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The Myth of “Deep Learning”

first_imgBillions of Missing Links: Mysteries Evolution Can’t Explain Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share “Deep learning” is as misnamed a computational technique as exists. The actual technique refers to multi-layered neural networks, and, true enough, those multi-layers can do a lot of significant computational work. But the phrase “deep learning” suggests that the machine is doing something profound and beyond the capacity of humans. That’s far from the case. The Wikipedia article on deep learning is instructive in this regard. Consider the following image used there to illustrate deep learning: Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man William A. DembskiBoard of Directors, Discovery InstituteA mathematician and philosopher, Bill Dembski is the author/editor of more than 20 books as well as the writer of peer-reviewed articles spanning mathematics, engineering, philosophy, and theology. A past philosophy professor, he retired in 2014 from active research and teaching in intelligent design (ID) to focus on the connections between freedom, technology, and education — specifically, how education helps to advance human freedom with the aid of technology. Bill Dembski is presently an entrepreneur who builds educational software and websites. He lives in Iowa.Follow BillProfileWebsite Share “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Neuroscience & Mind The Myth of “Deep Learning”William A. DembskiApril 22, 2021, 6:38 AM Photo: No, this elephant did not sketch a self-portrait; by Deror Avi [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.I’ve been reviewing philosopher and programmer Erik Larson’s The Myth of Artificial Intelligence. See my earlier posts, here, here, and here. Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Note the rendition of the elephant at the top and compare it with the image of the elephant as we experience it at the bottom. The image at the bottom is rich, textured, colorful, and even satisfying. What deep learning extracts, and what is rendered at the top, is paltry, simplistic, black-and-white, and unsatisfying. What’s at the top is what deep learning “understands” — in fact, its “understanding,” whatever we might mean by the term, cannot progress beyond what is rendered at the top level. This is pathetic, and this is what is supposed to lay waste and supersede human intelligence? Really now. Tagsartificial intelligencecomputational techniquescomputer sciencedeep learningelephantErik Larsonhuman intelligenceNeural NetworksphilosophersprogrammersThe Myth of Artificial IntelligenceunderstandingWikipedia,Trending Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Recommended A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Alllast_img read more

