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Facebook and NYU trained an AI to estimate COVID outcomes

Engadget

COVID-19 has infected more than 23 million Americans and killed 386,000 of them to date, since the global pandemic began last March. Complicating the public health response is the fact that we still know so little about how the virus operates -- such as why some patients remain asymptomatic while it ravages others. Effectively allocating resources like ICU beds and ventilators becomes a Sisyphean task when doctors can only guess as to who might recover and who might be intubated within the next 96 hours. However a trio of new machine learning algorithms developed by Facebook's AI division (FAIR) in cooperation with NYU Langone Health can help predict patient outcomes up to four days in advance using just a patient's chest x-rays. The models can, respectively, predict patient deterioration based on either a single X-ray or a sequence as well as determine how much supplemental oxygen the patient will likely need.


Bumble disabled its politics filter after it was used to out Capitol rioters

Engadget

The dating app Bumble has disabled its politics filter after it was supposedly used to reveal the identities of Capitol rioters, Mashable has reported. Bumble support posted on Twitter that it "temporarily removed our politics filter to prevent misuse," adding that it "prohibits any content that promotes terrorism or racial hatred." Bumble has promised in another tweet that it will "be reinstated in the future." It also stated that it has removed users confirmed as participants in the US Capitol attack. We've temporarily removed our politics filter to prevent misuse.


Amazon built a customized Alexa assistant that's coming to cars

Engadget

Amazon is opening up its AI tech to automakers and other third-companies with a new product called Alexa Custom Assistant. It will allow brands to build their own custom intelligent assistants that "co-exist" with Alexa, according to Amazon. That will allow them to create unique wake words, voices and capabilities "to each company's unique personality and customer needs," the company wrote in a press release. Alexa Custom Assistant will let customers use both Alexa and their own branded assistant to do something called "simultaneous multi-assistant cooperation. "This allows the brand's assistant to act as the product specialist, while Alexa is still available to help with everyday needs," Amazon wrote.


NASA abandons InSight mission to crack the surface of Mars

Engadget

NASA has been forced to end its mission to drill down into the Martian soil after its unique geology proved too much for the InSight lander. The InSight probe was equipped with a probe -- dubbed the Mole -- which was going to drill up to 10 feet into the ground. However, the agency said that the soil's "unexpected tendency to clump" meant that the drill could never get enough purchase to function properly. It's the end of a long saga that began at the start of 2019 when the properties of Mars' soil proved tough to crack. After plenty of trial-and-error, and some help from InSight's robotic arm, the hardware only managed to reach a few centimeters into the ground.


Blizzard's Battle.net launcher is getting a much-needed redesign

Engadget

For many, Battle.net is the portal into their favourite PC and macOS video games. As PC Gamer explains, though, the client has barely changed in the last eight years. Thankfully, a long overdue update has arrived. The general layout has been overhauled, and it's now possible to'favorite' games for easy access. The social pane has been reworked too, alongside a new notifications hub for messages and checking downloads.


This AI smart crib gently bounces waking babies back to sleep

Engadget

There is nothing in the world more valuable to new parents than sleep. To help with that, Cradlewise developed a smart crib that uses AI and a built-in monitor to help your little one stay snoozing for as long as possible. A sleekly designed bassinet in white and light-colored wood, it features an arch over the crib that contains the monitor and camera. The bed portion of the crib can be lowered as the child ages so it can switch from a bassinet to a crib. The Cradlewise crib learns your child's sleep patterns and senses when they start to shift and wake.


Assassin's Creed fans have decoded its fictional Isu language

Engadget

From the wall of cryptic messages that greets you at the end of the first game to more recent mysteries, ciphers and hidden codes have been a part of the Assassin's Creed franchise since the very start. But as Eurogamer points out, its dedicated fans may have just solved one of its most complex riddles yet. Access the Animus, I never doubted you. In a video that's almost 30-minutes long, Access the Animus, a community dedicated to the lore of Assassin's Creed, detail how they went about deciphering Isu. If you haven't followed the series in recent years or tuned out of its modern-day storyline sometime around Assassin's Creed III, Isu is the language of the franchise's infamous precursor race.


Google now owns Fitbit

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Google has completed its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, more than a year after the deal was first announced. The EU approved the acquisition in late December, clearing the way towards Google's ownership over what is perhaps the best-known brand out there for mainstream fitness-tracking devices. Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park reiterated in a letter today that Fitbit would continue to be device-agnostic, making products that work with both iPhones and Android devices. Both Park and Google's Rick Osterloh also reiterated that this deal was always about "devices, not data." That's shorthand for Google and Fitbit's pledge to keep user data private going forward; Park said that "Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data."


Laser microrobot makes minimally invasive surgery more precise

Engadget

Minimally invasive surgery techniques have gone far over the past few decades, but they still have limitations that scientists are working to overcome. Laser micro surgery, for instance, leaves minimal peripheral tissue damage, but it can only be used on parts of the body within the laser's line of sight. Meanwhile, surgery using flexible robotics can access hard-to-reach areas, but they can damage surrounding tissue. Now, a team of robotic engineers from Harvard University's Wyss Institute have developed a way to bring their strengths together by designing a laser-steering microrobot that can be attached to a flexible surgical devices, such as colonoscopes. The team evaluated currently available laser devices and found that they're too big, don't have the range of motion needed or aren't powerful enough.


Breaking down the AI wizardry of 'Microsoft Flight Simulator'

Engadget

There are some wild stats about Microsoft Flight Simulator. In the sim, all 117 million lakes in the world are rendered in their appropriate places. Each plane has more than 1,000 points that respond to a variety of conditions at any given time, including wind, atmosphere and player input. Developers pushed 2.5 petabytes of Bing Maps satellite photo data through Azure's machine learning systems to construct the sim's world. In a chat with Engadget at CES 2021, Flight Simulator head Jorg Neumann said developers basically build the planet every 72 hours, procedurally planting somewhere in the realm of 2 trillion trees and creating 2 billion buildings in that timeframe alone.