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Hype and science collide as FDA tries to rein in 'wild West' of COVID-19 blood tests

Los Angeles Times

"Save your business while saving lives," reads the website of Because Health, a Seattle tech start-up selling two types of tests to employers willing to pay $350 a pop to learn whether their workers have been infected with COVID-19. The company's "Workplace Health" plan includes not only nasal swab tests to detect infection, but also blood tests aimed at determining whether workers have developed antibodies to the virus -- and, possibly, future protection. "There's a tremendous consumer demand," said Dr. Lars Boman, the firm's Boston-based medical director. "Can they return to work? Can they return to life?"


OK Beeb: BBC voice assistant will learn regional accents

BBC News

Beeb, the BBC's voice assistant, has been released to early adopters for testing on Windows computers. The voice assistant, which uses Microsoft technology, is in the beta phase - a period when not all features are present or working properly. Its synthesised digital voice is based on that of a UK voice actor with a northern England accent. And the team behind Beeb have been "working hard" to ensure it can understand other regional accents. When a user downloads the beta version, they will be asked what accent they have - so their voice can be used to train the assistant too. Back in August, we first announced #Beeb, the new voice assistant from the BBC.


Kids Are Especially Tough to Interview About Abuse. Are Robots the Solution?

Mother Jones

Cindy Bethel was 6 when her babysitter's neighbor started molesting her. Worried what else would happen if she told her parents, she confided in her stuffed panda instead. Sometimes she acted out the abuse with Barbie and Ken dolls. A few years later, the same teen neighbor raped her on a woodpile outside his house. She didn't tell anyone about the assault until long after she moved away from her Ohio hometown.


The robots handling your online orders

ZDNet

From cancelled conferences to disrupted supply chains, not a corner of the global economy is immune to the spread of COVID-19. Fulfillment warehouse robots are having a moment as online shopping continues to increase during the pandemic. The hot market for autonomous fulfillment solutions has helped Locus Robotics, which makes autonomous mobile robots for use in fulfillment warehouses, raise an additional $40 million during a successful Series D this week. The new infusion brings total funding for Locus to $105 million. The company plans to use the money for R&D and expansion into new global markets, including in Europe, where it plans to open a new regional headquarters this year.


AI or human lyrics: Could you tell which is which?

ZDNet

We pride ourselves on identifying when we are talking to a chatbot instead of a human operator, but it seems that when it comes to song lyrics, many of us are not so certain which is which. Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to have become the new darling of the tech world, could it outperform humans in more creative fields, like music? Secondary event ticket marketplace TickPick recently collected over than 1,000 rock, hip-hop/rap, country, and pop songs to train "AI artists." It surveyed 1,003 people using Amazon's Machanical Turk to rank creativity, emotionality, and favorability of the lyrics. It also wanted to discover how easy or difficult it was to tell the difference between famous songwriters and AI lyrics. It scraped thousands of song lyrics from genius.com to form a lyrical corpus.


COVID-19 has permanently changed shopping behavior

ZDNet

This TechRepublic Premium ebook compiles the latest on cancelled conferences, cybersecurity attacks, remote work tips, and the impact this pandemic is having on the tech industry. Every two weeks, Salesforce Research is surveying the general population to discover how consumers and the workforce are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Research results and insights are publicly available via interactive Tableau dashboards. The data is updated every two weeks and can be segmented in multiple ways -- geography, industry, generation, income, gender, and more. Salesforce surveyed over 3,500 consumers across the globe to understand how their shopping behaviors, needs, and expectations have been reshaped over the past several months and their outlooks for the future.


BlackBerry partners with Dedrone on counter-drone technology

ZDNet

BlackBerry on Wednesday announced it's partnering with the airspace security firm Dedrone to deliver counter-drone technology. Dedrone will be integrating BlackBerry's AtHoc crisis communications software into its products to enable real-time alerts when a malicious or unauthorized drone is detected in a customer's airspace. The new integration will allow customers to create automated, highly targeted alerts based on criteria such as flight zones, drone behavior or user groups. "When an unauthorized drone enters restricted airspace, time is of the essence," Dedrone President and Chief Business Officer Aaditya Devarakonda said in a statement. "The more effectively the on-site personnel can respond, the better their chances of countering whatever the drone is there to do." Dedrone, founded in 2014, works with a range of public and private sector customers, includig the US military, allied and coalition forces, correctional facilities, airports and utilities.


The BBC's Beeb voice assistant is ready for testing on PC

Engadget

Last year the BBC announced it was working on its own voice assistant, called "Beeb," designed to help customers take advantage of voice assistant technology regardless of their accent. Existing assistants still have issues understanding accents, and nowhere is this truer than Britain, which has a broad range of accents despite its small geographic size. Now, Beeb is going into beta on PC. The early version of the software will be available to UK-based members of Microsoft's Windows Insider program (download the app from the Microsoft Store here). Microsoft is actually playing a pivotal role in the development of Beeb, with its Azure AI services being used by the BBC to build the infrastructure behind the platform.


Accelerating data-driven discoveries

#artificialintelligence

As technologies like single-cell genomic sequencing, enhanced biomedical imaging, and medical "internet of things" devices proliferate, key discoveries about human health are increasingly found within vast troves of complex life science and health data. But drawing meaningful conclusions from that data is a difficult problem that can involve piecing together different data types and manipulating huge data sets in response to varying scientific inquiries. The problem is as much about computer science as it is about other areas of science. That's where Paradigm4 comes in. The company, founded by Marilyn Matz SM '80 and Turing Award winner and MIT Professor Michael Stonebraker, helps pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, and biotech companies turn data into insights.


Prerequisites for understanding RNN at a more mathematical level – Data Science Blog

#artificialintelligence

Writing the A gentle introduction to the tiresome part of understanding RNN Article Series on recurrent neural network (RNN) is nothing like a creative or ingenious idea. It is quite an ordinary topic. But still I am going to write my own new article on this ordinary topic because I have been frustrated by lack of sufficient explanations on RNN for slow learners like me. I think many of readers of articles on this website at least know that RNN is a type of neural network used for AI tasks, such as time series prediction, machine translation, and voice recognition. But if you do not understand how RNNs work, especially during its back propagation, this blog series is for you.