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AI Bias, Opioids, Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

March 15, 2019

This week, we discuss what's next for the United States and North Korea; whether teachers and principals agree on school leadership; artificial intelligence bias; U.S. policy in Afghanistan; how the opioid crisis affects infants; and how jobs can help improve the lives of Syrian refugees and their host countries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un bids farewell before boarding his train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station in Vietnam, March 2, 2019, photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un bids farewell before boarding his train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station in Vietnam, March 2, 2019

Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

What's Next for the U.S. and North Korea?

It's been two weeks since the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un collapsed. Is Kim sincere about his offer to denuclearize? If not, U.S.–North Korea relations face a difficult future, says RAND's Bruce Bennett. But if Kim is genuine, then it's time for him to match his words with actions. To start, he could provide a list of key nuclear facilities and allow the international community to confirm that weapon production has stopped.

Two female teachers timetable and lesson planning, photo by SolStock/Getty Images

Photo by SolStock/Getty Images

School Leadership: Do Teachers and Principals Agree?

School principals almost universally rate their leadership highly. Teachers also rate principals highly, but they are slightly less positive. That's according to a new RAND survey. For example, more than 98 percent of principals said they communicate a clear vision, while 79 percent of teachers agree. Such gaps in perception may get in the way of creating a cohesive school culture.

Cyborg head using artificial intelligence to create digital interface 3D rendering, image by sdecoret/Adobe Stock

Image by sdecoret/Adobe Stock

The Risk of Artificial Intelligence Bias

Conversations about unintentional bias in artificial intelligence are becoming more common. And no wonder, says RAND's Douglas Yeung: The harm unintended bias can cause is real. But intentional bias is also a concern. Why might someone knowingly introduce bias? For the same reasons they hack systems or engage in other illicit activities, he says.

Soldiers assigned to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade load onto a helicopter to head out and execute missions across Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2019, photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Department of Defense

Soldiers load onto a helicopter to head out and execute missions across Afghanistan, January 15, 2019

Photo by First Lieutenant Verniccia Ford/U.S. Department of Defense

Déjà Vu in Afghanistan?

The latest round of U.S.–Taliban peace talks wrapped up this week. There are reports of progress, but an agreement remains elusive. In the absence of Afghan peace, the next U.S. president may face the same decision that Presidents Obama and Trump have faced. It's “not a choice between winning and losing,” says RAND's James Dobbins, “but rather the choice between losing and not losing.”

Newborn baby holding mother's hand, photo by damircudic/Getty Images

Photo by damircudic/Getty Images

'Infants Are Casualties of the Opioid Crisis in My Hometown'

As a neonatologist, Dr. Stephen Patrick treats infants who were exposed to opioids before birth. In studying this problem with Vanderbilt University and RAND, he found a strong link between opioid-exposed babies and long-term unemployment, suggesting that the opioid crisis is partly an economic crisis. This is particularly true for remote, rural areas—including Patrick's hometown.

Syrian refugee metal shop trainees work at one of the vocational training centres near Al Azraq city, Jordan, June 27, 2016

Syrian refugee metal shop trainees work at one of the vocational centers near Azraq, Jordan, June 27, 2016

Photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

Jobs Can Improve the Lives of Syrian Refugees and Their Host Communities

Millions of Syrian refugees are living in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. While many are finding ways to get by, they still face barriers to sustainable employment. Job-matching assistance and job-specific training could help, say RAND experts. But such programs should extend to both refugees and host-country workers. These efforts can create opportunities for all—and support stability in the Middle East.

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