Tag Archives: Machine

What to Think About Machines That Think – John Brockman


What to Think About Machines That Think

Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence

John Brockman

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: October 6, 2015

Publisher: Harper Perennial


Weighing in from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, today’s most forward-thinking minds explore the rise of “machines that think.” Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by noting, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Others, conversely, have trumpeted a new age of “superintelligence” in which smart devices will exponentially extend human capacities. No longer just a matter of science-fiction fantasy (2001, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Her, etc.), it is time to seriously consider the reality of intelligent technology, many forms of which are already being integrated into our daily lives. In that spirit, John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org (“the world’s smartest website” – The Guardian), asked the world’s most influential scientists, philosophers, and artists one of today’s most consequential questions: What do you think about machines that think?

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What to Think About Machines That Think – John Brockman

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How Often Should You Clean Your Couch Fabric?

Everyone’s living room couch needs a good cleaning every now and then, but this is doubly true if you have pets that like to lounge on your furniture. Our couches often weather a lot, from spills and pet hair to everyday wear and tear. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your couch upholstery, you might be wondering if it’s time for a good clean.

Why You Need to Clean Your Couch Fabric

It’s important to clean your couch fabric every so often because, just as your clothes do, your couch is liable to pick up a variety of contaminants. Food, dirt, dust and grime can get trapped in the?woven threads?of your sofa, leading them to harbor microbes and bacteria. In addition to looking unsightly, a dirty couch can smell and can even spread the growth of bacteria in your home.

How Often to Clean

So, how often should you clean your couch??TODAY recommends doing a deep clean at least once a year. You can, of course, go to a professional, but many professional upholstery cleaners use toxic cleaning products that fans of natural alternatives probably wouldn’t like.

Instead, I recommend vacuuming your couch once a week and cleaning the fabric itself at least every two weeks, if not more often. Because you’ll be using more natural methods, it’s important to stay on top of your cleaning schedule.

Tips and Tricks

When you go to clean your sofa fabric, here’s what to do:

First, remove any washable fabric and throw it into the washing machine with your regular laundry detergent. Important: ONLY DO THIS if your couch fabric is machine washable. This should be clearly designated on the tag.
Next, any parts that can’t be washed in your machine or taken off of the couch should first be vacuumed, then cleaned. Running a vacuum cleaner over your fabric will pick up most?pet hair and food particles. Be sure to vacuum under cushions and between pillows. If you have any lingering odors, sprinkle some backing soda over the couch and allow it to sit for at least a few hours before vacuuming it up.
Finally, it’s time to wipe down the fabric itself. As long as your sofa’s upholstery tag doesn’t say that it needs to stay completely dry, you’re good to go ahead and use a clean sponge to wipe it down.

Related Articles:

My Hunt for a Chemical-Free Couch
Top 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Clean the House
Are Green Cleaning Products Really Safe?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Couch Fabric?

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Physics – Scientific American Editors


New Frontiers
Scientific American Editors

Genre: Physics

Price: $4.99

Publish Date: May 22, 2017

Publisher: Scientific American

Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

In the world of physics, very little in the universe is what it first appears to be. And science fiction has imagined some pretty wild ideas about how the universe could work – from hidden extra dimensions in Interstellar to life as a mental projection in The Matrix. But these imaginings seem downright tame compared with the mind-bending science now coming out of physics and astronomy, and in this eBook, Physics: New Frontiers, we look at the strange and fascinating discoveries shaping (and reshaping) the field today. In the world of astrophysics, the weirdness begins at the moment of creation. In “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time,” the authors discuss theories of what might have come before the big bang. Could our 3-D universe have sprung from the formation of a black hole in a 4-D cosmos? The math says: maybe. Later, in “The Giant Bubbles of the Milky Way,” the authors describe massive structures dubbed “Fermi bubbles” at its center – structures that no one noticed until recently. Technological innovations make much of this new science possible, as we see again in “Neutrinos at the Ends of the Earth,” where 5,000-odd sensors frozen deep within a cubic kilometer of ice in Antarctica aim to catch neutrinos in order to study distant cosmic phenomena. Scientists are also dissecting molecules with the most powerful x-ray laser in the world, as explored in “The Ultimate X-ray Machine.” Even our most fundamental notions of what reality is are up for debate, as examined in “Does the Multiverse Really Exist?” and the aptly named “What Is Real?” in which the authors question whether particles are indeed material things at all. While all of this abstraction might seem like a fun exercise in mental gymnastics, living things must also abide by the laws of physics, which, according to “The Limits of Intelligence,” may prevent our brains from evolving further. Then again, as we’ve learned, things could be different than they appear…

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Physics – Scientific American Editors

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"Captain America: Civil War" Is a Big Dumb Movie You Will Enjoy

Mother Jones

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When last we saw our friends from Marvel, they were doing…something. What was the last film? Ant-Man? I don’t really remember much about Ant-Man, except that Paul Rudd fought the drug-addled congressman from the first season of House of Cards.

