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Machine Learning 'on the rocks' 🥃

#artificialintelligence

Apparently, the project's domain relies on the most popular liquor in the world -- Whiskey. A dark spirit coming from a great variety of grains, distilled throughout the world and arriving at quite a number of styles (Irish, Scotch, Bourbon etc) [1]. Scotland, Ireland, Canada & Japan are among the famous exporters and on an international scale, the global production almost reaches the level of $95m revenue [2]. The main scope, hereof, is to introduce in a… 'companionable' way, how helpful can the Clustering Algorithms prove to be, anytime we need to find patterns in a (large) dataset. Actually, it might be considered as a powerful expansion of the standard Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA), which is often very beneficial to try, before using Supervised Machine Learning (ML) models.


Drones are carrying Covid-19 samples between UK hospitals

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Drones are being used to carry Covid-19 test samples and other medical materials up to 40 miles (64km) across four locations in western Scotland. London drone firm Skyports has become the first operator to receive permission from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to carry diagnostic specimens by drone. Cargo – including test samples, medicine, personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 testing kits – is being transported by the drones in the Argyll & Bute region. A whole fleet of the drones are carrying up to 3kg of the supplies each, improving services for patients and healthcare staff in one of the UK's most remote areas. Drones can complete a journey that takes a whopping 36 hours by road and ferry to just 15 minutes, while increasing the frequency of pick-ups.


Dating apps scam committed by criminal from inside prison

BBC News

This is only a partial data set. Eighteen forces, including some of the country's biggest like the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, PSNI, and Police Scotland, did not provide data, meaning the actual crime numbers are likely to be significantly higher.


Jenners department store to close after 183 years trading in Edinburgh

BBC News

A Frasers spokesman said: "Despite the global pandemic, numerous lockdowns and the turbulence caused for British retail, the landlord hasn't been able to work mutually on a fair agreement, therefore resulting in the loss of 200 jobs and a vacant site for the foreseeable future, with no immediate plans.


Online drone display lights up skies for Hogmanay

BBC News

John Hopkins, director of Celestial and director of Fare Well, said "For the Hogmanay commission we combined the ancient medium of poetry with our cutting-edge artistry to represent a journey from the past and into a brighter, greener, healthier future."