E.ON to Install 180 New Voltage-Regulated Distribution Transformers

first_imgE.ON distribution system operators (DSOs) in Germany will put up to 180 new voltage-regulated distribution transformers (VRDTs) into service by the end of the year.GRIDCON® iTAP® (Click to enlarge)About 60 of the VRDTs, which incorporate technology from Bavaria-based Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen (MR), are already operational. The nationwide rollout, which will encompass all of E.ON’s distribution systems in Germany, makes VRDT the first smart grid technology to achieve technological maturity. The technology was developed in a close partnership between E.ON and MR.The VRDT technology developed by E.ON, Germany’s largest DSO, and by MR, a recognized technology leader, sets new standards for the cost-effective integration of renewables. The German Energy Agency estimates that in Germany’s low-voltage networks alone VRDTs could reduce the cost of network expansion by roughly €1.4 billion between now and 2030.VRDTs significantly increase distribution systems’ ability to handle renewables feed-in. And even when renewables feed-in is very high, VRDTs ensure stable and efficient network operations, thereby reducing the need for network expansion. As a reliable, cost-effective technology, VRDT is in harmony with the energy-policy triad, which seeks to achieve an energy supply that is secure, affordable, and environmentally friendly.Keynote speakers at the presentation of the new technology in Regensburg were Ilse Aigner (Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Media, Energy, and Technology), Dr. Thomas König (Board of Management member at E.ON Deutschland), Reimund Gotzel (CEO of Bayernwerk AG), and Dr. Nicolas Maier-Scheubeck (Managing Director and CEO of MR). All emphasized the importance of smart technology developed in Bavaria for the nationwide Energiewende, the German term for the transformation of the energy system.“This technology is a great example of how the Energiewende is promoting innovation,” said Ilse Aigner, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Media, Energy, and Technology. “This high-tech transformer demonstrates that smart grids aren’t a vision of the future but have already become reality. By eliminating the need for some network expansion, VRDTs will reduce the burden on our citizens and communities.”“By rolling out VRDTs with MR technology, E.ON is the first DSO in Germany to deploy smart grid technology across all of its service territories,” said Dr. Thomas König, member of the E.ON Deutschland Board of Management. “It will enable us to integrate renewables into our distribution networks at a much lower cost. With this technology, E.ON is making a significant contribution to expanding distributed generation and maintaining stable network fees.” Sixty VRDTs will become operational this year in Bavaria alone, at E.ON DSO Bayerwerk. “This technology will play an important role in helping us meet the challenges of the energy future,” Bayernwerk CEO Reimund Gotzel explained. “And in our grids, the future has already begun,” Gotzel added. “Already, more than 50 percent of the power we transport is from renewable sources. Some 240,000 solar arrays are connected to our network, which places significant demands on network technology and operations.”In southern Germany VRDTs will help ensure stable network operations as the feed-in from solar arrays continues to rise. In northern Germany they’ll help facilitate the cost-effective integration of wind power. In the service territory of E.DIS, an E.ON DSO in northern Germany, the proportion of renewable-source electricity is actually three times as high as the system’s peak load.E.ON and MR have been collaborating since 2008 to test cost-effective solutions for increasing the distribution system’s ability to accept more renewables feed-in. Drawing on the results of extensive pilot projects conducted in recent years, in September 2012 MR became the first company in the world to present a technologically mature solution for VRDTs. Called GRIDCON® iTAP®, the system consists of an on-load tap-changer, a regulator, and a sensor for the low-voltage network. When combined with a transformer, the system yields a VRDT.MR, the global market leader in voltage regulation, succeeded in meeting DSOs’ exacting requirements, while at the same time offering a cost-effective alternative to expensive and burdensome grid expansion projects, which typically involve laying additional underground cables and/or erecting additional overhead lines. VRDTs incorporating MR technology are suitable for all secondary substations because MR engineers developed a solution that is neither wider nor deeper than a non-regulated transformer. Moreover, because there are no electronics in the transformer tank, GRIDCON® iTAP® is a maintenance-free technology with a long operating life.“The close collaboration between E.ON and MR engineers enabled us to develop a product that best meets DSOs’ requirements,” MR CEO Dr. Nicolas Maier-Scheubeck said. There are noteworthy parallels between E.ON and MR’s partnership to develop VRDT technology and the development of the first on-load tap-changer in the 1920s. Back then, Oberpfalzwerken, a utility in southeast Germany whose successor entities are now part of E.ON, and MR worked together to develop a technology that remains integral to today’s transformer and through which flows more than half of the electricity consumed worldwide.Press release, May 28, 2014; Image: Maschinenfabrik Reinhausenlast_img read more

Connecticut and Rhode Island Representatives Support ELDS Plan

first_imgU.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, along with Representative Joe Courtney, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, have sent a letter to EPA to express their support for the proposed rule to designate a new Eastern Long Island Sound Dredged Material Disposal Site (ELDS).“As representatives from the region, we understand firsthand the importance of preserving and protecting the environment in and around the Sound for future generations to enjoy,” wrote the members.“The environmental soundness of Long Island Sound dredging is a clear focus of the ELDS. The proposed rule is consistent with the federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Plans for New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “Furthermore, it should be noted that without access to the ELDS, it is expected that transporting dredged materials to other sites, like the Rhode Island Disposal Site, will increase carbon emissions from ships and risk of dredged material spills as transport distance is extended. “Our states have been responsibly dredging using open-water placement for 35 years and we believe that swift adoption of the ELDS, along with an increased effort to find sustainable on-land solutions for suitable dredged materials, will provide the Long Island Sound region with a balanced approach for future waterway maintenance projects.”Following the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) issued in January, the EPA determined that a new site was necessary for long-term open-water dredged material disposal in the Long Island Sound region.The EPA is proposing the new ELDS because it provides the best option for minimal environmental impact.The two current dredging disposal sites in the area, Cornfield Shoals and New London, which are both short-term sites managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be closed.last_img read more

