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Flemish Brabant

Intelligent automation: when RPA meets AI


One of those masterclasses, covers the topic of "intelligent automation" or as we refer to as "cognitive RPA". Last Tuesday, the first masterclass took place at our own offices in Leuven with over 30 enthusiastic participants. During these masterclasses, we demonstrate the possibilities of combining artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). Almost any potential business process for robotic process automation requires some form of human intelligence. Combining the expertise of our venture Brainjar with the people from Roborana, we we're able to deliver an in-depth workshop filled with use cases.

UK prof uses AI on the eye as a window into heart disease


Scientists have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can analyze eye scans taken during a routine visit to an optician or eye clinic and identify patients at a high risk of a heart attack.  Doctors have recognized that changes to the tiny blood vessels in the retina are indicators of broader vascular disease, including problems with the heart.  In the research, led by the University of Leeds, deep learning techniques were used to train the AI system to automatically read retinal scans and identify those people who, over the following year, were likely to have a heart attack.   Deep learning is a complex series of algorithms that enable computers to identify patterns in data and make predictions.  Writing in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, the researchers report that the AI system had an accuracy of between 70% and 80% and could be used as a second referral mechanism for in-depth cardiovascular investigation.   The use of deep learning in the analysis of retinal scans could revolutionize the way patients are regularly screened for signs of heart disease.  Professor Alex Frangi, who holds the Diamond Jubilee Chair in Computational Medicine at the University of Leeds and is a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, supervised the research. He said: “Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, are the leading cause of early death worldwide and the second-largest killer in the UK. This causes chronic ill-health and misery worldwide.  “This technique opens up the possibility of revolutionizing the screening of cardiac disease. Retinal scans are comparatively cheap and routinely used in many optician practices. As a result of automated screening, patients who are at high risk of becoming ill could be referred to specialist cardiac services.  “The scans could also be used to track the early signs of heart disease.”  The study involved a worldwide collaboration of scientists, engineers, and clinicians from the University of Leeds; Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; the University of York; the Cixi Institute of Biomedical Imaging in Ningbo, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the University of Cote d’Azur, France; the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and the National Eye Institute, both part of the National Institutes for Health in the US; and KU Leuven in Belgium.  The UK Biobank provided data for the study.  Chris Gale, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Leeds and a Consultant Cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was one of the authors of the research paper.  He said: “The AI system has the potential to identify individuals attending routine eye screening who are at higher future risk of cardiovascular disease, whereby preventative treatments could be started earlier to prevent premature cardiovascular disease.”  Deep learning  During the deep learning process, the AI system analyzed the retinal scans and cardiac scans of more than 5,000 people. The AI system identified associations between pathology in the retina and changes in the patient’s heart.   Once the image patterns were learned, the AI system could estimate the size and pumping efficiency of the left ventricle, one of the heart’s four chambers, from retinal scans alone. An enlarged ventricle is linked with an increased risk of heart disease.   With information on the estimated size of the left ventricle and its pumping efficiency combined with basic demographic data about the patient, their age, and sex, the AI system could predict their risk of a heart attack over the subsequent 12 months.   Currently, details about the size and pumping efficiency of a patient’s left ventricle can only be determined if they have diagnostic tests such as echocardiography or magnetic resonance imaging of the heart. Those diagnostic tests can be expensive and are often only available in a hospital setting, making them inaccessible for people in countries with less well-resourced healthcare systems - or unnecessarily increasing healthcare costs and waiting times in developed countries.  Sven Plein, British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Imaging at the University of Leeds and one of the authors of the research paper, said: “The AI system is an excellent tool for unraveling the complex patterns that exist in nature, and that is what we have found here – the intricate pattern of changes in the retina linked to changes in the heart.” 

AI, ML bubble to the top in new beverage-ordering solution


Did you miss a session from the Future of Work Summit? How your bottle of beer found its way into the fridge when you sat down last weekend to watch a football or basketball game on TV is hardly of consequence when you're looking to relax. What you know is that you picked up a six-pack at your local market, but the circuitous route it traveled and the IT used to activate the supply chain before you popped off the top will enlighten you. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, commonly known as AB InBev, is a multinational drink and brewing company based in Leuven, Belgium. The original InBev global brands are Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois.