When last we memorably saw our friends from Marvel, they were…fighting James Spader…in a fictional European country. Tony Stark wanted to help people so he built a robot (James Spader) to protect people. But then the robot decided to kill people, like they do, and blah blah blah, eventually the Avengers beat James Spader but not without a lot of people in this fictional European country dying.

So here we are now in a bold new world, post-James Spader rampage.

Captain America: Civil War.

Thor and the Hulk and some other pals seem to be off somewhere, but the rest of the team is up to their old tricks. In the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, the eponymous main superhero leads what could be called “The Avengers: The New Class,” including Wanda Maximoff (the Olsen sister who has witch powers), The Vision (aka Paul Bettany’s sex robot), and Captain America’s buddy Falcon (Anthony Mackie), as they head to Africa to kill some Hydra member of no particular importance. One thing leads to another, and civilians die.

Dammit! Not again, Avengers!

The world will not stand for this. (Sad truth: The only time when the world won’t stand for civilian death is when it comes to superhero films.)

So leaders of the world get together and pass a treaty to combat climate change incorporate the Avengers into some sort of United Nations command structure.

Captain America is not thrilled with this idea because Captain America doesn’t need some bureaucrat in Brussels to tell him when to right a wrong. (Also, and coincidentally, his best friend—the Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes, being played by Sebastian Stan—is a fugitive superassassin on the run.) Tony Stark, having been chastened by the events of the second Avengers film—it was him, after all, who built James Spader and was ultimately responsible for the deaths of all those fictional Europeans—sides with the pro-regulation (anti-Captain America) team. Voila, tension. Plus, not only does Tony Stark not wear his Iron Man suit very often, he doesn’t even tie up the tie on his normal suit all the way. It just sort of sits there, loosened.

Then when the powers of the world gather to sign the “Sit on it, Captain America” act, there is—surprise!—a terrorist attack. In superhero movies, world leaders are not allowed to gather without there being a terrorist attack. (Every superhero film is the way a young Dick Cheney imagined every prom night would be: Everyone’s very attractive and there’s a terror attack.) One of the world leaders who perishes is the King of Wakanda. Chadwick Boseman, as the slain king’s son vows to avenge his father.

Dun dun.

So who did the blowing up? Captain America’s buddy the Winter Soldier of course! Or was it? The law enforcement community seems to think so, but Captain America doesn’t care what the law enforcement community thinks. He catches up to Sebastian Stan and Sebastian Stan is like “no way did I do that” and Captain America is like “I believe you. You were in Gossip Girl.

Imagine a lot more of this. For a pretty long time. Eventually the stage is set for the titular civil war wherein Tony Stark, War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), and Spiderman (Tom Hollander) try to stop the fugitives—Captain America, The Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)—from…trying to prove Sebastian Stan’s innocence, I think? It isn’t really clear.

Throughout this film, people often say to Captain America, “Should we tell Tony Stark about this new and revealing information?” And Captain America says, “That neo-liberal shill wouldn’t understand.” Everything could be sorted out if they just talked, and there’s a perfect place to do so in the second act. But of course, this is a Captain America movie, and Captain America is the star and he gets to be right despite obviously not being right. The film goes to great lengths to make Captain America accidentally correct about a lot of things. The choices Captain America makes when he is making choices are bad choices but the film flips over itself to justify him by sheer luck. In this film, Captain America fails upward.

My main problem with this movie: Captain America is sort of just a selfish hypocrite. Also, boring. And he isn’t even super. (He is strong, though.) And he could just be shot with a bullet. (There are a bunch of times in this movie when he loses his shield.) His whole team, in fact, save the Olsen twin who is a Witch, could just be shot to death by any old infantry unit.

