Collaborating Authors


Elon Musk's Neuralink rival Synchron begins human trials of brain implant

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Elon Musk's Neuralink rival Synchron has begun human trials of its brain implant that lets the wearer control a computer using thought alone. The firm's Stentrode brain implant, about the size of a paperclip, will be implanted in six patients in New York and Pittsburgh who have severe paralysis. Stentrode will let patients control digital devices just by thinking and give them back the ability to perform daily tasks, including texting, emailing and shopping online. Although the implant has already been implanted and tested in Australian patients, the new clinical trial marks the first time it will be tested in the US. If successful, the Stentrode brain implant could be sold as a commercial product aimed at paralysis patients to regain their independence and quality of life.

Covid-19 news: Cognitive impairment equivalent to 20 years of ageing

New Scientist

Covid-19 can cause lasting cognitive and mental health issues, including brain fog, fatigue and even post-traumatic stress disorder. To better understand the scale of the problem, researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed 46 people who were hospitalised due to the infection between March and July 2020. The participants underwent cognitive tests on average six months after their initial illness. These results were compared against those of more than 66,000 people from the general population. Those hospitalised with covid-19 scored worse on verbal analogical reasoning tests, which assess an individual's ability to recognise relationships between ideas and think methodically. They also recorded slower processing speeds. Previous studies suggest glucose is less efficiently used by the part of the brain responsible for attention, complex problem-solving and working memory after covid-19. Scores and reaction speeds improved over time, however, any recovery was gradual at best, according to the researchers. This cognitive impairment probably has multiple causes, including inadequate blood supply to the brain, blood vessel blockage and microscopic bleeds caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as damage triggered by an overactive immune system, they added. "Around 40,000 people have been through intensive care with covid-19 in England alone and many more will have been very sick, but not admitted to hospital," Adam Hampshire at Imperial College London said in a statement. "This means there is a large number of people out there still experiencing problems with cognition many months later." The biological mechanism behind a rare and severe covid-19 response seen in some children may have been uncovered by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia. Doctors have so far been unable to identify why some children develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) in response to covid-19, which can cause symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain and heart disease.

A Logic-Based Explanation Generation Framework for Classical and Hybrid Planning Problems

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In human-aware planning systems, a planning agent might need to explain its plan to a human user when that plan appears to be non-feasible or sub-optimal. A popular approach, called model reconciliation, has been proposed as a way to bring the model of the human user closer to the agent’s model. To do so, the agent provides an explanation that can be used to update the model of human such that the agent’s plan is feasible or optimal to the human user. Existing approaches to solve this problem have been based on automated planning methods and have been limited to classical planning problems only. In this paper, we approach the model reconciliation problem from a different perspective, that of knowledge representation and reasoning, and demonstrate that our approach can be applied not only to classical planning problems but also hybrid systems planning problems with durative actions and events/processes. In particular, we propose a logic-based framework for explanation generation, where given a knowledge base KBa (of an agent) and a knowledge base KBh (of a human user), each encoding their knowledge of a planning problem, and that KBa entails a query q (e.g., that a proposed plan of the agent is valid), the goal is to identify an explanation ε ⊆ KBa such that when it is used to update KBh, then the updated KBh also entails q. More specifically, we make the following contributions in this paper: (1) We formally define the notion of logic-based explanations in the context of model reconciliation problems; (2) We introduce a number of cost functions that can be used to reflect preferences between explanations; (3) We present algorithms to compute explanations for both classical planning and hybrid systems planning problems; and (4) We empirically evaluate their performance on such problems. Our empirical results demonstrate that, on classical planning problems, our approach is faster than the state of the art when the explanations are long or when the size of the knowledge base is small (e.g., the plans to be explained are short). They also demonstrate that our approach is efficient for hybrid systems planning problems. Finally, we evaluate the real-world efficacy of explanations generated by our algorithms through a controlled human user study, where we develop a proof-of-concept visualization system and use it as a medium for explanation communication.