News at a glance

Science

SCI COMMUN ### Areas to watch As biomedical scientists continue to battle the deadly pandemic this year to help the world return to normalcy, researchers across the disciplines still aim to hit big milestones or launch new projects despite the challenges brought by COVID-19. European scientists will also have to contend with the aftermath of Brexit. Many U.S. scientists, in contrast, have a more hopeful political outlook, with some likely to play an invigorated role in tackling another global crisis, climate change, after President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to make it a top priority, is sworn in this month. In this section, Science 's news staff forecasts areas of research and policy we expect to make headlines this year, from protecting the high seas' biodiversity to probing how ancient humans interacted. ### Global warming Nearly 8 years have passed since the fifth assessment report from the United Nations's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the famed body of volunteer climate scientists that since 1990 has chronicled humanity's persistent warming of the planet. The sixth installment, crafted by more than 700 scientists and delayed by the pandemic, will come out in sections this year and next, and it's expected to further sharpen the picture of the human impact on climate. Its findings will be bolstered by a new generation of climate models and scenarios, fed by indicators of unabated global change: data showing accelerating sea level rise; rapid ice melt at the poles; and waves of extreme heat, drought, and fire. In November, the world's countries will meet in Scotland's Glasgow for the next U.N. climate summit, where they are expected to increase the ambitions of their pledged cuts in greenhouse gases and agree on a full set of rules to implement the Paris agreement. Among the attendees will be the United States, which President-elect Joe Biden has said will rejoin the pact. ### Public health The launch of immunization campaigns in many countries has raised hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic can be brought to an end. But how exactly it started remains murky, and a World Health Organization international team of 10 scientists will travel to China several times this year as part of an investigation into the pandemic coronavirus' origins—a politically sensitive mission because the United States and China have sparred over who is to blame for the pandemic. The team hopes to discover the virus' closest relatives in bats, where and how it jumped to humans, whether another species acted as an intermediate host, and, most important, how we can prevent other pandemic viruses from emerging. ### National security Restoring U.S.-Chinese scientific collaborations to health could be a test of President-elect Joe Biden's success in negotiating with the Asian superpower on trade, immigration, and security concerns. A new U.S. government–sponsored forum on science, technology, and national security will advise the new administration on how to strike the right balance between openness and preventing the theft of new technology. A new U.S. law provides stiff penalties for federal grant applicants who fail to disclose all sources of funding when submitting a proposal, based on the assumption that greater transparency is the best way to monitor ties with China and other entities posing potential threats to U.S. security. University leaders are hoping Biden will reverse President Donald Trump's restrictive immigration policies and avoid ratcheting up economic and political tensions. But prominent Republicans in Congress are threatening even more punitive steps against China. ### Infectious diseases To complement mass vaccinations against COVID-19, drug companies this year will dash to custom design drugs that block the pandemic coronavirus and treat the disease's symptoms. Even if many people receive one of the new, highly effective vaccines approved in recent weeks by regulators, the virus is expected to remain endemic. In 2020, only the antiviral remdesivir and a handful of other drugs, all originally designed to treat other conditions, showed even limited benefits against the disease. To identify new drug candidates, researchers have deployed artificial intelligence and supercomputers, and more than 590 experimental drugs are in development, according to a leading pharmaceutical industry tracker. For example, researchers have high hopes for compounds that disrupt reproduction of the pandemic virus by inhibiting one of its two proteases. Cocktails of such therapies could tame the virus, an approach used successfully against HIV. The protease inhibitors and other compounds look promising in cell and animal studies. But studies on human volunteers are only getting started, and it could take years to pass safety and efficacy reviews. ### Planetary science Mars's thin air makes it hard to slow a probe to a soft landing. Of the 18 robotic probes sent to the planet's surface in the past 50 years, eight have crashed. This year, two more will attempt a touchdown. On 18 February, NASA's SUV-size rover, Perseverance, will take the plunge, slowed by parachutes and retrorockets on a “sky crane” platform. After landing in Jezero crater, near a fossilized river delta, the rover will collect rock samples for eventual return to Earth. Around the same time, China's Tianwen-1 mission will arrive with an orbiter, a lander platform, and a rover the size of a golf cart. Officials have chosen a landing site not far from Jezero, along the southern edge of Utopia Planitia, a broad plain that may have been repaved by ancient flows of mud. A successful touchdown would be China's first on Mars. ### Microscopy Researchers aim this year to sharpen the resolution of cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique for studying protein structure that may yield new insights into their roles in maintaining human health and causing disease. Another technique, x-ray crystallography, has long been the gold standard for mapping individual atoms within a 3D protein structure. But it only works for proteins that can be packed into crystals. Cryo-EM doesn't require crystals, and its resolution has steadily improved over the past decade. In 2020, it crossed the threshold of atomic resolution as researchers using cryo-EM microscopes equipped with improved electron detectors and software mapped the structure of apoferritin, an iron-binding protein. That protein is unusually rigid, which made it easier to hold steady during cryo-EM mapping. Next, researchers want to image less rigid proteins. Success