Not green enough yet

first_imgRAIL’S assumed environmental advantage (RG 12.04 p811) took a few more knocks on November 19 at a high-level conference on railways and the environment in Berlin attended by around 200 representatives from business and politics.The 22 senior railway managers from 17 European countries who were present, along with rail executives from Asia and Africa, heard that huge strides had been in made in the design of modern lorries in terms of reducing noise and exhaust emissions. Not only that, but the latest Airbus A321 aircraft consumed less energy per seat over a given distance than a Eurostar trainset.There was a consistent view that most countries would continue to invest more in their road networks than in rail, prompting Vice-President of the European Parliament Miroslav Ouzky to assert that ’investment in railways will determine their future’. Indeed it will, and we repeat our assertion elsewhere in this edition that rail must still justify its existence against its competitors.This view was echoed by Director of the European Investment Bank Thomas Barrett, who said ’both society and the EU and national institutions will increasingly acknowledge the advantages rail has to offer when railways demonstrate that they are making a real difference to improvements in public transport and freight.’Margareta Wolf, Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary for the Environment, felt that it was time for the ’polluter pays’ principle to be invoked in calculating the environmental costs of transport, and she saw ’encouraging signals’ from the European Commission that has just taken office. nlast_img read more

A great day for cricket

first_imgHosting Pangolin Cricket Club from KL on what could have been a rain soaked day at the lush Thai Polo Ground, amazingly the ground was at its best and the weather although overcast did not rain.The captains decided the rules for the day and that PCC would bat first!Opening pair Andy Schofield (23 from 39) and Daniel Coogan started in a conservative manner allowing the score to creep along before Dan (15 from 29) decided to try and break free of the tight bowling Matt Levy (4 overs 0-9) and Dan Mclean (4 overs 2-12).The only other resistance to the bowling came from stand in captain Paul Hack (40 from 38) and evergreen cricketer Mike Silcock (9 from 35) with Walter Persaud holding it steady bowling (3 overs 2-8) PCC total of 7/127 was acceptable for the day we had hoped.PCC opening with Andy Emery (6 overs 1-15) thought there was hope especially with Jason Darby (6 overs 1-22) giving limited run scoring opportunities.James (MoTM) Chataway opened and made a well earned 50 retired had given the other Pangolin batsmen someone to build their innings around with Justin Barrett (22 no) hitting the winning runs with James Hay (Pangolin Captain 1 no) after just 26 of the allotted 30 overs.Great day played in a competitive but sociable spirit under the watchful eye of experienced Umpire Dave Samways.A couple of cool drinks supplied by Shenanigans by the Lake were shared afterwards watching the Pattaya sunset, with conversations of what could have been!last_img read more

Picnic racing at Woolamai

first_imgBy Gavin Stubbs An atmosphere of anticipation surrounds the historic Woolamai and District Race Club as the first of six…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Born survivors

first_imgMONDAY 17 November was World Prematurity Day and the National Premmie Foundation was again participating in a campaign to raise…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Can they spell? Very well …

first_imgBy MATT MALE MOVE over Channel Ten – Victorian students have their own spelling bee. Last Wednesday, St. Francis Xavier…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Nelson’s Peewee House Leafs crowned West Kootenay Champs

first_imgThe team, finishing sixth overall in the 10-team league won a pair of games over Castlegar and Trail during the round robin before settling for a tie with a second squad from the Silver City.Nelson then advanced into the semi final, having to play immediately following its final round robin contest.Nelson trailed 2-0 before staging a rally and forcing overtime after the score finished 3-3 after regulation time.In shutout, Seamus Boyd and Callum Cutler notched goals to send the Heritage City squad into the final against a second Boundary City team.In the championship game, Nelson held a 4-2 advantage before Grand Forks scored twice in the final minutes to tie the game at 4-4 and force the extra period.Overtime, once again, settled nothing, forcing shootout to decide the West Kootenay title.Again, Boyd and Cutler scored to power Nelson to the West Kootenay Peewee House League title.The team includes, coaches Dean Centrone, Pat Thast, Martin Grill, Mark Arrowsmith and players, Nick Haydu, Dylan Ewen, Jackson Cousins, Callum Cutler, Ben Thast, Rhett Hamilton, Gordon Hollett, Ethan grill, Seamus Boyd, Nikko Lazier, Bruce Sookro, Ethan Bennett, Jack Centrone, Josh Marsden, Devan Hawkes and Andy Loutit and Manager Laura Marsden. Nelson Minor Hockey has another West Kootenay champion.The Peewee Leafs captured the West Kootenay Peewee House League title by putting in a little extra time during the weekend in Grand Forks.The Leafs defeated a pair of teams from the host Boundary City in shootout to claim the regional title.The Nelson Leafs won the West Kootenay Bantam House Championship last month in Nelson.During the weekend, everything came up roses for the Nelson squad.last_img read more

