Associated Press

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WATERVILLE (AP) — The nation’s first small liberal arts college to create an institute devoted to artificial intelligence now has a director.

Amanda Stent will lead the newly formed Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence at Colby College, officials said.

Stent has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers and is a regular speaker on the subject of natural language, which gives computers the ability to understand human text and spoken words.

She most recently served as the natural language processing architect at Bloomberg L.P., where she led the People and Language AI Team.

The institute was created through a $30 million gift from the Davis family and charitable foundation trustee Andrew Davis.

Davis said previously that complex questions surrounding AI “requires a holistic analysis and response that can only come from a broad liberal arts perspective.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans have become obsessed with collectibles, bidding up prices for trading cards, video games and other mementos of their youth. The frenzy has brought small fortunes to some, but a deep frustration for those who still love to play games or trade cards as a hobby.

Among the items most sought after — and even fought over — are the relics of millennials’ childhoods. These include copies of trading cards such as Pokemon’s Charizard and Magic: The Gathering’s Black Lotus as well as Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. game cartridges. Some cards are selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars and an unopened Super Mario game recently sold for an astonishing $2 million.

This is more than a case of opportunistic collectors looking to cash in on a burst of nostalgia triggered by the pandemic. Everyone seemingly is angling for a piece of the pie.

The corporations who own franchises such as Pokemon are rolling out new editions as quickly as they can print them; internet personalities are hawking the products and raking in advertising money; companies that tell collectors how much their possessions are worth are doing unprecedented businesses — and in at least one case getting financial backing from a prominent private equity firm looking to get in on the action.

But while some collectors and investors see dollar signs, others complain about the breakdown of their tight-knit communities. Players looking to play in-person again after the pandemic are unable to find the game pieces they want; if the pieces are available, prices have gone up astronomically. Critics of rising prices have become targets of harassment by those who now consider trading cards, comics and video games no different than a stock portfolio.

SCARBOROUGH (AP) — Greg Wilfert remembers being enamored during his first teenage visit to Scarborough Beach State Park.

He never lost that loving feeling. He’s working his 50th consecutive season as a lifeguard on the same stretch of beach.

“When I came down and saw the beach and, I guess, what do you call it, your first love? There it is. I found a way to make it work,” Wilfert, who’s 66, told WMTW-TV.

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 10:18

Home sales surge, prices climb in Maine

PORTLAND (AP) — Home sales in Maine have continued to surge in spring.

Maine home sales increased by more than a third in April compared to a year ago, the Portland Press Herald reported. The median sales price also increased by more than a sixth, the paper reported.

The median sale price in the state was $276,000 for the month. Sales figures are also higher than pre-pandemic levels, said Aaron Bolster, a real estate broker and the president of the Maine Association of Realtors.

The trends in Maine were in line with national sales developments. Home sales around the U.S. increased nearly 30% in April from a year earlier, and prices also climbed about a fifth, the National Association of Realtors said.

One after another, quarterbacks once believed to be franchise cornerstones after being top five draft picks changed addresses this offseason in staggering succession.

Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff switched teams in a swap of former No. 1 overall picks. Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold were traded away by teams that had recently tried to build around those passers. Mitchell Trubisky had to settle for a backup contract deal after flaming out in Chicago.

Those were part of a growing pattern around the league as teams have never been more willing to use high draft picks on quarterbacks, and never been quicker to cut ties when those investments don’t pay off.

The cycle will continue later this month when quarterbacks are expected to be drafted with the top three picks and a chance that a record five could go in the top 10 as the lure of a top passer on an affordable rookie deal is too enticing to pass up.

Spring in the vegetable or flower garden is a carefully orchestrated series of events. The goal is to keep things moving forward with the warming season, taking into account weather predictions and, because those are just predictions, average spring warming trends where you garden.

Many gardeners use Memorial Day as a turning point in their gardening calendar. But Memorial Day weather in San Diego is very different from Memorial Day weather in Concord, New Hampshire.

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — As the U.S. economy rebounds from its pandemic slump, a vital cog is in short supply: the computer chips that power a wide range of products that connect, transport and entertain us in a world increasingly dependent on technology.

The shortage has already been rippling through various markets since last summer. It has made it difficult for schools to buy enough laptops for students f orced to learn from home, delayed the release of popular products such as the iPhone 12 and created mad scrambles to find the latest video game consoles such as the PlayStation 5.

But things have been getting even worse in recent weeks, particularly in the auto industry, where factories are shutting down because there aren’t enough chips to finish building vehicles that are starting to look like computers on wheels. The problem was recently compounded by a grounded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, choking off chips headed from Asia to Europe.

On Thursday, General Motors and Ford said they would further cut production at their North American factories as the global shortage of semiconductors appears to be growing tighter.

These snags are likely to frustrate consumers who can’t find the vehicle they want and sometimes find themselves settling for a lower-end models without as many fancy electronic features. And it threatens to leave a big dent in the auto industry, which by some estimates stands to lose $60 billion in sales during the first half of his year.

“We have been hit by the perfect storm, and it’s not going away any time soon,” said Baird technology analyst Ted Mortonson, who said he has never seen such a serious shortage in nearly 30 years tracking the chip industry.

Colleges and universities rushing to invest in the booming arena of varsity esports are overwhelmingly committing opportunities and scholarships to male players, according to data collected by The Associated Press.

Male gamers held 90.4% of roster spots and received 88.5% of scholarship funds in a sample of 27 public American schools surveyed by the AP during this school year. The glaring gender disparity exists even though 41% of U.S. gamers are female, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and in a realm where — unlike traditional sports — there are no physical barriers separating male and female competitors.

“It’s tremendously sad and tremendously not surprising,” said Grace Collins, an expert on gaming, education and gender.

The AP requested roster and scholarship data from 56 public U.S. schools identified among the 192 participants in the National Association of Collegiate Esports, relying largely on public records requests.

WATERVILLE (AP) — A Maine college is working to establish an institute for artificial intelligence that it said would be the first of its kind at a liberal arts college.

The Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence will “provide new pathways for talented students and faculty to research, create, and apply AI and machine learning across disciplines while setting a precedent for how liberal arts colleges can shape the future of AI,” representatives for Colby College said in a Friday statement.

Colby said the college has received a $30 million gift via the Davis family and trustee of its charitable foundation Andrew Davis, who graduated from the college in 1985.

Representatives for the college said the institute will open in the fall after a nationwide search for its founding director.

NEW YORK (AP) — Would you buy something you can’t see?

That’s the question posed by two New York brothers who’ve lost much of their vision to a rare degenerative eye disorder and have dedicated their lives — and livelihoods — to raising money for a cure.

Bradford Manning, 35, and his 30-year-old brother, Bryan, are the founders of the clothing brand Two Blind Brothers. They’ve hit on a strategy that’s helped raise more than $700,000 for the cause: selling mystery boxes full of an assortment of their ultra-soft shirts, cozy socks, knit beanies and sunglasses.

The two turn over all profits from the boxes and their other sales to groups like the Foundation Fighting Blindness, funding research on retinal eye ailments like the one they’ve suffered from since they were 5, Stargardt disease. It’s an inherited form of macular degeneration that causes central vision loss over time.

“We just wanted to try and help and raise awareness, and just do something good,” said Bryan.

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