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President Obama honors UVM robotics scientist at White House ceremony

first_imgFor his work to understand how to build better robots, Joshua Bongard, a researcher at the University of Vermont, received Friday the highest award given by the US government to young scientists.President Barack Obama announced Bongard as one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers on Sept. 26.Bongard received the award today at a ceremony at the White House. Bongard is only the second researcher in UVM history to receive the PECASE award, which provides $500,000 in research funds over several years.At a ceremony Friday in the White House, President Barack Obama announced UVM robotics researcher and assistant professor Joshua Bongard as one of 94 winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest award given by the U.S. government to young scientists.  After the ceremony, Bongard displayed the award.  To his right is Dr. John P. Holdren, the President’s science and technology advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  To his left is Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy, assistant director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation.Inspired by evolutionBongard’s far-reaching work looks to nature for ideas. “The goal is to borrow ideas from neuroscience and evolution to help us build better and more intelligent robots,” he says.So far, scientists have had little success in building resilient machines that can continually perform behaviors that are fairly simple but require ongoing adaptation to changing conditions ‘ like paving a road or cleaning up a toxic dump. But Bongard is on a mission to make them.”The prevailing approach to create such machines is to copy physiological and neurological systems observed in animals, and build them into robots,” Bongard notes. “This raises the issue however of what, from among the infinitude of existing biological structures, should be copied.”Instead of guessing, Bongard has innovated systems in which computer programs copy the dynamics of biological evolution and replay them in a virtual space with numerous generations of synthetic creatures ‘ something like a highly sophisticated video game.The resulting algorithm yields ideas for robots that have optimized their neurological structures ‘ and their behaviors and body plans ‘ over many generations of being tested by virtual evolution, instead of human guesswork.With these ideas in hand, Bongard and his students can then build actual robots in their workshop that are adaptable and capable of responding to novel challenges.”My long-term goal is to give back to neuroscience and evolutionary biology, to give us a different tool to investigate: why does intelligence evolve?” Bongard says. “Under what conditions will intelligence evolve? Could we ever consider a machine to be intelligent, or is intelligence something limited to biological organisms?”Presidential visionRecognizing this kind of innovative work, the PECASE awards “embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation’s goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy,” the White House wrote in a press release.In 1996, the National Science and Technology Council was commissioned by President Clinton to create a program that would support and honor outstanding scientists and engineers early in their research careers ‘ from this council came the PECASE award.Each year, more than a dozen federal departments and agencies nominate scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments “show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions,” the White House press office wrote.”It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers ‘ careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the Nation,” President Obama said in the White House release. “That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens.”An innovatorBongard, an assistant professor of computer science in UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, was one of 21 nominees presented by the National Science Foundation for the most recent round of awards.Bongard’s research has received national and international attention, and has been featured in Wired magazine, the Boston Globe, The Voice of America, Popular Science, and many other outlets. He also received a fellowship from Microsoft Research in 2007 for research related to self-healing robots ‘ one of five given nationwide. He was named by MIT as one of the world’s top innovators under 35.”This award allows me to continue with my basic scientific research, but it also allows me to create tools that draw many people into my research beyond my graduate students,” Josh Bongard says. “Through this award, we’re developing a web interface that will allow people to perform evolutionary robotics experiments without having a background in evolution or robotics.”UVM. 10.14.2011###last_img read more

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February 1, 2006 Letters

first_img February 1, 2006 Letters Letters Paralegal Regulation While I have been only a casual observer of the proposed bill to regulate paralegals, I found that there may already be an impact to the proposal that paralegals be certified and/or have mandatory qualifications.A paralegal, who was awaiting certification results, interviewed with our firm and sought a salary range which was $10,000 more than insurance defense firms might typically pay new(er) associates. The paralegal’s requested salary was also above the median state government attorney’s salary ($60,000) which was reported in the News ’ December 1, 2005, article, “Florida Lawyers Sound Off on State of the Profession.”During the interview, the discussion turned to her qualifications and the fact that she met the proposed standards, unlike the competition she predicted was out there, and that her certification warranted this significant salary. In all fairness, she did have a solid work history.I have seen noncertified paralegals with exceptional skills and certified paralegals with mediocre skills. I wonder (aloud) if market forces, high standards in the workplace, and attorney supervision might solve the “problem” of paralegal qualifications. Otherwise, this new regulation appears only to drive up the salaries of paralegals, which sooner or later will get passed to clients (who probably thought they were already getting quality, supervised work).While not exactly comparable, there is an overlap between the work of a good paralegal and a new lawyer. A key similarity is they both need supervision by an experienced lawyer, who in turn is controlled by market forces, client satisfaction, and the ethics rules. If the bill passes and paralegal salaries do go up, I don’t know if we can predict better paralegals, but we likely can predict more expensive ones. Given the choice, I suspect firms might choose to hire and develop (cheaper) new lawyers than bring on a costly paralegal. Christopher B. Hopkins West Palm Beach Metadata I did not know what metadata was. I saw the article in the January 1 News about lawyers extracting the underlying hidden data in electronically transmitted documents in order to see the way it was edited and what the drafters had to say privately about it.They can extract this data because every edit and comment is still on the document, though hidden, when it goes out. That way, they use the electronic transmission technology against the drafter, by knowing all the corrections and ideas that were made.As a lawyer, I am generally sick of lawyers anyway. I thought I was appalled that anyone would do this. Actually, I was hurt. Hurt that there actually has to be some kind of “rule” contemplated to control it. What kind of unethical slime would do that? What kind of unethical slime would need policing by rule to keep from doing it? If there is a banner of what is wrong with us, this is it. L. William Porter II Havana February 1, 2006 Letterslast_img read more

