May 24, 2019

Top Artificial Intelligence Books to Read in 2019

Machine LearningTech NewsUncategorized


 Asif Razzaq


May 24, 2019

1. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach by Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig:

A Modern Approach, 3e offers the most comprehensive, up-to-date introduction to the theory and practice of artificial intelligence. Number one in its field, this textbook is ideal for one or two-semester, undergraduate or graduate-level courses in Artificial Intelligence.

2. The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind by Marvin Minsky

In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.

3. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence by Philip C Jackson

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence presents an introduction to the science of reasoning processes in computers, and the research approaches and results of the past two decades. You’ll find lucid, easy-to-read coverage of problem-solving methods, representation and models, game playing, automated understanding of natural languages, heuristic search theory, robot systems, heuristic scene analysis and specific artificial-intelligence accomplishments. Related subjects are also included: predicate-calculus theorem proving, machine architecture, psychological simulation, automatic programming, novel software techniques, industrial automation and much more.

4. The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos

If data-ism is today’s rising philosophy, this book will be its bible. The quest for universal learning is one of the most significant, fascinating, and revolutionary intellectual developments of all time. A groundbreaking book, The Master Algorithm is the essential guide for anyone and everyone wanting to understand not just how the revolution will happen, but how to be at its forefront.

5Machine Learning by Tom M. Mitchell 

This book covers the field of machine learning, which is the study of algorithms that allow computer programs to automatically improve through experience. The book is intended to support upper level undergraduate and introductory level graduate courses in machine learning.

6. The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil

One of CBS News’s Best Fall Books of 2005 • Among St Louis Post-Dispatch’s Best Nonfiction Books of 2005 • One of’s Best Science Books of 2005

A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from the bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and The Age of Spiritual Machines who Bill Gates calls “the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence”

7How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human ThoughtRevealed by Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil, in his much-anticipated How to Create a Mind, he takes this exploration to the next step: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works, then applying that knowledge to create vastly intelligent machines.

8. Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AIby Paul R. Daugherty

In Human + Machine, Accenture leaders Paul R. Daugherty and H. James (Jim) Wilson show that the essence of the AI paradigm shift is the transformation of all business processes within an organization–whether related to breakthrough innovation, everyday customer service, or personal productivity habits. As humans and smart machines collaborate ever more closely, work processes become more fluid and adaptive, enabling companies to change them on the fly–or to completely reimagine them. AI is changing all the rules of how companies operate.

9. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

This profoundly ambitious and original book breaks down a vast track of difficult intellectual terrain. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom’s work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.

10. Deep Learning (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning series) by Ian Goodfellow

The text offers mathematical and conceptual background, covering relevant concepts in linear algebra, probability theory and information theory, numerical computation, and machine learning. It describes deep learning techniques used by practitioners in industry, including deep feedforward networks, regularization, optimization algorithms, convolutional networks, sequence modeling, and practical methodology; and it surveys such applications as natural language processing, speech recognition, computer vision, online recommendation systems, bioinformatics, and videogames. Finally, the book offers research perspectives, covering such theoretical topics as linear factor models, autoencoders, representation learning, structured probabilistic models, Monte Carlo methods, the partition function, approximate inference, and deep generative models.

11. The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence by Amir Husain

“In The Sentient Machine, Husain prepares us for a brighter future; not with hyperbole about right and wrong, but with serious arguments about risk and potential” (Dr. Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer, The Boeing Company). He addresses broad existential questions surrounding the coming of AI: Why are we valuable? What can we create in this world? How are we intelligent? What constitutes progress for us? And how might we fail to progress? Husain boils down complex computer science and AI concepts into clear, plainspoken language and draws from a wide variety of cultural and historical references to illustrate his points. Ultimately, Husain challenges many of our societal norms and upends assumptions we hold about “the good life.”

12. Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Knowby Jerry Kaplan

The emergence of systems capable of independent reasoning and action raises serious questions about just whose interests they are permitted to serve, and what limits our society should place on their creation and use. Deep ethical questions that have bedeviled philosophers for ages will suddenly arrive on the steps of our courthouses. Can a machine be held accountable for its actions? Should intelligent systems enjoy independent rights and responsibilities, or are they simple property? Who should be held responsible when a self-driving car kills a pedestrian? Can your personal robot hold your place in line, or be compelled to testify against you? If it turns out to be possible to upload your mind into a machine, is that still you? The answers may surprise you.

13. Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat

Through profiles of tech visionaries, industry watchdogs, and groundbreaking AI systems, James Barrat’s Our Final Inventionexplores the perils of the heedless pursuit of advanced AI. Until now, human intelligence has had no rival. Can we coexist with beings whose intelligence dwarfs our own? And will they allow us to?

