making.A look at their five examples shows it heavily weighted in favor of government regulation and the ability of scientific institutions to police themselves. At whose expense? And for which group’s interest?The scientific community needs to push back. Elected officials respond to constituents, and there are scientists in every congressional district. With leadership from professional societies and scientific organizations, scientists across the country should tell their members of Congress how much they value the opportunity to engage in informing policy and how important it is that these attacks on the process are defeated.They end by claiming they are all for transparency and avoidance of conflict of interest. Their concerns may well be justified in some of the specific cases they cite, but their own comments betray a lack of objectivity.Whose conflict of interest? Policies that attempt to control conflict of interest may themselves be flawed, an article on Science Daily suggests. Some scientists are objecting to the stringent rules of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on disclosure of financial ties to health industries, claiming that “there are negative consequences of such policies.” One thing seems certain; policies will be made by fallible humans who may not be aware of all the influences behind their decisions, or willing to admit them.Scientific fraud made several headlines recently. Most recently, the exposure of Michael LaCour at UCLA as a fraudster for his Dec. 2014 paper on gay-marriage persuasion was noted by Science Magazine (which retracted the paper last month), Nature, and major media outlets. But few are pointing out that his credibility should have been suspect at the start, since he is a gay activist and recruited only gay activists in his “experiments” on interviewing people—and they only tested the ability to persuade people for gay marriage, not against it. That seems hardly a controlled experiment. In other headlines, social psychologist Jens Förster is in deeper trouble after investigators found further evidence he “made up” his data, Science Magazine says (see 5/22/14). Förster still maintains his innocence. Nature reports that Paolo Macchiarini, inventor of the artificial windpipe, has been charged with misconduct for “misrepresenting the success of his pioneering procedure.” And in a PLoS Blog piece posted by PhysOrg, Beth Skwarecki asks an unusual question, “Was it unethical to hoax the world about chocolate as a weight loss ‘accelerator’?” It’s another story about P-hacking (tweaking significance measures) to pull a causation out of a correlation.When you envision a scientist, stop thinking of the cartoon drawing. Picture a real human being, just like yourself, getting out of bed each day and getting dressed to go to work. Like each one of us, the scientist is a complex mix of influences, beliefs, biases and desires. Many scientists usually work in an academic environment that is profoundly leftist in ideology and subject to speech codes or standards of political correctness (we admit exceptions, of course). The scientist has undergone years of rigorous study and practice, part of which constitutes indoctrination into certain ways of thinking. He or she attends conferences with colleagues at which habits of behavior are reinforced by groupthink, where independent thinking is tolerated only to a point. The scientist does not observe nature as a newcomer, but follows years of tradition, working on some specific puzzle in the current paradigm. Scientists are often dependent on government funds, or else support from private industry, which also influence their judgment. Like other humans, scientists desire fame and recognition for their work.Lest one argue that it’s the scientific community that protects against bias and makes science a self-correcting enterprise, let’s get real. A community is a collection of fallible individuals. Academia can reinforce bias as much as prevent it. Look at the articles above; journals, peer review and other aspects of self-correction can end up shaping policies and attitudes, even facilitating fraud. Nature just told us that people have an undue trust for science as it really us. Standards have evolved over the centuries; are we to believe that what Newton or Faraday did in their day was unscientific by today’s standards? Peer review is under attack from many quarters these days. Journals are evolving to adapt to social media. And how can they protect themselves from computer-generated fraud? (see Evolution News & Views article).Never forget that science cannot work without (1) a commitment to truth, and (2) honesty. Those are not discoveries of science; they are prerequisites for science. Logical reasoning requires both. So what are we to expect when evolutionary scientists tell us that crime is a product of evolution? (see PhysOrg). Carried to its logical conclusion, that rationalizes fraud as an evolutionary strategy. Science needs God to say, “Thou shalt not!” (see 5/24/15). The current flood of scientific misconduct is to be expected from a culture that has abandoned Biblical morality for evolving strategies, and truth for pragmatism.So what are honest truth seekers to think of science? We have to judge it based on the evidence and the logic, and on the individual researcher’s character. We cannot take a scientist’s word for anything. We need to be aware of the biases that influence their statements. We need to examine their “materials and methods” that formed the basis of their conclusions. We need the courage to fight a strong consensus when it is wrong. We need to complain when they fail to be truthful or honest. In a sense, we need to be scientists ourselves, if we take the root of science to refer to “knowledge.” Since knowledge is defined as a “justified true belief,” no scientific statement should be accepted at face value because “science says so,” but because its truth is justifiable.