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Category Archives: National Vanguard

University of Maryland to Build Quantum Computing Lab – GovTech

Posted: September 10, 2021 at 5:39 am

(TNS) The University of Maryland is partnering with a leading quantum computing developer to build a national lab on the College Park campus in hopes of becoming a center for research and innovations in the field.

University leaders are announcing Wednesday an approximately $20 million partnership with IonQ, a developer of quantum computing technology and devices. The partnership will create a national quantum lab on campus, named the Q-Lab, where students, faculty and researchers can access a commercial-grade quantum computer and collaborate on developing new applications.

In theory, quantum computers could help researchers to one day solve mammoth problems in areas such as climate, chemistry, medicine or cybersecurity and at far faster speeds than the computers of today. While conventional computers can process bits of information in the form of ones or zeros, a quantum computer can analyze such information simultaneously.

When youre only talking a handful of straws, thats not particularly impressive because a classical computer can do that pretty quickly, Chapman said. But when youre talking about a billion or trillion straws, then suddenly doing it all at once makes a huge difference.

U.S. tech companies have competed for years to develop the technology for quantum computing with significant financial backing from the federal government. In 2020, the Trump administration announced $1 billion in funding for artificial intelligence and quantum computing research.

I do find it amazing that this little company and the University of Maryland together are kind of powering this quantum future, more than Silicon Valley, more than Google, more than Microsoft, more than IBM, Chapman said. Were winning this race.

The Q-Lab will be located in the universitys Discovery District, next to IonQs College Park headquarters. Other universities and countries have courted IonQ for access to the technology. The companys leadership ultimately settled on partnering with the University of Maryland, which Chapman said has been at the vanguard of this field since quantum computing was in its infancy.

No other university in the United States is able to provide students and researchers this level of hands-on contact with commercial-grade quantum computing technology and insights from experts working in this emerging field, said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines in a statement. We could not be more proud of IonQs success and we are excited to establish this strategic partnership, further solidifying UMD and the surrounding region as the Quantum Capital of the world.

As far as Pines is aware, no other university possesses this research capability. The former dean of engineering hopes it will give the College Park and the region a competitive edge.

[Quantum computing capability] will give an advantage to scholars and researchers to solve real big problems and get them solved faster, Pines said. We see that as the future.

University and company officials hope the Q-Lab will effectively democratize access to the technology as well as attract global scientific and engineering talent to the region. The lab could incentivize entrepreneurs and startups to bring their businesses to College Park, officials said.

As the university gains access to educational and training opportunities in quantum computing for its campus community, IonQ officials may draw from that talent to expand the company.

IonQ ultimately has roots in Maryland, Chapman said, and the company is planning to stay here.

The quantum computers are firmly bolted to the floor.

2021 Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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These 6 Outdoorsy Groups Are Making Hiking More Inclusive – AFAR Media

Posted: at 5:39 am

The long-held assumption that hiking is the domain of a mostly white, mostly male,ultra-fit, able-bodied crowd appears to be on its way out, thanks to a growing number of community-led groups across the United States with an emphasis on hiking for all. The goal of these new groups: to make physical, nature-based activities like hiking feel inclusive, safe, and accessible to people of all backgroundsincluding race, physical ability, gender, body type, and sexual orientationthrough physical events, messaging, and advocacy.

Read on for six standout organizations across the country that are helping hikers nurture their relationship with naturewhile also working to change the narrative.

For years, Jenny Bruso, a self-described white, queer, fat, femme writer and hiker believed she didnt fit the mold of what a nature lover should look like. In 2016, to remedy this, the Portland, Oregonbased Bruso started Unlikely Hikers.The organization aims to empower people of all physical abilities, racial backgrounds, financial means, sizes, gender identities, and sexual orientations as they find their footing in the natural world. In order to keep hikes accessible, all are a maximum of three miles and 300-foot elevation gain, and they include group discussions around body diversity along the way.

Unlikely Hikers is rolling out chapters mostly along the West Coast (new cities include San Diego, Los Angeles, and Tacoma). Sign up for its monthly Patreon donation platform, which keeps subscribers up to date on forthcoming events, follow it on Instagram at @unlikelyhikers, or check out itspodcast, which covers such topics as the absence of plus-size gear and disabled hiking.

The central mission of this national nonprofit organization is to make outdoor experiences accessible to everyoneespecially Black communities, which have faced a long history of discrimination in outdoor spaces, including national parks.

Outdoor Afro was founded in 2015 by Rue Mapp, a Bay Areabased former analyst and consultant and an AFAR Travel Vanguard awardee. Today, the nonprofithosts events ranging from hiking to canoeing for close to 50,000 people in 56 cities across the country, targeting various skill types and fitness levels.

The groups activities emphasize that nature doesnt necessarily have to be hard to get tooutings might include springtime birding in New York Citys Central Park, a walk across San Franciscos Golden Gate Bridge, or a fall mushroom foraging excursion near Boston. Follow Outdoor Afro on Instagram at @outdoorafro.

