The Engineer’s Dilemma Resurfaces in Volkswagen’s Emissions Scandal

Codes of ethics abound. Does groupthink override them?

2 min read
The Engineer’s Dilemma Resurfaces in Volkswagen’s Emissions Scandal
Photo: iStockphoto

opening photo for spectral lines column Photo: iStockphoto

Late last year, I spent an afternoon taking IEEE’s online training in compliance and ethics, a program designed to make sure its staff and volunteers understand the laws, regulations, and policies that govern the organization in its operations around the world. The classes cover rules against bribery, how to recognize conflicts of interest, what constitutes data privacy and security, and employee law in the workplace. I was impressed by the number and variety of issues surveyed.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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