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Limited English Skills Can Mean Limited Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine

Slate

This story was published in partnership with Type Investigations with support from the Puffin Foundation. In California, non-English speakers handed COVID-19 vaccination cards without information on what they mean. In Pennsylvania, people who speak Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese unable to make vaccine appointments due to a lack of interpreters at hospital call centers. These are just a few of the examples captured in a new complaint filed on Friday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights, Federal Emergency Management Agency's Office of Equal Rights, and Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. The complaint, brought by the National Health Law Program, finds widespread problems across the country that inhibit access to COVID-19 resources for people with limited English proficiency (LEP).


Machine Learning Models Can Predict Persistence of Early Childhood Asthma - Pulmonology Advisor

#artificialintelligence

Machine learning modules can be trained with the use of electronic health record (EHR) data to differentiate between transient and persistent cases of early childhood asthma, according the results of an analysis published in PLoS One. Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study using data derived from the Pediatric Big Data (PBD) resource at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) -- a pediatric tertiary academic medical center located in Pennsylvania. The researchers sought to develop machine learning modules that could be used to identify individuals who were diagnosed with asthma at aged 5 years or younger whose symptoms will continue to persist and who will thus continue to experience asthma-related visits. They trained 5 machine learning modules to distinguish between individuals without any subsequent asthma-related visits (transient asthma diagnosis) from those who did experience asthma-related visits from 5 to 10 years of age (persistent asthma diagnosis), based on clinical information available in these children up to 5 years of age. The PBD resource used in the current study included data obtained from the CHOP Care Network -- a primary care network of more than 30 sites -- and from CHOP Specialty Care and Surgical Centers.