14. The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work by Thomas H. Davenport

In The AI Advantage, Thomas Davenport offers a guide to using artificial intelligence in business. He describes what technologies are available and how companies can use them for business benefits and competitive advantage. He cuts through the hype of the AI craze—remember when it seemed plausible that IBM’s Watson could cure cancer?—to explain how businesses can put artificial intelligence to work now, in the real world

15. Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction by Andrew Barto and Richard Sutton

Reinforcement learning, one of the most active research areas in artificial intelligence, is a computational approach to learning whereby an agent tries to maximize the total amount of reward it receives when interacting with a complex, uncertain environment. In Reinforcement Learning, Richard Sutton and Andrew Barto provide a clear and simple account of the key ideas and algorithms of reinforcement learning. Their discussion ranges from the history of the field’s intellectual foundations to the most recent developments and applications. The only necessary mathematical background is familiarity with elementary concepts of probability.

16.The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese

In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history:

– 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language.

– 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare.

– 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state.

Note: The above list of AI books are selected on the basis of their reviews on Amazon, social media influence, popularity and online mentions in AI domains

Please note: This is not a ranking article.

If you have any question or suggestion or if you want to suggest any book that we missed in this list then please email us at

What is Artificial Intelligence?

By Samuel Greengard, Posted May 24, 2019

Learn how artificial intelligence (AI) uses software-driven systems and intelligent agents to make decisions that approximate human cognitive functions.


Download the authoritative guide: Big Data 2019: Mining Data for Revenue

The term artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computing systems that perform tasks normally considered within the realm of human decision making. These software-driven systems and intelligent agents incorporate advanced data analytics and Big Data applications. AI systems leverage this knowledge repository to make decisions and take actions that approximate cognitive functions, including learning and problem solving.

AI, which was introduced as an area of science in the mid 1950s, has evolved rapidly in recent years. It has become a valuable and essential tool for orchestrating digital technologies and managing business operations. Particularly useful are AI advances such machine learning and deep learning.

It’s important to recognize that AI is a constantly moving target. Things that were once considered within the domain of artificial intelligence – optical character recognition and computer chess, for example – are now considered routine computing. Today, robotics, image recognition, natural language processing, real-time analytics tools and various connected systems within the Internet of Things (IoT) all tap AI in order to deliver more advanced features and capabilities.

Helping develop AI are the many cloud companies that offer cloud-based AI services. Statistica projects that AI will grow at an annual rate exceeding 127% through 2025.

Bruin: Business Intelligence & IT Asset Management Platform



Cloud Computing 2019: Using the Cloud for Competitive Advantage



By then, the market for AI systems will top $4.8 billion dollars. Consulting firm Accenture reports that AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 by “changing the nature of work and spawning a new relationship between man and machine.” Not surprisingly, observers have both heralded and derided the technology as it filters into business and everyday life.

Artificial intelligence has broad applications across many areas of business.

History of AI: Duplicating the Human Mind

The dream of developing machines that can mimic human cognition dates back centuries. In the 1890s, science fiction writers such as H.G. Wells began exploring the concept of robots and other machines thinking and acting like humans.

It wasn’t until the early 1940s, however, that the idea of artificial intelligence began to take shape in a real way. After Alan Turing introduced the theory of computation – essentially how algorithms could be used by machines to produce machine “thinking" – other researchers began exploring ways to create AI frameworks.

In 1956, researchers gathering at Dartmouth College launched the practical application of AI. This included teaching computers to play checkers at a level that could beat most humans. In the decades that followed, enthusiasm about AI waxed and waned.

In 1997, a chess-playing computer developed by IBM, Deep Blue, beat reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. In 2011, IBM introduced Watson, which used far more sophisticated techniques, including deep learning and machine learning, to defeat two top Jeopardy! champions.

Although AI continued to advance over the next few years, observers often cite 2015 as the landmark year for AI. Google CloudAmazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azureand others began to step up research and improve natural language processing capabilities, computer vision and analytics tools.

Today, AI is embedded in a growing number of applications and tools. These range from enterprise analytics programs and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa to autonomous vehicles and facial recognition.

AI Takes Different Forms

Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term that refers to any and all machine intelligence. However, there are several distinct and separate areas of AI research and use – though they sometimes overlap. These include:

General AI. These systems typically learn from the world around them and apply data in a cross-domain way. For example, DeepMind, now owned by Google, used a neural network to learn how to play video games similar to how humans play them.Natural Language Processing (NLP).This technology allows machines to read, understand, and interpret human language. NLP uses statistical methods and semantic programming to understand grammar and syntax, and, in some cases, the emotions of the writer or those interacting with a system like a chat bot.Machine perception. Over the last few years, enormous advances in sensors — cameras, microphones, accelerometers, GPS, radar and more — have powered machine perception, which encompasses speech recognition and computer vision used for facial and object recognition.Robotics. Robot devices are widely used in factories, hospitals and other settings. In recent years, drones have also taken flight. These systems — which rely on sophisticated mapping and complex programming—also use machine perception, to navigate through tasks.Social intelligence. Autonomous vehicles, robots, and digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa require coordination and orchestration. As a result, these systems must have an understanding of human behavior along with a recognition of social norms.

