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March 2017 — March 2017

Computer Operating System and Short Movie Stored on DNA (Mar 19, 2017)
A pair of researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center (NYGC) show that an algorithm designed for streaming video on a cellphone can unlock DNA's nearly full storage potential by squeezing more information into its four base nucleotides. They demonstrate that this technology is also extremely reliable. DNA is an ideal storage medium because it's ultra-compact and can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place, as demonstrated by the recent recovery of D...
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Should Computer Science Count as Math Credit? Gov. Says No (Mar 19, 2017)
Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed a bill that would allow a computer science class to count as one of a high school student's math or science requirements to earn a diploma. Proponents of the measure argued it would help New Mexico students prep themselves for a computer science career, a field predicted to have a major shortage of graduates in the coming years. The proposed law change, Senate Bill 134, cleared both the House and the Senate with little opposition, but hit a roadblock at Martinez's...
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NASA Saves Energy and Water with New Modular Supercomputing Facility (Mar 18, 2017)
Though there's been some recent relief in California's long-standing drought, water conservation techniques continue to be a hot topic for facilities that require significant amounts of water for day-to-day operations. The task of powering up and cooling down a high-end computing facility consumes large amounts of electricity and water. NASA is adopting new conservation practices with a prototype modular supercomputing facility at the agency's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. The system, ...
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Calculations on Supercomputers Help Reveal the Physics of the Universe (Mar 18, 2017)
On their quest to uncover what the universe is made of, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are harnessing the power of supercomputers to make predictions about particle interactions that are more precise than ever before. Argonne researchers have developed a new theoretical approach, ideally suited for high-performance computing systems, that is capable of making predictive calculations about particle interactions that conform almost exactly to exp...
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The Prototype of a Chemical Computer Detects a Sphere (Mar 17, 2017)
Chemical computers are becoming ever more of a reality. It turns out that after an appropriate teaching procedure even a relatively simple chemical system can perform non-trivial operations. In their most recent computer simulations researchers have shown that correctly programmed chemical matrices of oscillating droplets can recognize the shape of a sphere with great accuracy.

IBM Quantum Computers Will Unleash Weird Science on Business (Mar 17, 2017)
In a few years, the same quantum computing concepts that gave Albert Einstein the heebie-jeebies could help Amazon deliver your toothpaste faster. That's because IBM, the company that surprised the world in 1989 by spelling its name with 35 xenon atoms, is launching a business built on the weird science of quantum computing. Thirty-five years of research into the physics of the freakishly tiny is about to start paying its first dividends with real-world customers.

Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Makes AI Computing Possible Within Cameras, Sensors and More (Mar 16, 2017)
Nvidia has a new generation of its Jetson embedded computing platform for devices at the edge of a network, including things like traffic cameras, manufacturing robotics, smart sensors and more. The Jetson TX2 has twice the performance of its predecessor, the TX1, or it can also redirect efficiency to power savings, using less than half the power consumption of the original to achieve the same processing abilities.The TX2 uses a Pascal-based GPU, as well as two 64-bit Nvidia quad-core ARM chips,...
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Poker-playing AI program First to Beat Pros at No-limit Texas Hold 'em (Mar 16, 2017)
A team of computing scientists is once again capturing the world's collective fascination with artificial intelligence. In a historic result for the flourishing AI research community, the team has developed an AI system called DeepStack that defeated professional poker players in December 2016.

Burger-Flipping Robot Could Spell the End of Teen Employment (Mar 15, 2017)
A burger-flipping robot could mean the end of the summer job that all of us loved to hate. The AI-driven robot ‘Flippy,’ by Miso Robotics, is marketed as a kitchen assistant, rather than a replacement for professionally-trained teens that ponder the meaning of life — or what their crush looks like naked — while awaiting a kitchen timer’s signal that it’s time to flip the meat.

These Magical (Robotic) Socks Teach You to Dance (Robotically) (Mar 15, 2017)
As humans find themselves forced to mate with our robotic overlords I suspect there will be some dancing. And what better way to teach us how to dance than with motors tucked into our socks? Designer Pascal Ziegler built these wild wearables to teach “dancing pairs choreography.” They’re basically vibrating socks. There is an Instructable here so you can make a pair of your own but basically you need some vibrating motors, some sensors, and an Arduino. An app tells the motors to buzz, allo...
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Students Create Revolutionary Device That Could Transform the Lives of the Blind Community (Mar 14, 2017)
With just a few hours left to build a groundbreaking gadget, things weren't going as smoothly as planned. Six young women, all undergrad engineering students at MIT, had established a lofty goal: to create the first-ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. The idea could prove revolutionary for the blind community, transforming how they read while also creating sorely needed opportunities for children with low or no vision.

