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Reinforcement learning (RL) is the most widely used machine learning algorithm, besides supervised and unsupervised learning and the less common self-supervised and semi-supervised learning. RL focuses on the controlled learning process, where a machine learning algorithm is provided with a set of actions, parameters, and end values. It teaches the machine trial and error.

From a data efficiency perspective, several methods have been proposed, including online setting, reply buffer, storing experience in a transition memory, etc. In recent years, off-policy actor-critic algorithms have been gaining prominence, where RL algorithms can learn from limited data sets entirely without interaction (offline RL).

Why not eradicate disease for everyone?

Zolgensma – which treats spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that damages nerve cells, leading to muscle decay – is currently the most expensive drug in the world. A one-time treatment of the life-saving drug for a young child costs US$2.1 million.

While Zolgensma’s exorbitant price is an outlier today, by the end of the decade there’ll be dozens of cell and gene therapies, costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for a single dose. The Food and Drug Administration predicts that by2025it will be approving 10 to 20 cell and gene therapies every year.

I’m a biotechnology and policy expert focused on improving access to cell and gene therapies. While these forthcoming treatments have the potential to save many lives and ease much suffering, health care systems around the world aren’t equipped to handle them. Creative new payment systems will be necessary to ensure everyone has equal access to these therapies.

“University Of The 3rd Age” — Seniors Staying Intellectually Challenged, Socially Engaged, And Physically And Mentally Healthy — Maya Abi Chahine, University for Seniors, American University of Beirut (AUB)


The University for Seniors is a new life-long learning initiative at AUB, the first of its kind in Lebanon and the Middle East. It gives older adults (who are 50 and above) the opportunity to share their wisdom and passion, to learn things they have always wanted to learn in a friendly academic environment and to interact socially with other seniors, AUB faculty and students.

Ms. Abi Chahine holds an MA in Public Policy & Ageing from King’s College London and is a passionate advocate and researcher in health, well being issues and third age learning. Her portfolio includes collaborations with UN agencies, including WHO, United Nations Population Fund, and International Labour Organization, as well as INGOs such as HelpAge International and universities in the UK.

Ms. Abi Chahine has 21 years of experience in setting-up and managing programs in the fields of public health, gerontology and education, notably universities. Throughout her multifaceted career, she developed skills in establishing and restructuring programs, by spearheading strategies, setting institutionalization mechanisms and driving daily operations that ensured customers and collaborators’ satisfaction and expansion.

Ms. Abi Chahine has been leading AUB’s University for Seniors for the past 10 years along with her team, and she recently co-led, with Dr. Abla Mehio Sibai (Co-founder and the current President of the newly established ‘Center for Studies on Ageing’ in Lebanon) the drafting of the first ever National Strategy on Ageing in Lebanon.

The latest recognition of Ms. Abi Chahine’s work came with WHO’s Centre for Health Development selecting the lifelong learning program she’s been leading and transforming at AUB, as one of the 10 most innovative community-based social innovations in low and middle-income countries.

When not working, Ms. Abi Chahine would be savoring nature, discovering new countries, cultures and people. She also revels in exploring new paths to evolve and grow!

Intelligent systems engineer, STEM advocate, hip-hop artist — ashley llorens, VP, distinguished scientist, managing director microsoft research, microsoft.

Ashley Llorens ( is Vice President, Distinguished Scientist & Managing Director, at Microsoft Research Outreach, where he leads a global team to amplify the impact of research at Microsoft and to advance the cause of science and technology research around the world. His team is responsible for driving strategy and execution for Microsoft Research engagement with the rest of Microsoft and with the broader science and technology community, and they invest in high-impact collaborative research projects on behalf of the company, create pipelines for diverse, world-class talent, and generate awareness of the current and envisioned future impact of science and technology research.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Mr. Llorens served as the founding chief of the Intelligent Systems Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), where he directed research and development in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and neuroscience and created APL’s first enterprise-wide AI strategy and technology roadmap. During his two decades at APL, Mr. Llorens led interdisciplinary teams in developing novel AI technologies from concept to real-world application with a focus on autonomous systems. His background is in machine learning and signal processing and current research interests include reinforcement learning for real-world systems, machine decision-making under uncertainty, human-machine teaming, and practical AI safety.

