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February 2017 — February 2017

Computer Bots are More Like Humans Than You Might Think, Having Fights Lasting Years (Feb 26, 2017)
Researchers say 'benevolent bots', otherwise known as software robots, that are designed to improve articles on Wikipedia sometimes have online 'fights' over content that can continue for years. Editing bots on Wikipedia undo vandalism, enforce bans, check spelling, create links and import content automatically, whereas other bots (which are non-editing) can mine data, identify data or identify copyright infringements. The team analysed how much they disrupted Wikipedia, observing how they inter...
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Research Heralds Better and Bidirectional Brain-Computer Interfaces (Feb 26, 2017)
A pair of studies, one from Stanford and another from the University of Geneva, exemplify the speed with which brain-computer interfaces are advancing; and while you won’t be using one instead of a mouse and keyboard any time soon, even in its nascent form the tech may prove transformative for the disabled. First comes work from Stanford: an improved microelectrode array and computer system that allows paralyzed users to type using an on-screen cursor.

Flabby Heart Keeps Pumping With Squeeze From Robotic Sleeve (Feb 20, 2017)
Scientists are developing a robotic sleeve that can encase a flabby diseased heart and gently squeeze to keep it pumping. So far it’s been tested only in animals, improving blood flow in pigs. But this “soft robotic” device mimics the natural movements of a beating heart, a strategy for next-generation treatments of deadly heart failure. The key: A team from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital wound artificial muscles into the thin silicone sleeve, so that it alternately co...
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Calling All Computer Science Majors: Jobs are Waiting For You (Feb 20, 2017)
When he was 14 years old, Lawrence Birnbaum taught himself how to program, but he had trouble even finding a computer to work on. Still, he knew computers were going to be the future. That was in the late 1960s. When Birnbaum — today a computer science professor at Northwestern — was in college, there were relatively few computer science majors, and his professors had graduated from schools of math or electrical engineering. The field was still new. Fast forward to now. New computer science ...
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OxSight Uses Augmented Reality to Aid the Visually Impaired (Feb 19, 2017)
One percent of the world’s population, approximately 70 million people, are blind. That is not a huge number when you think of it in terms of a potential use base for a consumer product, but it is massive when you consider that there are currently few assistive technologies available as an aid to make easier the lives of the visually impaired. A new startup that spun out of Oxford last year, OxSight, is looking to change that. The company built and is testing augmented reality glasses to help ...
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The Dark Side of AI (Feb 19, 2017)
For all the good that machine learning can accomplish in cybersecurity, it's important to remember that the technology is also accessible to bad actors. While writers and futurists dream up nightmarish scenarios of artificial intelligence turning on its creators and exterminating mankind like Terminators and Cylons – heck, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned AI is dangerous – the more pressing concern today is that machines can be intentionally programmed to abet cybercriminal operatio...
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Most Computer Science Majors in the U.S. are Men. Not so at Harvey Mudd (Feb 11, 2017)
Veronica Rivera signed up for the introduction to computer science class at Harvey Mudd College mostly because she had no choice: It was mandatory. Programming was intimidating and not for her, she thought. She expected the class to be full of guys who loved video games and grew up obsessing over how they were made. There were plenty of those guys but, to her surprise, she found the class fascinating.

‘The CS Detective’ Teaches Computer Science Through Fiction (Feb 11, 2017)
I was introduced to higher level Computer Science concepts in high school. I think I took at least one computer-related class each year, sometimes more. We were taught in a pretty straightforward, logical way, from simple concepts up toward more complicated ones. But these days, Computer Science concepts are often taught from such an early age that they aren’t taught sequentially, or even in order of complexity. There are books, toys, kits, apps, and games that all introduce kids to programmin...
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Wearable AI System Can Detect a Conversation's Tone (Feb 10, 2017)
It's a fact of nature that a single conversation can be interpreted in very different ways. For people with anxiety or conditions such as Asperger's, this can make social situations extremely stressful. But what if there was a more objective way to measure and understand our interactions? Researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Institute of Medical Engineering and Science say that they've gotten closer to a potential solution: an artificially intelligen...
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Advanced Robotic Bat's Flight Characteristics Simulates the Real Thing (Feb 10, 2017)
Bats have long captured the imaginations of scientists and engineers with their unrivaled agility and maneuvering characteristics, achieved by functionally versatile dynamic wing conformations as well as more than forty active and passive joints on the wings. However, their wing flexibility and complex wing kinematics pose significant technological challenges for robot modelling, design, and control. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Caltech have developed a self-...
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San Francisco Doctor's Office is Powered by Sensors and AI (Feb 9, 2017)
It felt like a check-up from the future. Instead of a receptionist, the foyer at Forward's San Francisco doctor's office features a glass case full of Fitbits and connected blood pressure cuffs, iPads, and an inconspicuous body sensor. Sensors and technology are baked into care, and Forward, which opens Tuesday, has doctors and nurses who are on call 24/7. Founded by former Googler and AI pioneer Adrian Aoun, Forward is designed to be a primary care facility, including services for women's healt...
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Physicists Call for a Soccer-Field-Sized Quantum Computer (Feb 9, 2017)
Physicists have sketched a blueprint for building a quantum computer using existing technology that would be powerful enough to crack important and currently unsolvable problems, such as factoring enormous numbers. Such a machine would need to be larger than a football pitch and would cost at least £100 million (US$126 million) to make, its designers say. “Yes it will be big, yes it will be expensive — but it absolutely can be built right now,” says quantum physicist Winfried Hensinger of...
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Transparent Gel-based Robots Can Catch and Release Live Fish (Feb 8, 2017)
Engineers at MIT have fabricated transparent, gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out of them. The bots can perform a number of fast, forceful tasks, including kicking a ball underwater, and grabbing and releasing a live fish. The robots are made entirely of hydrogel -- a tough, rubbery, nearly transparent material that's composed mostly of water.