News at a glance

Science

SCI COMMUN### Planetary science The Wright brothers' storied flight at Kitty Hawk had a sequel this week more than 288 million kilometers away: Ingenuity, NASA's $80 million minihelicopter, took a 1-minute test hop on Mars, the first controlled flight of a powered aircraft on another planet. The autonomous 1.8-kilogram machine, the size of a tissue box, spun up its 1.2-meter rotors to more than 2500 revolutions per minute before ascending about 3 meters and hovering in the thin martian air. Ingenuity rotated and took a picture before alighting back on the surface. NASA plans to send Ingenuity, which first landed on Mars on 18 February with the Perseverance rover, on four more flights of increasing height and distance and to use the resulting data to build larger, more ambitious helicopters to explore the Red Planet. 14 of 15 —U.S. states not requiring people to wear masks in public recorded relatively high rates of new COVID-19 cases from May to October 2020. None of eight states with high mask wearing had high rates of infection. ( PLOS ONE ) ### Natural resources Just 19% of Earth's lands are truly wild, with no history of human impact, a new study shows. In other parts of the globe, however, biodiversity hot spots have survived even where humans thrived, thanks in part to millennia of beneficial land management practices by Indigenous people, these researchers conclude. By 10,000 years ago, humans had already spread across three-quarters of the globe, and their controlled burns, small-scale farming, and other practices may have sustained or even improved biodiversity, according to the analysis of past and present land use, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . The finding sheds light on a long debate between archaeologists, who cited evidence of this lengthy history, and conservationists, who have insisted that humans did not significantly affect biodiversity until intensive agriculture, urbanization, and deforestation began 200 years ago. Because of the present-day overlap between biodiversity hot spots and lands occupied by Indigenous people, the study bolsters the idea that the growing push to help them regain and retain control over their lands might help protect biodiversity. ### Astronomy The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which in 2019 produced the first image of a black hole's shadow, this week completed another observing campaign, its first in 3 years. Organizers hope their network of radio telescopes will reveal more of the dark heart of the nearby M87 galaxy as well as the Milky Way's center and the quasar 3C 273. EHT must synchronize 10 observatories across the globe in good weather, so its observing window each year is short. Three observatories joined the network this year (including the Kitt Peak 12-meter telescope in Arizona, below), which will sharpen images. Researchers gathered data for more than seven full nights over 2 weeks this month, and EHT spokesperson Eduardo Ros called the results “excellent.” Now begins a long wait as recorded data are shipped to Boston and Bonn, Germany, for months of processing before an image might be revealed. ### Scientific societies The 90-year-old American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) has rechristened itself in order to separate today's association from the field's racist and colonial past. At AAPA's virtual annual meeting last week, an overwhelming majority of members voted to delete the word “physical” and become the American Association of Biological Anthropologists. They acknowledged that the old name has roots in the 19th century, when early anthropologists helped create damaging concepts of race by quantifying physical differences among people. The new name conveys that anthropology is now a multidisciplinary biological science that deals with the adaptations, variability, and evolution of humans and their living and fossil relatives, as well as their culture and behavior, according to a statement by the current and past AAPA presidents. “Importantly, the change allows us to reflect deeply on issues of racism and colonialism, which, at times, permeated the field of ‘physical anthropology,’” they wrote. ### Climate science California and its partners announced plans last week to launch two satellites by 2023 to spot plumes of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane. The $100 million Carbon Mapper project, financed by publisher Michael Bloomberg and other philanthropists, will advance efforts to track concentrated emissions of greenhouse gases that rise from sources such as fossil fuel power plants and leaky pipelines. Previous satellites have lacked the resolution, sensitivity, and focus to collect the data officials need in order to regulate the emissions effectively. The new spacecraft will rely on “hyperspectral” imaging spectrometers that can record more than 400 visible and infrared wavelengths, whose patterns can reveal the abundances of certain gases in the atmosphere below. ### Public health A tiny fraction of the U.S. residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 14 April have become infected, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week. The agency said it expected some “breakthrough” infections and that the low numbers support the value of the inoculations. CDC said it received 5814 reports of such infections in 75 million people vaccinated in 43 U.S. states and territories. Of the infected people, 65% were female, 45% were 60 or older, and 29% were asymptomatic. Seven percent were hospitalized, and 1% died, some from causes unrelated to COVID-19. CDC cautioned that the data from the states reporting might be incomplete. Public health specialists say the infections were more likely to have resulted from weak immune responses to vaccination than to mutations in the virus that let it evade those defenses. ### COVID-19 Researchers at the University of Oxford will intentionally reinfect people previously infected by the virus that causes COVID-19 to study their immune responses and symptoms. The “human challenge trial,” announced on 19 April, will initially re-expose up to 64 volunteers who previously tested positive for the virus and measure what viral dose triggers new