Researchers explain why they believe Facebook mishandles political ads

NPR Technology

Facebook has worked for years to revamp its handling of political ads -- but researchers who conducted a comprehensive audit of millions of ads say the social media company's efforts have had uneven results. The problems, they say, include overcounting political ads in the U.S. -- and undercounting them in other countries. And despite Facebook's ban on political ads around the time of last year's U.S. elections, the platform allowed more than 70,000 political ads to run anyway, according to the research team that is based at the NYU Cybersecurity for Democracy and at the Belgian university KU Leuven. Their research study was released early Thursday. They also plan to present their findings at a security conference next August.

Can AI Replace Doctors? Discover 5 Artificial Intelligence Applications in Healthcare


After revolutionizing various industry sectors, the introduction of artificial intelligence in healthcare is transforming how we diagnose and treat critical disorders. A team of experts in the Laboratory for Respiratory Diseases at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, trained an AI-based computer algorithm using good quality data. Dr. Marko Topalovic, a postdoctoral researcher in the team, announced that AI was found to be more consistent and accurate in interpreting respiratory test results and in suggesting diagnoses, as compared to lung specialists. Likewise, Artificial Intelligence Research Centre for Neurological Disorders at the Beijing Tiantan Hospital and a research team from the Capital Medical University developed the BioMind AI system, which correctly diagnosed brain tumor in 87% of 225 cases in about 15 minutes, whereas the results of a team of 15 senior doctors displayed only 66% accuracy. With further improvements and the support of other advanced technologies like machine learning, AI is getting smarter with time.

Demystifying the Draft EU Artificial Intelligence Act Artificial Intelligence

Thanks to Valerio De Stefano, Reuben Binns, Jeremias Adams-Prassl, Barend van Leeuwen, Aislinn Kelly-Lyth, Lilian Edwards, Natali Helberger, Christopher Marsden, Sarah Chander, Corinne Cath-Speth for comments and/or discussion; substantive and editorial input by Ulrich Gasper; and the conveners and participants of several workshops including one convened by Margot Kaminski, one by Burkhard Schäfer, one part of the 2nd ELLIS Workshop in Human-Centric Machine Learning; one between Lund University and the Labour Law Community; and one between Oxford, KU Leuven and UCL. A CC-BY 4.0 license applies to this article after 3 calendar months from publication have elapsed.