would be a boon to structural biologists, allowing them to generate highly detailed maps of large proteins and complexes of multiple proteins that cannot be crystallized. ### Astronomy The long wait will soon be over: NASA's much-delayed flagship observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is set to finally take to the skies on 31 October. JWST is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, with a 6.5-meter-wide mirror that has six times its predecessor's light-gathering power. The gold-coated, honeycombed mirror will be cooled so it can collect the infrared light of distant objects, red-shifted by the universe's expansion. JWST will be sensitive enough to scrutinize the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets for signs of life and gather the light of the universe's first stars and galaxies. The $8.8 billion spacecraft, which will cost billions more and launch years later than originally planned, recently endured final tests—violent shaking to simulate launch. This month, engineers are unfolding its mirror and unfurling its multilayered Sun shield one last time to check that all is well. By midyear, JWST will be packed up and shipped to French Guiana, where it will be loaded onto a European Ariane 5 rocket. Next stop: deep space. ### Energy The Joint European Torus (JET), the world's largest fusion reactor, will this year embark on a campaign to generate substantial amounts of fusion power. The U.K.-based JET is a tokamak, which uses powerful magnets to constrain a hot plasma so that atomic nuclei crash together and fuse, releasing energy. After an upgrade, JET has a new metallic lining and extra heating power; in this year's trials, it will be fed a potent mix of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium (D-T)—a fuel rarely used because radioactive tritium needs careful handling and cleanup. In 1997, the last time this fuel mix was used, JET generated 16 megawatts of power for a few seconds, well short of the power consumed to make it happen. The new campaign will initially aim for similar power levels but try to sustain them for longer. That will help in planning for the huge ITER reactor, under construction in France, which has a similar shape and lining. ITER is due to start operations in 2025, but will not begin to use D-T fuel until the mid 2030s. ### Nutrition Help may arrive this year for millions of malnourished children who remain sickly and fail to fully recover even after receiving proper nutrition and treatments for being underfed. Pandemic-related disruptions and job losses are expected to cause the number of such children to skyrocket. One problem for underfed children is disruption of the gut microbiome, which leads to an immature, inefficient digestive system that stunts growth. To repair the microbiomes, health specialists are looking forward to results of a study in Bangladesh that evaluated a low-cost nutritional supplement; it's a mix of easy-to-find ingredients, such as chickpeas, bananas, and soy and peanut flours. In 2019, this team reported that in experiments in mice and pigs, followed by a monthlong pilot study of 60 children, the supplement led to gut repair, as indicated by changes in blood markers. The study did not last long enough to test effects on growth. Since then, these researchers have been comparing the intervention with an existing supplement in a larger, 3-month trial of malnourished children. ### Conservation Few rules protect biodiversity in the two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside nations' sovereign waters. This year, the United Nations is expected to finalize the first treaty specifically intended to change that. The pact is expected to provide a way to designate marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas; researchers have been developing a list of candidates and supporting evidence. The draft language also sets minimum standards for environmental impact assessments that nations would be required to conduct before starting commercial activities that might harm marine life. A new, international scientific and technical body, similar to one that manages marine life around Antarctica, would review MPA proposals. The treaty draft also provides for a system to manage genetic sequences taken from marine organisms living in the high seas. ### Archaeology Expect to see studies of ancient humans follow new paths this year, as researchers combine analyses of ancient DNA with other molecular and microbial clues to examine social ties and migrations. Scientists will merge DNA evidence with data from proteins and isotopes, as well as microfossils and pathogens from bones, tooth plaque, and fossilized poop. Such studies this year could help determine which early Celtic family members inherited wealth. They could help identify the homeland of the biblical Philistines and clarify the identities of early Anglo-Saxons and Greeks in Europe, as well as mummies in China and Egypt. ### Public health An obscure $4 billion U.S. government fund that compensates people injured by vaccines is poised to become more tight-fisted this month. Changes proposed by the Trump administration will likely take effect in mid-January, making it more complicated and time consuming for people to win a payout if they sustain shoulder injuries after incorrectly administered injections with flu, tetanus, and other vaccines. The new rules won't affect people who might be injured by COVID-19 vaccines, who would need to apply to a different government program for compensation. But claims that other vaccines caused shoulder injuries have grown on the heels of expanded influenza vaccination and a 2010 paper in which government scientists first described “shoulder injury related to vaccine administration.” ### Biomedicine For more than 3 decades, scientists have dreamed of shrinking tumors by shutting off a protein called KRAS whose growth signals drive many cancer types. KRAS was thought to be impervious to drugs, in part because it offered no obvious pockets that inhibitors could target. But multiple companies have now developed compounds that fit into a groove on some cancer-promoting mutant KRAS proteins and curb their signals. The drugs have shown promising results, first in rodents and then in cancer patients. In December 2020, Amgen asked the Food and Drug Administration to review its KRAS drug, sotorasib, setting the stage for approval this year of the first member of this novel drug class. The drug could first be licensed for use in certain lung cancer patients. Another firm is expected to submit its KRAS drug for approval this year as well.