infections. A U.K. government ethics panel approved the study and a similar one led by Imperial College London scientists who are evaluating the performance of COVID-19 vaccines. Such experiments may provide results faster than other trial methods allow. ### Anthropology More than 1300 skulls held in a museum collection that was used to justify racism will now be available for return to communities of the people's descendants, the University of Pennsylvania said last week. Samuel Morton started the collection in the 19th century and used studies of its contents to support the idea of white superiority. Many of the crania belonged to enslaved Africans and Indigenous people. In a statement, Christopher Woods, director of the university's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, where the Morton Cranial Collection is held, apologized for the “unethical possession of human remains.” The museum will work to identify descendant communities and accept requests for the return of any crania in the collection. Repatriation of human remains, especially Black and Indigenous ancestors, “is part of a cultural and social reckoning” about how to address anthropology's history of racism, Woods says. ### Scientific meetings A talk last week at the virtual annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) sparked criticism for arguing against a key U.S. law giving Native Americans rights to the human remains and artifacts of their ancestors. Many society members were outraged that SAA gave a platform to what they considered a racist and anti-Indigenous presentation. Some note that this incident comes after a sexual harassment scandal at the organization's 2019 conference. In her talk, SAA member and anthropologist Elizabeth Weiss of San Jose State University said archaeologists “have let creationism into the heart of our discipline” because the law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), allows Indigenous communities to request repatriation of remains, which they may do partly because of religious beliefs. But archaeologists widely support the law, under which many tribes have collaborated with researchers. In response to the criticism, SAA issued a statement encouraging “the rigorous interrogation of diverse views.” SAA President Deborah Nichols later told Science the organization's board rejects the viewpoint of Weiss and her co-author and supports NAGPRA. ### Policy The relatively modest research investments outlined in Canada's new federal budget could make it difficult for the nation to recruit and retain scientific talent, Canadian science advocates fear. The multiyear spending plan, announced on 19 April, includes CA$2.2 billion in mostly new funding for life sciences, with much of the money aimed at boosting biomedical applications and vaccine development. (Canada will continue to provide other spending for research this year under multiyear budgets approved in 2018 and 2019.) But analysts worry the increases are too modest compared with much larger ones proposed for the United States by President Joe Biden, and that some Canadian scientists will look for work south of the border. Under Canada's budget, three main research councils will share CA$250 million for a new joint biomedical research program, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research will get an additional CA$250 million to fund clinical trials. Universities and research hospitals will get CA$500 million for infrastructure such as equipment and buildings. Three programs—an existing artificial intelligence program and two new ones in genomics and quantum science—will each receive CA$400 million in new funding. ### Publishing Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa have boosted their share of scholarly articles in international journals and citations to those papers during the past 4 decades, the Clarivate analytics firm said this month. From 1981 to 2019, the region quadrupled its share of research articles and reviews to 8%; among regions and large countries, only China grew by more. Fifteen of the region's 19 countries had a citation score in 2019 higher than the world average, when adjusted for differences across disciplines; in 2000, almost all had scores well below average. ### Reckoning with climate blues Sustainability scientist Kimberly Nicholas of Lund University found herself struggling with feelings of grief as research by her and others revealed how much climate change will harm agriculture, ecosystems, and human communities. And she discovered she is not alone. In her new book, Under the Sky We Make: How to Be Human in a Warming World , she offers insight into how people and institutions can respond to those feelings and the climate challenge. (A longer version of this interview is at .) > Q: How does your experience with grief inform your thinking about climate change? > A: Things are changing beyond recognition right now from climate change. To me, grieving is an important part of the process of acknowledging that. It does draw from my experience of losing a dear friend to cancer, who died at 37. It was a kind of wake-up call [that prompted me] to think about my core values and what matters. But it shouldn't take a terminal diagnosis for life on Earth to wake us up to the urgency of working for climate stability. > Q: Students come to you distraught about harm to ecosystems they hope to study. What do you tell them? > A: The main thing is not to shy away from those conversations. It's not really helpful to deny the reality or not equip them with the tools to face that reality. You have to acknowledge that they're running into a house that is on fire. > Q: You argue for a shift from what you call the “exploitation mindset.” What's an example? > A: A big wake-up moment for me came at a climate science conference. Pretty much everyone there, including me, had flown in. The presentations were a litany of depressing things happening because of climate change. I felt like I was at this conference of doctors puffing on cigarettes, but telling our patients to quit smoking! I realized we really have an obligation to model the change that we want to see. So, I have pretty much stopped flying for work. It hasn't meant I can't be a productive researcher.