LatinX Hikers founders Luz Lituma and Adriana Garcia launched their grassroots effort in 2018 to help LatinX and people of color reconnect with their roots in the outdoors, and today its a growing national community of people who come together through hosted gatherings.

Events began in the founders home turf in the Southeast but have since spread to other parts of the country: Recent outings included hiking through Yellowstone National Park, summiting Mount St. Helens in Washington State, group litter cleanup in Atlantas Westside Beltline, and a hike-and-hot-springs excursion near Jackson, Wyoming.

LatinX Hikers puts heavy emphasis on empowering women hikers, who often struggle with feeling safe in the wild, especially when theyre hiking alone. Follow it on Instagram at @latinxhikers.

Inspired by organizations like Outdoor Afro, Washington-based Christopher Chalaka, a second-generation South Asian-Taiwanese American, launched Outdoor Asian in 2016. The goal: to bring together an inclusive and empowered community of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through nature and the outdoors.

Outdoor Asian has since expanded outside of Washington and now has chapter managers in a handful of other states, including California, Colorado, and Vermont. Events might include a redwoods walk near Los Angeles or a hike through the Alderfer/Three Sisters Park near Denver. Follow it on Instagram at @outdoorasian or like itsFacebook page for information on events and news.

Run by and for disabled adventurers, Disabled Hikers is a community created by Pacific Northwest outdoors aficionado Syren Nagakyrie in response to a lack of information about trail accessibility. Nagakyrie, who lives with disabilities and chronic pain from illnesses including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycarda Syndrome, began leading both group and privately guided hikes within the Pacific Northwest and also sometimes in other parts of the country.

On Disabled Hikers excursions, which mostly take place in western Washington and Oregon, the slowest hiker sets the pace. Its upcoming book, The Disabled Hikers Guide to Western Washington and Oregon (Falcon Guides, 2022), is the first of its kind to create a rating system for trail accessibility, while also aggregating trail information like wheelchair-accessible paths and drive-up experiences. Follow it on Instagram at @disabledhikers.

Jolie Varela, a Californian and a member of the Tule River Yokut and Paiute nations, founded Indigenous Women Hike in 2017 to empower fellow Native American women to reclaim their connection to their ancestral land through hiking trips.

In 2018, Varela led a group of Indigenous women on a trek along the Nm Poyo, also known as the John Muir Trail, traveling without obtaining permits under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The symbolic hike was a way to reclaim the historical and cultural ties between Native Americans and the land, which had long been part of a network of trade routes and cultural exchange before colonization.

To learn more about how it is changing the narrative, follow it on Instagram at @indigenouswomenhike or like it on Facebook.

>>Next: Walk This Way: A Complete Guide to Hiking Etiquette

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Bennington College to enroll largest incoming class in its history – Vermont Biz

Posted: September 1, 2021 at 12:12 am

Vermont Business MagazineThis fall, Bennington College will welcome over 250 first-year students and 18 transfer students. This entering class will be the largest in the Colleges history.

Students reported that Benningtons appeal stemmed from historical strengths of the Collegeincluding the self-directed academics ofthe Plan, annualField Work Terminternship opportunities, and access to world-classfaculty mentors. Bennington has also been very successful at handling the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a leading institution in the liberal arts, Bennington has attracted a hugely diverse student body, with over 15% of the Class of 2025 coming from outside of the United States (from 24 different countries). About 20% of the class of 2025 are domestic BIPOC students, 18% are the first in their family to attend college, and 25% are Pell recipients.

The class of 2025 also includes a diverse array of 15 United World College Davis Scholars, hailing from 7 UWC campuses around the world from Armenia to India to Tanzania, and representing 11 countries including Congo, Ireland, Libya, Malawi, Peru, Russia, and Spain.

Building upon Benningtons partnership withKIPPthe largest public charter school network in the US, which has a particular focus on serving low-income communitiesthree KIPP Scholars will also join the Class of 2025. Students come from KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate High School (Lynn, MA); KIPP Generations Collegiate (Houston, TX); and KIPP Northeast College Preparatory (Houston, TX).

With this incoming class, Bennington continues its commitment to making higher education accessible and affordable, as well as fostering an inclusive environment for students from diverse backgrounds.

Students and families have been increasingly drawn to the value of a Bennington education. This year saw a record number of applicationsover 1,700reflecting a 25% growth from the previous years admissions cycle and continuing Benningtons recent application success. During the last 5 years, from Fall 2017 to Fall 2021, Bennington received the highest number of applications in the Colleges history.

Navigating Studies During COVID-19

The Colleges shift to a hybrid model of learning for the 2020-21 academic year allowed current students to reap the benefits of a Bennington education while maintaining the safety of the entire community.

Benningtons collaboration with public health, community, and higher education partners, as well as rigorous quarantining and preventative testing standards, allowed interested students tosafely return to campusby Fall 2020. Students were involved in creating and supporting the Colleges protocol. There have been no campus-wide COVID-19 outbreaks to date.

