News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 18th June 2015

The Banking guarantee deal was essential,

says David Doyle

  

Former Department of Finance official says Anglo had to be nationalized.

David Doyle, who was Secretary General of the department from 2006-2010, said Anglo Irish Bank “had to be nationalised to stop it collapsing and triggering a wider banking failure”.

The bank guarantee was essential to avoid a collapse of the banking system and the economy, a former seniorDepartment of Finance official has said.

David Doyle, who was secretary general between 2006 and 2010, said Anglo Irish Bank “had to be nationalised to stop it collapsing and triggering a wider banking failure”.

Mr Doyle criticised the litany of failures by a series of bodies including his own department.

He told the banking inquiry “the Central Bank placed undue reliance on the (Financial) regulator’s assessment of the financial reports of the Irish banks. That was a mistake.

“The Regulator took the reports of the banks at face value and did not subject their loan books to any meaningful scrutiny. That was a mistake.

“The Department of Finance was wrong to rely on consensus forecasts for a soft landing. It was also wrong to take at face value the assessment of both the Central Bank and the Regulator of the state of the financial sector. I regret this.”

Mr Doyle said nationalising Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide was considered on the night of the bank guarantee but was ruled out.

Mr Doyle said there was draft legislation prepared ahead of the meeting to nationalise a bank and to guarantee the banks.

He said there was a strong case but it was overruled because it could lead to an undermining of the banks.

Mr Doyle said “whatever about these contending viewpoints, the simple fact was that if emergency measures were not taken that night to address the problems created by the banks, there was a very real danger of a collapse in the domestic banking industry, not just in Anglo but quickly in the rest of the banks through a widespread loss in confidence.

“The damage to individual depositors, large and small, both personal and business would have been extreme. The potential reputational damage would have undermined consumer business confidence, domestic and international investment – existing and future.”

Speaking about the night in September 2008, Mr Doyle said the view of the European Central Bank was quoted to the meeting by the then Governor of the Irish Central Bank.

“On the night of the guarantee, Anglo was found to be illiquid, the Financial Regulator was still supporting the view of Anglo that it was profitable and solvent. All the banks were suffering from liquidity pressures. But Anglo was facing imminent collapse in the absence of access to liquidity. This was the reality facing the government on the night of September 29th 2008.”

He said the question of emergency liquidity assistance “was considered” for Anglo but that the ability of the system to keep it secret was regarded as “slim to none”.

He said the Financial Regulator had assured the government that all the banks were solvent. “Merrill Lynch in their document of September 29th said ‘it is important to stress that, at present, liquidity concerns aside, all of the Irish banks are profitable and well capitalised.’”

He said that warning came from Jean Cluade-Trichet and it warned no bank failure could be allowed “or words to that effect”.

“The simple fact was that if emergency measures were not taken that night to address the problems created by the banks, there was a very real danger of a collapse in the domestic banking industry, not just in Anglo but quickly in the rest of the banks through a widespread loss in confidence.

“The damage to individual depositors, large and small, at personal and business, i.e. at all levels, would have been extreme. The potential reputational damage would have undermined consumer business confidence, domestic and international existing and future investment.

“A collapse in the banking industry would have led to the sovereign borrowing reputation and capacity being irretrievably damaged. A collapse on this front combined with impacts on revenue would have resulted in government services and investment across the board being summarily cut or suspended. No one was prepared to countenance this.”

Mr Doyle said the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan left the room for a private political discussion and returned with a decision of a blanket guarantee.

He said Mr Lenihan did not indicate any disagreement with that decision.

Mr Doyle said it was Mr Lenihan’s view at the start of the meeting on September 29th 2008 that Anglo Irish Bank should have been nationalised.

He said when Mr Lenihan listened to the reservations about what nationalising could have for the credibility of the guarantee, he changed his mind.

Mr Doyle also said the banks caused the economic crash but the Financial Regulator and others should have done more.

The former Secretary General said fiscal policy should have been more conservative but claimed the crisis was caused by dramatic escalation in lending by the banks.

He said the Department was wrong to take the assessments without challenge and Mr Doyle said that was wrong.

