A.I. Shows Promise as a Physician Assistant

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Drawing on the records of nearly 600,000 Chinese patients who had visited a pediatric hospital over an 18-month period, the vast collection of data used to train this new system highlights an advantage for China in the worldwide race toward artificial intelligence. Because its population is so large -- and because its privacy norms put fewer restrictions on the sharing of digital data -- it may be easier for Chinese companies and researchers to build and train the "deep learning" systems that are rapidly changing the trajectory of health care. On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order meant to spur the development of A.I. across government, academia and industry in the United States. As part of this "American A.I. Initiative," the administration will encourage federal agencies and universities to share data that can drive the development of automated systems. Pooling health care data is a particularly difficult endeavor.

President Reif calls for federal funding, focused education to address "opportunity and threat" of AI

MIT News

In an op-ed piece published today in Financial Times, MIT President L. Rafael Reif argues for sustained federal investment in artificial intelligence, and encourages the nation's colleges and universities to prepare students for new societal challenges posed by AI. AI promises to help "humanity learn more, waste less, work smarter, live longer and better understand and predict almost anything that can be measured," Reif writes. But with great power comes great responsibility: New technologies could pose serious risks, he says, "including threats to privacy, public safety, jobs and the security of nations." Countries around the world have started heavily investing in national AI initiatives, with China alone spending a reported $1 billion annually. To say competitive, Reif says, the U.S. must commit to at least a decade of sustained financial support for rising researchers and new academic centers across the nation.

Seven Ways Cybercriminals Can Use Machine Learning


Ben Gurion, the main international airport in Israel, is one of the most protected airports in the world. It is known for its multilayered security. On the way from the office to the airport, you get caught in the lens of airport cameras. The road curves several kilometers to the terminal, and when you are driving, the security system has enough time to analyze your identity. In case of any signs of danger, you will be intercepted.

Endurance: Search for Shackleton's lost ship begins

BBC News

Antarctic scientists seeking to locate the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship, the Endurance, have arrived at the search site. The team broke through thick pack ice on Sunday to reach the vessel's last known position in the Weddell Sea. Robotic submersibles will now spend the next few days scouring the ocean floor for the maritime icon. Shackleton and his crew had to abandon Endurance in 1915 when it was crushed by sea ice and sank in 3,000m of water. Their escape across the frozen floes on foot and in lifeboats is an extraordinary story that has resonated down through the years - and makes the wooden polar yacht perhaps the most sought-after of all undiscovered wrecks.

Clues to Our Unknown Ancestors Are Hiding in Our Genome


Could deep learning help paleontologists and geneticists hunt for ghosts? When modern humans first migrated out of Africa 70,000 years ago, at least two related species, now extinct, were already waiting for them on the Eurasian landmass. These were the Neanderthals and Denisovans, archaic humans who interbred with those early moderns, leaving bits of their DNA behind today in the genomes of people of non-African descent. Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. But there have been growing hints of an even more convoluted and colorful history: A team of researchers reported in Nature last summer, for instance, that a bone fragment found in a Siberian cave belonged to the daughter of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.

The EU Should Not Regulate Artificial Intelligence As A Separate Technology


A report from the recent conference on Computers, Privacy and Data Protection suggested that the European Commission is "considering the possibility of legislating for Artificial Intelligence." Karolina Mojzesowicz, Deputy Head, Data Protection Unit at the European Commission, said that the Commission is "assessing whether national and EU frameworks are fit for purpose for the new challenges." The Commission is exploring, for instance, whether to specify "how big a margin of error is acceptable in automated decisions and machine learning." The vehicle for this regulatory effort seems to be the draft Ethics Guidelines developed by a high-level expert group. The comment period on this draft closed on February 1, and a final report is due in March.

Apple plans emoji version of Siri in HomePod patent

The Independent

Apple could be planning to introduce an emojii version of its Siri virtual assistant, according to a new patent application from the tech giant. The patent request, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes an emoji-based avatar for a smart home speaker that can adapt to a user's mood. Though not mentioned by name in the patent, the description of the smart speaker accurately resembles that of the Apple HomePod. Apple's patent application describes a "humanistic avatar, a simplified graphical representation of a digital assistant such as an emoji-based avatar" – essentially a cartoon version of Siri. Depending on what request is made through the smart speaker, the emoji assistant would be able to react appropriately.

Friendly nurse or nightmare-inducing machine? How culture programs our taste in robots.

Washington Post

Slowly and silently, they glide across the floor wearing bright yellow dresses that look like they were plucked from a haunted 1920s boarding school. No, you haven't encountered some Mothman-like terror entombed inside a department store mannequin, the byproduct of a twisted, futuristic fever dream. You've merely stepped inside Mongkutwattana General Hospital in Bangkok, where a team of robot nurses has been unleashed to make life easier. Their job: ferrying documents between eight stations inside the health-care facility, a job that used to be carried out busy human nurses, hospital director Reintong Nanna told Newsflare last year. "These robotic nurses help to improve the efficiency and performance of working in the hospital," he said.

San Francisco Wants to Ban Government Face Recognition

The Atlantic

A San Francisco lawmaker is proposing what would be a nationwide first: a complete moratorium on local government use of facial-recognition technology. Introduced by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance would ban all city departments from using facial-recognition technology and require board approval before departments purchase new surveillance devices. The bill regulates only local use, not use by private companies: The face-unlock feature included on the latest iPhone model, for example, would still be legal. Neighboring cities Berkeley and Oakland have passed similar rules, requiring public input and a privacy policy before officials implement new tech, but nowhere in the United States is facial recognition outright banned. Texas and Illinois require consent before collecting facial data, but don't ban the practice.

Renault-Nissan Alliance, Google to Partner on Self-Driving Cars - Nikkei

U.S. News

Last month, Nissan Motor Corp said its board remained committed to the carmaker's alliance with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, after directors met to discuss the ongoing investigation into former chairman Carlos Ghosn and ways to bolster governance.