Mallard’s Team of the Week – L.V. Rogers Bombers Girl’s Soccer Team

first_imgThe L.V. Rogers Bombers take to the pitch this week to play host to the BC High School AA Girl’s Soccer Championships beginning Thursday at the Lakeside Soccer Pitch.Some of the games are also being played in Castlegar.The Bombers, defending BC Champs, play a round-robin draw in the pool with DW Poppey of Langley, St. Michael’s University from Victoria and Nechako Valley of Vanderhoof. First game is Thursday morning at 8 a.m. when LVR meets soccer heavyweight St. Michael’s University.LVR then plays Nechako Valley at 2 p.m. before concluding the round robin format Friday at 10 a.m. against DW Poppey.The top team in each of the four pools of play advance to the semi final round of the tournament.The Championship goes at 2 p.m. Saturday.Mallard’s Source for sports would like to salute the Bombers with Team of the Week honours.The team includes coaches Chuck Bennett and Paul Burkart and players Grace Dehnel, Julia Burkart, Noa Butterfield, Jessemyn Vandonselaar, Megan Tenant, Laurel Halleran, Amy Hodgson, Ashley Hall, Sofia Arcuri, Ruby Sereight, McKenna Bennett, Maya Ida, Rylee Zondervan, Mattea Lorenzo, Emily Taylor, Hanna Quinn, Emma Wheeldon, Taylor Zimmer, Shianne Michalchuk and Bella Guderyan. Manager is Tanis Bouchier.last_img read more

Memorable SFA Season Ends In Third-Round Loss to UCLA

first_imgIn the second half, the Lumberjacks were able to cut the lead to nine points on two occasions, at 46-37 (17:31) and 50-41 (15:36), but the Bruins answered both times to eliminate SFA from the big dance. Junior Jacob Parker was limited to five points, but pulled in nine boards, seven on the defensive end, in the loss. Senior Desmond Haymon finished with 17 points, on 3-of-11 shooting, with all coming beyond the arc, and 8 of 10 from the charity stripe; senior Nikola Gajic finished with 10 points. The loss caps off an historic season for the Lumberjacks that saw them record their first win in the NCAA tournament and most wins in a single-season in program history at 32. Sophomore Thomas Walkup recorded his fourth double-double of the season, with a game-high 22points and 11 rebounds, to pace the SFA against the Bruins (28-8). The native of Pasadena, Texas, finished 10 of 17 from the field with two free throws. SFA battled back, with a 5-0 run of its own, to cut the deficit to three points at 20-17 (9:30), before the UCLA pushed the lead to 27-19 on a free throw from Zach LaVine. After a Gajic’s jump shot cut it to 27-21 on the next possession, the Bruins built their lead to as high as 11 points (32-21), eventually taking a 42-32 lead in to the locker room. SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Stephen F. Austin had its memorable season come to an end in a 77-60 loss to No. 4 seed UCLA in the third round of the NCAA tournament at the Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl. The Bruins size played a part in their win, outscoring the Lumberjacks 42-22. UCLA limited the Lumberjacks to 20-of-57 shooting for a 35.1 shooting percentage, a season-low. The Lumberjacks (32-3) suffered their first defeat since Nov. 23, to end their 29-game overall win streak, which led the nation after top-seed Wichita State’s loss to Kentucky earlier in the day. The two teams traded baskets in the early going, pulling even on three occasions and two lead changes, with SFA’s last advantage of the game coming at the 16:40 mark when Walkup hit a layup to make it 9-7 in favor of the Lumberjacks. UCLA answered with a 5-3 run to tie it 12-12, before a jumper by Jordan Adams sparked a 6-0 run for the Bruins to stake themselves out front 20-12 with 11:50 to go.last_img read more