AI Methodologies

There are a number of approaches used to develop and build AI systems. These include:

Machine Learning (ML). This branch of AI uses statistical methods and algorithms to discover patterns and “train” systems to make predictions or decisions without explicit programming. It may consist of supervised and semi-supervised ML (which includes classifications and labels) and unsupervised ML (using only data inputs and no human applied labels).Deep Learning. This approach relies on artificial neural networks (ANNs) to approximate the neural pathways of the human brain. Deep learning systems are particularly valuable for developing computer vision, speech recognition, machine translation, social network filtering, video games and medical diagnosis. Bayesian Networks. These systems rely on probabilistic graphical models that use random variables and conditional independence to better understand and act on the relationships between things, such as a drug and side effects or darkness and a light switch turning on.Genetic Algorithms. These search algorithms tap a heuristic approach modeled after natural selection. They use mutation models and crossover techniques to solve complex biological challenges and other problems. 

AI in the Real World

There is no shortage of compelling use cases for AI. Here are some leading examples:


Artificial intelligence in healthcare can play a leading role. It enables health professionals to understand risk factors and diseases at a deeper level. It can aid in diagnosis and provide insight into risks. AI also powers smart devices, surgical robots and Internet of Things (IoT) systems that support patient tracking or alerts.


AI is now widely used for crop monitoring. It helps farmers apply water, fertilizer and other substances at optimal levels. It also aids in preventative maintenance for farm equipment and it is spawning autonomous robots that pick crops.


Few industries have been transformed by AI more than finance. Today, quants (algorithms) trade stocks with no human intervention, banks make automated credit decisions instantly, and financial organizations use algorithms to spot fraud. AI also allows consumers to scan paper checks and make deposits using a smartphone.


A growing number of consumer-facing apps and tools support image recognition, voice and natural language processing and augmented reality (AR) features that allow consumers to preview a piece of furniture in a room or office or see what makeup looks like without heading to a physical store. Retailers are also using AI for personalized marketing, managing supply chains, and cybersecurity.

Travel, Transportation and Hospitality

Airlines, hotels, and rental car companies use AI to forecast demand and adapt pricing dynamically. Airlines also rely on AI to optimize the use of aircraft for routes, factoring in weather conditions, passenger loads and other variables. They can also understand when aircraft require maintenance. Hotels are using AI, including image recognition, for deploying robots and security monitoring. Autonomous vehicles and smart transportation grids also rely on AI.

AI Benefits and Risks

For businesses, it’s not a question of whether to use AI — many organization already taps into it on a daily basis —it’s a question of how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

As starting point, it's essential to know how and where AI can improve business processes and build a workforce that understands what artificial intelligence is, where it fits in and what opportunities it offers. This may require workers to have new knowledge and skills – and AI salaries are competitive – along with a rethinking of service providers, workflows and internal processes.

Artificial intelligence serves up other challenges. One of the biggest stumbling points for AI, including machine learning and deep learning, is poorly constructed frameworks. When users train models with bad data or construct flawed statistical models, incorrect and even dangerous outcomes often follow.

AI tools, while increasingly easy to use, require data science expertise. Other important factors include: ensuring there’s enough computing power and the right cloud-based infrastructure in place, and, mitigating fears about job loss.

In any case, artificial intelligence is introducing bold opportunities to create smarter and more powerful machines. In the years ahead, AI will certainly further transform business and life.

Why Modi Won

May 23, 2019 17:27 IST

'Modi's advent has made the mass of Indians realise that there was absolutely nothing wrong or objectionable in proclaiming nationalism as the masthead of the polity and Hinduism as its centerpiece,' says B S Raghavan, the distinguished civil servant.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/

The BJP tsunami, under the direction of Narendra Damodardas Modi, has swept away all that stood in its path.

None so blind as those who were baiting and bashing Modi, who refused to see what was so unmistakably visible, and who were in a state of denial right until the end.

What explains this spectacular verdict handed by the largest electorate in history in the largest democracy of the world?

Contrary to the notion among the English educated class, people did not judge Modi on the nitty-gritty of demonetisation, agricultural crisis and other customary tripe that that class rolls out at a sneeze.

That class is totally divorced from the mass of what roughly constitutes Bharat.

For the first time, India found a leader, a Divider-in-Chief in Narendra Damodardas Modi who has been engaging himself in dividing the chaff from the grain.

That process inevitably involves dividing those who stand up for the glory that is India from those who are vandalising it from within and those who mistake Anglicised, Westernised crap as enlightenment and salvation.

The English-educated elite had got away for 70 years with peddling their prattle as profundities and keeping oppressed and crushed the spirit of the Indian nationhood and cultural persona.

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The Hindu Vote Tsunami

Modi has rendered a great and historic service in liberating the country from the clutches of such hybrid honchos and polarising the populace as between true Indians and spurious ones.

His advent has given a sense of self-pride to the Hindus.