Also, with so many superheroes in this movie, writers clearly had to find reasons to peel them off. Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) just sort of shrugs and walks away after one fight. I have no idea where Vision went after the second act. As far as I can tell, no explanation is made for why he is gone. Falcon, War Machine, Spiderman, Ant-man, and Hawkeye are all given some nonsense diagnose to deliver about why they are crapping out, but Vision just sort of ghosts out. Of course, they have to peel off so we can have Tony Stark fight Captain America.

No surprise: They are all being tricked into fighting each other by some shady German character (the dude who played the other race car driver in the 2013 film Rush) with dubious motives, but that’s because it doesn’t matter. Here’s the most surprising thing: It isn’t a bad film! It’s enjoyable, even. When the Avengers actually fight, it’s fun! The movie’s themes of this and the infamously brooding Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Sadness seem somewhat interchangeable, but at least Captain America: Civil War rolls them out with Marvel’s trademark humor.

Best of all: Spiderman and Black Panther! I’m looking forward to seeing their movies!

In short: If you like fun dumb blockbusters, you will like this fun dumb blockbuster.

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"Captain America: Civil War" Is a Big Dumb Movie You Will Enjoy

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Hey, Have You Heard About the Top Secret US Drone Program?

Mother Jones

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Via the AP, here’s the latest on Hillary Clinton’s email woes:

The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton’s unsecured home server contained some of the U.S. government’s most closely guarded secrets, censoring 22 emails with material demanding one of the highest levels of classification….The 37 pages include messages recently described by a key intelligence official as concerning so-called “special access programs” — a highly restricted subset of classified material that could point to confidential sources or clandestine programs like drone strikes or government eavesdropping.

Special access programs are the most secret of all secrets, so this sounds bad. But wait. What’s this business about drone strikes? That’s not much of a secret, is it? Maybe you need a refresher on all this, so let’s rewind the Wayback Machine to last August, when we first heard about top secret emails on Clinton’s server that turned out to be about drone strikes:

The drone exchange, the officials said, begins with a copy of a news article about the CIA drone program that targets terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere. While that program is technically top secret, it is well-known and often reported on….The copy makes reference to classified information, and a Clinton adviser follows up by dancing around a top secret in a way that could possibly be inferred as confirmation, the officials said.

Hmmm. A news article? Here’s a Politico piece from a couple of weeks ago, when we heard that the inspector general’s office was concerned about some of Clinton’s emails. Politico’s source is a “US official”:

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some or all of the emails deemed to implicate “special access programs” related to U.S. drone strikes….The information in the emails “was not obtained through a classified product, but is considered ‘per se’ classified” because it pertains to drones, the official added….The source noted that the intelligence community considers information about classified operations to be classified even if it appears in news reports or is apparent to eyewitnesses on the ground.

OK then: the emails in question discuss a news article containing information that’s widely-known but nonetheless top secret because…um, why not? Here’s more from the Ken Dilanian, formerly of the AP and now with NBC News:

The classified material included in the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails flagged by an internal watchdog involved discussions of CIA drone strikes, which are among the worst kept secrets in Washington, senior U.S. officials briefed on the matter tell NBC News. The officials say the emails included relatively “innocuous” conversations by State Department officials about the CIA drone program.

So what do you suppose the “closely guarded secrets” in the latest batch of 22 emails are? Drones? That’s a pretty good guess. Most likely, this all started with someone sending around a news article about the drone program in Pakistan or Yemen, and then several other people chiming in. It wasn’t classified at the time, and most likely contains nothing even remotely sensitive—but the CIA now insists on classifying it retroactively. That’s why Clinton’s spokesperson calls this “classification run amok” and says, once again, that they’ll seek to have all these emails released to the public.

Of course, this could just be a clever ruse on Clinton’s part, because she knows the emails will never see the light of day. But there are other people who have seen the emails. How have they reacted? Well, nobody on the Republican side has leaked or even “characterized” any of them, and nobody on the Democratic side has withdrawn their endorsement of Clinton. This suggests pretty strongly that this whole thing is, indeed, just a stupid bit of interagency squabbling.

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Hey, Have You Heard About the Top Secret US Drone Program?