Podcast: Privacy concerns slow Facebook studies, and how human fertility depends on chromosome counts

first_imgJennifer Gruhn On this week’s show, Senior News Correspondent Jeffrey Mervis talks with host Sarah Crespi about a stalled Facebook plan to release user data to social scientists who want to study the site’s role in elections.Sarah also talks with Jennifer Gruhn, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Copenhagen Center for Chromosome Stability, about counting chromosomes in human egg cells. It turns out that cell division errors that cause too many or too few chromosomes to remain in the egg may shape human fertility over our reproductive lives.Finally, in this month’s book segment, Kiki Sanford talks with Daniel Navon about his book Mobilizing Mutations: Human Genetics in the Age of Patient Advocacy. Visit the books blog for more author interviews: Books et al.This week’s episode was edited by Podigy.Ads on this week’s show: MOVA Globes; The Tangled Tree by David QuammenDownload a transcript (PDF)Listen to previous podcasts.About the Science Podcastlast_img read more

13 days agoEngland management delighted with Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi return

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say England management delighted with Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi returnby Paul Vegas13 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveEngland management are delighted with Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi’s return from rupturing his Achilles.He operated centrally as England Under-21s drew in Slovenia on Friday night, with manager Aidy Boothroyd keen to experiment.Hudson-Odoi’s peers have remarked that the 18-year-old appears to have evolved physically during his five months out.”Players can get quite down about serious injuries but he’s come back stronger,” Boothroyd said.”He’s certainly lost none of his explosive power, which can be a worry with an Achilles. He has to make sure he looks after himself. Doing that stuff off the pitch allows them to flourish.”I can’t say anything but positive things about him. He’s got a brilliant approach to life.”His attitude has been first class. His enthusiasm has been infectious. It gets everybody going, they raise their levels. Hopefully we can’t hold on to him and he gets in the first team.” last_img read more

Minister Grange Regrets the Passing of former Maroon Leader Noel Prehay

first_imgStory Highlights Miss Grange said Colonel Prehay, who was Colonel for 33 years and the longest serving leader of the Windward Maroons, had steadily maintained the tradition of the solid leadership that his predecessors and compatriots had come to be known for. The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange has noted with sadness the passing of former Scotts Hall Maroon Colonel, Noel Prehay. The Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister expressed condolences to Colonel Prehay’s widow, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and to Colonel Pink the current Colonel and people of Scott’s Hall. The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange has noted with sadness the passing of former Scotts Hall Maroon Colonel, Noel Prehay.Minister Grange said that one of the things that Colonel Prehay will be remembered for was his call for the British government to pay what he said was Britain’s two centuries old debt to the Maroons.“We recall Colonel Prehay declaring that all Maroons should come together to make representation to the British Government to honour the debt, which resulted from commitments made by Britain in the treaty that ended its war with the Maroons in 1738.”Miss Grange said Colonel Prehay, who was Colonel for 33 years and the longest serving leader of the Windward Maroons, had steadily maintained the tradition of the solid leadership that his predecessors and compatriots had come to be known for.The Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister expressed condolences to Colonel Prehay’s widow, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and to Colonel Pink the current Colonel and people of Scott’s Hall.last_img read more

