The Successor Representation, $\gamma$-Models, and Infinite-Horizon Prediction — The Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Blog

The Successor Representation, Gamma-Models, and Infinite-Horizon Prediction Standard single-step models have a horizon of one. This post describes a method for training predictive dynamics models in continuous state spaces with an infinite, probabilistic horizon. Reinforcement learning algorithms are frequently categorized by whether they predict future states at any point in their decision-making process. Those that…

The Successor Representation, $\gamma$-Models, and Infinite-Horizon Prediction — The Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Blog

Amid an uproar over cancelled tests, some say the body that oversees medical exams for resident doctors seeking licences is ‘obsolete’ | The Star

The Medical Council of Canada, a charity with $54 million in assets last year, is under fire as residents say the way medical education is run means s…
— Read on www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/01/04/amid-an-uproar-over-cancelled-tests-some-say-the-body-that-oversees-medical-exams-for-resident-doctors-seeking-licences-is-obsolete.html

The world routinely kept from the public.

COVID-19 has forced big changes on med schools. Will some newly graduated doctors miss out on key experience? | The Star

Students at Canadian schools this year have had fewer opportunities to see patients, attend procedures and explore specialties. First of two parts.
— Read on www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/01/03/covid-19-has-forced-big-changes-on-med-schools-will-some-newly-graduated-doctors-miss-out-on-key-experience.html

Many issues have yet to be resolved for a smooth predictable curriculum and practice experience to pan out.

Record numbers in Ontario

I strongly suspect the TBDHSC will soon have ‘farm out’ patient rooms into the community, ie, the LSSR Armoury, vacant schools, vacant public and private buildings, Lakehead University, etc. Similar moves may have to occur across the province if ICU numbers skyrocket.

www.cp24.com/mobile/ontario-reports-record-number-of-covid-19-cases-for-third-straight-day-as-number-of-patients-in-icu-reaches-alarming-new-high-1.5249601

Long COVID guidelines need to reflect lived experience – The Lancet

Long COVID guidelines need to reflect lived experience – The Lancet
— Read on www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32705-7/fulltext

This is a very important and courageous analysis that needs to be broadcast. Families particularly are affected by the long-term effects not previously talked about.

Holiday pause on COVID-19 vaccinations draws outrage as head of Toronto’s largest hospital network blames limited supply and staff burnout | The Star

As Ontario trails all other provinces in its vaccination rate, healthcare workers took to social media to criticize the closure of some clinics saying…
— Read on www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/12/28/holiday-pause-on-covid-19-vaccinations-draws-outrage-as-head-of-torontos-largest-hospital-network-blames-limited-supply-and-staff-burnout.html

When Trump leaves the White House, will irregular migrants keep leaving U.S. for Canada? | The Star

‘Half of the country has voted for Trump and it shows who Americans are. It’s not a place for people looking for protection’
— Read on www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/12/27/when-trump-leaves-the-white-house-will-irregular-migrants-keep-leaving-us-for-canada.html

The world has to stop seeing its citizens on the move as ‘criminals’ or third-rate persons. The UN and world governments must establish universal passports or laws allowing free movement of all people within this spaceship earth. It would be a first time political move of the highest stature.

Why Remove Body Hair?: Arguments From Nudists/Naturists

Reasons they give:

  1. Hair harbours bacteria and odour. Underarm and genital hair serve the purposes of conveying natural body ‘pheromones’ (hormonally secreted odours) which are meant primarily to attract the opposite sex. Most people find this odour less appealing than synthetic scents (perfumes, deodorants, anti-perspirants), and associate it with uncleanliness or lack of hygiene.
  2. Keeping unnecessary body hair is traditional form of genderized identity, a legacy the Free Body Movement is trying to overtake and replace;
  3. Naturism does not equate to the denial of individual (sexual or not) expression – just as in “textile” or clothed society;
  4. 99% of naturists are not nude all the time. Most live at least half of their lives clothed, due to occupational and residential constraints. Hence, opportunities for self-expression may over-compensate for the constraints they would rather leave, of the clothed world;
  5. Because others do it (situational norms);
  6. Since men’s sex organs are visible, and depilation for women amounts to a ‘balancing’ of this perceived “unfairness”, i.e., pubic hair hides or conceals, and this is not fair nor necessary;
  7. Whether in clothed cultures or not, shaved bodies are sexually more appealing (and manageable);
  8. Head hair offers some form of protection from the elements whereas body hair does not. Therefore, it serves no obvious purpose and is therefore expendable;
  9. It interferes with clothing, e.g., zippers;
  10. Aesthetically, it puts the body ‘out of balance’ with total nudity, i.e., works of art often omit under-arm and pubic hair;
  11. It belies one’s true age, so grey hair is removed below the neckline;
  12. The Free Body Movement tends to attract people who are ‘free-thinkers’, intellectuals, risk-takers, etc., and there most likely is a social class and/or ethnic factor as well.

As much as the naturist/nudist movement rhetoric sounds currently utopian, it is far too young a social movement to be able to completely free itself from current body norms and laws. Not enough people do it yet to give it the political force to cause serious change, although small gains like women’s right to go topless in public place, e.g., in Ontario (1997), may represent important stepping stones towards body egalitarianism and acceptance. Body hair removal seen as a ‘liberation’ exercise within this larger movement, regardless comes down to a personal choice, as it is somewhat arbitrary. Much like a clothing optional society would be. The Free Body Movement is not pursuing it goals proscriptively; rather, as a prescription for a healthier and more egalitarian world society.

T.L Hill, PhD

December 23, 2020 Co-founder and Member: Federation of Canadian Naturists, http://www.fcn.org

Motivating Seasonal Employees

BACKGROUND

Management theory has not successfully addressed the issue of motivating seasonal employees. It has however, presented a multitude of theories for full-time workers. By far, the bulk of employees today are part-time.

Full-time employee theories include:

  • traditional theory
  • need/hierarchy theory
  • achievement-power-affiliation theory
  • motivation maintenance theory
  • preference-expectancy theory
  • reinforcement theory

These are described in Rue and Byars’ MANAGEMENT: THEORY AND APPLICATION, 1988. 4th ed.

Part-time employees, like full-time employees, adhere to a basic principle of motivation as found in all theories, to wit:

NEEDS > DRIVES/MOTIVES > GOALS.

The fundamental difference with seasonal employees has to do with their needs, as these alter motives. And motives that workers bring to the workplace, are determinants of work performance. A place to start, in learning how to motivate seasonal or part-time employees, is an analysis of:

  1. Who they are
  2. What their needs are

WHO THEY ARE

Seasonal employees are usually

  • students (high school, college, university)
  • unemployed persons seeking to re-enter the workforce on a permanent basis
  • unemployed persons seeking seasonal work only
  • persons temporarily laid of from a permanent job
  • other…

WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE

1. Students need a) sufficient income to pay for education costs (where education is their overall or extrinsically motivated goal; b) a good work record for possible future reference; c) other…

2. Unemployed persons seeking permanent re-entry need a) income to live on; b) an opportunity for skills development; c) access to the right people through the buying of time; d) other…

3. Unemployed persons seeking seasonal work only need a) income to live on; b) sufficient employed time for UIC benefits; c) other…

4. Temporarily laid off persons need income only.

RAGWAR

From motivation theory generally, we find there are six elements found in supervisory-subordinate relationships, which positively predict employee motivation:

Recognition, Achievement, Growth, Worth, Advancement, Responsibility.

Supervisors who provide opportunities for their workers to experience these elements of feedback, will extract higher levels of employee performance. Seasonal employees will respond mostly to worth, achievement, recognition, responsibility, due to the relative lack of time to build upon the other elements, i.e., growth, advancement.