As a subject matter expert in AI and autonomous systems, Mr Llorens has served on advisory boards and strategic studies for the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Academy of Sciences. He was recently nominated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to serve as an AI expert on the Global Partnership on AI and was elected to serve as the Science Representative on its inaugural steering committee.

Alongside Mr. Llorens career in engineering, while earning his B.S. and M.S. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he pursued a parallel career as a hip-hop artist, also known as SoulStice, founding Wandering Soul Records and serves as a voting member of the Recording Academy, the institution that organizes the Grammys.

In other words, the mix of positives and negatives puts this potent new suite of technologies on a knife-edge. Do we have confidence that a handful of companies that have already lost public trust can take AI in the right direction? We should have ample reason for worry considering the business models driving their motivations. To advertising-driven companies like Google and Facebook, it’s clearly beneficial to elevate content that travels faster and draws more attention—and misinformation usually does —while micro-targeting that content by harvesting user data. Consumer product companies, such as Apple, will be motivated to prioritize AI applications that help differentiate and sell their most profitable products—hardly a way to maximize the beneficial impact of AI.

Yet another challenge is the prioritization of innovation resources. The shift online during the pandemic has led to outsized profits for these companies, and concentrated even more power in their hands. They can be expected to try to maintain that momentum by prioritizing those AI investments that are most aligned with their narrow commercial objectives while ignoring the myriad other possibilities. In addition, Big Tech operates in markets with economies of scale, so there is a tendency towards big bets that can waste tremendous resources. Who remembers IBM’s Watson initiative? It aspired to become the universal, go-to digital decision tool, especially in healthcare—and failed to live up to the hype, as did the trendy driverless car initiatives of Amazon and Google parent Alphabet. While failures, false starts, and pivots are a natural part of innovation, expensive big failures driven by a few enormously wealthy companies divert resources away from more diversified investments across a range of socially productive applications.

Despite AI’s growing importance, U.S. policy on how to manage the technology is fragmented and lacks a unified vision. It also appears to be an afterthought, with lawmakers more focused on Big Tech’s anti-competitive behavior in its main markets—from search to social media to app stores. This is a missed opportunity, because AI has the potential for much deeper societal impacts than search, social media, and apps.

Improving Quality Of Life & Health, For Hundreds Of Millions Globally, Suffering Food Allergies & Intolerances — Lisa Gable, Chief Executive Officer, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

Lisa Gable is the Chief Executive Officer, of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE —, an organization with a mission to improve the quality of life and the health of 85 million Americans with food allergies and food intolerances, including 32 million of those are at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis, and to provide them hope through the promise of new treatments. To date FARE has turned over $100 million in donor gifts into ground-breaking research and has provided a voice for the community, advocating on its behalf and offering hope for a better tomorrow.

Ms. Gable has served four U.S. presidents and two governors, counseled Fortune 500 CEOs, and represented global public-private partnerships and non-profits with an end goal of moving organizations to higher levels of performance.

As the former President of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, Ms. Gable created and led a coalition of food and beverage industry corporations and public health and government agencies, resulting in the reduction of 6.4 trillion calories from the American diet.

Ms Gable was appointed the first female U.S. Commissioner General to the 2005 Aichi World EXPO, holding the personal rank of Ambassador, served as a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and served both in the Reagan White House and Defense Department, serving as an advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chief of Staff.

Ms. Gable’s corporate experience included serving as senior vice president of Global Public Policy at PepsiCo, and 15 years in Silicon Valley, including Global Brand Identity Manager for Intel Corporation, as Intel was on the cusp of launching what would become one of the most dominant tech brands, Intel Inside.

Among her varied volunteer activities, Ms. Gable has served on several boards including as a National Trustee for the Boys and Girls Club of America, a board member for Girl Scouts of the USA and as a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Obesity Solutions. A published writer, her new book Turnaround: How to Change Course When Things Are Going South ( will be coming out October 5, 2021.

