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4.1: Can we build it?


When designing a large-scale system, many different fields of expertise are joined to work on a single project. Thus the whole project team is divided into multiple sub-teams, each of which is working on a sub-project. And we recurse downward: the sub-project is again factored into sub-sub-projects, each with their own team. One could refer to this sort of hierarchical design process as collaborative design, or co-design. In this chapter, we discuss a mathematical theory of co-design, due to Andrea Censi [Cen15].

Consider just one level of this hierarchy: a project and a set of teams working on it. Each team is supposed to provide resources—sometimes called “functionalities”—to the project, but the team also requires resources in order to do so. Different design teams must be allowed to plan and work independently from one another in order for progress to be made. Yet the design decisions made by one group affect the design decisions others can make: if A wants more space in order to provide a better radio speaker, then B must use less space. So these teams—though ostensibly working independently—are dependent on each other after all.

The combination of dependence and independence is crucial for progress to be made, and yet it can cause major problems. When a team requires more resources than it originally expected to require, or if it cannot provide the resources that it originally claimed it could provide, the usual response is for the team to issue a design-change notice. But these affect neighboring teams: if team A now requires more than originally claimed, team B may have to change their design, which can in turn affect team C. Thus these design-change notices can ripple through the system through feedback loops and can cause whole projects to fail [S+15].

As an example, consider the design problem of creating a robot to carry some load at some velocity. The top-level planner breaks the problem into three design teams: chassis team, motor team, and battery team. Each of these teams could break up into multiple parts and the process repeated, but let’s remain at the top level and consider the resources produced and the resources required by each of our three teams.

The chassis in some sense provides all the functionality it carries the load at the velocity—but it requires some things in order to do so. It requires money to build, of course, but more to the point it requires a source of torque and speed. These are supplied by the motor, which in turn needs voltage and current from the battery. Both the motor and the battery cost money, but more importantly they need to be carried by the chassis: they become part of the load. A feedback loop is created: the chassis must carry all the weight, even that of the parts that power the chassis. A heavier battery might provide more energy to power the chassis, but is the extra power worth the heavier load?

In the following picture, each part chassis, motor, battery, and robot is shown as a box with ports on the left and right. The functionalities, or resources produced by the part are shown as ports on the left of the box, and the resources required by the part are shown as ports on its right.

(4.1) The boxes marked (Sigma) correspond to summing inputs. These boxes are not to be designed, but we will see later that they fit easily into the same conceptual framework. Note also the ≤’s on each wire; they indicate that if box A requires a resource that box B produces, then A’s requirement must be less-than-or-equal-to B’s production. The

chassis requires torque, and the motor must produce at least that much torque.
To formalize this a bit more, let’s call diagrams like the one above co-design diagrams. Each of the wires in a co-design diagram represents a preorder of resources. For example, in Eq. (4.1) every wire corresponds to a resource type—weights, velocities, torques, speeds, costs, voltages, and currents—where resources of each type can be ordered from less useful to more useful.

In general, these preorders do not have to be linear orders, though in the above cases each will likely correspond to a linear order: $10 ≤ $20, 5W ≤ 6W, and so on.

Each of the boxes in a co-design diagram corresponds to what we call a feasibility relation. A feasibility relation matches resource production with requirements. For every pair (p, r) (in) P × R, where P is the preorder of resources to be produced and R is the preorder of resources to be required, the box says “true” or “false”—feasible or infeasible—for that pair. In other words, “yes I can provide p given r” or “no, I cannot provide p given r.”

Feasibility relations hence define a function Φ: P × R Bool. For a function Φ: P × R Bool to make sense as a feasibility relation, however, there are two conditions:

  1. If Φ(p,r) = true and p′ ≤ p, then Φ(p′,r) = true.
  2. If Φ(p,r) = true and r r′, then Φ (p,r′) = true.

These conditions, which we will see again in Definition 4.2, say that if you can produce p given resources r, you can (a) also produce less p′ ≤ p with the same resources r, and (b) also produce p given more resources r′ ≥ r.

We will see that these two conditions are formalized by requiring Φ to be a monotone map P(^{op}) × R Bool.

A co-design problem, represented by a co-design diagram, asks us to find the com- posite of some feasibility relations. It asks, for example, given these capabilities of the chassis, motor, and battery teams, can we build a robot together? Indeed, a co-design diagram factors a problem—for example, that of designing a robot—into intercon- nected subproblems, as in Eq. (4.1). Once the feasibility relation is worked out for each of the subproblems, i.e. the inner boxes in the diagram, the mathematics provides an algorithm producing the feasibility relation of the whole outer box. This process can be recursed downward, from the largest problem to tiny subproblems.

In this chapter, we will understand co-design problems in terms of enriched pro- functors, in particular Bool-profunctors. A Bool-profunctor is like a bridge connecting one preorder to another. We will show how the co-design framework gives rise to a structure known as a compact closed category, and that any compact closed category can interpret the sorts of wiring diagrams we see in Eq. (4.1).


What's The Tallest Thing We Could Ever Possibly Build?

Humans have been fascinated with stars for thousands of years, so it's no surprise that we keep wanting to make taller and taller buildings that stretch towards them.

There will eventually come a point where we can no longer build a taller building – but what is that point?

As the new video by RealLifeLore shows, it's probably taller than you think.

So let's start with what already exists. Your regular old one story house is probably around 4.5 metres (15 feet) high.

The tallest statue in the world is the Spring Temple Buddha is around 28 times that at 128 metres (420 feet) tall. Just to explain how big this thing is, if you jumped from its head, you'd be looking at a 5.5 second delay before you hit the ground.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is slightly taller than this at 146 metres (480 feet). Not too shabby for a building that's over 4,500 years old.