For the first time a computer beats a human in IQ test

As machines start to understand words and sentences

 

The deep learning computer built by researchers outperformed humans on IQ test

For the first time ever a computer programmed to understand multiple meaning of words and sentences has beaten humans in the Intelligence Quotient test.

For ages, humans have given a lot of importance to the Intelligence Quotient (IQ); however when it comes to computers, IQ as such has very little value.

According to a recently released study, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Science and Technology of China programmed a computer to understand multiple meaning of words and sentences.

By building this deep learning machine they compared the IQ of Artificial Intelligence with that of humans and surprisingly the results showed that the machinesoutperformed an average human on the types of problems that have always been the toughest for computers to solve.

The test involved three categories of questionnaire:

  1. Logic questions which comprised of patterns in sequences of images
  2. Mathematical questions which consisted of patterns in sequences of numbers
  3. Verbal reasoning questions which dealt with analogies, classifications, synonyms and antonyms.

Huazheng Wang and pals at the University of Science and Technology of China and Bin Gao at Microsoft Research in Beijing, concentrated on this last category of test i.e. Verbal reasoning.

A review from M.I.T Technology states that whenever a natural language processing computer is posed with any questions from the verbal reasoning, then the performance of the computer is seen to be very poor and even worse when compared to the ability of an average human.

On the contrary, when researchers compared the deep learning machine and 200 human subjects at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowd-sourcing facility to answer the same verbal questions it was seen that the A.I powered system outperformed average human on these questions.

Earlier computer scientists used the data mining techniques to program the computers due to which the machines were able to analyze particular patterns of texts to find the links between words they contain and also determine as to how these words are related to each other. With this technique computers could accomplish the work of translation because it assumed each word has only one meaning.

When it comes to Verbal reasoning, computers are expected to understand words which have more than one meaning so as to be able to differentiate between the synonyms and antonyms which is where computers have shown a poor performance for ages and humans have always had an upper hand.

Researchers thus focused on going beyond the existing technologies and created a framework which comprised of three components as their aim was to make the computers efficient enough to solve the verbal comprehensive questions.

Very first element was the classifier which would help the machines to recognize thetype of verbal question. Basically the computer needs to make out if it is an analogy or classification or synonym or antonym problem.

Next was the most intelligent move wherein the computer recognizes the multiple meanings of a word by matching it with the other related words that are contained in the dictionary.

The final step involves actual solving the problem using the definite meanings of the words based on all the data the machine collected.

Thus in all researchers developed a technique through which the computer was able to recognize the different meanings which a word can probably have.

Based on the overall education levels of the human participants the report stated: “Our RK model can reach the intelligence level between the people with the bachelor degrees and those with the master degrees, which also implies the great potential of the word embedding to comprehend human knowledge and form up certain intelligence.”

This is just a beginning step which promises a better development of the future computers.

Casey filmed himself having a anxiety attack

    

To raise awareness of Mental Health Problems

A man has taken to YouTube to show the devastating aftermath of an anxiety attack.

Casey Throwaway, shared the video a week ago and it’s already been viewed over 420,000 times.

In the two-minute clip, tearful Casey explains that he wanted to make the video to show that anxiety attacks are real.

He says: “I’ve always been the type of person that says you’ve gotta man up. But that’d be like telling a blind person to see. I can’t do anything about this. The reason that it’s so bad right now, is because I recently had to start working full time and I think people are going to judge.

“My brain is on fire right now. I feel like I’m going to pass out. My emotions are crazy. I’m having all sorts of crazy thoughts in my head.”

Thanks to the success of the video, the vlogger has started a Kickstarter project to raise money for recording equipment so he can create a series of videos about mental health issues.

Casey wrote on his Kickstarter page: “I posted the video in hope of connecting with people who suffer with the stigmas of mental illness. People have been overwhelmingly supportive of the video and can relate to it.

“I don’t need much money and I will pour my heart and soul into this project. All I want to do is get a new camera and editing software to keep making the videos people want,” he added.

This week is Men’s Health Week, it focusses on healthy living for men, both physically and mentally.

Spanish Armada cannons retrieved from Sligo seabed

Underwater archaeology unit recovers material at Streedagh Co Sligo which dates back to 1588

  

One of the cannons uncovered at Streedagh, Co Sligo, from the wreck of the Spanish Armada ship La Juliana, which sank in 1588.