A supervisor’s personal style of behaving has an expressed and a latent effect on those around you, particularly with employees whom you spend a lot of time. A key component to the motivating of employees is this personal style. Although everyone’s style is different or effective in differing ways, a central element to motivating others is one’s degree of “behavioural balance”, especially between the following pairs of behaviours:

introversion-extroversion/intuition-sensing

thinking-feeling/perceiving-judging

“Balanced” supervisors who use worth, achievement, recognition, and responsibility (WARR), in performance appraisals or regular feedback with seasonal employees, will achieve the best results. So the optimum combination is: WARR + BALANCE.

An employee’s sense of self-worth is strengthened by:

  1. using praise where warranted
  2. giving him/her status as an accomplished person, as a team member
  3. being courteous to him/her at all times
  4. apologizing when YOU screw up
  5. calling the employee by her/his first name
  6. remembering even trivial but positive things about the person’s background or daily performance.

An employees sense of achievement is strengthened by:

  1. creating realistic objectives with the employee
  2. paying for efforts at self-improvement, e.g., evening or weekend courses, cost permitting
  3. giving informal certificates, memos, letters, of work-level accomplishments in meeting objectives
  4. indicate how she/he has done compared to others’ average (not individual) performance.

An employee’s sense of recognition is strengthened by:

  1. giving daily or regular constructive feedback on performance
  2. promoting (where applicable) on merit
  3. providing a pay increase for consistent performance.

An employee’s sense of responsibility is strengthened by:

  1. vertical job loading (job enrichment) of worthy tasks
  2. increasing his/her span of control over others or over processes, technology, etc.
  3. enriching the same task so as to flatter the person’s intellectual or physical capabilities.

Seasonal employees tend to have lower levels of job commitment due to the knowledge that the job is only of short-term duration. Their ‘time-horizon’ is cut short because they know they will be doing other things after 3-6 months or so; hence, this knowledge can affect their drive or motivation. The task of supervisors of seasonal employees is to therefore create motivating conditions which address more immediate needs. These WARR needs require the supervisor/manager to be more people-oriented, more interactive or communicative. Remember that motivated employees are an ‘investment’ in the future, whether they are full-time or part-time.

Evidence suggests that job satisfaction does not cause performance; rather, it suggests that performance causes job satisfaction. Also, it has been found that rewards are a more direct cause of satisfaction than performance, and that rewards based on current performance cause subsequent performance. Job satisfaction does have a positive impact on turnover, absenteeism, tardiness, accidents, grievances and strikes.

Even if satisfied employees are not high performers, there are numerous reasons for cultivating satisfied employees.

Factors for motivation are different from factors for satisfaction. Satisfaction is more related to the comfort offered by the environment and the situation. Motivation is largely determined by the value of rewards and their contingency on motivation. Hence, the importance with seasonal employees to reward through WARR and BALANCE. Making employees satisfied has more to do with ensuring their work environment (physical and psychological), benefits, job design, perceived opportunities, and compensation are adequate or competitive.

Responses to failure:

  1. loss of interest in work
  2. lower standards of achievement
  3. loss of confidence
  4. tendency to give up quickly
  5. fear of change (i.e., new tasks, etc.)
  6. increased expectations of failure
  7. escape from reality (i.e., defense mechanisms)
  8. decreasing cooperation
  9. increasingly fault-finding

Responses to success:

  1. greater interest in work
  2. increasingly higher standards of achievement
  3. gain in confidence
  4. increasing time horizons (more capable of predicting the future positively)
  5. increasing cooperation
  6. increasing adaptability
  7. increasing emotional control.

Copyright: Terry L. Hill, PhD 1989, 2020

Schizophrenia: Permanent or Reversible?

Just the other day, I downloaded an article from the Lancet in which the authors claimed that up to 50% of persons with schizophrenia can now show complete and permanent remission. 30-40% can continue to function well in society with medications and group sessions, and the remaining 10-20% require close management.

Permanent remission is a great breakthrough from most previous patient trajectories shown in the literature. Many therapists and physicians believed that once you were diagnosed, you exhibited it thereafter or showed recidivism for only short periods, for the rest of your life. Today that appears to not be the case for about half the patient population. So this is indeed good news!

T. L. Hill, PhD, Medical Sociologist