Incredibly, this huge pyramid was the tallest thing humans had ever built for 3,881 years.

Beating that out by just a dozen or so metres was the Lincoln Cathedral – built in 1311 in England.

At 160 metres (524 feet) it was the tallest building until 1884, when the Washington Monument was built. At 169 metres (555 feet), this huge structure was only the tallest for a short period of time.

We'll let the video explain all that – but what about the interesting bit? What's the tallest thing humans could ever build?

Well, the current tallest building is the Burj Khalifa at a remarkable 830 metres (2,722 feet). This building dwarfs everything built before it. It would take you a massive 20 seconds to fall from the top of the building to the ground.

But that's not the limit – hypothetically we can go much taller.

In theory, there really isn't a maximum height, however, you would need to keep expanding the base to support the weight on the lofty top of the structure.

But logically, because Earth is a sphere, this obviously doesn't work in real life.

With the technology we have right now, the tallest structure we could possibly build is the X-Seed 4000 – this building hasn't been built yet, but the blueprints have been completed.

This mammoth structure would be 4 kilometres (2.4 miles) tall. We're talking the same size as Mt Fuji in Japan. But if you think this structure would be relatively easy to build, think again.

The base of this structure would have to be 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) across, and would disrupt weather patterns around wherever it was built.

This thing is basically a giant artificial mountain that could house close to a million people. But unfortunately this thing comes with a pretty hefty price tag – up to US$1.4 trillion.

But what about even bigger hypothetical structures? Watch the video to find out.


‘If you can dream it, we can build it’: Patriot Pools makes a splash in St. George

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — A swimming pool is the centerpiece of any backyard and is always a significant investment. Patriot Pools offers homeowners the opportunity to enjoy a custom, premium pool without the premium price.

Patriot Pools backyard in progress, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Patriot Pools, St. George News

Patriot Pools installs steel and concrete vinyl-lined pools in a variety of shapes and sizes, along with unique backyard designs.

“If you can dream it, we can build it,” owner Shane Rappleye said.

Rappleye has spent over 30 years in the construction industry and owned several vinyl-lined pools himself. When he sold his business in Davis County and moved his family to St. George, he decided to start Patriot Pools to fulfill a need among homeowners in the community.

“A lot of people would love a pool, but they can’t afford $80,000,” he said. “There’s a whole other group of customers out there that aren’t being served.”

Patriot Pools takes care of everything from start to finish: design, excavation, concrete pouring, plumbing, landscaping and finishing work. Rappleye said eliminating subcontractors saves the customer time and money, and because vinyl-lined pools are considerably less expensive than other materials, they can often renovate their entire backyard with the savings, creating a space they’ll enjoy for years to come.

Patriot Pools completed backyard project, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Patriot Pools, St. George News

“They love that their whole backyard is going to be finished when we’re done,” he added.

One of their current clients, Dr. Ward Wagner, vouched not only for the add-ons to the backyard environment — Wagner’s 40-by-18 foot pool will include water features, as well as fire bowls and a jumping wall – but also the general quality of work and experience that comes with a Patriot Pools project.

“I am so glad that I chose Shane and his team at Patriot Pools to build our dream swimming pool!” Ward said. “The work is progressing well and at a great pace. What I have appreciated most is the speed with which they work and their attention to detail. Shane listens to what we are wanting and is awesome in assigning a clear vision to what we are looking for. His ideas and vision helped streamline the process, and his ability to communicate expectations is fantastic.”

Most pools in Southern Utah use a rebar framework covered with a concrete and sand mixture called gunite. Rappleye said that gunite – while aesthetically pleasing and fairly durable – is nevertheless susceptible to the effects of blue clay, the expansive soil that creates a headache for many local homeowners.

Patriot Pools installs a concrete bottom surrounded by 14-gauge steel walls with a vinyl liner on the inside. Even if the soil in a customer’s backyard moves significantly, the flexible vinyl will stretch to accommodate the shifting.

Additionally, the pool is surrounded by a concrete collar for extra durability. Rappleye said the collar is 8 inches thick by 24 inches wide and is a footing to prevent the pool from shifting or moving .

“In my neighborhood alone, there are three pools that have all cracked, some so badly the water has leaked under their house,” he said. “Vinyl won’t do that.”

Vinyl liners are built to last, and the products used by Patriot Pools offer either a 15- or 20-year warranty. Plus, the smooth bottom is gentle on foot skin, which Rappleye said is good news for kids who spend hours in the pool. Additionally, Rappleye said customers who invest in a heater can usually extend their swimming season to eight or nine months.

Patriot Pools work vehicle, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Patriot Pools, St. George News

Patriot Pools provides free estimates. Every backyard is different, so Rappleye meets with customers to determine where the pool will fit, review landscaping options and give an approximate price for the entire package. Some homeowners choose to add the soothing ambience of a waterfall or an automatic pool cover for safety and to save money on cleaning and heating.

Rappleye and his crew spend virtually every day on the job until it’s done. He’s also looking to grow the Patriot Pools team as customer demand ramps up, and he is inviting reliable, detail-oriented workers to reach out.

A pool and backyard from Patriot Pools adds an element of luxury to any home. Every customer’s dreamscape is unique, and Rappleye is committed to bringing their vision to life.

“The yards we design are very custom. It’s not going to look the same as the yard next door,” he said. “It’s really fun for me to sit down with the customer and find out what their dreams are and maybe add a little twist to it.”

To schedule a free estimate, call 435-669-4183 or visit the Patriot Pools website .


4.1: Can we build it?

I'm going to talk about a failure of intuition that many of us suffer from. It's really a failure to detect a certain kind of danger. I'm going to describe a scenario that I think is both terrifying and likely to occur, and that's not a good combination, as it turns out. And yet rather than be scared, most of you will feel that what I'm talking about is kind of cool.

