UCI News

Fortune, Feb. 24, 2020
5 reasons coronavirus statistics seem inconsistent
Even professionals find themselves scratching their heads over the emerging statistics. “They’re confusing not just to the general public but even to people working in the field,” said Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at the University of California at Irvine. … Noymer is looking for fuller data from countries like South Korea that have “more of a tradition of transparency” and the experience of an imported disease. Those countries will show what the potential effects might be for the United States, which has time to anticipate and plan for imported cases. [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

Orange County Register, Feb. 21, 2020
App connects healthcare professionals with hospitals that need shifts filled
Iman Othman, director of patient flow at UCI Medical Center in Orange, said the app has helped her facility maintain a high level of patient care. “We have our own float pool of people who can fill in for shifts at various units as needed, but when no one is available we use the app for support staff,” she said. “We’ll give them a call and they will respond within 90 minutes. It has made a huge difference, and we know the competency of the people they send us. They follow UCI regulations and can come in on short notice. It helps with patient safety and the quality of our care.” [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

The Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2020
George Mason selects dean of UC-Irvine engineering school as its next president
George Mason’s Board of Visitors voted Monday to select Gregory Washington, the dean of UC Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and a researcher specializing in dynamic systems, to lead Virginia’s largest public research university. … At UC Irvine, Washington is credited with having hired one of the most diverse engineering faculties in the country, and expanding undergraduate and graduate enrollment during his tenure. He launched a freshman learning initiative that led to more than 60 percent of the school’s undergraduate engineering students conducting research. [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

Wired, Feb. 23, 2020
This Technique Uses AI to Fool Other AIs
[Di] Jin’s team’s method for tweaking text “is indeed really effective at generating good adversaries” for AI systems, says Sameer Singh, an [ICS] assistant professor at the UC Irvine, who has done related research. Singh and colleagues have shown how a few seemingly random words can cause large language algorithms to misbehave in specific ways. These “triggers” can, for instance, cause OpenAI’s algorithm to respond to a prompt with racist text. But Singh says the approach demonstrated by the MIT team would be difficult to pull off in practice, because it involves repeatedly probing an AI system, which might raise suspicion.

Los Angeles Times, Feb. 24, 2020
A new voting system in L.A. raises the stakes for California’s primary
When Los Angeles County set out to build a new voting system from scratch more than a decade ago, election officials knew the challenges in serving an electorate larger than those found in any of 39 states. … “There’s a lot riding on this,” said Rick Hasen, an election law professor at UC Irvine. “Any time you’re making so many changes at once, people can lose confidence in the system.” [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

Previously “In the News”