With a big donation for a new neuroscience institute, Caltech dives deeper into brain research

Los Angeles Times

Sometimes the biggest gifts arrive in the most surprising ways. A couple in Singapore, Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Luo, were watching the news and saw a Caltech scientist help a quadriplegic use his thoughts to control a robotic arm so that -- for the first time in more than 10 years -- he could sip a drink unaided. Inspired, Chen and Luo flew to Pasadena to meet the scientist, Richard Andersen, in person. Now they've given Caltech $115 million to shake up the way scientists study the brain in a new research complex. Construction of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech will begin as early as 2018 and bring together biology, engineering, chemistry, physics, computer science and the social sciences to tackle brain function in an integrated, comprehensive way, university officials announced Tuesday.


5 Intriguing Uses for Artificial Intelligence (That Aren't Killer Robots)

#artificialintelligence

Rather than leading to the violent downfall of humankind, artificial intelligence is helping people around the world do their jobs, including doctors who diagnose sepsis in patients and scientists who track endangered animals in the wild, experts said Thursday (Oct. Advancements in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) haven't always been met with enthusiasm. Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warned on several occasions that a fully developed AI could destroy the human race, and Hollywood sci-fi movies are rife with fierce robots battling humans for control. But at yesterday's conference -- attended by the country's leading researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs and students -- scientists explained how newly developed AI is accelerating research and improving lives. Here is a look at five AI inventions that are already redefining technology.


IBM Watson: Style and Substance

#artificialintelligence

IBM Watson, the distributed natural language processing platform, isn't the only advanced system available, but it's the highest-profile and arguably the most sophisticated. It's also important to recognize how shrewdly Watson is being marketed. Even before Watson was Watson, IBM was adept at generating publicity for its futuristic computing activities. Most famously, Big Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Four years later, Watson, in a form far more rudimentary than today's commercialized version, beat Ken Jennings, the human Jeopardy!


San Francisco officer suffers chemical burns in bleach attack

Los Angeles Times

A San Francisco police officer suffered chemical burns after a woman poured bleach onto him from a sixth-floor window, authorities said Monday. The officer was talking to a victim and witness about an argument involving a dog bite at about 11:06 p.m. Saturday outside a building in the 100 block of Hyde Street, said Officer Albie Esparza, spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department. As the officer investigated the dispute, a 47-year-old woman poured bleach from the window. The officer was struck on the face and was taken to an area hospital, Esparza said. The officer suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, Esparza said.


Meningitis outbreak in L.A. gay community prompts plea for vaccinations

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County public health officials and LGBT advocates are urging gay and bisexual men to get meningitis vaccinations, citing a recent outbreak of potentially deadly meningococcal disease that is disproportionately affecting men who have sex with men. There have been 17 confirmed cases of invasive meningococcal disease confirmed in the county so far this year, including 12 in the last two months, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the interim director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said Thursday. Eight have been among gay or bisexual men, including seven within the last two months, he said. "In L.A. County, since May, the number of these infections among men, most of whom have identified themselves as gay or bisexual, is substantially more than we would normally expect during this time of the year," Gunzenhauser said at a news conference at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. "This is of great concern."