I'm going to describe how the gains we make in artificial intelligence could ultimately destroy us. And in fact, I think it's very difficult to see how they won't destroy us or inspire us to destroy ourselves. And yet if you're anything like me, you'll find that it's fun to think about these things. And that response is part of the problem. OK? That response should worry you. And if I were to convince you in this talk that we were likely to suffer a global famine, either because of climate change or some other catastrophe, and that your grandchildren, or their grandchildren, are very likely to live like this, you wouldn't think, "Interesting. I like this TED Talk."

Famine isn't fun. Death by science fiction, on the other hand, is fun, and one of the things that worries me most about the development of AI at this point is that we seem unable to marshal an appropriate emotional response to the dangers that lie ahead. I am unable to marshal this response, and I'm giving this talk.

It's as though we stand before two doors. Behind door number one, we stop making progress in building intelligent machines. Our computer hardware and software just stops getting better for some reason. Now take a moment to consider why this might happen. I mean, given how valuable intelligence and automation are, we will continue to improve our technology if we are at all able to. What could stop us from doing this? A full-scale nuclear war? A global pandemic? An asteroid impact? Justin Bieber becoming president of the United States?

The point is, something would have to destroy civilization as we know it. You have to imagine how bad it would have to be to prevent us from making improvements in our technology permanently, generation after generation. Almost by definition, this is the worst thing that's ever happened in human history.

So the only alternative, and this is what lies behind door number two, is that we continue to improve our intelligent machines year after year after year. At a certain point, we will build machines that are smarter than we are, and once we have machines that are smarter than we are, they will begin to improve themselves. And then we risk what the mathematician IJ Good called an "intelligence explosion," that the process could get away from us.

Now, this is often caricatured, as I have here, as a fear that armies of malicious robots will attack us. But that isn't the most likely scenario. It's not that our machines will become spontaneously malevolent. The concern is really that we will build machines that are so much more competent than we are that the slightest divergence between their goals and our own could destroy us.

Just think about how we relate to ants. We don't hate them. We don't go out of our way to harm them. In fact, sometimes we take pains not to harm them. We step over them on the sidewalk. But whenever their presence seriously conflicts with one of our goals, let's say when constructing a building like this one, we annihilate them without a qualm. The concern is that we will one day build machines that, whether they're conscious or not, could treat us with similar disregard.

Now, I suspect this seems far-fetched to many of you. I bet there are those of you who doubt that superintelligent AI is possible, much less inevitable. But then you must find something wrong with one of the following assumptions. And there are only three of them.

Intelligence is a matter of information processing in physical systems. Actually, this is a little bit more than an assumption. We have already built narrow intelligence into our machines, and many of these machines perform at a level of superhuman intelligence already. And we know that mere matter can give rise to what is called "general intelligence," an ability to think flexibly across multiple domains, because our brains have managed it. Right? I mean, there's just atoms in here, and as long as we continue to build systems of atoms that display more and more intelligent behavior, we will eventually, unless we are interrupted, we will eventually build general intelligence into our machines.

It's crucial to realize that the rate of progress doesn't matter, because any progress is enough to get us into the end zone. We don't need Moore's law to continue. We don't need exponential progress. We just need to keep going.

The second assumption is that we will keep going. We will continue to improve our intelligent machines. And given the value of intelligence — I mean, intelligence is either the source of everything we value or we need it to safeguard everything we value. It is our most valuable resource. So we want to do this. We have problems that we desperately need to solve. We want to cure diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer. We want to understand economic systems. We want to improve our climate science. So we will do this, if we can. The train is already out of the station, and there's no brake to pull.

Finally, we don't stand on a peak of intelligence, or anywhere near it, likely. And this really is the crucial insight. This is what makes our situation so precarious, and this is what makes our intuitions about risk so unreliable.

Now, just consider the smartest person who has ever lived. On almost everyone's shortlist here is John von Neumann. I mean, the impression that von Neumann made on the people around him, and this included the greatest mathematicians and physicists of his time, is fairly well-documented. If only half the stories about him are half true, there's no question he's one of the smartest people who has ever lived. So consider the spectrum of intelligence. Here we have John von Neumann. And then we have you and me. And then we have a chicken.

There's no reason for me to make this talk more depressing than it needs to be.

It seems overwhelmingly likely, however, that the spectrum of intelligence extends much further than we currently conceive, and if we build machines that are more intelligent than we are, they will very likely explore this spectrum in ways that we can't imagine, and exceed us in ways that we can't imagine.

And it's important to recognize that this is true by virtue of speed alone. Right? So imagine if we just built a superintelligent AI that was no smarter than your average team of researchers at Stanford or MIT. Well, electronic circuits function about a million times faster than biochemical ones, so this machine should think about a million times faster than the minds that built it. So you set it running for a week, and it will perform 20,000 years of human-level intellectual work, week after week after week. How could we even understand, much less constrain, a mind making this sort of progress?

The other thing that's worrying, frankly, is that, imagine the best case scenario. So imagine we hit upon a design of superintelligent AI that has no safety concerns. We have the perfect design the first time around. It's as though we've been handed an oracle that behaves exactly as intended. Well, this machine would be the perfect labor-saving device. It can design the machine that can build the machine that can do any physical work, powered by sunlight, more or less for the cost of raw materials. So we're talking about the end of human drudgery. We're also talking about the end of most intellectual work.

So what would apes like ourselves do in this circumstance? Well, we'd be free to play Frisbee and give each other massages. Add some LSD and some questionable wardrobe choices, and the whole world could be like Burning Man.

