News in Brief
A new computer program works smarter, not harder, to solve problems faster than its predecessors.
The algorithm is designed to find the best solution to a given problem among all possible options. Whereas other computer programs winnow down the possibilities one at a time, the new program — presented July 12 at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm — rules out...
Reviews & Previews
Weird MathDavid Darling and Agnijo BanerjeeBasic Books, $27
Weird Math sets out to “reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” The book fulfills that laudable goal, in part. At times, teenage math prodigy Agnijo Banerjee and his tutor, science writer David Darling, find ways to make complex math relatable, like linking chaos theory to weather forecasting and...
Science & the Public
In courtrooms around the United States, computer programs give testimony that helps decide who gets locked up and who walks free.
These algorithms are criminal recidivism predictors, which use personal information about defendants — like family and employment history — to assess that person’s likelihood of committing future crimes. Judges factor those risk ratings into verdicts on...
Reviews & Previews
Machines That ThinkToby WalshPrometheus Books, $16
Movies and other media are full of mixed messages about the risks and rewards of building machines with minds of their own. For every manipulative automaton like Ex Machina’s Ava (SN: 5/16/15, p. 26), there’s a helpful Star Wars droid. And while some tech titans such as Elon Musk warn of the threats artificial intelligence presents...
Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?
Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.