Archive for taxes

Nature Outlook on AI

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2019 by xi'an

The 29 November 2018 issue of Nature had a series of papers on AIs (in its Outlook section). At the general public (awareness) level than in-depth machine-learning article. Including one on the forecasted consequences of ever-growing automation on jobs, quoting from a 2013 paper by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne [of probabilistic numerics fame!] that up to 47% of US jobs could become automated. The paper is inconclusive on how taxations could help in or deter from transfering jobs to other branches, although mentioning the cascading effect of taxing labour and subsidizing capital. Another article covers the progresses in digital government, with Estonia as a role model, including the risks of hacking (but not mentioning Russia’s state driven attacks). Differential privacy is discussed as a way to keep data “secure” (but not cryptography à la Louis Aslett!). With another surprising entry that COBOL is still in use in some administrative systems. Followed by a paper on the apparently limited impact of digital technologies on mental health, despite the advertising efforts of big tech companies being described as a “race to the bottom of the brain stem”! And another one on (overblown) public expectations on AIs, although the New York Time had an entry yesterday on people in Arizona attacking self-driving cars with stones and pipes… Plus a paper on the growing difficulties of saving online documents and culture for the future (although saving all tweets ever published does not sound like a major priority to me!).

Interesting (?) aside, the same issue contains a general public article on the use of AIs for peer reviews (of submitted papers). The claim being that “peer review by artificial intelligence (AI) is promising to improve the process, boost the quality of published papers — and save reviewers time.” A wee bit over-optimistic, I would say, as the developed AI’s are at best “that statistics and methods in manuscripts are sound”. For instance, producing “key concepts to summarize what the paper is about” is not particularly useful. A degree of innovation compared with the existing would be. Or an automated way to adapt the paper style to the strict and somewhat elusive Biometrika style!

y a plus de mouchoirs au bureau des pleurs

Posted in pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2019 by xi'an

Once the French government started giving up to some requests of the unstructured “gilets jaunes” protesters, it was like a flood or flush gate had opened and every category was soon asking for a rise (in benefits) and a decrease (in taxes) or the abolition of a recent measure (like the new procedure for entering university after high school). As an illustration, I read a rather bemusing tribune in Le Monde from a collective of PhD students against asking non-EU students (including PhD students) to pay fees to study in French universities. This may sound a bit of a surrealistic debate from abroad, but the most curious point in the tribune [besides the seemingly paradoxical title of students against Bienvenue En France!] is to argue that asking these students to pay the intended amount would bring their net stipends below the legal minimum wage, considering that they are regular workers… (Which is not completely untrue when remembering that in France the stipends are taxed for income tax and retirement benefits and unemployment benefits, meaning that a new PhD graduate with no position can apply for these benefits.) It seems to me that the solution adopted in most countries, namely that the registration fees are incorporated within the PhD grants, could apply here as well… The other argument that raising these fees from essentially zero to 3000 euros is going to stop bright foreign students to do their PhD in France is not particularly strong when considering that the proportion of foreign students among PhD students here is slightly inferior to the proportion in the UK and the US, where the fees are anything but negligible, especially for foreign students.

polluters 3 [taxes] – government 0 [result] – climate minus 1 [or rather +2⁰]

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2018 by xi'an

principal components [xkcd repost]

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by xi'an

another right uppercut

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2016 by xi'an

While at a much lesser scale than the US election result, the outcome of the French Republican primaries of last weekend shows a similar shift to the right of the electorate, who thus favoured the arch-conservative [Thatcherite] François Fillion over the milder center-right Alain Juppé. Some proposals in his program are downright [very much down and very much to the right] scary, among which

  1. cancel the 35 hour legal working week and let companies “negociate” up to a 48 hour working week
  2. apply an increase of 10% of the VAT, this most unfair of taxes, against a decrease of 40 billions € on company taxes
  3. cut 500,000 public sector jobs, increase working hours in the public sector and restrict the status of civil servant to a few ministries
  4. prohibit adoption and medically assisted procreation outside heterosexual and married couples
  5. collaborate with Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin, including ending sanctions against Russia’s annexation of Crimea,
  6. turn the EU into a Europe of Nations (which happens to be the name of the extreme-right group in the European Parliament)
  7. rewrite history school programs to deliver a “story of the French Nation” that plainly replace teaching with State indoctrination
  8. strip French terrorists of French nationality (a proposal that goes against Article 15 of the Declaration of Human Rights)
  9. leave the European Court of Human Rights (as  Theresa May),
  10. and ban burkinis from beaches, an obviously definitive answer to all secularism issues!

Scary enough to make me decide to vote against him at the second primary election next Sunday, as the winner is likely to be the next French president. (The alternative is simply terrifying!)

conference deadlines

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2016 by xi'an

Just to remind participants to AISTATS 2016 and to ISBA 2016 that the deadlines for early registration are January 31 and February 10, getting close. Since both fees are quite high, it certainly makes sense to take advantage of those deadlines (and to make all travel reservations). (While I did try to see the fees of AISTATS 2016 set to a lower value, half of the fees are paying for coffee breaks and the banquet and the welcome party and were not negotiable. As my suggestion of cancelling the banquet was not accepted either! At least, the offer of accommodations in Cadiz is reasonable, from the list of hotels on the website, to a large collection of airbnb listings [minus the one I just reserved!]. And both Spain and Italy set an heavy 20% tax on conferences… Warning: the AISTATS 2016 do not cover the shuttle bus transfer from Sevilla, the major airport in the vicinity.)