(Visited 28 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has declined to transport four elephants from eastern Assam’s Tinsukia to Ahmedabad for the July 4 Jagannath Rath Yatra until the Gauhati High Court resolves the matter and the State Forest Department clarifies an order of the Supreme Court regarding transfer of elephants.Assam-based animal rights activists Urmi Mala Das and Nandini Baruah had on Friday filed a public interest litigation at the high court challenging the Assam government’s decision to transport four juvenile elephants, two of them females, in railway wagons to Ahmedabad. Their PIL followed a petition filed via email to the court by Canada-based activist Sangeeta Iyer.PIL filed“We will not dispatch the elephants unless we receive a clarification sought from the Forest Division on an order by the Supreme Court. Besides, there is a PIL to watch out for,” said Masood Alom, the Additional Divisional Railway Manager of NFR’s Tinsukia Division. Hearing a case related to Kerala, the SC had in May 2016 said: “The state government shall not issue any ownership certificate to any of the persons in possession of elephants. That apart, the persons who are in possession of elephants shall not transfer the elephants outside the state nor shall they part with the elephants by way of transfer in any manner…” Officials of NRF’s zonal headquarters in Guwahati’s Maligaon confirmed the decision not to transport the elephants until the legal issues are resolved. They also trashed reports that the elephants were being dispatched quietly before the PIL is heard on Monday.
Liverpool loanee Kane signs new extensionby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool have penned Herbie Kane to a new contract and extended his loan spell with Doncaster Rovers.The 20-year-old midfielder has starred for League One side Rovers this season, scoring six goals from 26 appearances.”It is massive, coming from a massive club like Liverpool, so I’m happy,” Kane said after signing the new deal.”I was excited to get it done. It took a lot of hard work to get this, but thankfully it is done. Hopefully I can carry on working hard and get to where I want to be.”On his spell with Donny, he added: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, to be honest, I’m just trying to do as well as I can for myself and help the team, but also trying to improve.”Hopefully people at Liverpool notice that I’m doing well, and hopefully when I come back to Liverpool it will impact it.”My aim is to come back in the summer and try to make a footprint. I’m hoping I come back in the summer and impress the manager in pre-season.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
In this study we compared customized ICD programming, standard programming and programming with extended detection times,” explains Burger. “Our department has used the extended detection time (the time before the ICD kicks in) since 2010 and this gives the heart a chance to regain its rhythm spontaneously,”adds study author Thomas Pezawas from the Medical University of Vienna’s Division of Cardiology. People with implanted cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) are carrying a form of life insurance in their chests. This is only meant to be activated if their hearts lose their rhythm to such a degree that their lives are in acute danger: this primarily concerns ventricular tachycardia or atrial fibrillation. Depending upon the situation, the ICD emits a painless pulse or immediately gives a (painful) electric shock until normal cardiac rhythm has been restored. Related StoriesHeart disease is still the number 1 killer in Australia, according to latest figuresNew research links “broken heart syndrome” to cancerStudy explores role of iron in over 900 diseasesCompared with standardized programming, programming with extended detection times could reduce the number of unnecessary ICD shocks by 29%. Furthermore, the recent study showed that this procedure is equally appropriate for all patients, irrespective of their gender, underlying disease or type of device.”We can refer to excellent results accompanied by very high levels of patient safety. Previously published annual rates for the number of unnecessary ICD shocks were between 5.1 and 7.9%. We are now aiming for 3.7%, which will be a top international value,” says principal investigator Thomas Pezawas, summarizing the results, which have now been published in “Circulation J”.Long-standing center of excellence for defibrillatorsThese results will