Their sentiments and feelings, susceptibilities and sensibilities, had been kept under check so long that his emergence as the much-waited-for divider-in-chief as Time magazine would call him, or liberator from India's thraldom as the mass of the Indian people would see him, has led, among the overzealous sections of the party, to the kind of fizz that hits the roof when a champagne bottle is opened.

The excesses in respect of cow protection or references to apparently extravagant acclamations of heroes of epics of yore over which the English-educated class never tires of beating its breast are to be understood as transient manifestations of that fizz.

Modi has dealt with them discreetly, and wisely, in order not to vitiate the atmosphere further.

For 70 years, India had been reduced to a blurred blob of being all things to all manner of persons, and for the first time it is on its way to acquiring a clear-cut identity.

Dividing and polarising the population was long overdue so that those who are shy of professing the greatness of India, the magnificence of India, the glory of India and the tenets and values of its predominant religion and those who are parroting ill-digested exogenous nostrums are isolated and exposed.

Modi's advent has made the mass of Indians realise that there was absolutely nothing wrong or objectionable in proclaiming nationalism as the masthead of the polity and Hinduism as its centerpiece.

After all, Hindus constitute 80 per cent of the population, and there is no sense in being mealy-mouthed about certain of the indisputable corollaries that flow from it.

To wit: It is the bounden duty of all public institutions to ensure their welfare, contentment and happiness as the first charge on State policy without feeling apologetic or guilty about it.

India, by every definition -- religious, cultural, civilisational, political -- and by right, is a Hindu dominant nation, and it is the primary concern of all those residents in it, and drawing sustenance from it, to bear it in mind in their conduct and behavior.

In other words, those constituting the 20 per cent of the population cannot override what makes for the greatest good of the greatest number, by blustering, browbeating or blackmail.

Even on brass tacks, it is patent that Modi's government has certainly raised the tempo of execution of the various projects on the ground.

Modi has publicly given evidence of his passion for, and been putting all his weight behind, cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene, and modernising the underpinnings -- the nuts and bolts -- of economy such as digitalisation, cashless transactions, financial access and self-esteem to the underclass by opening bank accounts, keeping inflation under control and generally creating a climate congenial to business, trade, commerce and industry.

The GST and bankruptcy laws are historic firsts the multiplier effect of which will be of incalculable benefit jacking up the economy to unprecedented heights within Modi's second term.

All of them cumulatively will rev up the velocity, volume, versatility and variety of economic transactions and bring about all-round social transformation.

Now coming to demonetisation which the English-educated elite had been constantly holding out as a disaster of the first magnitude: I am reminded of how Gandhi's announcement of the salt satyagraha was greeted the same way by even Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad.

In fact, Nehru thought Gandhi had become senile.

I have seen notings in the home ministry of the British overlords who had boldly asserted that it would fizzle out on the first day since nobody was interested in the abolition of a quarter-of-an-anna tax on a maund of salt.

It shook the British Empire.

Similarly, I have been witness to decimalisation also being seen as an unmitigated disaster.

The average denizens of the real India saw demonetisation as a well-intentioned and much-needed catharsis which was worth its while.

That was why while the English-educated were tearing their hair ascribing all kinds of tortures to it, the people in the mass patiently and peacefully stood in queues before banks and put up with the glitches that were part of a massive nationwide operation that had to be inevitably undertaken as a surprise.

There was not one instance of riot or law and order disturbance over it in a country which was called a functioning anarchy.

It might not have yielded all that was expected of it, but it cleansed the system, and made the tax returns and collections jump to phenomenal levels.

Those who kept their ears to the ground, purging themselves of all the brainwashings that they had undergone, and looked at India with Indian eyes, with the eyes of the average Bharati with his millennia-old fractionally-distilled native wisdom, knew the massive win of the BJP and the sweep-all Modi wave were foregone conclusions.

I am personally delighted as a life-long student of management, public administration, governance and public affairs that India will have the benefit of another five years of corruption-free government under a leader who is hard working, clear-eyed, sincere, articulate and inspiring, and has dedicated himself to the progress and prosperity and future glory of India.

B S Raghavan held leadership positions in the state and central governments, including charge of the political and security policy planning division at the Union ministry of home affairs.

B S Raghavan

Disinformation: A New Normal


A new “normal”?

Over the last few weeks, increasingattention has been devoted to the question of foreign (read: Russian) interference in the EP elections. Withseveral high-profile cases of Kremlin-orchestrated meddling still vivid in our collective memory, the EU campaign period has been plagued by apprehension about how the Kremlin may seek to sway and/or undermine the electoral process this time around. In response to these concerns and to the growing demand for scrutiny of Russia’s influence efforts, a number of research and monitoring initiatives emerged in recent months to track, expose, and analyse election-related disinformation, as well as support the EU’s own evolving efforts to mitigate the problem, which include mounting pressure on social media companies to tackle their key role in facilitating the spread of disinformation.

