Skimm'd while upgrading our apartments (and wallets)

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FEBRUARY 12, 2019


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Skimm'd while upgrading our apartments (and wallets)


"Germs are not a real thing. I can't see them, therefore they're not real" – A TV host, proving why scientists exist.


The Story

President Trump wants federal agencies to lean in on artificial intelligence.

When you say "AI"…

We mean a wide range of AI programs. Anything from the Department of Transportation using AI tech to help prevent road accidents – to the NOAA using it to fix some weather predictions. Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order calling on federal agencies to invest more in AI.

What's the plan?

There are five pillars. The goal is to get federal agencies to...invest in using AI to achieve their goals. Encourage them to share data with researchers to achieve breakthroughs. Help Americans prep for potential job displacement from AI through things like training programs. Work with other countries to develop all this – while putting America's biz interests and values front and center. And create standards for safe and ethical AI use.

Come again?

AI isn't necessarily all good news. There's concerns about the unintended consequences that could come with it – everything from privacy issues to safety concerns to bias against minorities. Ask Google and Microsoft.

So Trump's into tech now?

Eh he's more into America being number one. The US might be the leader in AI tech now. But China and other countries are coming in hot. And more than a dozen – including China, Canada, and France – have apparently beaten the US to announce national AI strategies. But unlike other countries, which have apparently invested millions to billions in this technology, the US isn't setting aside any new money specific to AI research and development. It's leaving that up to Congress. But encouraging federal agencies to prioritize AI in their existing budgets.

Now, I heard you say China...

We did. And it's kind of the elephant in the room. In 2017, China said it plans to become the world leader in AI. Fast forward to now and the US and China are in the middle of a trade war. And the beef goes deeper than tariffs. It's also over who will be leading the economic world stage – which tech plays a big part in. We've already seen this playing out with 5G technology and the US's approach to Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Now, we're seeing it with AI.

So what's next?

The Trump admin says it'll roll out more details sometime in the next six months. So hold tight.


AI can impact everything from the US economy to national security to health care. And supporters say this executive order is an important step in helping the US stay ahead of the AI curve. But without setting aside new money for research and development and by keeping the details vague, critics are skeptical.


Who people are talking about…

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). She's a freshman congresswoman and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. She's also been in hot water for language that's been called anti-Semitic. Earlier this week, she tweeted that lawmakers' support for Israel is "all about the Benjamins" – implying that lawmakers with pro-Israel policies were getting money from lobbying group AIPAC – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Her comments were called out for evoking anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews. This isn't the first time Omar's been accused of anti-Semitic language while criticizing Israel. Yesterday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle condemned her comments. Dem leaders – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) – called her comments "deeply offensive." Omar says she "unequivocally" apologizes and that she didn't mean to offend Jewish Americans. But she says she still wants to call out what she sees as problems with lobbying from AIPAC and other groups.

What to say when you see #GOPTaxScam is trending…

Don't freak out just yet. The IRS says that 2018 tax refunds have gone down compared to 2017 refunds. But the Treasury Dept is saying 'take a large chill pill, please.' That's because it's too early in the tax season to know if that's true. (PS: need help with taxes? We've got you covered.) Speaking of things that may be getting less money than expected: President Trump's border wall. Lawmakers say they've reached a deal to avoid another gov shutdown this week. The details still need to be worked out, but the deal apparently sets aside $1.375 billion for border fencing – less than the $5.7 billion Trump had asked for. It's unclear if Trump will sign off on it.

What to say when someone steals your lunch from the work fridge…

Nancy Drew on the case. Yesterday, the FDA said it'll step up its oversight on dietary supplements. There's more than 50,000 kinds out there – and about three quarters of Americans regularly take one. But the FDA doesn't have to review supplements for safety before they hit the market, and some companies have been ignoring rules that stop them from claiming without proof that their pills help treat certain diseases. Now, the FDA wants to implement "one of the most significant modernizations" to help change that. It's starting by sending letters to companies guilty of claiming that their products treat Alzheimer's. In the future, it plans to more quickly tell the public about unsafe supplements, among other plans.

What to say when you branch out from your all-black wardrobe…

I'm full of surprises. Yesterday, Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray said he's going all-in for the NFL. The problem: he already signed an MLB contract with the Oakland Athletics last year. Ever since Murray won the Heisman Trophy a couple months ago, everyone's been wondering if he'll stick with one sport or play both professionally (it's been done before). Now Murray's sticking with the NFL, saying that "football has been my love and passion." Meaning he's apparently ditching the A's. In other news leading ESPN, Kareem Hunt. The former Kansas City Chiefs running back signed with the Cleveland Browns. Last year, video came out of him allegedly assaulting a woman in a hotel. He was never arrested or charged for it. But the Chiefs kicked him off the team as a result, making him a free agent. He was also put on the NFL commissioner's exempt list – meaning he can get picked up by a team, but he can't play while the NFL investigates. Yesterday, the Browns and Hunt made things official. The team said it doesn't condone Hunt's actions and that "any similar incident will not be tolerated."

What to say when you hear Nicki Minaj isn't here for BET

No one's here for these shoes either.

What to say to your friend who's always too busy to lock in plans…

Give me three minutes.


In honor of Black History Month, we teamed up with Shondaland to talk about some of the major moments in black history.

Today, Leslie Odom Jr (yes, Aaron Burr in "Hamilton") shares his story about the influence Alvin Ailey had on his life. And the history of black pioneers in the entertainment industry.

Check it out here.


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For when your shoes refuse to break in…

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Skimm'r of the Week...Jenn Hinkle. She co-founded the Ollie Hinkle Heart Foundation with her husband in honor of their son Ollie, who died from a congenital heart defect. The foundation provides support to families, education on CHD, and funding for pediatric heart research. Donate and learn more here.

Cheers to...Charlotte N (CA), who's headed to Oxford to take an evidence-based policy approach to studying the problem of educational inequality. And to Emily R (CT), who got her third raise in less than a year and a half.

(Some) Birthdays...Danielle Dueno (NY), Sarah Muller, Tom Martinolich (NJ), Brea Falley (NE), Ben Carpenter (CT), Alexandra Ricca (GA), Andie Habert (ON), Joanna Stevens (RI), Sarah Bowers (OK), Chris Atwell (NY), Emily Georgakopoulos (NH), Evann Gonzales (CA), Garrett Gottesman (VA), Nadine Wick (VA), Wyndy Looney (AL)

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