also be important for other defibrillator centers, since the data available in this field was previously very thin. These new findings should also encourage other centers to adopt a less aggressive programming strategy, say the MedUni Vienna experts: with the aim of achieving excellent protection from sudden cardiac death while reducing the number of inappropriate shocks. The recommendation made by the study authors to allow the ICD to “observe” for slightly longer (a matter of seconds) before reacting, could drive a paradigm shift in treatment. Unfortunately, in some patients, this therapy overshoots the mark. This results in premature or unnecessary shocks with the associated detriment to quality-of-life,”says study author Achim L. Burger from MedUni Vienna’s Division of Cardiology. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 24 2018Sudden cardiac death is a common cause of death in patients with congenital or acquired heart disease. An implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD) can effectively put a stop to any underlying cardiac arrhythmia. In a long-term observational study involving 1,500 patients, researchers from MedUni Vienna’s Department of Medicine II (Division of Cardiology) have now shown that the programming selected for the implanted defibrillators (ICDs) plays a major role. It was found that the most “defensive” possible procedure is safe and, at the same time, significantly reduces inappropriate therapy. Source:https://www.meduniwien.ac.at/web/en/about-us/news/detailsite/news-im-oktober-2018/defibrillation-for-sudden-cardiac-death-it-all-comes-down-to-the-programming/
Source:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/ Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 18 2019A Cleveland Clinic-led research team has found that using an absorbable, antibiotic-eluting envelope when implanting cardiac devices like pacemakers and defibrillators can cut the rate of major infections by 40 percent.The research was presented today at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It will also be presented tomorrow at the European Heart Rhythm Association 2019 Congress.Approximately 1.7 million patients worldwide receive cardiac implantable electronic devices every year. These devices are used to correct abnormal heart rhythms and include pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators. While the devices are safe, there is a risk of infection, particularly following device replacements, or other secondary procedures such as pocket revisions, lead changes and upgrades.”While the risk of major infections is low, when they do occur, they can be devastating for patients, resulting in invasive procedures, device removal, prolonged hospital stays and potentially death,” said Khaldoun Tarakji, M.D., MPH, associate section head of cardiac electrophysiology at Cleveland Clinic and the lead author of the study. “Other than the use of antibiotics right before the device procedures, this is the first intervention proven to reduce the risk of infection in a randomized clinical trial of this magnitude.”The envelope is made of absorbable mesh that encases the defibrillator or pacemaker and is designed to stabilize the device when it is implanted in the body. It is coated with two antibiotics – minocycline and rifampin – which are continuously released into the device pocket over a minimum of seven days. The envelope is fully absorbed in approximately nine weeks.Related StoriesFinger-prick blood test could help prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for patients with COPDStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesAntibiotic susceptibility pattern of Enterobacteriaceae found in GhanaThe global trial enrolled 6,983 patients at 181 centers in 25 countries, receiving new defibrillators for cardiac resynchronization therapy or undergoing specific procedures on their cardiac implantable electronic devices including pocket revisions, generator replacements or upgrades. They were randomized to receive the envelope or not and were followed for at least 12 months. All patients received the standard preventive antibiotics prior to the operation to minimize infection risks. In the control group, 1.2 percent (42 patients) developed a major infection compared with 0.7 percent (25 patients) in the envelope group – a reduction of 40 percent. Of the major infections, 17 were endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining, and 50 were pocket infections. There were less pocket infections in the envelope group.”The infection rates in our study were overall very low compared with other trials, and yet, we found the envelope was still able to provide a significant infection reduction benefit to patients. Given the seriousness of cardiac device infections, we strive to bring infection rates to as close to zero as possible,” said Bruce Wilkoff, M.D., director of cardiac pacing and tachyarrhythmia devices at Cleveland Clinic and senior author on the study.The trial also examined the safety of the envelope. Researchers found no increase in complication rates when the envelope was used. The envelope, manufactured by Medtronic, was approved by the FDA in 2013 for use in cardiac implantable electronic devices.