Explore the International Space Station in VR Right Now (Mar 14, 2017)
Mission: ISS — a virtual reality collaboration between Oculus and three space agencies — is now available for free to Oculus Rift and Touch owners. The experience is a detailed recreation of the International Space Station where participants can do things like dock cargo capsules, conduct spacewalks, and “perform mission-critical tasks” just like real astronauts. It was designed by visual effects studio Magnopus in partnership with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space ...
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81-year-old Woman Makes iPhone App After Only Starting to Use Computers at 60 (Mar 13, 2017)
If you laugh at how older people use computers, this 81-year-old from Japan is going to set you straight. Masako Wakamiya is making the news for an app she created to show people the correct way to place their traditional doll displays ahead of Hinamatsuri, or Girl's Day, in Japan. Wakamiya is a former banker who clocked 43 years of service at a major Japanese bank, and only learned how to use computers when she was 60. In the app, named Hinadan — a combination of the words hina, a type of dol...
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Cognitiv+ is Using AI for Contract Analysis and Tracking (Mar 13, 2017)
Another legal tech startup coming out of the UK: Cognitiv+ is applying artificial intelligence to automate contract analysis and management, offering businesses a way to automate staying on top of legal risks, obligations and changing regulatory landscapes. Co-founder Vasilis Tsolis might therefore be forgiven for viewing Brexit as a sizable opportunity for his startup — though he more tactfully describes it as a “legislative challenge that we can help out with”. “There’s going to be a...
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Robotics, AI, And Cognitive Computing Are Changing Organizations Even Faster Than We Thought (Mar 12, 2017)
The world of AI, robotics and cognitive computing are changing business even faster than we thought. JPMorgan Chase & Co now uses software to perform the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial loans, reducing 360,000 hours of lawyer time each year. AI software can now identify leukemia in photos and X-rays, learning faster than technicians. reduced new hire training to only two days because of its newest robotics used in shipping. And the stories go on and on. Is this real and ...
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Teaching Robots How to Trust (Mar 12, 2017)
The word “trust” pops up a lot in conversations about human-robot interactions. In recent years, it’s crossed an important threshold from the philosophical fodder of sci-fi novels into real-world concern. Robots have begun to play an increasing role in life and death scenarios, from rescue missions to complex surgical procedures. But the question of trust has largely been a one-way street. Should we trust robots with our lives? A Tufts University lab is working to turn the notion on its he...
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Science Remains Male-Dominated (Mar 11, 2017)
MARCH 8th was International Women’s Day. That seemed to Elsevier, an academic publisher, a good occasion to publish a report looking at the numbers and performance of female scientists around the world. The report, “Gender in the Global Research Landscape”, analysed the authorship of more than 62m peer-reviewed papers published in 27 subject areas over the past 20 years, in 11 mostly rich countries and in the European Union as a whole. The papers and their citations are indexed in Scopus, ...
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Are Robotics a Key to the Next Phase of Recycling? (Mar 11, 2017)
About 10 years ago, computer scientist Matanya Horowitz became intrigued at how far robotics had come within some industries and he started thinking about its potential in recycling, particularly for recognizing and sorting materials. Horowitz postulated that intelligent systems could have a huge impact if they could be designed to identify any material in a waste stream and pull it out.

Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence Lab Unveils Synthetic Speech System (Mar 10, 2017)
In the battle to apply deep-learning techniques to the real world, one company stands head and shoulders above the competition. Google’s DeepMind subsidiary has used the technique to create machines that can beat humans at video games and the ancient game of Go. And last year, Google Translate services significantly improved thanks to the behind-the-scenes introduction of deep-learning techniques.

Scientists Want to Borrow Power From Your Phone to Cure Cancer (Mar 10, 2017)
Japanese scientists want your help to cure cancer. No, they don't want your money -- they want the processing power of your phone.The Smash Childhood Cancer project utilises people's phones and computers to run drug simulations, which would take thousands of years to run on a single computer. Akira Nakagawara and his team at the Saga-ken Medical Centre Koseikan developed the system, which they call the World Community Grid, in 2004 alongside IBM. "Computing processing that would require 55,000 y...
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Salesforce Einstein AI Can Generate Models Automatically (Mar 7, 2017)
When Salesforce announced its spring release this week, it revealed that its artificial intelligence platform, dubbed Einstein, can build data models automatically, even when customers have customized their products to meet the company’s unique requirements. They called this “using artificial intelligence to generate artificial intelligence,” and it’s not something they have talked about before when describing the platform’s capabilities.

Now You Can Finally Embarrass a Robot For its Mistakes (Mar 7, 2017)
Baxter the robot is blushing. It made yet another embarrassing mistake by placing a spray paint can in the wrong bin. A moment later, the big, red bot makes the right choice, placing a bundle of wire in the wire bin. Baxter smiles at the researcher in front of it, a young woman who’s wearing a rather unattractive electroencephalography (EEG) cap. We’re witnessing a visibly symbiotic relationship between metal and flesh. That’s because Baxter, from Rethink Robotics, and the researcher are c...
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Hell on Wheels: It's Google's Latest Mad Robot (Mar 2, 2017)
We're girding ourselves for our robot overlords, but we're not entirely sure what they're going to look like. Fortunately, there's Boston Dynamics. This fine Google-owned company creates robots that do the sorts of things we wish we could. Who could forget its marvelous robo-dogs? They carried so much for the US Marines. The only slight drawback is that they made so much noise that the enemy could hear them coming from far away. On Monday, the company officially unveiled its latest creation. It'...
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Women in STEM Fields Get Boost from President Trump (Mar 2, 2017)
President Donald Trump signed into law two bills that aim to encourage women to pursue careers in science and technology. The bills — "Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act" and "Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act" — were both introduced by women in Congress.

IBM Built a Voice Assistant for Cybersecurity (Mar 1, 2017)
In this week's This Feels A Little Like Skynet: IBM built a new voice assistant using artificial intelligence called Hayvn, focused on cybersecurity. Think of it as Amazon Alexa, but instead of ordering soap, it's helping you manage threats. Sure, this might sound like it's ripped straight out of the plot for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, in which the military unleashes a new AI called Skynet to fight a virus that's been disrupting worldwide networks.

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