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Here, China — let this algorithm tell you how to control your pollution

The Desolation of Smog

Here, China — let this algorithm tell you how to control your pollution

By on 31 Aug 2015commentsShare

For those of you who aren’t constantly plundering the trenches of Meteorology Monthly* for the latest weather models, the general badassery of predicting the evolution of massively complex meteorological and climatic systems can perhaps slip your mind. (I assume.) If so, you’re in luck: Grist is here for you in a way that Meteorology Monthly never will be.** In a move that has artificial-intelligence and machine-learning enthusiasts tapping their keyboards slightly more rambunctiously than baseline, IBM has entered the air-systems prediction space — but not with respect to the weather. Instead, the computing giant has aimed its algorithmic cannons at China’s air quality.

By sampling data from the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau and combining several existing air-quality models, the research group hopes to build a high-resolution model of Beijing’s pollution levels. Advanced statistical techniques mine the troves of data for predictive insights that would otherwise get lost in the smog.

You might be thinking to yourself, OK, ozone cowboy, what can IBM actually do with an air-quality model? To which this sleep-deprived reporter responds, How did you know my AIM screen name? And to answer your question, quite a lot.

MIT Technology Review spoke with one of the research group’s leaders:

“We have built a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time,” says Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research China. “Our researchers are currently expanding the capability of the system to provide medium- and long-term (up to 10 days ahead) as well as pollutant source tracking, ‘what-if’ scenario analysis, and decision support on emission reduction actions.”

The project, dubbed Green Horizon, is an example of how broadly IBM hopes to apply its research on using advanced machine learning to extract insights from huge amounts of data—something the company calls “cognitive computing.” The project also highlights an application of the technology that IBM would like to export to other countries where pollution is a growing problem.

Machine learning is more or less statistical inference on steroids. The artificial intelligence per se enters the picture in the “decision support” arena. It’s one thing to build a predictive model of air quality, but quite another to build a reactive model: one that can suggest actions the city could take to reduce daily air pollution in a localized, preemptive manner to respond to public health concerns. These actions could include “closing certain factories or temporarily restricting the number of drivers on the road,” writes MIT Technology Review.

The models (and accompanying predictions), which have a resolution close to a kilometer, are likely the most precise predictive pollution models in existence. Of course, it’s a niche field, but it’s a field that promises to expand as smokestacks continue to pump those delicious particulates into the atmosphere. IBM is already developing another version of the software in Hebei province, home to China’s most polluted city.

* Unfortunately/fortunately, not a thing.

** Insofar as it’s still not a real magazine.


How Artificial Intelligence Can Fight Air Pollution in China

, MIT Technology Review.


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Here, China — let this algorithm tell you how to control your pollution

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Ted Cruz Throws His Hat In General Direction of Presidential Ring

Mother Jones

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The big news sweeping my Twitter feed last night was Ted Cruz’s rather sudden decision to announce that he’s running for president. Usually there’s a warmup period of some kind (an “exploratory committee,” etc.) but apparently Cruz decided to dispense with all that and simply throw his hat in the ring posthaste. The motivation for his sudden haste is a little mysterious at this point.

The other thing sweeping my Twitter feed was the fact that the URL tedcruz.com leads to the site on the right. Patrick Caldwell explains this and much more in his brisk overview of potential candidates and their unfortunate lack of attention to the basics of internet campaigning:

Unfortunately for the Texas Republican, long before he ran for Senate in 2012, TedCruz.com had been nabbed by an Arizona attorney who shares his name. Based on a search of the Wayback Machine, an internet archive, the Arizona Cruz’s website dates back to at least early 2008, when it was a normal, if slightly Geocities-tinged, business website. “Putting All Your Real Estate Needs In ‘CRUZ CONTROL,'” the attorney’s tagline said at the time. But sometime within the past year he ditched his law site to instead mock the would-be-president. On a simple black background, in large font, the website screamed: “COMING SOON, Presidential Candidate, I Luv CHRISTIE!!!!!” Attorney Cruz wouldn’t say anything to Mother Jones over email except to acknowledge that he has owned the domain for several years. But he deleted the section about loving Christie shortly thereafter. Given the initial message, though, it seems unlikely that the Arizona attorney will be easily persuaded to relinquish control of the domain to the senator.

That’s bad luck, no? Still, at least Cruz has control of tedcruz.org. It was obviously thrown together pretty quickly, though at least it’s got the basics. But why the slapdash approach? According to the New York Times this morning, Cruz was afraid of being upstaged: “By becoming the first candidate to declare himself officially in the race, Republicans briefed on his strategy said, Mr. Cruz hopes to reclaim the affection and attention of those on the party’s right wing who have begun eyeing other contenders, particularly Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.”