Source:https://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2019/study-privacy-concerns-keep-men-from-hiv-testing-treatment.html Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 26 2019Privacy concerns linked to both health facilities and providers are major barriers to increasing the number of men who are tested and treated for HIV in Cote d’Ivoire, suggests new Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) research. CCP is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.The findings, published March 21 in the journal PLOS ONE, are based on interviews with 277 men who were either living with HIV or didn’t know their HIV status.Men across sub-Saharan Africa are less likely to be tested for HIV or treated after being diagnosed. For example, in Cote d’Ivoire, 60 percent of women ages 15 and older who are living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as compared to 29 percent of their male counterparts, according to UNAIDS.”It’s not that going to the health facility doesn’t occur to men,” says CCP’s Natalie Jean Tibbels, MSPH, the study’s lead author. “But when it comes to HIV, there is a sense that while you might get good treatment, there might be ramifications resulting from going to the clinic. Men in the study were willing to forfeit the benefits of testing and treatment because the costs of being known as HIV positive or stigmatized were too high.”Men interviewed for the study reported both costs and benefits related to interactions with health providers. Costs included the fear of unwanted disclosure, actual or anticipated stigmatization and the belief that providers were not administering the HIV test properly. These downsides were offset by the perceived benefit of social support from the provider and clinical guidance on the treatment journey.Men in the study also identified concerns linked to the health facility itself. They worried that the layout of the clinic – where clients with HIV waited or which providers they saw – might reveal their HIV status. Even just being in the clinic could be enough to make people in their communities believe that they are living with HIV. Men also identified long wait times and days when ART was out of stock as well as other costs. Some men also said that health clinics were for women and children, not men.Tibbels says that men in the study who did seek care in the facility tended to report afterwards that they were well treated and that many of their fears weren’t realized. One man with HIV who received treatment at the facility said: “[The providers] truly motivated me a lot, [and] gave me hope that one day I can witness the wonders of treatment.”Related StoriesStudy: HIV patients continue treatments if health care providers are compassionateHIV therapy leaves unrepaired holes in the immune system’s wall of defensePatients with HIV DNA in cerebrospinal fluid have high risk of experiencing cognitive deficitsHowever, for many men in the study, particularly those whose HIV status was unknown, the drawbacks associated with seeking care at the health facility were difficult to overcome. One man with HIV told researchers that his experience in the health facility led him to seek guidance from the internet and care from traditional healers instead of in-person treatment.”I condemn above all the behavior of certain health providers. Their reception is disappointing,” he said. “When they discover it is HIV, they give you a weird look. When your back is turned, the staff laughs. I lived it yesterday and it hurt me.”These results suggest that along with taking men’s concerns and preferences into account in the design of facilities and in provider training sessions, interventions that allow for men to be tested and treated outside of the health facility should also be encouraged.”If men have hesitations around getting HIV services at a formal health facility, then we need to think outside the box,” Tibbels says. “We need to take their concerns to heart in order to be successful in getting more men into treatment. If that means making it possible for men to be tested and treated outside of the health facility, it’s something we should do.”CCP’s Brothers for Life program, for example, creates space for men to talk about many life concerns, including HIV, and testing is provided in the community. The program offers a place where men can get social support and also links them, should they be diagnosed with HIV, with peer navigators who help them to quickly get the treatment and encouragement they need.”Understanding the perspective of men is critical to tailoring health communication and clinical services to meet their needs,” Tibbels says.