Courses for the 2020-21 academic year were offered in a hybrid format to accommodate students both on-and off-campus. These courses often transcended online lectures to embrace intriguing forms likemail artandletter writing. Responding to student interest, Bennington continued to offer pop-up courses throughout the year, on topics fromexploring the era of COVID-19toexamining Belarus and democraciesaround the world.

About Bennington CollegeBennington College is a liberal arts college in southwestern Vermont that has distinguished itself as a vanguard institution within American higher education.It was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education. It is the only college to require that its students spend a termevery yearat work in the world.Bennington students work intensively with faculty to forge individual educational paths around their driving questions and interests.

Bennington Colleges alumni include twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poets laureate, four MacArthur Geniuses, and countlessNew York Timesbestsellers and National Book Award recipients.

Rooted in an abiding faith in the talent, imagination, and responsibility of the individual, Bennington invites students to pursue and shape their own intellectual inquiries, and in doing so to discover the profound interconnection of things. Learn more atbennington.edu.

Source:Bennington, VT:This fall, Bennington College 8.31.2021

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AFRL to showcase space-related technologies, SpaceWERX at 36th National Space Symposium – AF.mil

Posted: August 22, 2021 at 3:17 pm

By Bryan Ripple , Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs / Published August 19, 2021

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) The Air Force Research Laboratory will showcase several space-related technologies, new ways to connect with and share an idea or capability with AFRL, and the beginning of SpaceWERX, the U.S. Space Force affiliated arm of AFWERX during the 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Aug. 23-26, 2021.AFRL supports both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force with Airmen and Guardians, seamlessly working high priority research areas across the labs technology directorates to move research to meet operational needs even faster.Some of the technologies to be highlighted by AFRL include development of two Department of the Air Force Vanguard programs with a space focus: Navigation Technology Satellite 3 (NTS-3) and Rocket Cargo.NTS-3 demonstrates next generation positioning, navigation and timing technologies for a more flexible, robust, and resilient architecture for satellite navigation technology. It also allows AFRL scientists to test reprogrammable software-defined receivers that are able to rapidly respond to new conditions and ensure better security and flexibility.Rocket Cargo aims to develop the capability to lease a commercial rocket to deliver 50-100 tons of DOD cargo anywhere on the planet in less than one hour and to prove that rocket-based terrestrial cargo transportation is viable, affordable and advantageous for agile global DOD logistics.The Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research Project (SSPIDR): Space Power Beaming, is a series of integrated demonstrations and technology maturation efforts that will address space-based power collection and transmission capabilities, and mature technology critical to building an operational solar power transmission system for providing reliable and logistically agile power for expeditionary forces.Arachne, the keystone flight experiment in SSPIDR, aims to demonstrate the ability to collect, convert, and beam energy to the ground, collect solar energy using high-efficiency solar photovoltaic cells, then convert it to RF energy using the revolutionary sandwich tile, and beam it to a receiving station on the ground, and rectify and convert the RF energy into usable power for use by U.S. warfighters and end users.Rocket-Factory-in-a-Box is a program to develop a mobile, containerized Solid Rocket Motor production capability by aggregating revolutionary design and component manufacturing techniques and enabling rapid SRM manufacture in a small footprint with the flexibility to tailor performance to specific missions.SpaceWERX, the U.S. Space Force-affiliated arm of the AFWERX team, focuses on advancing innovative technologies for USSF Guardians and expanding the space industrial space by guiding additional partners, leveraging commercial investment and rapidly pursuing new technologies, while closely aligning its efforts with space operators and acquisition professionals within the USSF.Innovators who would like to share ideas with AFRL, are encouraged to visit the Air Force and Space Force Tech Connect website, a portal where users can submit ideas and capabilities with AFRL subject matter experts for potential feedback, collaborations and opportunities. Learn more about this tool and discover other avenues for engaging with AFRL at the 36th National Space Symposium.Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, AFRL commander, is scheduled as a featured speaker on Aug. 26 and will deliver her presentation, One AFRL, Two Services, from 9:50 a.m. 10:05 a.m.Our way of warfare depends on space superiority and AFRL has a long history of research and development in support of this domain, said Pringle. With the recent standup of the USSF, along with the emergence of U.S. Space Command and new energy in the commercial space sector, we have exciting opportunities to modernize the way we lead and manage science and technology.Having one science and technology research laboratory for our nations aerospace forces allows AFRL to fully implement the Air Force Science & Technology Strategy on behalf of the entire Department of the Air Force, which aims to build a force capable of dominating across time, space, and complexity in all domains to ensure we continue to have the advantage in future conflicts, said Timothy Sakulich, AFRL executive director.Space as a warfighting domain is not a passing phase it is a lasting reality, said Dr. Kelly Hammett, AFRLs deputy technology executive officer for Space. The USSF is mission focused and dedicated to further accelerating U.S. space capabilities to enhance our lethality and readiness, and to ensure our nation is prepared to fight and win in a war that starts in, or extends to, space, Hammett said.For more information about the 36th Space Symposium, please visit http://www.spacesymposium.org.NOTE FOR MEDIA: Please contact Bryan Ripple, AFRLs Media Operations team lead, at bryan.ripple@us.af.milto request an interview opportunity to discuss these technology exhibits, and learn more about these efforts.About AFRLThe Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: http://www.afresearchlab.com.