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Hancock County athletes take first at state track meet

first_imgYARMOUTH – Three Hancock County athletes won events at the Class C track and field championships on Saturday at Yarmouth High School.Bucksport junior Mavis Taungatu’a and GSA sophomores Morgan Dauk and John Hassett each took first in individual events.Dauk won the girls’ javelin throw with a distance of 114-02; Hassett won the boys’ 3,200-meter run (9:58.40); and Taungatu’a won the girls’ shot put (35-02.00).At Saturday’s Class B state championships in Bath, Ellsworth junior Elizabeth Perry placed second in the girls’ shot put (34-08.25) and the discus throw (105-09). Greely junior Alyssa Coyne won both events.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textFor Class C, Orono took first for the girls with 132.75 points and the boys with 88 points.For Class B, Waterville won for the girls with 118.25 points, and York won for the boys with 96 points.last_img read more

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Deontay Wilder: Team Joshua must have ‘thrown up’ watching Fury fight

first_imgJoin DAZN and watch Canelo plus more than 100 fight nights a yearThe thought is it couldn’t have worked out any worse for Anthony Joshua and his team. Prior to Saturday night, Joshua was the clear A-side in a potential showdown with Wilder. He can draw tens of thousands of fans in the UK and has three of the belts. Wilder was seen as an unknown even in his own country, but that looks as though it’s quickly changing.“Oh, man, they was throwing up,” Wilder said about how he thinks Joshua and promoter Eddie Hearn felt watching the fight Saturday. “They didn’t wanna see this fight do well. You know, he was already trying to downplay it. They didn’t wanna see this fight do well at all. They want to be the global face of boxing — period. They don’t want no one else to be equal to them or come past them. They want to be the main source that everyone goes to. Well, if he wants that to be, he has to be the undisputed, undefeated, unified champion. One champion, one face, one name, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. If they wanna be singled out, he gotta obtain all the belts and just, he gotta leave no doubt. He gotta leave no fighters left out.”If Wilder blew out Fury in a couple rounds, the narrative would have been Fury was a shell of himself and Wilder wouldn’t have received much credit for the win. Fury outboxed Wilder for much of the fight, but was sent crashing to the canvas on two separate occasions. He rose from the ashes like a phoenix in the 12th round to hear the final bell, the knockdown securing Wilder a draw and allowing him to hold onto his WBC belt. Fury remains the lineal champion. Both guys have been elevated because of Saturday’s action.Now, thoughts of a Joshua fight go on the backburner. There’s so much unfinished business between Wilder and Fury — and the negotiations for the first fight went so smoothly — that it makes for an easy rematch. The Showtime pay-per-view likely outperformed modest expectations and should do a sizable boost on a second fight. The WBC has already said they would halt the need for a mandatory defense by Wilder in order to allow the rematch to happen.“Everyone is talking about this fight. It’s only right for us to go back in and do it again,” Wilder said on a Tuesday conference call. “I don’t want any other fights to happen between him and I (meeting again).”Wilder said he would be ready for a rematch as early as March or April. But Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza indicated May or June would be a better fit in order to allow these two giants to recover from the difficult fight they engaged in.Having been there ringside Saturday at STAPLES Center, it was some of the best atmosphere I’ve experienced on a fight night. Fury proved that British and Irish fans will follow him wherever he goes. Wilder made believers out of doubters by uncorking what we all thought was a fight-ending left hand in the 12th round.Anthony Joshua has an April 13 defense lined up against a to-be-determined opponent at Wembley Stadium. It will undoubtedly be in front of tens of thousands of fans, as are all his defenses. But Wilder and Fury have certainly stolen a little bit of Joshua’s shine by taking part in an all-time great heavyweight title fight. It wasn’t clear whether Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury could deliver a fight Saturday night on par with what they brought to the buildup. The two unbeaten heavyweights surprised everyone and became the water-cooler topic of Monday and beyond after fighting to a draw.Max Kellerman has discussed the fight on ESPN’s First Take on back-to-back days. Wilder has appeared on “The Late Late Show” with James Corden and “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on FS1. These are the kinds of platforms heavyweight boxing in America hasn’t been featured on since at least Lennox Lewis reigned as champion more than a decade ago. Join DAZN and watch Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding on Dec. 15“You know, they’re getting what they deserve,” Wilder said. “They felt like they was the only people in boxing, in the heavyweight division, that people cared about. They felt like they was the only ones that was running this sport. Well, we had to show them that they’re not the only ones. This is a family. This is a group of guys together, making this thing happen, not just one individual person. So me and Fury came together — we had to show the world what it looks like for the best to fight the best, and look at the outcome. No one has talked about Joshua since I don’t know how long. And we’re planning on keeping it that way, to show them.”Now, more than ever, the pressure is on Joshua and Eddie Hearn to find a way to make a fight with one of those two before the year is up.last_img read more

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