Scientists discover a brain circuit that boosts maths skills in children

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Scientists have discovered a brain circuit that boosts maths skills in children and could even be targeted to improve learning. The circuit triggers an area near the back of the head known as the IPS (intraparietal sulcus), which is involved in processing figures, and is linked to the hippocampus where memories are stored. Before children can learn to add and subtract, they must learn which abstract symbol, like '4' or '6', represents which quantity, a skill also known as'number sense'. Experts know the IPS plays a role in number processing but the circuits involved in learning number sense had remained a mystery until now. Lead author Dr Hyesang Chang, of Stanford University, California, said: 'Mathematical skill development relies on number sense, the ability to discriminate between quantities.

Predicting Decisions in Language Based Persuasion Games

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Sender-receiver interactions, and specifically persuasion games, are widely researched in economic modeling and artificial intelligence, and serve as a solid foundation for powerful applications. However, in the classic persuasion games setting, the messages sent from the expert to the decision-maker are abstract or well-structured application-specific signals rather than natural (human) language messages, although natural language is a very common communication signal in real-world persuasion setups. This paper addresses the use of natural language in persuasion games, exploring its impact on the decisions made by the players and aiming to construct effective models for the prediction of these decisions. For this purpose, we conduct an online repeated interaction experiment. At each trial of the interaction, an informed expert aims to sell an uninformed decision-maker a vacation in a hotel, by sending her a review that describes the hotel. While the expert is exposed to several scored reviews, the decision-maker observes only the single review sent by the expert, and her payoff in case she chooses to take the hotel is a random draw from the review score distribution available to the expert only. The expert’s payoff, in turn, depends on the number of times the decision-maker chooses the hotel. We also compare the behavioral patterns in this experiment to the equivalent patterns in similar experiments where the communication is based on the numerical values of the reviews rather than the reviews’ text, and observe substantial differences which can be explained through an equilibrium analysis of the game. We consider a number of modeling approaches for our verbal communication setup, differing from each other in the model type (deep neural network (DNN) vs. linear classifier), the type of features used by the model (textual, behavioral or both) and the source of the textual features (DNN-based vs. hand-crafted). Our results demonstrate that given a prefix of the interaction sequence, our models can predict the future decisions of the decision-maker, particularly when a sequential modeling approach and hand-crafted textual features are applied. Further analysis of the hand-crafted textual features allows us to make initial observations about the aspects of text that drive decision making in our setup.

Googling information makes us more likely to forget things, study finds

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Having a wealth of information available at the tip of our fingers on the internet may seem like a good way to advance human intelligence. But a new study claims that Googling information actually makes us more likely to forget things, compared with reading it in a book – a phenomenon known as'digital amnesia' or'the Google effect'. The study found human brains are not inclined to deeply process information on search engines such as Google because we know it's easily accessible and retrievable online – so we don't bother learning it. In fact, we're more likely to remember how to access the information – such as a keyword for a search engine query – than the information itself. Humans are'cognitive misers', meaning we have an'inherent tendency' to avoid any cognitive effort, likely due to pure laziness, according to the study.

The New Intelligence Game


The relevance of the video is that the browser identified the application being used by the IAI as Google Earth and, according to the OSC 2006 report, the Arabic-language caption reads Islamic Army in Iraq/The Military Engineering Unit – Preparations for Rocket Attack, the video was recorded in 5/1/2006, we provide, in Appendix A, a reproduction of the screenshot picture made available in the OSC report. Now, prior to the release of this video demonstration of the use of Google Earth to plan attacks, in accordance with the OSC 2006 report, in the OSC-monitored online forums, discussions took place on the use of Google Earth as a GEOINT tool for terrorist planning. On August 5, 2005 the user "Al-Illiktrony" posted a message to the Islamic Renewal Organization forum titled A Gift for the Mujahidin, a Program To Enable You to Watch Cities of the World Via Satellite, in this post the author dedicated Google Earth to the mujahidin brothers and to Shaykh Muhammad al-Mas'ari, the post was replied in the forum by "Al-Mushtaq al-Jannah" warning that Google programs retain complete information about their users. This is a relevant issue, however, there are two caveats, given the amount of Google Earth users, it may be difficult for Google to flag a jihadist using the functionality in time to prevent an attack plan, one possible solution would be for Google to flag computers based on searched websites and locations, for instance to flag computers that visit certain critical sites, but this is a problem when landmarks are used, furthermore, and this is the second caveat, one may not use one's own computer to produce the search or even mask the IP address. On October 3, 2005, as described in the OSC 2006 report, in a reply to a posting by Saddam Al-Arab on the Baghdad al-Rashid forum requesting the identification of a roughly sketched map, "Almuhannad" posted a link to a site that provided a free download of Google Earth, suggesting that the satellite imagery from Google's service could help identify the sketch.