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Whats the Best Way to Hedge Against Inflation? The Answer Lies in Commodities – Yahoo Finance

Posted: at 3:17 pm

Commodities have proven to be a powerful hedge against unexpected inflation, according to Vanguard research.

New research from Vanguard suggests that investing in commodities is the most powerful way to hedge against unexpected inflation. Pointing to a concept known as inflation beta an assets predicted reaction to a unit of inflation Vanguard found over the last decade that commodities rose between 7% and 9% for every 1% of unexpected inflation the economy experienced.

The Vanguard research, which examined the historical returns of the Bloomberg Commodity Index, comes as national inflation has reached levels not seen in more than a decade. The Consumer Price Index recently surged to its highest point since Summer 2008, rising 5.4% in the 12-month period that ended in July.

While markets factor a certain level of inflation into the price of assets, unexpected inflation can wreak havoc on portfolios by diminishing investors purchasing power, making effective inflation hedges all the more valuable.

What Are Commodities and How Do They React To Inflation?

Gold is a type of commodity. Commodities have proven to be a powerful hedge against unexpected inflation, according to Vanguard research.

Simply put, commodities are raw materials or agricultural products that can be traded. Common examples of commodities are gold, oil, grain, natural gas, beef and even coffee. Because they are crucial to everyday life, investors see the inherent value in owning and trading commodities.

As economic forces push the price of goods and services upward, commodities often become more expensive during times of hyperinflation. For example, energy commodities, which include oil and all types of gasoline, rose in price by nearly 42% for 12 months ending in July, according to CPI data.

Sue Wang, an associate portfolio manager for the Vanguard Quantitative Equity Group, led the research that determined the inflation beta of commodities was between 7 and 9 over the last decade. This suggests that a 1% rise in unexpected inflation would produce a 7% to 9% rise in commodities, Vanguard wrote in its recent insights.

Commodities vs. Other Asset Classes

The Vanguard research notes that commodities are more potent inflation hedges than both inflation-protected bonds and equities.

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Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are commonly used inflation hedges that shield investors from a decline in purchasing power. The principal value of TIPS grow at the rate of inflation, preserving the buying power of an investors money. But with a far lower beta to unexpected inflation (around 1), they would require a significantly higher portfolio allocation to achieve the same hedging effect as commodities, according to Vanguard.

Meanwhile, equities have recently shown to be an effective inflation hedge, especially during the low-growth, low-inflation years of the 2010s. The S&P 500 has even slightly outpaced Bloomberg Commodity Index over the last year, but Vanguard believes the hedging power of U.S. equities will likely diminish in the future. This will be seen as technology and consumer discretionary sectors comprise more of the equity market while commodity-related sectors comprise less of it, according to Vanguard.

How to Invest in Commodities

Commodities have proven to be a powerful hedge against unexpected inflation, according to Vanguard research.

Investors hoping to put money into commodities have several different options for doing so. They can invest in commodities in the form of futures contracts or buy them indirectly through stocks. Commodity mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), meanwhile, can offer broad exposure to commodities while forgoing some of the risk that accompanies futures trading.

If youre interested in investing in commodities, consider working with commodities trading advisor (CTAs), certified financial professionals who can provide specific advice related to commodities and futures trading. A CTA, which can be a person or company, manages investment accounts and trades futures for their clients.

Bottom Line

Commodities are naturally occurring or agriculturally grown goods that can be traded in a number of ways. During times of unexpected inflation, investing in commodities can hedge against rising prices and preserve buying power. Citing historical data, Vanguard research suggests commodities rise between 7% and 9% for every 1% of unexpected inflation, making them more effective than TIPS and more reliable than equities.

Tips for Weathering Inflation

SmartAssets inflation calculator can tell you how much buying power your money has had in the past and will have in future. For example, assuming a projected inflation rate of 2.50%, $10,000 in 2021 will be worth $12,801 in 2031.

A financial advisor can help you reassess your portfolio during times of unexpected inflation to address both short-term and long-term needs. Use SmartAssets free matching tool to find up to three financial advisors in your area in as little as five minutes. If youre ready to find a local professional, get started now.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Maximusnd, iStock.com/MicroStockHub, iStock.com/Orientfootage

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From the Tea Party to the Proud Boys: How the Radical Right Weaponized America’s Founding Myths – The New Republic

Posted: August 14, 2021 at 1:07 am

But out of these ashes, a different political vision for the far right would coalesceone that would reject white supremacy as an ideology and seek out the more generative ground of American nationalism as an alternative.

