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Google's Go victory shows AI thinking can be unpredictable, and that's a concern

Humans have been taking a beating from computers lately. The 4-1 defeat of Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol by Google’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence (AI) is only the latest in a string of pursuits in which technology has triumphed over humanity.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Universities should require science, engineering and commerce students to know their maths

Many university degrees require a high level of maths skill. Shutterstock

In 2013, a meeting of academics specialising in teaching first year undergraduate mathematics (known as the FYiMaths network) identified that the broad removal of mathematics prerequisites for many undergr

Originally published in The Conversation.

What the 'weather' is like on a star can help in the search for life

An artist’s illustration of Kappa Ceti whose stellar winds are 50 times stronger than our sun’s. Any Earth-like planet would need a magnetic field to protect its atmosphere if it was to stand a chance of hosting life. M.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Size doesn’t matter in Big Data, it’s what you ask of it that counts

Scientists today are inundated with data. Shutterstock

Big Data is changing the way we do science today. Traditionally, data were collected manually by scientists making measurements, using microscopes or surveys. These data could be analysed by hand or using simple statistical software on a PC.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Children's television can portray the frantic and inane repetition of our lives to perfection

I have a confession to make. Yesterday my 18-month old Joe finally sat through an entire TV show without moving – and I was ecstatic!

I realise the general view out there is that we need to limit screen time throughout childhood and adolescence. And I agree with that general sentiment. I also have genuine admiration for the few parents that manage to raise their children TV-free.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Double vision: why Netflix wants you to watch an extra screen

Many people already use a second device when watching television, but can Netflix combine the two experiences? Shutterstock/ABB Photo

Netflix announced last month that it will launch a second screen experience within its app, allowing subscr

Originally published in The Conversation.

What makes us conscious?

Consciousness might emerge from a particular kind of information processing. Shutterstock

Do you think that the machine you are reading this story on, right now, has a feeling of “what it is like” to be in its state?

Originally published in The Conversation.

Gun control in America by the right (and wrong) numbers

United States President Barack Obama continues to push for reform on gun control amid concerns that people will “become numb” to any further mass shootings, which he says are now happening on a weekly basis.

His comments followed a shooting in Kansas last month in which three people died and 14 were wounded.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Orang-utans play video games too, and it can enrich their lives in the zoo

Visiting the orang-utans at the zoo brings us face to face with some of our closest relatives. Moments of connection with these intelligent creatures can be powerfully emotional.

We heard recently about the amazing experience of a visitor to Melbourne Zoo who sat to breastfeed her child and was watched with interest by a female orang-utan.

Originally published in The Conversation.

Expert panel: the state of the National Broadband Network

Should the fibre extend to the street or the premises? Shutterstock

Is the rollout for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) on track? Are we employing the right technology for the job? Will the NBN be fast enough to handle future demands?

Originally published in The Conversation.