Bithumb is the biggest virtual currency exchange in South Korea, which has emerged as one of the world’s top Bitcoin markets The hyper-wired South has emerged as one of the world’s top Bitcoin markets, at one point accounting for more than 20 percent of global bitcoin transactions—about 10 times the country’s share of the global economy.Singapore-based BK Global Consortium bought a 50-percent stake plus one share in Bithumb, the country’s biggest virtual currency exchange, from shareholder BTC Holdings for about 400 billion won ($353 million), Yonhap news agency and other South Korean media said, citing industry sources.Bithumb has more than a million customers but suffered a devastating hacking attack in June that left more than $30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen.South Korean exchanges have been hit by a series of attacks by hackers who stole millions of dollars, contributing to the market losing steam as prices tumbled.The BK consortium is an investment group led by Kim Byung-gun, a high-profile plastic surgeon who founded BK Plastic Surgery Hospital, a major clinic in Seoul that also has operations in Singapore.Cryptocurrencies have plunged since the end of 2017, when Bitcoin hit a record high near $20,000, having surged from less than $1,000 just 11 months earlier. The unit is now worth around $6,210. Citation: Plastic surgeon buys top S. Korea Bitcoin exchange (2018, October 12) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-plastic-surgeon-korea-bitcoin-exchange.html © 2018 AFP Explore further A consortium led by a prominent Seoul plastic surgeon purchased a controlling stake in South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, reports said Friday. Hackers steal $30m from top Seoul bitcoin exchange This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Explore further General Motors projected strong 2019 profits Friday, fueled by savings from a deep restructuring including job cuts, and by solid sales in the United States and China. © 2019 AFP GM chief Mary Barra has come under fire for the company’s planned layoffs, but now says the restructuring will boost profits this year GM, which has faced criticism from President Donald Trump and other US politicians over the planned layoffs, expects $2-2.5 billion in additional profits this year due to the restructuring, pushing its earnings-per-share forecast well above analyst expectations.The biggest US automaker forecast 2019 profits of between $6.50 and $7.00 a share, compared to the $5.88 now expected by Wall Street analysts. GM also said it expects 2018 earnings per share to exceed analyst expectations.”We are focused on strengthening our cash generation and creating efficiencies that will position us to take advantage of opportunities through the cycle,” said Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara said in a statement.Global markets have been shaken in recent weeks amid worries over slowing global growth due in part to weakness in China amid the trade confrontation with Washington, and some forecasts indicating the US will tip into recession in 2020.But GM offered a solid outlook for the US the China, estimating overall US sales in 2019 in the “low 17-million range,” a good level, and projecting no sales drop in China.GM Chief Executive Mary Barra was upbeat on the prospects for a US-China trade deal, characterizing this week’s talks between US and Chinese officials as “constructive.”According to news reports the next round of talks is set for late January in Washington.Barra told reporters it was a “good sign” that the two governments already had plans for additional negotiations, adding that sales in China also could be boosted by government stimulus spending. GM reports strong profits, lifting shares Citation: GM sees higher 2019 profits on job cuts, solid US, China sales (2019, January 11) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-gm-higher-profits-job-solid.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
This Jan. 4, 2018 photo made available by NASA shows a view from the front Hazard Avoidance Camera of the Opportunity rover on the inboard slope of the western rim of Endeavour Crater on the planet Mars. People also took to social media this year to say goodbye to the Mars Opportunity rover when NASA lost contact on June 10, 2018, with the 15-year-old robot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP, File) When a robot “dies,” does it make you sad? For lots of people, the answer is “yes”—and that tells us something important, and potentially worrisome, about our emotional responses to the social machines that are starting to move into our lives. What is the value of a robot life? For Christal White, a 42-year-old marketing and customer service director in Bedford, Texas, that moment came several months ago with the cute, friendly Jibo robot perched in her home office. After more than two years in her house, the foot-tall humanoid and its inviting, round screen “face” had started to grate on her. Sure, it danced and played fun word games with her kids, but it also sometimes interrupted her during conference calls.White and her husband Peter had already started talking about moving Jibo into the empty guest bedroom upstairs. Then they heard about the “death sentence” Jibo’s maker had levied on the product as its business collapsed. News arrived via Jibo itself, which said its servers would be shutting down, effectively lobotomizing it.”My heart broke,” she said. “It was like an annoying dog that you don’t really like because it’s your husband’s dog. But then you realize you actually loved it all