Nationalism always operates, as historian Benedict Anderson put it, as an imagined community, connecting strangers in a settled sense of common identity through shared myths, memorials, and other cultural artifacts. But just as national identity can stabilize and cohere, it can also be used to disrupt and make new demands. This is perhaps particularly true in the case of the U.S., where the Revolution and its sacred justifying text, the Declaration of Independence, has been used regularly by various movementsfrom suffrage to civil rights to ecologyto authorize political and social change.

Yet democratic myths of the founding have lost currency with the left over the last half-century as activists and intellectuals have grappled with U.S. legacies of colonialism and slavery, capitalism and empire. Meanwhile, their potential value on the right has grown as their partisans have come to imagine themselves as victims of illegitimate state power and as small-r republican patriots whose policy preferences, from health care to taxation, from affirmative action to gun rights, can be imagined through a revolutionary frame of disruptive resistance.

After 2017, various factions on the right began to gather under the banner of nationalism. The Proud Boys, once mocked as being soft on the race question by white nationalist groups in their milieu, began to replace white supremacists as the dominant force in this movement, presenting themselves not just as urban Western chauvinists in Fred Perry polo shirts who opposed Islam, immigration, and international communism, but as defenders of the American nation and its president, Donald Trump. The white hipster Canadian founder of the Proud Boys, Gavin McGinnes, would finally come to be replaced by a U.S. citizen of Afro-Cuban parentage, Enrique Tarrio, who in turn became a major proponent of the Stop the Steal campaign in the weeks before January 6.

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NSF partnerships expand National AI Research Institutes to 40 states – National Science Foundation

Posted: July 29, 2021 at 8:45 pm

NSF-LED National AI Research Institutes

July 29, 2021

WASHINGTON Today, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, building on the first round of seven institutes funded in 2020. The combined investment of $220 million expands the reach of these institutes to include a total of 40 states and the District of Columbia.

The institutes are focused on AI-based technologies that will bring about a range of advances: helping older adults lead more independent lives and improving the quality of their care; transforming AI into a more accessible plug-and-play technology; creating solutions to improve agriculture and food supply chains; enhancing adult online learning by introducing AI as a foundational element; and supporting underrepresented students in elementary to post-doctoral STEM education to improve equity and representation in AI research.

I am delighted to announce the establishment of new NSF National AI Research Institutes as we look to expand into all 50 states, said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI. Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.

Led by NSF, and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Google, Amazon, Intel and Accenture, the National AI Research Institutes will act as connections in a broader nationwide network to pursue transformational advances in a range of economic sectors, and science and engineering fields from food system security to next-generation edge networks.

In the tradition of USDA-NIFA investments, these new institutes leverage the scientific power of U.S. land-grant universities informed by close partnership with farmers, producers, educators and innovators to provide sustainable crop production solutions and address these pressing societal challenges, said USDA-NIFA Director Carrie Castille. These innovation centers will speed our ability to meet the critical needs in the future agricultural workforce, providing equitable and fair market access, increasing nutrition security and providing tools for climate-smart agriculture.

The new awards, each at about $20 million over five years, will support 11 institutes spanning seven research areas:

The focus of the 11 National AI Institutes are listed below:

NSF AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups.Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), the institute, also known as AI-CARING, will seek to create a vibrant, fully developed discipline focused on personalized, longitudinal (over months and years) collaborative AI systems that learn individual models of human behavior and how they change over time and use that knowledge to better collaborate and communicate in caregiving environments. The collaborative AI Partners in Care developed as part of this institute will help support a growing population of older adults sustain independence, improve quality of life, and increase effectiveness of care coordination across the care network.

This institute is partially funded by Amazon and Google.

NSF AI Institute for Advances in Optimization. Led by Georgia Tech, this institute will revolutionize decision-making on a large scale by fusing AI and mathematical optimization into intelligent systems that will achieve breakthroughs that neither field can achieve independently. The institute will create pathways from high school to undergraduate and graduate education and workforce development training for AI in engineering that will empower a generation of underrepresented students and teachers to join the AI revolution. It will also create a sustainable ecosystem for AI, combining education, research, entrepreneurship, and the public at large. The institute will demonstrate foundational advances on use cases in energy, resilience and sustainability, supply chains, and circuit design and control. It has innovative plans for workforce education and broadening participation, including substantial leadership from a collaborating minority-serving institution.

This institute is partially funded by Intel.

NSF AI Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale. Led by the University of California San Diego, in collaboration with five other universities across the nation, this institute, also known as TILOS, will aim to make impossible optimizations possible by addressing the fundamental challenges of scale and complexity. Learning-enabled optimization will be applied in several technical focus areas vital to the nations health and prosperity, including semiconductor chip design, robotics and networks. The research agenda is accompanied by plans for workforce development and broadening participation at all academic levels, from middle school to advanced research levels, including community outreach efforts to promote AI.

This institute is partially funded by Intel.