But in the final days leading up to the vote, their findings appear to be anticlimactic: expectations of a massive coordinated influence campaign, targeted hack-and-leak operation, or other dramatic cyberattack have seemingly fallen short. The observed level of disinformation and manipulated online activity has been pretty much, well… normal. And much of it, importantly, now appears to be home-grown – motivated by populist, anti-establishment attitudes that are gaining traction across certain segments of the European electorate, and not coordinated directly by Russia or its immediate proxies (but certainly promoted by them!).

Compared to past elections, it may indeed seem like we have gotten off easy. But before we breathe a collective sigh of relief, let’s ask ourselves – is this a “normal” that we are willing to accept?

Because here is what this new “normal” actually means: it means that the Kremlin's strategy is succeeding. It means that we risk becoming desensitized – even habituated – to the subversive efforts of a hostile foreign power aimed at damaging our democratic institutions and processes, and the values that has been essential to building a peaceful and prosperous post-World War II Europe.

The Kremlin's five years of disinformation campaigns and related influence efforts do not suggest that it wants a Europe that is peaceful or prosperous. Rather, they suggest the opposite: that the Kremlin wants to see Europe fractured from within, weakened by EU secession efforts, national independence movements, and civil strife; a Europe that is inward-looking and that will not frustrate Russia’s strategic interests in the shared neighbourhood and farther abroad. Most importantly, the Kremlin wants a Europe that cannot or will not defend liberal-democratic values – nor inspire them elsewhere.

Following the bread crumbs

None of the above is speculation. Each of these claims derives directly from disinformation narratives originating in pro-Kremlin and Russian state media that we have been collating in the EUvsDisinfo database since 2015. We have meticulously documented evidence of the Kremlin’s enduring and assiduous disinformation campaign against Europe and the EU, including its institutions, policies, and values. Politicians who support the EU are routinely denigratedridiculed, or accused of corruption, while Eurosceptic voices are given prominence. And in the weeks and months leading up to the EP elections, these efforts have clearly persisted in multiple languages: every edition of the Disinfo Review includes cases of recurring disinformation narratives concerning the EU, ranging from deliberate distortions of reality to outright falsehoods. Behind the scenes, the trends are confirmed by our external media monitoring and data analysis team.

This week was no exception – in fact, we saw a slight increase in the overall number of stories attacking the EU. These covered a broad range of topics and deployed many common themes and narratives. For example, on the EU’s democratic (il)legitimacy, we saw stories claiming that lobbyists are the EU’s real rulers, that the EP has no power, and that the EU is a deeply undemocratic construct only serving the interests of a small wealthy elite. The migration issue was also exploited, memorably in one completely false story claiming that the Vice President of the European Commission said that “monocultural states must disappear and mass migration of Muslim men is a means to this end.” Pro-Kremlin media also played on the related narratives of “threatened values” – suggesting that Europe is abandoning its Christian roots (unlike Russia) – and “lost sovereignty” – claiming that Western Europe is dominated by the United States. Other stories included claims that the EU portrays itself as being ideologically superior to its constituent national governments.

The 10th anniversary of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program also received significant attention this week. The EaP was tied to a long list of sins by the pro-Kremlin media, including accusations that it is a concealed EU colonisation project, that it provoked the war in Donbas, and that its goal was always Russia's isolation. According to one story, Belarus’s president skipped the summit in Brussels due to the possibility of being “physically eliminated”. Apparently, the EU capital may now be a hub for political assassinations!

Where do we go from here?

These examples, of course, are hardly an exhaustive list of the anti-European disinformation that is presently in circulation and being churned out every day by an ever more diffuse network of sources. This network, as noted earlier, is expanding and appears to beincreasingly home-grown, motivated by politics of grievance and anti-establishment attitudes that, in some cases, are an organic reaction to the perceived failings of the European project and out-of-touch elites, combined with new economic and cultural insecurities fuelled by globalisation.

But that is not true in all cases. That’s the story the Kremlin would like you to believe, which conveniently whitewashes its concerted five-year campaign to destabilise Europe (and the West more broadly), precisely through the amplification and cultivation of these and other fringe voices, as well as opportunistic exploitation of crisis situations, like the Notre Dame fire, to push mendacious narratives.

The real story – one that should stoke our deep moral outrage, not inspire acceptance of a new “normal” – is that Russia’s seeds of subversion, carefully planted and cultivated for over half a decade, have successfully taken root and are now thriving independently. Today, on the eve of the European elections, the Kremlin merely hopes to reap what it sowed.

This strategy, importantly, is not new; it derives from the old-school Soviet practice of “active measures”. In a famous 1984 interview, Soviet defector and ex-KGB propagandist Yuri Bezmenov explains that the first objective of active measures is the demoralization of a society. He describes a slow process of brainwashing, ideological subversion, and psychological warfare that aims, over many years, to alter its target’s perception of reality. A society that is demoralized cannot effectively defend itself or act in its self-interest. Sound familiar?