Two 16th-century cannons in extraordinarily good condition have been recovered by underwater archaeologists from the Spanish Armada wreck site off Streedagh, Co Sligo.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys watched one of the two cannons from the wreck, La Juliana, being raised from the seabed when she visited the location in Sligo yesterday morning.

The decision to retrieve the cannons and other artefacts was taken by Ms Humphreys’s department after storms exposed material from the Armada wrecks at Streedagh earlier this year.

The recovery by the Underwater Archaeology Unit attached to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was assisted by skipper Anthony Irwin on his boat Dúlra na Mara.

“The divers prepared the seabed area and then we used airbags and chain blocks to winch the cannons on to the deck,” saidMr Irwin.

One of the cannons bears a dedication to and depiction of St Matrona, venerated by the people of Catalonia and Barcelona. The cannon also bears the date 1570, the year La Juliana was constructed, putting the identity of the ship beyond doubt, according to Ms Humphreys.

The ship, built in Barcelona in 1570, was trading betweenSpain and Italy when it was commandeered by Philip II of Spain for his fleet of 130 ships deployed to invade England.

More than 1,000 soldiers and sailors are estimated to have lost their lives when La Juliana, La Lavia and Santa Maria de Vision broke up in storms off the west coast in September 1588.

Display

The retrieved material will be conserved by the National Museum of Ireland, but the Grange and Armada Development Association (GADA) hopes the artefacts can return to Co Sligo for display close to the wreck location.

GADA wants to establish Grange, Co Sligo, as the Armada centre for Ireland.

Its chairman Eddie O’Gorman welcomed Ms Humphreys’s interest and said his group hoped the Government would fund an interpretative centre as a first step. The community group has leased the old Grange court house as a visitors’ centre for its work in highlighting the Armada links.

Are these the stars that shaped the universe?

  

The Very Large Telescope has spotted signs that may indicate the presence of the oldest stars in the universe — formed from matter created by the Big Bang.

In the beginning there was nothing. Then there was something: the Big Bang, forging gas — hydrogen, helium, lithium. At some point in the chaos that followed, stars formed from this primordial soup. Pristine gases spun into stellar bodies. A generation of stars (whose existence is theoretical) created light in the darkness.

These Population III stars, as they are known, are theoretically the turning point for the universe: taking the gases and turning them into the heavier elements: carbon, oxygen, iron, nitrogen and metallic elements.

But though there had to have been a first generation of stars, we’ve never actually seen them. This is because, massive, hundreds of times larger than the sun, they burned huge, hot, bright — and fast. Scientists believe that these stars from the dawn of time burned out after just two million years.

We haven’t seen them — but we may now have seen the very first evidence of their existence.

A team of researchers led by David Sobral from the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal has found what it believes to be good evidence for clusters of Population III stars in a galaxy located some 13.02 billion years away — 800 million years after the Big Bang.

Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, with help from the Subaru Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, the team found a number of very bright, very young galaxies as part of a wide survey of very distant galaxies (as opposed to the more common narrow survey of a smaller patch of sky).

But it was a galaxy they named CR7 that caught their attention — by far the brightest galaxy ever seen at this stage of the universe, three times brighter than the previous holder of that title, Himiko, which had been thought to be one of a kind

As well as being exceptionally bright, CR7 contained strong ionised helium emission — and, crucially, no sign of any heavier elements. Both the ionised helium and the lack of heavier elements are required for Population III stars.

“The discovery challenged our expectations from the start, as we didn’t expect to find such a bright galaxy,” Sobral said.

“Then, by unveiling the nature of CR7 piece by piece, we understood that not only had we found by far the most luminous distant galaxy, but also started to realise that it had every single characteristic expected of Population III stars. Those stars were the ones that formed the first heavy atoms that ultimately allowed us to be here. It doesn’t really get any more exciting than this.”

The survey found blue and red clusters of stars, indicating that Population III stars did not all form at once, but in waves — and the team directly observed what it believes to be the last wave of Population III stars, alongside regular stars. This means that Population III stars may be easier to find than thought — not tucked away in the farthest, dimmest galaxies, but close enough to be observable.

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