2020 ties for hottest year on record, says NASA and NOAA

In a joint briefing at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, NASA and NOAA revealed 2020's scorching climate data.

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  • 2020 is tied with 2016 for being globally the hottest year one record.
  • The year's hotspot included the Artic, which is warming at three times the global mean.
  • The United States endured a record-breaking year for billion-dollar natural disasters.
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    How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

    Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

    Credit: Getty Images
    Sponsored by Northwell Health
    • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
    • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
    • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
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    Should law enforcement be using AI and cell phone data to find rioters?

    The attack on the Capitol forces us to confront an existential question about privacy.

    Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

    Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
    • The insurrection attempt at the Capitol was captured by thousands of cell phones and security cameras.
    • Many protestors have been arrested after their identity was reported to the FBI.
    • Surveillance experts warn about the dangers of using facial recognition to monitor protests.
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    How will we govern super-powerful AI?

    The AI constitution can mean the difference between war and peace—or total extinction.

    • The question of conscious artificial intelligence dominating future humanity is not the most pressing issue we face today, says Allan Dafoe of the Center for the Governance of AI at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. Dafoe argues that AI's power to generate wealth should make good governance our primary concern.
    • With thoughtful systems and policies in place, humanity can unlock the full potential of AI with minimal negative consequences. Drafting an AI constitution will also provide the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of past structures to avoid future conflicts.
    • Building a framework for governance will require us to get past sectarian differences and interests so that society as a whole can benefit from AI in ways that do the most good and the least harm.
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    What is the purpose of universities?

    For centuries, universities have advanced humanity toward truth. Professor Jonathan Haidt speaks to why college campuses are suddenly heading in the opposite direction.

    Left: Professor Jonathan Haidt. Right: Artistotle.

    Credit: Institute for Humane Studies, and Adobe Stock
    Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
    • In a lecture at UCCS, NYU professor Jonathan Haidt considers the 'telos' or purpose of universities: To discover truth.
    • Universities that prioritize the emotional comfort of students over the pursuit of truth fail to deliver on that purpose, at a great societal cost.
    • To make that point, Haidt quotes CNN contributor Van Jones: "I don't want you to be safe ideologically. I don't want you to be safe emotionally. I want you to be strong—that's different."
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    Survey shows Congress is more religious than America

    A new survey shows who believes what and how it differs from what Americans believe as a whole.

    Pope Francis addresses Congress in 2014.

    JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
    Politics & Current Affairs
    • The newest survey of congressional religious beliefs shows our representatives aren't quite like us.
    • Members of Congress are much more religious and more Christian than the general population.
    • The effects of this disconnect are debatable.
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    Should scientific studies be available for free?

    Plan S is starting to take hold, but the cost is merely shifting even more to the researchers.

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    Technology & Innovation
    • Launched in 2018, cOAlition S is trying to make all of the world's state-backed scientific papers open-access.
    • Prestigious publishers like Springer Nature and Elsevier have now adopted a Plan S option for researchers.
    • While more studies will be available to read for free, some of the expense is being passed back to authors, which could limit research in the future.
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