New Wave of Robots Set to Deliver the Goods (Feb 8, 2017)
The robots of the future will be coming soon, rolling along at a lumbering pace with those goods you just ordered. The six-wheeled, knee-high robots from startup Starship Technologies are part of a new wave of automated systems taking aim at the "last mile" delivery of goods to consumers. Starship is launching a pilot project of robotic deliveries of parcels, groceries and prepared foods in early February in the US capital Washington, with a similar test taking place in Redwood City, California....
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What Happened to Women in Computer Science? (Feb 7, 2017)
Hidden Figures, the just-released movie, highlights the roles of three black female mathematicians (human computers) working at NASA who helped win the Space Race. At one time, computer science was originally a female-dominated area, and computing was considered “women’s work.” Fast forward to 2017 and women in computer science aren’t common. The number of women receiving degrees in this now male-dominated area has declined. Granted, women total 48.5% of Carnegie Mellon’s computer scie...
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Google Shows Off 'Nightmare-Inducing' Robot (Feb 7, 2017)
The latest robot from Google can twirl with the grace of a figure skater and jump over tall obstacles. The company's Boston Dynamics unit recently showed off a new robot called Handle. Resembling a human with a torso, two arms and legs, Handle's feet have been replaced by wheels. At a recent event, Boston Dynamics teased the robot, which will be able to carry objects and perform other tasks.

Cheyenne Supercomputer Triples Scientific Capability at NCAR (Feb 6, 2017)
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is launching operations this month of one of the world’s most powerful and energy-efficient supercomputers, providing the nation with a major new tool to advance understanding of the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences. Named “Cheyenne,” the 5.34-petaflop system is capable of more than triple the amount of scientific computing performed by the previous NCAR supercomputer, Yellowstone. It also is three times more energy efficient...
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Brain-computer Interface Allows Completely Locked-in People to Communicate (Feb 6, 2017)
A computer interface that can decipher the thoughts of people who are unable to communicate could revolutionize the lives of those living with completely locked-in syndrome, according to a new paper publishing in PLOS Biology. Counter to expectations, the participants in the study reported being "happy," despite their extreme condition. The research was conducted by a multinational team, led by Professor Niels Birbaumer, at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva, Switzerland.

Preventing Blood Clots with a New Metric for Heart Function (Feb 5, 2017)
The heart is a wonder of design – a pump that can function for 80 years, and billions of heartbeats, without breaking down. But when it does malfunction, the results can be dire. In research reported in the International Journal of Cardiology, scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Ohio State University presented a new method for predicting those most at risk for thrombus, or blood clots, in the heart. The critical factor, the researchers found, is the degree to which the mitral jet pene...
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Computer Cluster Will Calculate Gravitational Waves Faster (Feb 5, 2017)
The new supercomputer "Minerva" has been put into operation at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI). With 9,504 compute cores, 38 TeraByte memory and a peak performance of 302.4 TeraFlop/s it is more than six times as powerful as its predecessor. The scientists of the department "Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity" can now compute significantly more gravitational waveforms and also carry out more complex simulations.

A Rising Peptide (Feb 4, 2017)
A team of researchers led by biophysicists at the University of Washington have come one step closer to designing tailor-made drug molecules that are more precise and carry fewer side effects than most existing therapeutic compounds. With the help of the Mira supercomputer, located at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, the scientists have successfully designed and verified stable versions of synthetic peptides, componen...
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Why Building a Diverse Workforce Requires Computer Science (Feb 4, 2017)
In the Silicon Valley, they call it the “3 percent problem.” African-Americans and Latino/Hispanics make up a tiny fraction of the overwhelmingly white, male-dominated workforce of major technology companies. No leader of the top 10 U.S.-based technology companies is African-American or Latino/Hispanic, and only one is a woman—Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM.

China to Develop Prototype Super, Super Computer in 2017 (Feb 3, 2017)
China plans to develop a prototype exascale computer by the end of the year, state media said Tuesday, as it seeks to win a global race to be the first to build a machine capable of a billion, billion calculations per second. If successful, the achievement would cement its place as a leading power in the world of supercomputing. The Asian giant built the world's fastest supercomputer, the Sunway TaihuLight machine, in June last year, which was twice as fast as the previous number one. It used on...
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Artificial Intelligence Is About to Conquer Poker, But Not Without Human Help (Feb 3, 2017)
AS FRIDAY NIGHT became Saturday morning, Dong Kim sounded defeated. Kim is a high-stakes poker player who specializes in no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. The 28-year-old Korean-American typically matches wits with other top players on high-stakes internet sites or at the big Las Vegas casinos. But this month, he’s in Pittsburgh, playing poker against an artificially intelligent machine designed by two computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon.

OpenPOWER Academic Group Carries 2016 Momentum to New Year (Feb 2, 2017)
Academia has always been a leader in pushing the boundaries of science and technology, with some of the most brilliant minds in the world focused on how they can improve the tools at their disposal to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. That’s why, as the Leader of the OpenPOWER Academic Discussion Group, I believe working with academics in university and research centers to develop and adopt OpenPOWER technology is key to growing the ecosystem. The Academia Group is enabling...
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