Robots: Marines test 'throwbots' that can be lobbed up to 148 feet and provide real-time video

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Reconnaissance robots that can be lobbed 148 feet over walls, or into buildings and caves to provide real-time video have been tested by the Royal Marines. The 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group have been trialling the'throwbots' -- and other advanced kit -- during exercises around and in the tunnels beneath Gibraltar. The bots are built to survive falls of up to 32 feet, automatically self-right after landing and can operate for 30 minutes when submerged under 3 feet of water. Marines could throw the robots into unknown or occupied territory in order to get an advanced'lay of the land' without putting themselves directly at risk. When not testing new field tech, 43 Commando's responsibilities include protecting the UK's nuclear weapons arsenal at Her Majesty's Naval Base, Clyde, in Scotland.


Global Big Data Conference

#artificialintelligence

My recent claim that fashion needs more imagination when it comes to using artificial intelligence has been unexpectedly answered by a project combining e-commerce data and artisanship. Not an obvious pairing, but the brainchild of passionate'dataphile' YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP Chairman and CEO, Federico Marchetti, and HRH The Prince of Wales, whose appreciation and support of artisanal craftsmanship (and dedication to safeguarding its future) is decades-long. Marchetti and the YOOX NET-A-PORTER team worked with The Prince's Foundation to create a unique year-long apprenticeship to cultivate the next generation of luxury fashion artisans, informed and guided by customer shopping data and AI analysis of millions of images of historically successful products. To breathe life into artisanship as a viable and attractive career option, underpinned by data that empowers it to deliver the right product, for the right customer on the right sales platform, crucially sustaining the artisans' craft methods and their livelihood. The Modern Artisan project brought together six designers from Milan's Politecnico Di Milano Fashion in Process (FiP) research laboratory and four apprentices undergoing certified training in small batch production and hand-craft skills at The Prince's Foundation, Dumfries House, Scotland.


UK defense chief discusses 'robot soldiers,' warns pandemic fallout risks another world war

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. U.K.'s chief of the Defense Staff said in a televised interview aired Sunday that economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic increases the risk of a third world war, adding that robot soldiers could make up at least a quarter of the British army by the 2030s In an interview with Sky News ahead of Remembrance Day, Gen. Sir Nick Carter, the professional head of the British armed forces, said tributes to those who perished during wartime still hold relevance today even though there is no one alive who served in World War I and the number of veterans from World War II is dwindling. "We have to remember that history might not repeat itself but it has a rhythm and if you look back at the last century, before both world wars, I think it was unarguable that there was escalation, which led to the miscalculation, which ultimately led to war at a scale we would hopefully never see again," he said. Veteran Charlie MacVicar, who served for 23 years with Royal Scots (Edinburgh Unit) pays his respects at the Royal British Legion Remembrance Garden, on Remembrance Sunday, in Grangemouth, Scotland, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020.


Digital transformation in 2020: what tech has helped us survive lockdown?

#artificialintelligence

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown has highlighted a series of new social changes, but with it, a whole new set of software and hardware technologies have become our coping mechanisms. During the onset of the lockdown in March this year, businesses across a broad range of industries were forced to adapt rapidly in order to survive. Across the country, millions of staff began working from home and shoppers were unable to visit the high street. However, despite the disruption and challenges of Covid-19, a host of sectors are thriving. In this article, we will look at some of the major sectors that have benefitted from the'stay at home' culture and explore how the digital transformation of our daily lives has allowed us to cope with lockdown measures.