NSF AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment. Led by the Ohio State University, this institute, also known as ICICLE, will build the next generation of cyberinfrastructure that will make AI easy for scientists to use and promote its further democratization. It will transform the AI landscape of today by bringing in scientists from multidisciplinary backgrounds to create a robust, trustworthy and transparent national cyberinfrastructure that is ready to plug-and-play in areas of societal importance, such as "smart food sheds", precision agriculture and animal ecology. The institute will develop a new generation of the workforce, with sustained diversity and inclusion at all levels.

This institute is fully funded by NSF.

NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence. Led by the Ohio State University, this institute, also known as AI-EDGE, will leverage the synergies between networking and AI to design future generations of wireless edge networks that are highly efficient, reliable, robust and secure. New AI tools and techniques will be developed to ensure that these networks are self-healing and self-optimized. Collaboration over these adaptive networks will help solve long-standing distributed AI challenges making AI more efficient, interactive, and privacy preserving for applications in sectors such as intelligent transportation, remote health care, distributed robotics and smart aerospace. It will create a research, education, knowledge transfer and workforce development environment that will help establish U.S. leadership in next-generation edge networks and distributed AI for many decades to come.

This institute is partially funded by DHS.

NSF AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks. Led by Duke University, this institute, also known as Athena, will focus on developing edge computing with groundbreaking AI functionality while keeping complexity and costs under control. Bringing together a world-class, multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, statisticians, legal scholars and psychologists from seven universities, it will transform the design, operation and service of future systems from mobile devices to networks. It is committed to educating and developing the workforce, cultivating a diverse next generation of edge computing and network leaders whose core values are driven by ethics and fairness in AI. As a nexus point for the community, this institute will spearhead collaboration and knowledge transfer, translating emerging technical capabilities to new business models and entrepreneurial opportunities.

This institute is partially funded by DHS.

NSF AI Institute for Dynamic Systems. Led by the University of Washington, this institute will enable innovative research and education in fundamental AI and machine learning theory, algorithms and applications specifically for safe, real-time learning and control of complex dynamic systems. The core motivation for this institute is to integrate physics-based models with AI and machine learning approaches, leading the way towards data-enabled ethical, efficient, and explainable solutions for real-time sensing, prediction, and decision-making challenges across science and engineering.

This institute is partially funded by DHS.

NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning. Led byNorthCarolinaStateUniversity, this institute will advance natural language processing, computer vision and machine learning to engage learners in AI-driven narrative-centered learning environments. Rich AI-driven virtual agents and powerful multimodal sensing capabilities will support learners and yield transformative advances in STEM teaching and learning. The institute will serve as a nexus for in-school and out-of-school STEM education innovation, empowering and engaging diverse learners and stakeholders to ensure that AI-driven learning environments are ethically designed to promote equity and inclusion.

This institute is fully funded by NSF.

NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education. Led by the Georgia Research Alliance, this institute, also known as ALOE, will lead the country and the world in the development of novel AI theories and techniques for enhancing the quality of adult online education, making this mode of learning comparable to that of in-person education in STEM disciplines. Fundamental research in use-inspired AI is grounded in theories of human cognition and learning supported by evidence from large-scale data, evaluated on a large variety of testbeds, and derived from the scientific process of learning engineering. Together with partners in the technical college systems and educational technology sector, ALOE will advance online learning using virtual assistants to make education more available, affordable, achievable, and ultimately, more equitable.

This institute is partially funded by Accenture.

The USDA-NIFA Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support. Led by Washington State University, this institute, also known as AgAID, will integrate AI methods into agriculture operations for prediction, decision support, and robotics-enabled agriculture to address complex agricultural challenges. The AgAID Institute uses a unique adopt-adapt-amplify approach to develop and deliver AI solutions to agriculture that address pressing challenges related to labor, water, weather and climate change. The institute involves farmers, workers, managers and policy makers in the development of these solutions, as well as in AI training and education, which promotes equity by increasing the technological skill levels of the next-generation agricultural workforce.

This institute is funded by USDA-NIFA.

The AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture. Ledby Iowa State University,thisinstitute, also known as AIIRA, willtransform agriculture through innovative AI-driven digital twinsthatmodel plants atanunprecedented scale. This approach is enabled by advances in computational theory, AI algorithms, and tools for crop improvement and productionfor resiliency to climate change.In addition,AIIRA will promote the study ofcyber-agriculturalsystemsat the intersection of plant science, agronomics, and AI;power education and workforce developmentthroughformal and informal educational activities,focusingon Native American bidirectional engagement and farmer programs;and drive knowledge transfer through partnerships with industry,producers, andfederal and state agencies.

Thisinstitute is funded byUSDA-NIFA.

Learn more about theNSF AI Research Institutesby visitingnsf.gov.Check out NSF's Interactive AI Map(the interactive pdf requires Adobe Reader).

For more on NSF's investments in AI, see the NSF Science Matters article, Expanding the geography of innovation: NSF AI Research Institutes 2021.

-NSF-

Media Contacts Media Affairs, NSF, (703) 292-7090, email: media@nsf.gov

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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NSF partnerships expand National AI Research Institutes to 40 states - National Science Foundation

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Daily contact testing rolled out to further critical sectors – GOV.UK

Posted: at 8:45 pm

Further targeted daily contact testing is being rolled out in England to frontline emergency services and some transport workers, following the governments close engagement with these sectors in order to avoid any potential disruption to crucial services.