Alberta going to court accused of breaking trade rules on 482M road

first_imgEDMONTON – Five Alberta road contractors are taking the province to court over a new $482-million highway maintenance deal for a B.C.-based firm.The contractors say the government broke tendering and free-trade rules by entering into a deal last week with Emcon Services to plow snow from and maintain 43 per cent of Alberta’s highways.They say the province has been procedurally unfair and have asked a Court of Queen’s Bench judge to review the matter on Sept. 7.“The fundamental concern is about value and fairness,” Laurie Stretch, speaking for the companies involved, said Wednesday.“What the government has done in this case is bound to make this more costly for Albertans.”The dispute surrounds the road maintenance contract that had been handled by Carillion Canada, which was placed under creditor protection earlier this year.Carillion Canada handled road maintenance in Alberta, along with contracts in Ontario.Last week, a bankruptcy court ruled that those three contracts will now go to Emcon.The five contractors, in their court application, said that rather than simply let another firm assume the old Carillion contracts, the government instead secretly made an add-on deal with Emcon that included longer timelines and more money.Those changes, they said, mean the contract should have been re-tendered, with everyone getting a chance to bid.“(Transportation Minister) Brian Mason violated his government’s legal requirements by granting contractual concessions and extensions in favour of one company, effectively sole-sourcing contracts,” wrote the companies in a release.Alberta Transportation spokesman John Archer said when Carillion Canada entered into creditor protection earlier this year, Emcon came forward to bid for the Carillion contract, but asked for other concessions.Archer said any company could have made an offer, but that Emcon was the only company that did so.“Our overall interest here is ensuring that there is maintenance done on Alberta’s highways and that there is road clearing equipment and personnel in place to do this without a gap in service,” he said.“And in an effort to try to get the best deal possible for Alberta taxpayers we dealt with the bid that was on the table.”Archer also said the province could not re-tender the individual Carillion contracts under the terms of the bankruptcy negotiations.The province and Emcon have agreed to extend one maintenance contract, due to expire in 2019, by two years at the same price.It will also pay out $2.75 million more for each of two other contracts that are to expire in 2022 and 2023.The deal also honours existing labour agreements, which include 300 jobs in the winter and up to 500 in the summer, many of them with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.The five firms involved are: Alberta Highway Services, Carmacks Maintenance Services, LaPrairie Works, Ledcor Highways and Volker Stevin Highways.United Conservative transportation critic Wayne Drysdale said the public needs to know more about how the deal went down.“We share many of the concerns articulated today by Alberta’s remaining five highway maintenance contractors,” said Drysdale in a release.“This entire process has lacked transparency and accountability, both with other maintenance contractors and Alberta taxpayers.”last_img read more

