Earlier this month the University of Nottingham published a study in PloSOne about a new artificial intelligence model that uses machine learning to predict the risk of premature death, using banked health data (on age and lifestyle factors) from Brits aged 40 to 69. This study comes months after a joint study between UC San Francisco, Stanford, and Google, which reported results of machine-learning-based data mining of electronic health records to assess the likelihood that a patient would die in hospital. One goal of both studies was to assess how this information might help clinicians decide which patients might most benefit from intervention. Amitha Kalaichandran, M.H.S., M.D., is a resident physician based in Ottawa, Canada. Follow her on Twitter at @DrAmithaMD.
On the floor of the New York Auto Show this week, Genesis showed off its sweet little Mint concept, an electric two-seater with a very abbreviated sedan body. The Hyundai luxury arm does not, however, have any plans to put the adorable thing into production--perhaps because, as we learned this week, getting world-changing tech into the market takes a fair amount of elbow grease. Elon Musk's Boring Company is slowly making its way through the necessary paperwork to make its DC to Baltimore Loop concept a real, live thing. Uber is rounding up the oodles of cash it needs to develop self-driving vehicles. "Flying taxi" engineers are trying to get their concepts past now-nervous aviation regulators.
When Uber publicly filed for an initial public offering last week, it cemented its reputation as a technology behemoth with more than a few liabilities. One particularly weighty albatross: its Autonomous Technology Group, which since 2015 has poured hundreds of millions into building self-driving car tech it has yet to commercialize. Make that at least $1 billion: According to the filing, Uber spent $457 million in 2018 on research and development for autonomous vehicles (and its other tech moonshots, like "flying taxis")--a figure up 19 percent from 2017. So it was good news for Uber--not to mention the potential shareholders circling its IPO--when it announced a major investment into its Autonomous Technology Group from a Japanese consortium on Thursday. The $1 billion infusion comes from Toyota, the automotive supplier Denso, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which is aggressively bankrolling ambitious transportation technology companies.
In 1909, a poet named Filippo Marinetti was driving along in his brand new Fiat when he came across two cyclists in the road. Marinetti swerved to avoid hitting his fellow travelers, sending his car into a ditch and completely destroying the vehicle. Here's how Marinetti described the encounter: The words were scarcely out of my mouth when I spun my car around with the frenzy of a dog trying to bite its tail, and there, suddenly, were two cyclists coming toward me, shaking their fists, wobbling like two equally convincing but nevertheless contradictory arguments. Their stupid dilemma was blocking my way--Damn! Ouch! ... I stopped short and to my disgust rolled over into a ditch with my wheels in the air … You can already tell from this account that Marinetti was a bit of an eccentric.
When Boston Dynamics shares a new robot video, my robophobia levels increase just a little bit. There is something about these robots that get into the uncanny valley for me. This particular video is both fascinating and disturbing. It's fascinating because here are a bunch of robots pulling a truck (not a pickup truck--a real truck). It's disturbing because it shows a BUNCH of robots.
Just before 9 am last Thursday, an unusual speed dating scene sprang up in San Francisco. A casually dressed crowd, mostly male, milled around a gilt-edged Beaux Arts ballroom on Nob Hill. Pairs and trios formed quickly, but not in search of romance. Ice breakers were direct: What's your favorite programming language? Which data analysis framework are you most expert in?
Uber, once the enfant terrible of the tech industry, put on its big kid pants and publicly filed for IPO this week, attempting to prove, once and for all, that it's got its crap together. Its filing reveals a sprawling company that's made strides since ex-CEO Travis Kalanick was dropping Boober jokes back in 2014--but one that also has a few big, hulking problems on the horizon, like fighting drivers on employee classification issues and, you know, achieving profitability. Also in transpo people and companies trying to prove themselves: Tesla goes off-menu for the $35,000 Model 3, ostensibly to shore up cash and streamline production; another industry insider says, yes, self-driving car hype got ahead of reality; and Audi argues its slightly dispiriting E-tron range numbers matter little compared to its luxury features. Let's get you caught up. Why do new premium electric vehicles keep coming up short on range?
Let's get this out of the way: I am sleeping with a robot. I hold it in my arms each night and feel its chest rise and fall against mine. Without arms to hold me back, it is forever my little spoon. Without a voice to bid me sweet dreams, it simply sits there, purring against me. The robot with which I sleep is called the Somnox.
The new Netflix series Love, Death & Robots has a brilliant premise--take science fiction stories and adapt them into an anthology of animated shorts. Science fiction author Tom Gerencer loved seeing so much variety in such quick succession. "I just couldn't stop wanting to watch the next one, and I couldn't stop being amazed that the next one seemed even better than the one before, and that there were so many of them," Gerencer says in Episode 356 of the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast. "Totally inventive ideas, and the visuals on them were gorgeous and stunning." The show is at its best when it focuses on serious, thoughtful science fiction by top authors such as Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.
If you use a smart speaker, you know all of the conveniences and delights that make it more than just a glorified paper weight. But, admit it, you've probably given it some privacy side-eye from time to time. After all, it is a microphone that just sits in your house waiting for a wake word to start recording what you say. Here's how to tighten the reins on what Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri can hear, when, and how it gets used. It's a good time to take stock.