News and Events
New Citizen Science Tools Enable First Sociological Analysis of Lead Residue in Soil
An ongoing project is helping people identify lead and arsenic pollution and enabling a novel approach to sociological research. Abby Kinchy, professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, describes her research approach as “ethnographic soil testing” — a novel method for studying how people encounter environmental hazards, reason through exposure risks, and take action to improve the health of their communities.
Medicaid Expansion of Dental Care Can Increase Access
When public health insurance like Medicaid expands its dental coverage, by increasing the types of procedures it covers and the total amount a dentist can spend on an individual patient, more dentists will locate to the expansion areas, therefore increasing access.
James Hendler Named Chair of ACM Technology Policy Council
James Hendler, the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web, and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been named chair of the Technology Policy Council for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
Novel Research Will Track Lead Residues Across Four Continents
Most everyone has heard about the dangers of lead — a toxic metal used for centuries that, because of mining, industrial pollution and automobile emissions, is found in the soil of playgrounds, parks, empty lots, and maybe even your backyard. Remediation or removal is expensive and nearly impossible in many situations. So how can people try to reduce the harms caused by lead in the soil of their communities?
Rensselaer GameFest 2021 To Be Held on May 8
After a successful mid-pandemic shift to an all-remote format last year, GameFest – the digital-gaming festival organized by the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – will again be held completely virtually this year. GameFest 2021 will take place on Sansar, a multiuser online virtual platform, beginning at 1:30 p.m. on May 8. It will also stream live on YouTube beginning at 2 p.m. A full schedule is available on the GameFest 2021 website. The event is free and open to the public.
To Reach Human-Level Intelligence, AI Systems Must Truly Understand Language
The original goal of human-like artificial intelligence was abandoned decades ago in favor of less ambitious approaches, two cognitive scientists argue in a new book. If that initial vision is to be realized, they say, AI systems will require a full understanding of language and meaning, the development of which remains a daunting — but doable — challenge. In Linguistics for the Age of AI, published by MIT Press, co-authors Marjorie McShane and Sergei Nirenburg, both faculty in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-directors of the Language-Endowed Intelligent Agents Lab, present a novel approach to language processing for AI systems.
Common Understanding of Turing Test Misses the Mark, Scholar Claims in New Book
A computer’s ability to convincingly respond to questions like a person — thereby “passing” what has come to be known as the Turing Test — is widely regarded as a practical measure of artificial intelligence. But Bram van Heuveln, a lecturer in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, contends that this common interpretation misses the important point that British mathematician Alan Turing was trying to make in his 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Van Heuveln makes the case for a new understanding of the Turing Test in a chapter of the book Great Philosophical Objections to Artificial Intelligence: The History and Legacy of the AI Wars, published this month by Bloomsbury.
Irrelevant Information Interferes With Making Decisions, New Research Reveals
Especially during the holidays, online shopping can be overwhelming. Have you ever found yourself spending hours comparing nearly identical products, delving into details that don’t actually matter to you? Have you ever finally reached a decision only to find that the product you want is out of stock? Unfortunately, if so, there is a good chance you did not end up making the best choice.
Rensselaer President’s Annual Holiday Concert To Be Held Virtually
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the President’s Holiday Concert at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will — for the first time ever — be an entirely virtual experience this year. The concert will be available for free public viewing beginning on Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 3 p.m.
Rensselaer Announces New Degree Program in Biotechnology and Health Economics
A new program in Biotechnology and Health Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will equip students destined for a science-based career with the quantitative and modeling knowledge in economics needed to succeed in industry and consulting.