Now, that might sound pretty good, but ask yourself what would happen under our current economic and political order? It seems likely that we would witness a level of wealth inequality and unemployment that we have never seen before. Absent a willingness to immediately put this new wealth to the service of all humanity, a few trillionaires could grace the covers of our business magazines while the rest of the world would be free to starve.

And what would the Russians or the Chinese do if they heard that some company in Silicon Valley was about to deploy a superintelligent AI? This machine would be capable of waging war, whether terrestrial or cyber, with unprecedented power. This is a winner-take-all scenario. To be six months ahead of the competition here is to be 500,000 years ahead, at a minimum. So it seems that even mere rumors of this kind of breakthrough could cause our species to go berserk.

Now, one of the most frightening things, in my view, at this moment, are the kinds of things that AI researchers say when they want to be reassuring. And the most common reason we're told not to worry is time. This is all a long way off, don't you know. This is probably 50 or 100 years away. One researcher has said, "Worrying about AI safety is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars." This is the Silicon Valley version of "don't worry your pretty little head about it."

No one seems to notice that referencing the time horizon is a total non sequitur. If intelligence is just a matter of information processing, and we continue to improve our machines, we will produce some form of superintelligence. And we have no idea how long it will take us to create the conditions to do that safely. Let me say that again. We have no idea how long it will take us to create the conditions to do that safely.

And if you haven't noticed, 50 years is not what it used to be. This is 50 years in months. This is how long we've had the iPhone. This is how long "The Simpsons" has been on television. Fifty years is not that much time to meet one of the greatest challenges our species will ever face. Once again, we seem to be failing to have an appropriate emotional response to what we have every reason to believe is coming.

The computer scientist Stuart Russell has a nice analogy here. He said, imagine that we received a message from an alien civilization, which read: "People of Earth, we will arrive on your planet in 50 years. Get ready." And now we're just counting down the months until the mothership lands? We would feel a little more urgency than we do.

Another reason we're told not to worry is that these machines can't help but share our values because they will be literally extensions of ourselves. They'll be grafted onto our brains, and we'll essentially become their limbic systems. Now take a moment to consider that the safest and only prudent path forward, recommended, is to implant this technology directly into our brains. Now, this may in fact be the safest and only prudent path forward, but usually one's safety concerns about a technology have to be pretty much worked out before you stick it inside your head.

The deeper problem is that building superintelligent AI on its own seems likely to be easier than building superintelligent AI and having the completed neuroscience that allows us to seamlessly integrate our minds with it. And given that the companies and governments doing this work are likely to perceive themselves as being in a race against all others, given that to win this race is to win the world, provided you don't destroy it in the next moment, then it seems likely that whatever is easier to do will get done first.

Now, unfortunately, I don't have a solution to this problem, apart from recommending that more of us think about it. I think we need something like a Manhattan Project on the topic of artificial intelligence. Not to build it, because I think we'll inevitably do that, but to understand how to avoid an arms race and to build it in a way that is aligned with our interests. When you're talking about superintelligent AI that can make changes to itself, it seems that we only have one chance to get the initial conditions right, and even then we will need to absorb the economic and political consequences of getting them right.

But the moment we admit that information processing is the source of intelligence, that some appropriate computational system is what the basis of intelligence is, and we admit that we will improve these systems continuously, and we admit that the horizon of cognition very likely far exceeds what we currently know, then we have to admit that we are in the process of building some sort of god. Now would be a good time to make sure it's a god we can live with.


Growth through adversity

Growth through adversity does not mean that people should be grateful to have been through trauma, Zaki emphasizes. Rather, the difficulty and pain that people experience can be an opportunity to reaffirm core values and beliefs.

“If a building is toppled by an earthquake, we probably wouldn’t reconstruct exactly what was there before,” said Zaki. “We build back better.”

For Zaki, one way to recover stronger is to build upon all the empathy that the pandemic unearthed.

For over 15 years, Zaki has studied how to cultivate empathy, which he defines in his book, The War for Kindness, as people’s ability to share, think, and care about each other’s feelings. Empathy is not a fixed trait, he says, but is more like a skill that can grow and expand through experience.

Disaster is one place where compassion and care emerge, according to research by Zaki and others.

“As Rebecca Solnit and others have shown, after disasters, people band together, finding ways to help and comfort strangers. Suffering together, they develop a sense of shared identity, purpose, and solidarity,” Zaki said.

Like other disasters—such as tsunamis and earthquakes, war and terror attacks—the COVID-19 crisis has repeatedly shown that amidst immense hardship, pain, and suffering, there has been incredible kindness.

“During disasters, people realize how much they need each other and want to help one another,” said Zaki.

Cultivating growth through adversity

Cultivating growth through adversity is about establishing new habits of mind. Rather than large, grandiose gestures, habits of mind entail the smaller, everyday actions that, in sum, can lead to a happier, more connected life over time. Zaki suggests incorporating these five practices into our daily routines:

1. Pause before judging people who are different from yourself. Rather than focusing only on opinions or actions you disagree with, try to be curious about other people’s stories, and ways in which their experiences might not be so different from your own.

2. Ask more questions. We often “perspective take”: thinking about how we’d feel in someone else’s situation. This is well intentioned, but can often lead us astray when we assume their reactions would look like ours. Instead of imagining our way to empathy, Zaki suggests trying “perspective getting”: directly asking others what they’re going through.

3. Build kindness into your routine. Each day or week, make sure to spend either time, energy, or possibly a little money on somebody else. It could be something as simple as buying a person coffee or lunch (remote, for now), helping them with an errand, or just listening.

4. Harness technology for good. For example, reach out to a friend on social media you see or know is struggling and message them to check in and see if they are OK.