But Russia also deserves recognition for its remarkable foresight about how our new digital tools and changes in our media and information environment could be weaponised to exploit and aggravate existing weaknesses. The Kremlin also figured out how to turn our strengths against us: in today’s digital ecosystem, core democratic values like free speech, transparency, and unrestricted access to information have transformed into vulnerabilities ripe for abuse. The digital world, as Timothy Snyder recently said, “spins ever fewer facts ever thinner, and into ever broader fantasies.” This is why, he explains, the populists are also the digitalists: for them, the flaws in our digital information architecture are actually made for purpose.

The Kremlin has shown us the tools which enable us to undermine ourselves from within. It pioneered the tactics and methods over many years, testing them first on its own citizens and eastern European countries (namely Ukraine), before exporting them to the West. And even though we saw the warning signs relatively early on, we have remained the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. If we are still to jump out in time, we cannot now sit back and complacently accept the “new normal”.

Click here for the FULL COLLECTION of recent stories repeating disinformation.


Trolling European Elections 2014–2019

Kremlin attempts at election meddling in Europe started as far back as 2014, research by Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute shows.

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Figure of the Week: 3

Three victims of online disinformation speak out, sharing their personal experiences of facing online and off-line harassment and threats.

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Russian TV: Joe Biden Covers Up Trade in Human Organs

Who needs political reporting when you can have conspiracy theories? Gazprom’s NTV shows the way.Read more

May 23, 2019

Is Artificial Intelligence Really Disrupting Travel?

Giri DevanurForbes Councils Member

Forbes Technology CouncilCommunityVoice


Giri Devanur

President and CEO Serial entrepreneur: 1 IPO, 2 exits, 27+ yrs. in tech. EandY Entrepreneur of the year. Author, Nothing to Nasdaq


We have been hearing for months that AI will kill millions of jobs — that technology will take over all aspects of the travel industry and so on.

Let’s take this onslaught of information and clinically dissect it to get a clearer view of how the travel industry will be affected. We can broadly define the core aspects of the travel industry in three main categories: preparation, buying and the actual experience itself.

1. Preparation

Assume you want to go from New York to London on vacation. If you are bringing your family of four or five people, you will likely end up searching for hours on various search engines like Kayak or Expedia to get the right itinerary and number of stops, book the nearest airport, etc. This is a time-consuming and frustrating part of the vacation planning process.

Finding the right prices, times and quality is the primary challenge every vacation traveler faces online. This applies to everything, from flights to booking hotels.

This might come as a shock to people, as technology has proliferated across all aspects of the travel industry. But companies have put too much focus on technology and have forgotten that customer service is very important. Try to speak to a customer service representative at one of the many online travel agencies (OTAs). Wait times for these agencies can be brutally long, especially during emergencies.

AI will hopefully solve some of these issues. Specialized algorithms can seamlessly transition between humans and systems when an OTA is handling an irate customer. Google’s data shows that 36% of consumers are willing to pay more for these personalized experiences. However, a poor customer experience will not be fully saved by new technology — at least not immediately.

2. Buying

There are so many prices and restrictions when making a travel purchase, and customers feel helpless in most cases. We are seeing that because of these reasons, many customers are switching back to travel agents.

Offline travel agents, with the help of the latest technologies, can do a better job of providing higher levels of customer satisfaction. AI will make this transformation much easier for travel agents.

If someone is looking for a plain booking from point A to point B, OTAs do a decent job. But when someone has to book a complex trip with more than two or three passengers, it becomes harder and more expensive to use an OTA. Consumers use a staggering 38 sites before they pick a package.

Imagine the frustrations and challenges a consumer has to go through before they book. OTA’s websites have also introduced dynamic pricing models, where prices fluctuate due to demand. While this can be a boon to customers in some regards, it still causes great confusion.

3. Travel Experience

Technologies that were meant to help have made travel more painful than ever. Imagine traveling on busy holiday seasons across the world. Long lines, overbooked flights, tired counter staff members and old legacy technologies create havoc before the travel even starts. We don’t even want to discuss the hazards of security check-in lines and other headaches.

After all that suffering, when you finally board the plane, travelers are thrown into more misery — hard seats, no elbow room and every seat is full. U.S. domestic flights have even removed onboard TV screens.

None of these technology revolutions is going to change air travel in the near future. AI will improve some areas of travel, but it will not impact most others.

The Future Of The Travel Industry

The FAA forecasts that the number of U.S. airline passengers will increase from 840.8 million in 2017 to 1.28 billion in 2038, a growth of more than 50%. Imagine how much more torturous travel will be in the future if we don’t upgrade the support systems involved, especially those in airports and on airlines.

With this kind of expected growth, AI will probably help some areas of travel even further — but don’t expect any miracles here. Unless space travel takes off, be ready to stand in long lines and eat some peanuts.

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?

Policy on ‘globesity’ epidemic must shed urban bias


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Approaches to tackling the rise in overweight and obese populations have tended to ignore alarming rural trends

Source: UN; WHO; NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, Nature, May 2019


An extensive new study on the global epidemic of overweight and obesity -- or ‘globesity’ -- since 1985 reveals two alarming trends: first, rural populations of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) have made unhealthy transitions as fast or faster than cities ; and second, rural areas have contributed to the rising epidemic more than the impact of urbanisation.