News at a glance


SCI COMMUN### Planetary science China's Zhurong rover rolled off the Tianwen-1 Mars mission's lander last week to start its explorations, leaving tracks in the Red Planet's dust. Zhurong's sensors will provide an up-close look at Mars's subsurface strata, minerals, and weather and atmosphere. Researchers expect 90 days of operations but hope for more. Meanwhile, the mission's orbiter will continue to gather data on Mars's topography and ionosphere. The flawless 15 May landing and subsequent smooth deployment of the rover (which photographed the lander in the photo above) may encourage China in its ambitions for planetary exploration. After bringing rocks back from the Moon in December 2020, China is considering a landing site for a planned, second sample return mission to the Moon's far side in 2023 or 2024. > “I frequently vomit before going to the lab.” > > Anonymous scientist, in a survey conducted by the antibullying Academic Parity Movement and posted as a preprint. Many of the 2000 self-selected respondents said they had been bullied but didn't report it to their institution, fearing retaliation. Most who did said they found the process unfair. ### History of science A picture may be worth 1000 words, but a letter containing a single equation written in Albert Einstein's shaky hand sold last week for a whopping $1.2 million, Boston-based RR Auction reported. Penned on 26 October 1946, when the famous theorist was 67, the letter contains one of four extant instances of Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 in his own hand. The equation implies that a small amount of mass (m) equals a huge amount of energy (E) because the speed of light (c) is enormous. The letter's recipient, Polish-American physicist Ludwik Silberstein, wrote one of the first English-language textbooks on relativity—a theory that encompasses both the special theory of relativity that Einstein published in 1905 and the general theory, published in 1915, which explains the origins of gravity. Silberstein had doubts about general relativity and engaged Einstein in public debate—which Silberstein lost as the theory became a cornerstone of modern physics. ### Evolution With more than 350,000 species, flowering plants feed, fuel, and adorn the world. Now, researchers have taken a big step toward understanding the origin of traits that distinguish them from an older group of plants, the gymnosperms, which today includes pine trees and ginkgoes. Among the differences, the flowering plants or “angiosperms,” which evolved about 125 million years ago, produce more sophisticated seeds, with two outer protective coats instead of just one. In 2017 in an open-pit coal mine in Inner Mongolia, palaeobotanists discovered evidence of an evolutionary link between these two major groups of plants: a treasure trove of exquisitely preserved, extinct gymnosperms with double-coated seeds. The outer coat or “cupule” most likely gave rise to the outer coat, the integument, of angiosperm seeds, palaeobotanist Gongle Shi of the Chinese Academy of Sciences's Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and colleagues write this week in Nature . Modern gymnosperms lack cupules. The ancient plants, which no longer exist, also had specialized leaves or other tissues that may have been the forerunners of the female angiosperm reproductive structures called carpels. ### Gene therapy A blind man who received a gene for a light-sensing algal protein in one eye can now see objects with the help of special goggles, researchers report this week in Nature Medicine . It is the first published case of using optogenetics, a method of controlling neurons, to treat a disease in people. The 58-year-old French man was a participant in a clinical trial of the technique. He has an inherited disease called retinitis pigmentosa that destroys the eye's light-sensing photoreceptor cells; he could sense light but not discern shapes. Researchers used a virus to insert the algal gene into the man's retinal ganglion cells, which carried signals from the light-sensing protein to the brain. Months later, while wearing goggles that focused light on his retina, he could find and touch a notebook and count glass tumblers. If the treatment helps others, it may offer advantages over alternative technologies such as retinal implants. ### Science education The latest results from a quadrennial national test have disappointed U.S. science educators. The scores of fourth grade students in science showed a significant drop of three points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) between 2015 and 2019, while the scores of eighth and 12th grade students stayed flat. Key metrics for measuring how science is taught are also discouraging. For example, just 30% of fourth grade students engage in inquiry-based activities—a teaching method that studies have validated as more effective than others—only once or twice a year, and only 18% as often as twice a month. “Far too many elementary teachers have told us that science is not a priority in their schools and is perceived as less important than math and English language arts,” says Erika Shugart, executive director of the National Science Teaching Association. Until that attitude changes, Shugart says, “we can anticipate that lackluster NAEP scores will continue.” ### Climate policy President Joe Biden's administration last week reinstated the past director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which coordinates climate science across 13 federal agencies and oversees a periodic and influential review, the National Climate Assessment. In November 2020, the Trump administration reassigned Michael Kuperberg, a climate scientist who had run USGCRP for 6 years, to the Department of Energy and replaced him with a climate change denier. Trump subordinates had criticized the 2018 installment of the climate assessment, which, like previous ones, predicted calamitous, costly effects from climate change. In restoring Kuperberg to his old post, the White House also directed USGCRP to accelerate its work on two fronts: advancing climate science on socially relevant topics and ensuring that knowledge is more easily accessible to the public. The next climate assessment is now due by the end of 2023. ### Energy The United Kingdom's rebooted fusion reactor, MAST-Upgrade, has successfully demonstrated a novel exhaust system for superhot waste gases, key to making future commercial devices smaller and cheaper, researchers announced this week. Such reactors generate energy by fusing hydrogen isotopes in gas heated to more than 100 million degrees Celsius and confined with powerful magnets. As waste gases are expelled, they must touch a reactor surface, and not many materials can stand the heat for long. MAST-Upgrade was built with extra chambers and magnets, known as a super-X diverter, to lead the waste gases on a winding 20-meter path, during which they have time to cool. In tests since the reactor was fired up in October, researchers showed that this reduced the heat load 10-fold at the final contact surface. “This will make a big change in the amount of downtime in a future power plant,” says lead scientist Andrew Kirk of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. ### COVID-19 India is suffering an epidemic within the pandemic. Nearly 9000 COVID-19 patients have also contracted mucormycosis, a rare disease also called black fungus, for its discolored lesions on the nose and inside the mouth. Spread by spores in the environment, mucormycosis has a mortality rate of more than 50%. Healthy people easily stave off infection, but those with weakened immune systems are vulnerable. In India, the disease is appearing mostly in COVID-19 patients given steroids to suppress an overactive immune response and in those who also suffer from diabetes. The surge in mucormycosis is causing a shortage of amphotericin B, the drug used to treat the disease. Last week, India's health ministry urged the country's 36 states and territories to declare mucormycosis epidemic, a step that leads to closer tracking of cases. ### COVID-19 Belgian authorities have hunted for more than a week for a heavily armed former soldier who they said threatened a prominent virologist, Marc Van Ranst of KU Leuven, over his support of COVID-19 lockdowns. Police took Van Ranst, a member of two expert panels advising the government, and his family to a safe house on 18 May. The fugitive, far-right former military shooting instructor Jürgen Conings, is on the Belgian list of terrorism suspects and “very dangerous,” Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said in a 21 May TV interview. He added that Conings spent 2 hours on 17 May near a “target,” identified as Van Ranst by Belgian media. Van Ranst had been receiving police protection since July 2020 because he received pandemic-related threats regularly. Tweeting from his hideout last week, he said the threats “don't impress me at all.” ### Publishing Who voices more anxiety about peer reviews: researchers whose manuscripts have been accepted or rejected? The answer: It's a tie. That's one of the counterintuitive findings of a study of researchers' emotional and cognitive reactions to peer reviews, as revealed in more than 3600 comments posted by researchers on The website allows authors to rate the quality of reviews at each of more than 3500 journals by name. The 16 May paper in Scientometrics unpacked the comments using language-analysis software. Although authors of rejected papers were not more likely to report anxiety than authors of accepted papers, they were more prone to say they were saddened by the decision. Also surprising, authors who waited longer for review decisions were no more likely to make negative comments about peer review. “Possibly, slow peer review processes have become so prevalent in academia [that] most authors did not bother to criticize it,” wrote the study's author, Shan Jiang of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Further research about psychological reactions to peer review could help improve the process, the paper suggests. ### Genetics After the last ice age, the population of modern humans in northern East Asia may have undergone a major turnover, a study this week in Cell suggests. Researchers analyzed DNA from across the genomes of 25 ancient hunter-gatherers. It shows that the earliest known modern humans in the north China Plain, which stretches from Mongolia to the Amur Peninsula of Russia, who lived there 33,000 to 40,000 years ago, belonged to one widespread population. But by the end of the Last Glacial Maximum, about 19,000 years ago, they had been replaced by another population of people related to living East Asians and ancient Siberians. The first group may have died out during the ice age, the research team writes, noting that frigid temperatures in Europe may have driven a similar ancient population turnover. ### Space science Future robotic and crewed missions to the Moon could find their way on its surface more easily under a plan proposed by the European Space Agency (ESA) to establish a fleet of navigation satellites—a lunar version of GPS. The agency last week announced €2 million contracts to each of two industrial consortia to devise plans. Space agencies and companies hope to dispatch dozens of lunar probes this decade, but they must carry heavy radio gear to stay in contact with large dishes on Earth that guide them. Instead, ESA proposes that three or four satellites in lunar orbit and surface beacons could provide GPS-like signals so future missions could make do with a simple, less costly, lightweight receiver. The system would improve navigational accuracy, fixing position to within 100 meters compared with the current 500 meters at best. 8023 —Depth in meters where the deepest ocean bed core was drilled. The sample, for earthquake research, was taken this month in the Japan Trench, near the epicenter of the 2011 quake that caused a tsunami and knocked out the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Machine Learning for Social Engineering - Infosec Resources