5. Remember that kindness starts at home. When you are struggling, show yourself grace and self-compassion, and consider opening up to others. Vulnerability can feel difficult, but it can also make room to connect with others over shared suffering in difficult times.

For example, Zaki points to how people created “mutual aid” groups through localized online spreadsheets to help their immunocompromised, elderly, or otherwise vulnerable neighbors.

Even our adherence to crucial public health measures can express compassion. For instance, people were more willing to wear masks or practice distancing when the actions were framed as a way to protect others rather than themselves, according to one study that Zaki presented in a paper he published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Another example is the massive, collective effort that was required to train people to keep their distance from one another. “Social distancing is probably the largest global act of cooperation in human history,” Zaki said.

Zaki describes the goodwill and altruism that arise out of disaster as “catastrophe compassion.”

“Catastrophe compassion presents people with a view of ourselves that might surprise us—driven by ‘otherishness’ rather than by selfishness during crucially important moments,” he wrote.

But as Zaki points out, after a disaster occurs and people return to their everyday lives, they tend to forget about the community they cared for.

Instead of empathy disappearing as we return to normal life, can it define a new normal?

“One way to honor and extend this positive behavior is to not be surprised by it any longer, but instead to realize that prosociality is common and thus to expect—and demand—it from others and from ourselves,” Zaki added.

In a post-COVID-19 world, that might mean making community service routine. It might involve connecting with estranged family members, switching careers to a more fulfilling job, or working from home more to spend time with family. It could also be something as simple as remembering all the acts of kindness that unfolded over the past year and reflecting on what they reveal about our society.


Search and rescue on pause at partially collapsed condo as crews prepare to demolish remaining structure

Officials say they have paused search and rescue efforts at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South
condominium as they prepare to demolish the remaining structure.

Crews responding to the incident in Surfside, Florida were worried about safety as Tropical Storm Elsa was forecasted to approach the state, possibly dealing a blow to rescue efforts.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Saturday "it is all of our fervent desire" that the demolition can be done safely before the storm so that officials can direct the demolition. She said later in the day that engineers were hopeful they could complete the demolition before the storm, but that no exact time frame had been set.

A contract for demolition to begin has been signed, Levine Cava said.

The demolition "would be one that would protect and preserve evidence and allow the maximum search and rescue activity to continue," she said. "We're doing everything we can to move forward with demolition as soon as we have a final path to do so."

The Surfside mayor said the fear is Elsa could bring the building down, "and take it down in the wrong direction, on top of the pile where we have victims." It could come down as early as Sunday, said Mayor Charles Burkett.

"If the building is taken down this will protect our search and rescue teams, because we don't know when it could fall over, and of course with these gusts potentially, that would create a really severe hazard," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida Building Collapse

"Once everything is ready to go" the building can be brought down within 36 hours, DeSantis said, adding that the state will pay for all costs associated with the demolition.

"Taking the building down given the fact that the storm is coming and given the fact that you are going to have to do this anyways is the prudent thing to do, and I think it will lead to the course of action that most minimally disrupts the rescue efforts," he said.

Elsa, which is now a tropical storm, is expected to start impacting southern Florida on Monday, then other parts of the state on Tuesday. Its track, however, remains uncertain. As of Saturday, it appeared the eye of the storm could be on the west side of Florida, with gusts possibly being felt in the Surfside area, which is just north of Miami Beach, Florida.

Officials said Saturday that the confirmed death toll remained at 24 &mdash 23 of whom had been identified &mdash while 121 people were still unaccounted for.


4.1: Can we build it?

The first million Sinopharm vaccine doses reached Thailand on two Thai Airways International flights from Beijing on Sunday. Chulabhorn Royal Academy

By Oct 15, Buddha willing, Thailand will be ready to welcome visitors from abroad including domestic travellers. Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha bet his political career and reputation on a pledge that Thailand will be back in business once again in four months' time.

His feelings were based on two main trajectories, first of all, the government's growing confidence that vaccine procurement for the rest of the year has been secured. After several weeks of double-speak by concerned officials from ministries and agencies about the supply and demand of vaccines for the Thai people, Gen Prayut has been assured by vaccine suppliers, especially Siam Bioscience and China, that they will be able to deliver the vaccines as demanded.

Secondly, Gen Prayut has finally realised that now it is time to abandon the cautious approach that has been the modus operandi since the pandemic started last January. His government was obsessed with stringent measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus from the beginning. At the time, Gen Prayut's concern was to save lives even with an unpredictable economic toll.

After the passage of the budget bill, Gen Prayut's position within the coalition was boosted further and the government became emboldened. Taking advantage of the shifting political dynamic, despite the number of daily infections still averaging 2,500-plus in the past several weeks, he decided to open up the country. As of yesterday, the number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 221,306, health authorities reported, with 29 more Covid-19 fatalities registered, and another 3,175 infections diagnosed.

With a stronger ethos, the prime minister was willing to take calculated risks by balancing public health safety against economic survivability -- something that he should do. Yet, the stakes are high. If he fails for whatever reason, his political career could be over as there would be no more excuses. Most importantly, nobody else would take the blame.

Gen Prayut also hopes that by mid-October, the majority of Thais will already be inoculated, with at least 50 million of the 70 million population vaccinated. For the first time, he revealed that the country has reserved supply contracts for 105.5 million doses to be delivered by the end of this year. They are from six companies, namely Sinovac, Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

In his national address, he was succinct in reiterating that Thailand must become self-reliant in vaccine security. That helps explain why Thailand is strengthening its capacity to produce local brands. At the moment, Siam Bioscience, a local authorised pharmaceutical manufacturer, is one of two dozen companies around the world licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine. Local labs and Thai scientists are also working diligently to produce vaccines. If everything goes as planned, Chulalongkorn University's mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, known as ChulalongkornCov19, could be produced by December or the first quarter of next year. The human trials are moving toward Phase 2.