Cruz’s official announcement, inevitably, will be done at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell’s shrine to the Christian Right. I think we can expect many, many more speeches and announcements from Republican wannabes there. But Cruz will be the first! Take that, Bobby Jindal!


Ted Cruz Throws His Hat In General Direction of Presidential Ring

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The Return of the Clinton Media Persecution Complex

Mother Jones

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It is, unfortunately, an old and all-too familiar story. A Clinton, meaning Bill or Hillary, does something wrong (or possibly wrong). The media pounces; the Clinton antagonists of the right hit the warpath. Immediately, the Clinton camp and its supporters accuse the media and the conservative Clinton Hate Machine of trumping up a story to thwart the noble Clintons. Clinton spokespeople go into war-room mode. Resentful reporters grouse (privately and publicly) about the heavy-handed operators and obfuscators of Clintonland. And the right claims this latest fuss is a scandal that surpasses Watergate. Rinse, repeat.

The latest iteration of this Clinton-media dysfunctional spin cycle was triggered by the Hillary Clinton email kerfuffle that exploded last week. The Clinton camp’s handling of the controversy was a sign that Hillary and her gang are stuck in the Whitewaterish 1990s when it comes to communications strategy, relying on always-be-combating tactics predicated on self-perceived persecution. It’s bad news for anyone hoping that Hillary 2016 has learned from the miscalculations of the past.

Clinton’s use of a private email account to conduct secretary of state business and, just as important, her failure to preserve her messages in real-time within the department’s own record-keeping system were not, as Clintonites claimed, no biggie. Yes, Scott Walker had his own secret email scandal. And Jeb Bush, who tried to score political points by slamming Clinton, vetted his gubernatorial emails before releasing them to the public, while congratulating himself on his supposed devotion to transparency. (I’ve combed the Bush email archive for names and topics that ought to be there—and found obvious subjects absent.) So the Clinton defenders have a point when they gripe that the media is only obsessed with her email problem. But it is a small point. She was a Cabinet official. She had a duty to ensure that her records—which belong to the public, not her—would be controlled by the department, not by her private aides who operate her private server.

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The Return of the Clinton Media Persecution Complex

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"Anchorman" Director Adam McKay Is Taking On The Financial Crisis. But What About His Lee Atwater Film?

Mother Jones

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Writer/director Adam McKay is signed on to helm a film adaptation of journalist Michael Lewis‘ book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine for Paramount Pictures. The nonfiction best-seller examines the housing and credit bubble of the 2000s. “Michael Lewis has the amazing ability to take complex formulas and concepts and turn them into page-turners,” McKay said in a statement.

The 45-year-old director is best known for directing comedies such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the Anchorman movies. The idea of him doing a housing bubble film might strike Ron Burgundy devotees as odd. But if you take more than just a quick glance at his career, it shouldn’t. “Adam McKay to Film ‘The Big Short,’ Which Makes More Sense Than You Think,” the Wire writes. Sure, his films have plenty of crude jokes and improvisational and (sometimes surreal) humor. But also he’s an intensely political person.

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"Anchorman" Director Adam McKay Is Taking On The Financial Crisis. But What About His Lee Atwater Film?

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"Community’s" Gillian Jacobs: TV’s Coolest Feminist?

Mother Jones

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Nowadays, Gillian Jacobs (pronounced with a hard G) is famous for her role on NBC’s acclaimed comedy Community, which returns for its fifth season on January 2. The series has brought her many fans and accolades, and she has since appeared in 2012’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and 2013’s Bad Milo! The Pittsburgh-born actress will also star in the 2014 comedy Walk of Shame (alongside one of her personal heroes, Elizabeth Banks), as well as the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine, in which she plays the female lead.

But what if Jacobs had never gone into acting? What would she be doing instead? Well, if she had her way, she’d probably be sitting on the highest court in the land.

“I never pursued anything but acting,” Jacobs tells Mother Jones. “But as a kid, I was really interested in the Supreme Court. I wanted to to be a Supreme Court justice, but didn’t want to be a lawyer. I just wanted to go straight to being a justice.”

I ask her to name her all-time favorite justice—the one who might serve as the greatest influence on Associate Justice Gillian Jacobs.

All the ladies,” she answers waggishly. “Like Ginsburg and Sotomayor. We need more of them, but I’m glad we have some.”

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"Community’s" Gillian Jacobs: TV’s Coolest Feminist?

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