Following clinical trial results, daily contact testing will be rolled out to further critical workplaces in England so that contacts who would otherwise be self-isolating can instead take daily tests, with an expected initial additional 200 testing sites.

Delivering daily contact testing to these critical workplaces builds on pioneering work by NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England which puts the UK at the vanguard of scientific research.

New testing sites will be allocated for frontline police and fire services to ensure critical staff can continue their vital work.

Frontline Border Force staff, working at some ports across the country will be able to take part in the Border Force run testing centres.

In addition, to ensure the transportation of critical goods and supplies and the smooth running of Englands transport network, testing sites will be set up to support the most critical parts of our transport and freight systems, which we will keep under review through close engagement with the transport industry. These include rail infrastructure, ports and airports, and haulage firms.

Daily testing will enable eligible workers who have received alerts from the NHS Covid 19 app or have been called by NHS Test and Trace and told they are a contact and to isolate will be able to continue working if they test negative.

Employers and workers taking part in Daily Contact Testing will be provided with guidance about the protocols they must follow.

Our brave police officers and fire fighters have shown throughout the pandemic that they have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and serve their communities.

Border Force have played a vital role in the national effort to keep goods and supplies coming into the country as well as keeping our borders secure.

Daily testing will keep our frontline teams safe while they continue to serve the public and communities across our country.

Our transport workers have done an incredible job throughout the pandemic to keep this country moving.

To make sure they can continue to do their vital work safely, Im pleased well be rolling out testing sites to key transport locations enabling staff to continue working with confidence.

Throughout the pandemic, our frontline emergency services have continued to keep us all safe, overcoming enormous challenges to do so, while workers across the transport network have kept the country moving

As we learn to live with the virus, we must do everything we can to break chains of transmission and stop the spread of the virus. Daily contact testing of workers in these critical sectors will help to minimise any disruption caused by rising cases in the coming weeks, while ensuring staff are not put at risk.

Self-isolation remains an essential tool for suppressing the transmission of the virus.

People who have been identified as contacts are at least five times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than other members of the public. Vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death, and we are encouraging everyone to continue to get the vaccine to enable us to tackle the virus.

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What links organised crime with the radical right? – Open Democracy

Posted: July 16, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Why would the radical right, particularly its most extreme elements, get involved with organised crime? There are, of course, a number of reasons, one of which involves something Ive mentioned several times already: arms trafficking.

Radical right extremists who want to arm themselves cant easily do so through any legitimate means. Even in countries with lax gun laws like the US, radical right extremists generally cant just buy up military-grade weapons and hardware without garnering unwanted attention from the authorities.

With a huge market for smuggled weapons around the world sources for these weapons include places like the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine and the involvement of a number of organised crime groups in this smuggling, its no surprise that radical right extremists would find themselves part of the game. Its also no surprise, then, that in the wake of radical right terror attacks in recent years, authorities appear to be paying increasing attention.

Another reason for radical right involvement with organised crime is financing. How radical right groups get their money and their funding is, as has been noted by journalists covering the radical right (myself included), an issue that itself requires much more attention.

Not all radical right extremists require some significant form of financing, nefarious or otherwise; it doesnt necessarily cost much money to write, draw and post hateful propaganda on Telegram for instance. But for radical right extremists with ambition, the costs can add up. For example, well-designed websites with professional-grade video, replete with flashy logos and almost-corporate branding, arent things one can buy up with a few pennies lying around.

In countries with weak rule of law, the tentacles of organised crime can weave their way into the fabric of the state. The phenomenon of state capture a form of corruption where private actors, from politicians and businesspeople to criminals, influence a states decision-making processes to their own advantage has been documented in places like Serbia, Turkey and other countries.

When radical right extremists join the game and themselves become part of the phenomenon of state capture something seen in Ukraine, for example, where much of the radical right is alleged to have the patronage of the countrys powerful interior ministry they give themselves a means of being protected from prosecution, an opportunity to act with greater impunity and, above all, a pathway to increase their status and influence.

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An offshore wind heavyweight, UK squares up to ‘tough’ 40-GW target – S&P Global

Posted: at 1:09 pm

Having pioneered offshore wind for more than two decades, installing more than 10 GW in its waters to date, the U.K. now finds itself at a pivotal moment as it shoots audaciously for an almost fourfold increase in capacity by 2030.

Getting to 40 GW will require critical reforms in policy, permitting and transmission, industry observers told S&P Global Market Intelligence, as well as a significant manufacturing and construction effort at a time when other countries globally are ramping up their offshore wind activities and competing for resources.

But in the U.K.'s favor are fortunate market fundamentals that helped it grow to become the world leader in the technology.