Such risky ‘urbanisation of rural life’ requires a broadening of existing policy approaches, especially extending the obesity healthcare provision to rural areas, ensuring rural supply chains deliver affordable healthy food, and planning rural development to facilitate healthier lifestyles.

Remedial efforts will face major impediments in LMICs: their health budgets are constrained, and population is rising fast and suffers both undernutrition and obesity.


Calls will rise for integrating hunger and obesity aid efforts to focus on supplying healthy food to the rural and urban poor.The economic costs of globesity will continue to rise, instilling a sense of urgency in policy solutions.Without public partnerships with private food companies, making supply chains more efficient, affordable and healthier will be difficult.Heavily urbanised Latin America will continue to make an unusually large urban contribution to globesity.

Congress final tally is 52

Congress final tally is 52....

Lesser than Modi's 56 inch chest...

✔2 short of getting leader of opposition...

✔8 more than 2014 count... So all the "Chowkidar Chor Hai" and "Mahathagbandhan" they could not even increase their count by double digits...

But for Kerala who voted against the Commies and Stalin in TN, CONgrass would have got less than last time...

A guy who can't speak proper Hindi, is elected from Kerala from a "secular" seat... 

A "Nachnewali",  Maharajadhiraj Ko Nachayi...

NYAY milgaya?

May 22, 2019

US: Billions proposed for AI

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robot. Photo: Laura Chiesa/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty


A new proposal in the Senate would set aside $2.2 billion for artificial intelligence R&D over the next five years, Kaveh reports.

The bill, introduced today by Martin Heinrich (D–N.M.), Rob Portman (R–Ohio) and Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii), would add fuel to the Trump administration's AI strategy, for which the White House has so far requested about $850 million.

The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act would give the National Science Foundation $500 million to fund research and new educational standards and institutions.$40 million would go to the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, which would be tasked with setting up benchmarks for AI algorithms.The Department of Energy would set up five AI research centers with $1.5 billion.New inter-agency groups would coordinate strategy and R&D efforts.

Background: The bill joins another proposal in the House and Senate that would boost coordination on AI inside the federal government.

Our thought bubble: Experts have been calling on the government to drastically expand funding for AI R&D. This money would be a step in that direction.

What they're saying: In a statement, Portman said,

"Right now, China is engaging in a full court press to unseat the United States’ dominance in AI. By coordinating and synchronizing our country’s research and development efforts, this bill ensures not just that the United States remains an AI leader, but that it does so by developing AI technology that prioritizes American values."

Did Saudi Arabia have inkling about Lanka blasts?

Indrani Bagchi | Reuters | Updated: May 22, 2019, 08:47 IST



In the past couple of days, a leaked diplomatic cable by the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry suggested Riyadh knew more than they were letting on about the Easter blastsThe cable is addressed to the Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka and signed by the foreign minister Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz al-AssafIt asks the ambassador to ensure Saudi citizens did not travel outside near churches on Easter Sunday

NEW DELHI: Even as tests conclusively proved that Zahran Hashim, chief suspect of the Easter Sunday blasts in Sri Lanka, died in the attacks, India worries that the growing tensions between the nation’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority might plunge the island back into another crisis of the kind that saw a bloody war culminating in the LTTE’s elimination a decade back.

Given the fact that India shared detailed intelligence on the attackers days ahead of the incident, the Sirisena government has little to quibble about India’s role. That has not stopped some military leaders like Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayke saying the attackers travelled to Bengaluru, Jammu & Kashmir and Kerala for training purposes. Senior Indian sources indicated that they were sharing intelligence with the Sri Lankan security forces and there would be a series of actions against possible Islamist centres in India in the coming days. In Sri Lanka, this cooperation has seen an aide of Hashim, Mohamed Aliyar, arrested in the past week. On Monday, a staffer in Sri Lanka’s parliament was arrested for his links with the terror group, National Tawheed Jamaat, which carried out the attacks.

Indian officials, in their conversations with the Sri Lankans, are cautioning against making this a Buddhist-Muslim conflict, particularly after the recent clashes between the two communities. Indian security officials say the targeting of Christians by the Islamist terror group was intended to capture international attention, but ultimately it could target the country’s Buddhist majority. The recent raids in mosques and recoveries of weapons have only exacerbated tensions. India has been counselling Sri Lanka to tread more carefully.

India has also shared its concerns about the easy access of materials, explosives, etc. into Sri Lanka. “They have to tighten access from the sea,” officials said. This is where India is hoping to share its expertise with Sri Lanka.