However, in order to have the 120-day pledge materialise, the government must tackle its two major weakest links -- mediocre public communication strategies and distribution of vaccine. After all these years, the Prayut government still needs a good team of public communicators to inculcate people's confidence in the government's vaccine security and healthcare schemes.

Strange as it may seem, today there are nearly two-dozen self so-called spokespersons of various capacity and intellect who comment or give press conferences regularly on the state of Thai public health and the availability of vaccines as well as their side effects.

Since last March, Dr. Taweesilp Visanu-­ yothin, the key spokesperson of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has been doing a good job in updating the virus situation without any partisanship. Then, toward the end of last year, elected politicians also wanted their share of public exposure to claim credits for the job well done in mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Suddenly, party politics reigned in and interfered with the dissemination of important public health related information and campaigns, especially the schedule of vaccine shipments, distribution and inoculation. The biggest spoiler has been Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, who constantly made speculative comments without accurate information. Throughout the pandemic, he repeatedly made pompous remarks making a mockery of himself and his team.

To make a bad situation worse, several pseudo spokespersons have emerged to compete with Dr Taweesilp. These official commentators are mainly from the Public Health Ministry's various departments. Since mid-April, quite a few well-known retired doctors have also also been airing their views regularly on the virus and vaccines in a private capacity. Many of their comments have gone viral on social media and regardless of their good intentions, all the views by active and retired doctors, especially on possible side-effects, have transpired into unnecessary public anxiety, collective hysteria, contributing endlessly to the rumour mill, self-fulfilling prophecies or even conspiracy theories.

The prime minister must urgently and personally take care of the overall communication strategy on public health among ministries concerned. Harmonisation of data and information by the CCSA must fight back against fake news, rumours or even politically motivated comments.

Finally, agencies concerned must make sure that all provinces and assigned medical centres get their vaccines as required on time.

Frequently asked questions these days have been zeroed in on the murky vaccine distribution. Nobody knows why certain hospitals and medical institutions or provinces can get their vaccines much earlier. For instance, vaccine deliveries to various hospitals run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) are slower than those run by the Public Health Ministry.

At the provincial level, Buri Ram and Lampang provinces are the two provinces that got all their vaccines faster than the other 75 provinces. Some political pundits have pointed out that Buri Ram -- a province with a low infection rate, is a strong political base of the Bhumjaithai Party, which controls the Ministry of Public Health. Under the Buriram Healthy Vaccine Model, residents receiving two jabs get an identification card which allows them to travel anywhere in Thailand. By Oct 1, ahead of the national timeline, Buri Ram hopes to be the first to open.

In contrast, the case of Lampang is even more intriguing, thanks to the leadership of its governor, Narongsak Osottanakorn. He is the well-known figure behind the 2018 rescue operation of "Moo Pah", the young "Wild Boar" football team trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai where he previously served. In a good way, the governor has been able to get the public engaged and educated about vaccines and side effects. As it turned out, Lampang has the highest number of vaccinated people while other provinces have not yet even started.

For Thailand to build back better, the public and the Prayut government must be on the same page on Covid protection and vaccination campaigns. Without timely and transparent information on vaccination and other anti-pandemic and economic recovery programmes, the 120-day promise could effectively end his dream of becoming the country's longest-serving prime minister after the late Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.

Kavi Chongkittavorn is a veteran journalist on regional affairs.


Recruitment Strategy

Although it might seem easy, recruitment of the right talent, at the right place and at the right time, takes skill and practice, but more importantly, it takes strategic planning. In Chapter 2 “Developing and Implementing Strategic HRM Plans”, development of staffing plans is discussed. An understanding of the labor market and the factors determining the relevant aspects of the labor market is key to being strategic about your recruiting processes.

Based on this information, when a job opening occurs, the HRM professional should be ready to fill that position. Here are the aspects of developing a recruitment strategy:

  1. Refer to a staffing plan. This is discussed in Chapter 2 “Developing and Implementing Strategic HRM Plans”.
  2. Confirm the job analysis is correct through questionnaires.
  3. Write the job description and job specifications.
  4. Have a bidding system to recruit and review internal candidate qualifications for possible promotions.
  5. Determine the best recruitment strategies for the position.
  6. Implement a recruiting strategy.

The first step in the recruitment process is acknowledgment of a job opening. At this time, the manager and/or the HRM look at the job description for the job opening (assuming it isn’t a new job). We discuss how to write a job analysis and job description in Section 4.1.2 “Job Analysis and Job Descriptions”.

Assuming the job analysis and job description are ready, an organization may decide to look at internal candidates’ qualifications first. Internal candidates are people who are already working for the company. If an internal candidate meets the qualifications, this person might be encouraged to apply for the job, and the job opening may not be published. Many organizations have formal job posting procedures and bidding systems in place for internal candidates. For example, job postings may be sent to a listserv or other avenue so all employees have access to them. However, the advantage of publishing open positions to everyone in and outside the company is to ensure the organization is diverse. Diversity is discussed in Chapter 3 “Diversity and Multiculturalism”. We discuss more about internal and external candidates and bidding systems in Chapter 5 “Selection”.

Then the best recruiting strategies for the type of position are determined. For example, for a high-level executive position, it may be decided to hire an outside head-hunting firm. For an entry-level position, advertising on social networking websites might be the best strategy. Most organizations will use a variety of methods to obtain the best results. We discuss specific strategies in Section 4.3 “Recruitment Strategies”.