Dimitar Kostadinov applied for a 6-year Master's program in Bulgarian and European Law at the University of Ruse, and was enrolled in 2002 following high school. He obtained a Master degree in 2009. From 2008-2012, Dimitar held a job as data entry & research for the American company Law Seminars International and its Bulgarian-Slovenian business partner DATA LAB. In 2011, he was admitted Law and Politics of International Security to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, graduating in August of 2012. Dimitar also holds an LL.M. diploma in Intellectual Property Rights & ICT Law from KU Leuven (Brussels, Belgium).

ContinualAI Releases Avalanche: An End-to-End Library for Continual Learning


Albert Einstein once said that "wisdom is not a product of schooling, but the lifelong attempt to acquire it." Centuries of human progress have been built on our brains' ability to continually acquire, fine-tune and transfer knowledge and skills. Such continual learning however remains a long-standing challenge in machine learning (ML), where the ongoing acquisition of incrementally available information from non-stationary data often leads to catastrophic forgetting problems. Gradient-based deep architectures have spurred the development of continual learning in recent years, but continual learning algorithms are often designed and implemented from scratch with different assumptions, settings, and benchmarks, making them difficult to compare, port, or reproduce. Now, a research and development team from ContinualAI with researchers from KU Leuven, ByteDance AI Lab, University of California, New York University and other institutions has proposed Avalanche, an end-to-end library for continual learning based on PyTorch.

An AI can make selfies look like they're not selfies

New Scientist

There's a solution for tourists who are reluctant to hand over their expensive camera phone to a random passer-by to snap a photo. A new computer model promises to make a selfie look like it isn't one. The technique borrows from the growing field of artificial intelligence that can modify, or'repose' photos in a realistic way, says Liqian Ma of KU Leuven, Belgium. Reposing uses two or more source images – one in the original position and another in the reposed position – to train its algorithms.