StoryBuddy: A Human-AI Collaborative Chatbot for Parent-Child Interactive Storytelling with Flexible Parental Involvement Artificial Intelligence

Despite its benefits for children's skill development and parent-child bonding, many parents do not often engage in interactive storytelling by having story-related dialogues with their child due to limited availability or challenges in coming up with appropriate questions. While recent advances made AI generation of questions from stories possible, the fully-automated approach excludes parent involvement, disregards educational goals, and underoptimizes for child engagement. Informed by need-finding interviews and participatory design (PD) results, we developed StoryBuddy, an AI-enabled system for parents to create interactive storytelling experiences. StoryBuddy's design highlighted the need for accommodating dynamic user needs between the desire for parent involvement and parent-child bonding and the goal of minimizing parent intervention when busy. The PD revealed varied assessment and educational goals of parents, which StoryBuddy addressed by supporting configuring question types and tracking child progress. A user study validated StoryBuddy's usability and suggested design insights for future parent-AI collaboration systems.

Latent gaze information in highly dynamic decision-tasks Artificial Intelligence

Digitization is penetrating more and more areas of life. Tasks are increasingly being completed digitally, and are therefore not only fulfilled faster, more efficiently but also more purposefully and successfully. The rapid developments in the field of artificial intelligence in recent years have played a major role in this, as they brought up many helpful approaches to build on. At the same time, the eyes, their movements, and the meaning of these movements are being progressively researched. The combination of these developments has led to exciting approaches. In this dissertation, I present some of these approaches which I worked on during my Ph.D. First, I provide insight into the development of models that use artificial intelligence to connect eye movements with visual expertise. This is demonstrated for two domains or rather groups of people: athletes in decision-making actions and surgeons in arthroscopic procedures. The resulting models can be considered as digital diagnostic models for automatic expertise recognition. Furthermore, I show approaches that investigate the transferability of eye movement patterns to different expertise domains and subsequently, important aspects of techniques for generalization. Finally, I address the temporal detection of confusion based on eye movement data. The results suggest the use of the resulting model as a clock signal for possible digital assistance options in the training of young professionals. An interesting aspect of my research is that I was able to draw on very valuable data from DFB youth elite athletes as well as on long-standing experts in arthroscopy. In particular, the work with the DFB data attracted the interest of radio and print media, namely DeutschlandFunk Nova and SWR DasDing. All resulting articles presented here have been published in internationally renowned journals or at conferences.

Mental Disorders on Online Social Media Through the Lens of Language and Behaviour: Analysis and Visualisation Artificial Intelligence

Due to the worldwide accessibility to the Internet along with the continuous advances in mobile technologies, physical and digital worlds have become completely blended, and the proliferation of social media platforms has taken a leading role over this evolution. In this paper, we undertake a thorough analysis towards better visualising and understanding the factors that characterise and differentiate social media users affected by mental disorders. We perform different experiments studying multiple dimensions of language, including vocabulary uniqueness, word usage, linguistic style, psychometric attributes, emotions' co-occurrence patterns, and online behavioural traits, including social engagement and posting trends. Our findings reveal significant differences on the use of function words, such as adverbs and verb tense, and topic-specific vocabulary, such as biological processes. As for emotional expression, we observe that affected users tend to share emotions more regularly than control individuals on average. Overall, the monthly posting variance of the affected groups is higher than the control groups. Moreover, we found evidence suggesting that language use on micro-blogging platforms is less distinguishable for users who have a mental disorder than other less restrictive platforms. In particular, we observe on Twitter less quantifiable differences between affected and control groups compared to Reddit.