Ms. Gable also has had recurring media appearances including four years as a regularly scheduled guest with Lifetime’s national morning program The Balancing Act.

We hand out cash freely to some people, while we plague others with fraudulent debt notices that may cripple financially, with dire ultimate consequences.

There is a case to be made for a universal basic income (UBI) — an unconditional payment to everyone that ensures the basics of life are catered for. It may give people security to leave a bad situation, or freedom to pursue a new future. No conditions means no bureaucracy, which improves productivity and efficiency, and the universal nature of UBI means even conservatives can get on board.

But how to afford such a payment? Surely giving away free money would blow the budget?

Money is fungible, so while some payments are labelled as welfare and other line items may be called discounts, its is only the bottom line* of the balance sheet that matters. Looking solely at the bottom line, we may be far closer to an Australian UBI than you think.

Consider low income individuals — we already have a safety net in Australia to provide the poorest in the community with some minimum standard of living. We give them money to ensure the basics are met — a payment already included in any commonwealth budget.

For higher income individuals — few would suggest giving them free cash, but if we simultaneously took the same away then there could be no reason to object. A net increase in tax for the better off could precisely offset their UBI payment, again leaving the bottom line unchanged.

We already give people an effective tax discount of several thousand dollars called the ‘tax free threshold’. If this discount were removed — such that you pay tax on every dollar earned — but replaced with an unconditional UBI payment, then any one individual may not notice the change in policy. Low incomes still get effective welfare payments, while higher incomes use their cheques of free money to pay the extra tax bill.

While motivation to work, fairness, and fiscal constraints all remain moot points***, the security and opportunity that a fiscally responsible UBI provides may make some small sacrifices worthwhile.

What settings would you choose for a fiscally responsible UBI?

What problems can you see it solving and creating?

* That’s why they call it the bottom line.
** Disability payments etc need not be eliminated along with ‘base’ welfare.
*** Moot probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

Something to consider.

“The whole idea of lifestyle choices as something everyone can tap into is misleading, when in fact that choice is constrained by what is available to people,” he said. “This is where policy solutions or investments into these neighborhoods to make up for historical disinvestment becomes so important.”

Summary: The neighborhood you live in could have an impact on your brain and cardiovascular health, a new study reports.

Source: American Heart Association

Liz Harris won’t let anything stop her from walking. Three mornings a week, she descends three flights of stairs and heads to Anacostia Park. It’s a 10-minute walk just to get there. If none of her friends are available, she walks alone. But they worry about her when she does.

“The community is known for crime, and you don’t feel comfortable walking alone,” said Harris, 72, who lives in southeastern Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8. But that’s not her only concern. Unleashed dogs in the park make her wary. The streets along the way are uneven and in disrepair. Heavy traffic can contribute to poor air quality.

Olympic stadiums can be costly and wasteful. Some have argued for a single, more sustainable, location that can be used year after year.

The summer Olympics have been a quadrennial tradition ever since the late 1800s—when modern sports and rivalries freshened up the ancient tradition. Since COVID-19 crashed the schedule for last years’ events, now the world is gearing up again for another round of competition in Tokyo.

Transporting athletes and fans from all over the world and to cities hosting the Olympic games comes with a gigantic carbon footprint, for example, the 2021 London Olympics had an estimated footprint of over 400 thousand tons of CO2 emissions. Constantly building brand-new stadiums every few years that often go unused after the games, with very few exceptions, is also extremely wasteful. The 2016 Rio Olympics whipped up a whopping 3.6 million tonnes of carbon when including all that went into infrastructure. Eerie listicles of decaying stadiums, including Rio’s, litter the internet with costly examples of the wasted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of labor and materials that go into just one site.

For as long as the games have existed, there have been proponents of having just one Olympic location. King George of Greece gave a speech offering to permanently host the games in the spirit of its origins in 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic games. Some countries, like the United States, agreed, while others, including Pierre de Coubertin who revived the modern Olympics, worried that it would make the games too Hellenistic and that it would hurt the international spirit behind the worldwide event. John Rennie Short, a public policy professor at the University of Maryland, has spoken in the past about the environmental and financial benefits of having the games in a singular location.