The Braves Got Hot Fast And They Might Stay That Way

Team TypeNO. teamsPrev. SeasonApril, current seasonRest-of-season Wins vs. Exp. *Team age is ranked from youngest to oldest, so a top-10 team would be among the 10 youngest rosters. Excludes the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons.Sources: baseball America, retrosheet All others134.447.591-0.1 Young, talented teams tend to build on hot April startsActual vs. expected rest-of-season wins (based on Elo) for teams who were below .500 in previous season but above .500 in April, by average age and farm-system ranking,* 1984-2017 Top 10 in age and farm25.450.605+2.7 Win share The Atlanta Braves are, as they say, “ahead of schedule.” Going into the season, we commended their young talent base but gave them just a 15 percent shot at making the playoffs, figuring that they’d need another year of rebuilding before truly making the leap toward contention. Fast-forward a month, however, and Atlanta is blowing away those expectations: Against a difficult schedule, the Braves are 19-11 and occupy first place in the NL East — one and a half games clear of the New York Mets, who they just swept in a three-game series. So far, at least, the Braves’ future appears to be now.Even so, statistical algorithms such as FanGraphs’ rest-of-season projections and our own Elo system aren’t fully convinced. The former only has the Braves winning at the majors’ 21st-best clip over the rest of the season, while the latter is barely more optimistic, with Atlanta ranked 14th in the big leagues in terms of Elo. The stats are optimized for prediction, of course — but they have blind spots, too. So, a couple of days into May, is it too soon to call this a breakout year for Atlanta?Certainly Atlanta has played at an elite level over the first month of the season. On top of its impressive record (a 103-win pace over 162 games), the Braves rank1This and all following 2018 stats are up-to-date through Wednesday’s games. fifth in the league in Pythagorean winning percentage2Essentially, the winning percentage we’d expect the team to have based on its runs scored and allowed. and third in wins above replacement per game.3Averaging together the WAR metrics found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. This isn’t merely a case of an outclassed team getting lucky by squeaking out close wins and moving up the standings; the Braves have come to their record honestly.Although Atlanta’s pitching (12th in WAR) has been more or less average — which actually represents a big improvement over last season’s 24th-ranked showing — the highlight of the 2018 Braves season thus far is a lineup that’s generating 5.6 runs per game, easily the most in the National League. First baseman Freddie Freeman ranks as one of the best hitters in baseball after a month of play, while 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies has been a revelation. Albies was already way ahead of the curve as a rookie last season (he had a 112 OPS+, one of the best marks ever by a 20-year-old rookie), and he’s made major strides as a power hitter, upping his slugging percentage from .456 last year to .603 this season. (Granted, his elevated rate of homers per fly ball is sure to regress — but his hard-hit ball rate is up, too.)With all the attention on prospect Ronald Acuña Jr. going into the season, Albies was the one who got off to the red-hot start while Acuña was toiling in the minors (thanks to some service-time chicanery by the Atlanta front office). Now that Acuña and Albies are both in the majors together, the Braves have one of the most exciting young position-player duos we’ve seen in a long time. Not only were Acuña and Albies the two youngest players in MLB at the time Acuña was called up,4In the couple weeks since, yet another Brave has joined the majors and sandwiched himself between them in the youngest-player rankings: Pitcher Mike Soroka. That’s right: Atlanta has each of the three youngest players in baseball right now. but the duo also became the youngest pair of teammates to homer in the same game since 1978 when each went yard against the Reds on April 26.5Oddly, the last time it happened also featured two Braves (Glenn Hubbard and Bob Horner) going deep against the Reds. Go figure.Throw in a renaissance year from veteran right fielder Nick Markakis (151 OPS+), much-improved hitting from former top prospect Dansby Swanson and the late-career blossoming of 34-year-old catcher Kurt Suzuki at the plate (133 OPS+ over the past two seasons), and it’s no surprise the Braves’ scoring is up more than a full run per game compared to a year ago. The only question is how much of the team’s sudden improvement will persist for the remaining five months of the regular season. And that’s where the advanced metrics’ lack of faith in Atlanta’s breakout gets especially complicated.According to research by myself and others, it takes about 70 games before observed results from a season in progress reach even a 50-50 balance with preseason expectations, in terms of how much weight each deserves when assessing a team. The Braves have played less than half that many games so far this year, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why the statistical projections haven’t budged much off of Atlanta’s relatively bearish spring-training predictions. The past data says you can’t read too much into a month’s worth of results.However, that premise was designed to hold true for all teams as a group. What happens when we look at a smaller group of teams, especially just the ones that have as much breakout potential as the Braves? Atlanta went into the season with Baseball America’s top-ranked farm system and currently has the eighth-youngest roster in baseball (if we weight each player’s age by their wins contributed this season.6For this metric, I couldn’t use straight-up WAR, since the averages would be skewed for teams like the Marlins and Orioles, who barely have any WAR across their entire roster. Instead, I added back in the replacement-level wins generated by each player’s raw playing time to get an estimate of total wins created, then weighted every team’s age by that number.)To get a sense for whether this matters, I looked at all teams since 19847The earliest season for which I have data about farm-system rankings. who were coming off a sub-.500 season but had a better-than-.500 record in April. Over the rest of the season, teams in that group who were both among MLB’s 10 youngest and went into the year with a top-10 farm system (again, according to Baseball America) ended up winning 2.7 more games over the rest of the season than Elo would predict.8Using the same rest-of-season projection method I used here. By comparison, all other teams won roughly as many games as Elo thought they would.9Specifically, they won 0.1 fewer games than expected. That difference is just on the border of statistical significance, but if it holds true for the Braves, it would imply that they’re due to win more than expected based on their pessimistic win projections at FanGraphs and in our Elo interactive — and those extra wins could be enough to elevate them from a mid-80s win tally (sketchy territory, playoffs-wise) to a number closer to 90 wins (a much safer bet for making the postseason).That could be a huge step for an Atlanta club still trying to fill seats in its shiny new suburban stadium. These aren’t the old Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine/John Smoltz Braves, of course, but there’s real potential building in Atlanta right now. We’ll have to see where it takes the team — and how long it takes before the sabermetric indicators pick up on it. read more