Another consideration is how the recruiting process will be managed under constraining circumstances such as a short deadline or a low number of applications. In addition, establishing a protocol for how applications and résumés will be processed will save time later. For example, some HRM professionals may use software such as Microsoft Excel to communicate the time line of the hiring process to key managers.

Once these tasks are accomplished, the hope is that you will have a diverse group of people to interview (called the selection process). Before this is done, though, it is important to have information to ensure the right people are recruited. This is where the job analysis and job description come in. We discuss this in Section 4.1.2 “Job Analysis and Job Descriptions”.


Why we can’t build our way out of this hot housing market

During the previous economic expansion from 2008 to 2019, the housing market was subject to the constant refrain of build more homes. Building more homes, it was said, would solve all sorts of social problems, from making homeownership more affordable to ending homelessness.

Today we are perhaps less prone to believing that a glut of new homes is the panacea society is waiting for, but the siren call to build more homes continues to be broadcast by a host of housing pundits and social do-gooders.

The problem with this scenario is that social do-gooders don’t build homes builders build houses, and they build homes for money, not to cure societal ills.

The previous economic expansion from 2008 to 2019 was the weakest housing recovery ever. Why? Because that period followed a housing boom and bust when inventory was overbuilt. We first had to whittle down the excess inventory and get our financial house in order (i.e., make corrections to the misguided lending standards) to have a stable, growing housing market once again — and this took time. Not to mention, demographics were more favorable for renting during some of those years.

Because we were in recovery mode from this drag on our growth, I often said that housing starts wouldn’t start a year at 1.5 million until 2020-2024. We still have not seen housing starts begin the year at the level. We ended 2020 with just 1,380,000 starts. Even in the years 2020 to 2024, however, which are very favorable for housing, I don’t see a credit sales boom or construction boom brewing in the current data — nor do I expect to see either of these shortly.


Chapter 4: Decision Trees Algorithms

Decision tree is one of the most popular machine learning algorithms used all along, This story I wanna talk about it so let’s get started.

Decision trees are used for both classification and regression problems, this story we talk about classification.

Before we dive into it , let me ask you this

We have couple of other algorithms there, so why do we have to choose Decision trees??

well, there might be many reasons but I believe a few which are

  1. Decision tress often mimic the human level thinking so its so simple to understand the data and make some good interpretations.
  2. Decision trees actually make you see the logic for the data to interpret(not like black box algorithms like SVM,NN,etc..)

For example : if we are classifying bank loan application for a customer, the decision tree may look like this

Here we can see the logic how it is making the decision.

So what is the decision tree??

A decision tree is a tree where each node represents a feature(attribute), each link(branch) represents a decision(rule) and each leaf represents an outcome(categorical or continues value).

The whole idea is to create a tree like this for the entire data and process a single outcome at every leaf(or minimize the error in every leaf).

There are couple of algorithms there to build a decision tree , we only talk about a few which are

  1. CART (Classification and Regression Trees) → uses Gini Index(Classification) as metric.
  2. ID3 (Iterative Dichotomiser 3) → uses Entropy functionand Information gain as metrics.

Lets just first build decision tree for classification problem using above algorithms,

Classification with using the ID3 algorithm.

Let’s just take a famous dataset in the machine learning world which is weather dataset(playing game Y or N based on weather condition).

We have four X values (outlook,temp,humidity and windy) being categorical and one y value (play Y or N) also being categorical.

so we need to learn the mapping (what machine learning always does) between X and y.

This is a binary classification problem, lets build the tree using the ID3 algorithm

To create a tree, we need to have a root node first and we know that nodes are features/attributes(outlook,temp,humidity and windy),

so which one do we need to pick first??

Answer: determine the attribute that best classifies the training data use this attribute at the root of the tree. Repeat this process at for each branch.

This means we are performing top-down, greedy search through the space of possible decision trees.

okay so how do we choose the best attribute?

Answer: use the attribute with the highest information gainin ID3

In order to define information gain precisely, we begin by defining a measure commonly used in information theory, called entropythat characterizes the (im)purity of an arbitrary collection of examples.”

For a binary classification problem

  • If all examples are positive or all are negative then entropy will be zeroi.e, low.
  • If half of the examples are of positive class and half are of negative class then entropy is one i.e, high.

Okay lets apply these metrics to our dataset to split the data(getting the root node)

Okay I got it , if it does not make sense to you , let me make it sense to you.

Compute the entropy for the weather data set:

For every feature calculate the entropy and information gain

Similarity we can calculate for other two attributes(Humidity and Temp).

Pick the highest gain attribute.

So our root node is Outlook.

Repeat the same thing for sub-trees till we get the tree.

Finally we get the tree something like his.

Classification with using the CART algorithm.

In CART we use Gini index as a metric,

We use the Gini Index as our cost function used to evaluate splits in the dataset.

our target variable is Binary variable which means it take two values (Yes and No). There can be 4 combinations.

Gini Index for Binary Target variable is

A Gini score gives an idea of how good a split is by how mixed the classes are in the two groups created by the split. A perfect separation results in a Gini score of 0, whereas the worst case split that results in 50/50 classes.

We calculate it for every row and split the data accordingly in our binary tree. We repeat this process recursively.

For Binary Target variable, Max Gini Index value

Similarly if Target Variable is categorical variable with multiple levels, the Gini Index will be still similar. If Target variable takes k different values, the Gini Index will be

Maximum value of Gini Index could be when all target values are equally distributed.

Similarly for Nominal variable with k level, the maximum value Gini Index is

Minimum value of Gini Index will be 0 when all observations belong to one label.

The calculations are similar to ID3 ,except the formula changes.

for example :compute gini index for dataset

similarly we can follow other steps to build the tree

That’s it for this story. hope you enjoyed and learned something.