There has been no mention of Pakistan and its jihadi groups in the context of the Sri Lankan attacks, even though India did flag some suspicious contacts in the Pakistan high commission in Sri Lanka. This itself was used to disregard the Indian alert, because Sri Lankan authorities felt India was trying to draw a wedge between them. Indian security sources figure that a Pakistani link would soon surface, given Pakistan’s suspected role in radicalising the island’s Muslims, particularly against India. The first arrests in this respect was made by the NIA in 2013, when it was discovered that an official at the Pakistan high commission was a terror handler.

In the past couple of days, a leaked diplomatic cable by the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry (leaked in a Lebanese newspaper) suggested Riyadh knew more than they were letting on about the Easter blasts, setting off a storm of speculation. The cable, which has not yet been denied by the Saudi government, is addressed to the Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka, Abdul Nasser bin Hussein al-Harethi, and signed by the foreign minister Ibrahim bin Abdul Aziz al-Assaf. It asks the ambassador to ensure Saudi citizens did not travel outside near churches on Easter Sunday, while asking him to delete all documents related to it. It could just be abundant caution, but conspiracy theorists are having a field day. Indian sources worry that this could fuel the fires in Sri Lanka.

Big data, attention and wealth


Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty/Somerset House


A core obsession of internet reformers is to loosen Big Tech’s stranglehold on the financial spoils from the data they vacuum up, and spread the riches around. But some economists say the payoff to ordinary Americans will be much less than many imagine.

What's happening: Economists say we live in an age of income inequality not seen since before the Great Depression — and possibly since the Gilded Age at the end of the 19th century. But they struggle to identify precisely why it's happened.

What they do know: A growing proportion of the nation's wealth is concentrated at the very top. In the 1920s, more than 20% of U.S. wealth was held by 0.1% of the population. The figure plunged over the subsequent decades, but now is back near 20%, according to a January paper by Gabriel Zucman, a professor at UC Berkeley.And the tech-led economy appears to be a big reason for the gap, with wealth concentrated among a few companies and billionaires who gather up our data, organize it and turn out products like perfectly targeted ads.

In her new book, "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism," Shoshana Zuboff says power over this data has eclipsed the traditional economy "as the fountainhead of capitalist wealth and power in the twenty-first century.”

But, speaking with Axios, Zuboff says no one knows the size of what she calls the "surveillance economy."And she and economists queried by Axios say that big data — while a powerful force in the economy — is still not the center of the inequality problem.

David Autor, a much-cited MIT economist, says that not data but attention is at the core of Silicon Valley's wealth:

"Remember that Google and Facebook are in the business of selling your attention to their advertisers, i.e., you are the product. Whatever allows them to hold your attention is what makes them so valuable. It could be their ownership of your (and everyone else's) data, but I don't think that's the heart of it."

Breaking it down: Carnegie Mellon's Lee Branstetter says that, together, the big four tech companies that rely on huge stores of collected data — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google — earned about $63 billion profit in 2018. If you add Apple (the second 'A' in the FAANG companies), you get to about $123 billion.

The most-cited recent study of inequality, Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," says the share of the income pie earned by the bottom 50% of earners has dropped by some 10 percentage points since the 1970s.If it had not done so, an additional $2.1 trillion in national income would have gone to the bottom 50% (10% of last year's $21 trillion in GDP).This means that combined,Big Tech profits were less than 6% of the total drop in the income pie. "94% of the income gap is other causes. You could obliterate their profit entirely and it would not make a dent in this income gap," Branstetter tells me.

"The technological change over the last few decades has been much larger than Big Tech and its control over data, and it's been going on much longer than they've even been around," says Branstetter.

The bottom line: The economy has shifted with the ability of companies of all types to collect and marshal data free of charge. Economists are wrestling with how to measure it. But, given its scale, the push to widen the capture of the riches is only likely to grow.

Go deeperBill to require platforms to disclose data value

May 19, 2019

Hindu Families In West Bengal Flee Their Homes After Mosques Call For Non-Muslims To Be Killed

*Hindu Families In West Bengal Flee Their Homes After Mosques Call For Non-Muslims To Be Killed*
15 May 2019 17:04:11

*In shocking footage out of West Bengal, Hindus can be seen fleeing from their households in village Bagakhali under Bishnupur block of Diamond Harbour after local mosques allegedly called for violent attacks against them.*

The people seem shaken with fear after announcements were made by local mosques to kill and maim non-muslims in that area. Watch the footage below:

Women, kids, families are seen on the streets in large numbers. When asked why were they leaving their homes, they echoed the same sentiments of fear and alleged that the mosques had taken it upon themselves to announce their intention to kill non-muslims.

A woman said, "They have been announcing on the microphone that if the Hindus leave their house, they shall kill them."

Another man, who was escaping on a bike said that their houses are being destroyed by people when asked to clarify he said it was the Muslims.

One person even went onto allege that in the announcements, the people in the mosques were giving direct orders to take to ‘lathi’ and knives to kill them.

As per a MyNation report, around 200 houses were ransacked by alleged Muslim perpetrators and the incident began on 11 May.

Recently it was reported that Hindus were not allowed to vote in the Muslim dominated areas of Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency.

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