IIT Roorkee launches Online Certificate Programs in Data Science and Machine Learning on Coursera

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Roorkee: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee has launched two online certificate programs in high-demand topics -- Data Science and Machine Learning and Advanced Machine Learning and AI -- on Coursera, one of the world's leading online learning platform. "We are happy to announce two certificate courses in data science, machine learning, and AI in partnership with Coursera. This will enable a large number of aspirants to acquire these relevant areas for their professional growth," said Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee IIT Roorkee is among 150 top universities, including Yale, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Imperial College of London -- that offer programs on Coursera. "For over 170 years, IIT Roorkee has been a leading Indian institution, known for its rigorous technical programs," said Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer at Coursera. "Through our partnership, we are expanding access and allowing more students to learn from IIT Roorkee's renowned faculty. Learners will gain the cutting-edge skills they need to advance their careers while creating powerful networks with their peers."


4 steps to using AI in an environmentally responsible way

#artificialintelligence

CodeCarbon, a lightweight, open-source software package that integrates into a Python codebase, is one of the tools that can help organizations conduct these steps. By automatically fetching power and grid data, CodeCarbon can track the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the cloud or by local computing resources used to execute an experiment such as training a machine-learning algorithm. It then provides developers with dashboards displaying the CO2 outcomes of the experiment or series of experiments. This visibility into the CO2 impact creates opportunities to reduce the resulting carbon footprints, by hosting the cloud infrastructure in geographical regions that use renewable energy sources, or by using more efficient hardware. CodeCarbon was jointly developed by Mila, a world-leading AI research institute in Montreal; BCG GAMMA, Boston Consulting Group's global data science and AI team; Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Comet, a meta machine-learning platform.


#331: Multi-Robot Learning, with Amanda Prorok

Robohub

Amanda Prorok is an Assistant Professor (University Lecturer) in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Pembroke College. She serves as Associate Editor for IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (R-AL) and Associate Editor for Autonomous Robots (AURO). Prior to joining Cambridge, Prorok was a postdoctoral researcher at the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, where she worked with Prof. Vijay Kumar. She completed her PhD at EPFL, Switzerland, with Prof. Alcherio Martinoli.


How blockchain and machine learning can deliver the promise of omnichannel marketing

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Researchers from University of Minnesota, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, BI Norwegian Business School, University of Michigan, National Bureau of Economic Research, and University of North Carolina published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines how advances in machine learning (ML) and blockchain can address inherent frictions in omnichannel marketing and raises many questions for practice and research. The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled "Informational Challenges in Omnichannel Marketing Remedies and Future Research" and is authored by Koen Pauwels, Haitao (Tony) Cui, Catherine Tucker, Raghu Iyengar, S. Sriram, Anindya Ghose, Sriraman Venkataraman, and Hanna Halaburda. In this new study in the Journal of Marketing, researchers define omnichannel marketing as the "synergistic management of all customer touch points and channels both internal and external to the firm that ensures that the customer experience across channels and firm-side marketing activity, including marketing-mix and marketing communication (owned, paid, and earned), is optimized." Often viewed as the panacea for one-to-one marketing, omnichannel experiences data, marketing attribution, and consumer privacy frictions. The research team demonstrates that advances in machine learning (ML) and blockchain can address these frictions.


Dependency Graph-to-String Statistical Machine Translation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We present graph-based translation models which translate source graphs into target strings. Source graphs are constructed from dependency trees with extra links so that non-syntactic phrases are connected. Inspired by phrase-based models, we first introduce a translation model which segments a graph into a sequence of disjoint subgraphs and generates a translation by combining subgraph translations left-to-right using beam search. However, similar to phrase-based models, this model is weak at phrase reordering. Therefore, we further introduce a model based on a synchronous node replacement grammar which learns recursive translation rules. We provide two implementations of the model with different restrictions so that source graphs can be parsed efficiently. Experiments on Chinese--English and German--English show that our graph-based models are significantly better than corresponding sequence- and tree-based baselines.


"Computers are not as smart as you think they are": The struggle of teaching AI to tell stories

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Dr Lara Martin wants to teach artificial intelligence how to tell a tale and tell it well. Lara is a Computing Innovation Fellow postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches AI to generate stories and produce language that is natural and human-like. She reveals why we need to train machines how to be storytellers and what Dungeons & Dragons has to do with it all. People have been telling stories since before we could write; we're natural storytellers. So if machines were able to tell and understand stories as well, we'd be able to communicate with them more naturally.


Meet the computer scientist teaching an AI to play Dungeons and Dragons

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Many of us have had a one-to-one interaction with artificial intelligence. Whether that's through an automated chat service for customer service, or trying our hand at beating an AI built to play chess. One researcher trying to improve the language abilities of AI is Lara Martin, a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. More specifically, Lara is trying teach AI to tell stories. Let us know what you think of the episode with a review or a comment wherever you listen to your podcasts.