Let me know your thoughts/suggestions/questions.

we just talked the first half of Decision trees , we can talk about the other half later (some statistical notations,theories and algorithms)

In the next story we will code this algorithm from scratch (without using any ML libraries).

The images I borrowed from a pdf book which I am not sure and don’t have link to add it. Let me know if anyone finds the abouve diagrams in a pdf book so I can link it.


4.1 The Importance of Socialization

We have just noted that socialization is how culture is learned, but socialization is also important for another important reason. To illustrate this importance, let’s pretend we find a 6-year-old child who has had almost no human contact since birth. After the child was born, her mother changed her diapers and fed her a minimal diet but otherwise did not interact with her. The child was left alone all day and night for years and never went outside. We now find her at the age of 6. How will her behavior and actions differ from those of the average 6-year-old? Take a moment and write down all the differences you would find.

In no particular order, here is the list you probably wrote. First, the child would not be able to speak at most, she could utter a few grunts and other sounds. Second, the child would be afraid of us and probably cower in a corner. Third, the child would not know how to play games and interact with us. If we gave her some food and utensils, she would eat with her hands and not know how to use the utensils. Fourth, the child would be unable to express a full range of emotions. For example, she might be able to cry but would not know how to laugh. Fifth, the child would be unfamiliar with, and probably afraid of, our culture’s material objects, including cell phones and televisions. In these and many other respects, this child would differ dramatically from the average 6-year-old youngster in the United States. She would look human, but she would not act human. In fact, in many ways she would act more like a frightened animal than like a young human being, and she would be less able than a typical dog to follow orders and obey commands.

As this example indicates, socialization makes it possible for us to fully function as human beings. Without socialization, we could not have our society and culture. And without social interaction, we could not have socialization. Our example of a socially isolated child was hypothetical, but real-life examples of such children, often called feral children, have unfortunately occurred and provide poignant proof of the importance of social interaction for socialization and of socialization for our ability to function as humans.

One of the most famous feral children was Victor of Aveyron, who was found wandering in the woods in southern France in 1797. He then escaped custody but emerged from the woods in 1800. Victor was thought to be about age 12 and to have been abandoned some years earlier by his parents he was unable to speak and acted much more like a wild animal than a human child. Victor first lived in an institution and then in a private home. He never learned to speak, and his cognitive and social development eventually was no better than a toddler’s when he finally died at about age 40 (Lane, 1976).

In rare cases, children have grown up in extreme isolation and end up lacking several qualities that make them fully human. This is a photo of Victor of Aveyron, who emerged from the woods in southern France in 1800 after apparently being abandoned by his parents some years earlier. He could not speak, and his cognitive and social skills never advanced beyond those of a small child before he died at the age of 40.

Another such child, found more than about a half-century ago, was called Anna, who “had been deprived of normal contact and had received a minimum of human care for almost the whole of her first six years of life” (Davis, 1940, p. 554). After being shuttled from one residence to another for her first 5 months, Anna ended up living with her mother in her grandfather’s house and was kept in a small, airless room on the second floor because the grandfather was so dismayed by her birth out of wedlock that he hated seeing her. Because her mother worked all day and would go out at night, Anna was alone almost all the time and lived in filth, often barely alive. Her only food in all those years was milk.

When Anna was found at the age of 6, she could not talk or walk or “do anything that showed intelligence” (Davis, 1940, p. 554). She was also extremely undernourished and emaciated. Two years later, she had learned to walk, understand simple commands, feed herself, and remember faces, but she could not talk and in these respects resembled a 1-year-old infant more than the 7-year-old child she really was. By the time she died of jaundice at about age 9, she had acquired the speech of a 2-year-old.

Shortly after Anna was discovered, another girl, called Isabelle, was found in similar circumstances at age 6. She was also born out of wedlock and lived alone with her mother in a dark room isolated from the rest of the mother’s family. Because her mother was mute, Isabelle did not learn to speak, although she did communicate with her mother via some simple gestures. When she was finally found, she acted like a wild animal around strangers, and in other respects she behaved more like a child of 6 months than one of more than 6 years. When first shown a ball, she stared at it, held it in her hand, and then rubbed an adult’s face with it. Intense training afterward helped Isabelle recover, and 2 years later she had reached a normal speaking level for a child her age (Davis, 1940).

These cases of feral children show that extreme isolation—or, to put it another way, lack of socialization—deprives children of the obvious and not-so-obvious qualities that make them human and in other respects retards their social, cognitive, and emotional development. A series of famous experiments by psychologists Harry and Margaret Harlow (1962) reinforced the latter point by showing it to be true of monkeys as well. The Harlows studied rhesus monkeys that had been removed from their mothers at birth some were raised in complete isolation, while others were given fake mothers made of cloth and wire with which to cuddle. Neither group developed normally, although the monkeys cuddling with the fake mothers fared somewhat better than those that were totally isolated. In general, the monkeys were not able to interact later with other monkeys, and female infants abused their young when they became mothers. The longer their isolation, the more the monkeys’ development suffered. By showing the dire effects of social isolation, the Harlows’ experiment reinforced the significance of social interaction for normal development. Combined with the tragic examples of feral children, their experiments remind us of the critical importance of socialization and social interaction for human society.

Key Takeaways

  • Socialization is the process through which individuals learn their culture and become fully human.
  • Unfortunate examples of extreme human isolation illustrate the importance of socialization for children’s social and cognitive development.

For Your Review

  1. Do you agree that effective socialization is necessary for an individual to be fully human? Could this assumption imply that children with severe developmental disabilities, who cannot undergo effective socialization, are not fully human?
  2. Do you know anyone with negative views in regard to race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious preference? If so, how do you think this person acquired these views?