along.”The Whites are far from the first to experience this feeling. People took to social media this year to say teary goodbyes to the Mars Opportunity rover when NASA lost contact with the 15-year-old robot. A few years ago, scads of concerned commenters weighed in on a demonstration video from robotics company Boston Dynamics in which employees kicked a dog-like robot to prove its stability. © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Smart robots like Jibo obviously aren’t alive, but that doesn’t stop us from acting as though they are. Research has shown that people have a tendency to project human traits onto robots, especially when they move or act in even vaguely human-like ways.Designers acknowledge that such traits can be powerful tools for both connection and manipulation. That could be an especially acute issue as robots move into our homes—particularly if, like so many other home devices, they also turn into conduits for data collected on their owners.”When we interact with another human, dog, or machine, how we treat it is influenced by what kind of mind we think it has,” said Jonathan Gratch, a professor at University of Southern California who studies virtual human interactions. “When you feel something has emotion, it now merits protection from harm.” The way robots are designed can influence the tendency people have to project narratives and feelings onto mechanical objects, said Julie Carpenter, a researcher who studies people’s interaction with new technologies. Especially if a robot has something resembling a face, its body resembles those of humans or animals, or just seems self-directed, like a Roomba robot vacuum.”Even if you know a robot has very little autonomy, when something moves in your space and it seems to have a sense of purpose, we associate that with something having an inner awareness or goals,” she said. In this Nov. 21, 2017, file photo Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and robotics researcher Cynthia Breazeal reaches to touch social robot Jibo at the company’s headquarters in Boston. When robots move like humans and talk like humans, even if only a little bit, it’s natural that we will treat them more like humans. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) Explore further Citation: Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’ (2019, April 26) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-wary-robot-emotions-simulated.html In this Nov. 21, 2017, file photo Becca Westelman, hands only, cleans the display on social robot Jibo at the company’s headquarters, in Boston. When a robot “dies,” does it make you sad? For lots of people, the answer is “yes”—and that tells us something important, and potentially worrisome, about our emotional responses to the social machines that are starting to move into our lives. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) Such design decisions are also practical, she said. Our homes are built for humans and pets, so robots that look and move like humans or pets will fit in more easily.Some researchers, however, worry that designers are underestimating the dangers associated with attachment to increasingly life-like robots.Longtime AI researcher and MIT professor Sherry Turkle, for instance, is concerned that design cues can trick us into thinking some robots are expressing emotion back toward us. Some AI systems already present as socially and emotionally aware, but those reactions are often scripted, making the machine seem “smarter” than it actually is.”The performance of empathy is not empathy,” she said. “Simulated thinking might be thinking, but simulated feeling is never feeling. Simulated love is never love.”Designers at robotic startups insist that humanizing elements are critical as robot use expands. “There is a need to appease the public, to show that you are not disruptive to the public culture,” said Gadi Amit, president of NewDealDesign in San Francisco. This July 26, 2004 file photo made available by NASA shows the shadow of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity as it traveled farther into Endurance Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. People took to social media this year to say goodbye to the Mars Opportunity rover when NASA lost contact on June 10, 2018, with the 15-year-old robot. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP, File) His agency recently worked on designing a new delivery robot for Postmates—a four-wheeled, bucket-shaped object with a cute, if abstract, face; rounded edges; and lights that indicate which way it’s going to turn.It’ll take time for humans and robots to establish a common language as they move throughout the world together, Amit said. But he expects it to happen in the next few decades.But what about robots that work with kids? In 2016, Dallas-based startup RoboKind introduced a robot called Milo designed specifically to help teach social behaviors to kids who have autism. The mechanism, which resembles a young boy, is now in about 400 schools and has worked with thousands of kids.It’s meant to connect emotionally with kids at a certain level, but RoboKind co-founder Richard Margolin says the company is sensitive to the concern that kids could get too attached to the robot, which features human-like speech and facial expressions.So RoboKind suggests limits in its curriculum, both to keep Milo interesting and to make sure kids are able to transfer those skills to real life. Kids are only recommended to meet with Milo three to five times a week for 30 minutes each time. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.