"We have the best resource and probably one of the best geographies for offshore wind in the world," Barnaby Wharton, director of future electricity systems at trade group RenewableUK, said in an interview. "We're very lucky that we have the North Sea, which is shallow and has great wind speeds."

A long journey

In the early days of offshore wind, the U.K.'s main challenges were about proving it works and bringing its costs down.

The technology is now proven: Offshore wind is already the U.K.'s leading source of renewable generation. And grid operator National Grid Electricity System Operator Ltd.'s latest "Future Energy Scenarios" report sees the sector growing rapidly to become "the backbone of [the U.K.'s] electricity supply in 2050," at anywhere between 70 GW and 113 GW, depending on the level of consumer and system change.

Cost is also no longer a roadblock: In the government's latest renewables auction in 2019, offshore wind projects were awarded contracts at prices significantly below the market rate for electricity.

But quadrupling capacity in less than a decade brings with it new hurdles. "It will come down to whether we can get enough volume through the planning regime, and enough grid connections in time," Alon Carmel, managing director at FTI Consulting, said in an interview.

Offshore wind projects, deemed nationally significant infrastructure, require approval from the national government. On average, it takes about a decade to bring projects from conception to operation, Wharton said.

Grid connections are increasingly becoming limiting factors in permitting projects. Vattenfall AB, the Swedish state-owned utility, saw its approval quashed for its Norfolk Vanguard wind farm in February because of the impact its transmission infrastructure would have onshore. A decision on its sister project, Norfolk Boreas, which would use the same onshore connection point as Vanguard, was delayed until late 2021.

The U.K.'s approach to offshore transmission to date has seen generators build individual cables to connect their wind farms, but the government is examining a more coordinated system to hook up multiple projects to one single onshore landing point.

"Unfortunately, the end [power] user is not out at sea, so you've got to find cost-effective ways to share connections between the next wave of mega-projects," Steve Read, managing director of Bridge Wind Management, an asset management company, said in an interview.

Lacking visibility

To some, a more pressing issue than permitting is policy reform, with critics arguing that the U.K. lacks a long-term vision for supporting new renewables capacity.

The U.K. runs contract for difference, or CfD, auctions where renewables developers submit fixed-price bids for their electricity. The government either tops up, or claws back, revenue from generators, depending on whether the wholesale power price is lower or higher than a project's CfD price.

The CfD and earlier U.K. government support programs for renewables have been critical to the success of offshore wind, attracting well-capitalized utilities like Iberdrola SA, rsted A/S, RWE AG, SSE PLC and Vattenfall which between them own nearly 8 GW of net wind capacity in U.K. waters, according to Market Intelligence data and a range of low-cost-of-capital investors and banks.

"Without government intervention, we wouldn't be where we are now," said Gary Bills, regional director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at consultancy K2 Management.

The third and most recent CfD auction took place in fall 2019; the next is slated to open later this year and will be the largest yet, at 12 GW. As it stands, there is no auction roadmap beyond that.

That means a significant number of projects in the U.K.'s offshore wind pipeline, which stands at more than 23 GW, do not know when they will be able to bid for contracts. About 5 GW of projects have secured CfDs but are yet to begin construction, according to RenewableUK.

"We need to make sure we have enough projects coming through in the CfD [auction]. The government goes from one CfD to the next without any real visibility," RenewableUK's Wharton said. Government officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Seabed lease auctions for the next wave of offshore wind projects are also "not quick enough and not big enough," Bills said.

The Crown Estate, which manages the seabed in England and Wales, ran its first seabed lease sale in a decade earlier this year, but the capacity on offer was four times smaller than the last round, when industry interest was only a fraction of what it is today.

The latest round fetched sky-high prices and saw market newcomers outbid incumbent utilities. Oil giant BP PLC, in a joint venture with EnBW Energie Baden-Wrttemberg AG, won two 1.5-GW lease areas and committed to paying a total of 1.85 billion in option fees across four years until a final investment decision. The companies think they can bring the projects through planning and into operation within seven years.

Manufacturing crunch

Beyond planning and policy, the capabilities and capacity of the U.K.'s offshore wind supply chain may be issues.

With offshore wind development ramping up globally, and projects being built in new markets like the U.S. and in Asia, wind-turbine manufacturers like Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and GE Renewable Energy could quickly become stretched.

Some manufacturers are opening new facilities in the U.K. to cope with the expected rise in demand for turbines. Still, developers could hit a crunch point before the end of the decade.

"It's a completely arbitrary date but everyone says they want to start construction in 2027. If there are going to be bottlenecks, that's where it will be," Bills said.

The same could apply to shipping vessels and wind-turbine components. But observers say the issue of supply chain capacity could be partially solved by introducing regular CfD auctions, allowing companies to know exactly what projects are coming down the pipeline and when.

Without that visibility, the 40-GW target might be at risk. Only two of National Grid's four Future Energy Scenarios foresee the U.K. achieving its goal by the end of the decade. The remaining two get there by 2031 and 2035.

"The 2030 target is tough to hit," FTI's Carmel said. "It's definitely achievable, but there are some big obstacles."

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