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In an effort to be the first organization to bring true artificial intelligence (AI) to the 401k market, The 401(k) Plan Company recently announced a minority investment in Unanimous AI to help elevate human decision-making in the workplace for HR partners, CFOs and plan participants. San Francisco-based Unanimous AI builds technologies that amplify human intelligence using technologies modeled on the biological principle of Swarm Intelligence. Unanimous AI in late October announced it has been awarded three new U.S. Patents covering its unique AI technology aimed at amplifying the intelligence of human groups. Swarm AI technology from Unanimous is a combination of real-time human input and AI algorithms, which the company says enables networked groups of people to think together as super-intelligent systems. Under terms of the deal, The 401(k) Plan Company will make Unanimous AI's capabilities available to employers seeking to evolve through the remote workforce considerations, empowering teams to make significantly better decisions. "AI has the power to replace humans, or to amplify their best work.
Socialeads, Inc. has announced $1,750,000 in new funding from existing investors Northwestern Mutual and Winnebago Seed Fund along with new investors Cameron Ventures, Rock River Capital and Silicon Valley's Plug & Play Ventures. The funds will be used to grow the sales and client success teams to meet the growing demand for Socialeads in field sales organizations in both domestic and international markets. In addition to the new round of funding, Socialeads is proud to announce the onboarding of enterprise customers Northwestern Mutual and TruChoice Financial, allowing for deployment of Socialeads to their respective field advisors. Socialeads is a part of Plug & Play Ventures Insurtech program and has successfully launched pilots with several large insurance companies in the US and abroad. "We are excited to share this part of our journey with our new investors and to see growing support from Wisconsinfunds like Rock River Capital," said Larry Hitchcock, co-founder and CEO.
SCI COMMUN### Infectious diseases The 11th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is officially over, giving the country respite from the disease for the first time in more than 2 years. On 18 November, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that no new cases had been identified for 42 days, twice the incubation period for the deadly virus. The outbreak, in the western Équateur province, started in late May, just as a bigger one in the eastern DRC was coming to an end. (That outbreak had killed 2200 people.) The Équateur outbreak sickened 130 and killed 55; a campaign that vaccinated more than 40,000 people is credited with helping end it. Special portable coolers that keep the vaccine at −80°C for up to 1 week allowed health workers to administer the shots in communities deep in the rainforest, accessible only by boat or helicopter. The same technology will be useful in efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, says Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director. The coronavirus pandemic complicated the fight against Ebola, WHO says, but the expertise gained by local health workers in earlier outbreaks in the region was a major advantage. They will remain on the lookout for potential flare-ups. $1,000,000 —Gift from entertainer Dolly Parton in April to support development of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, which the company last week said showed an efficacy of 94.5%. “I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money,” Parton told BBC. ### Marine ecology The Allen Coral Atlas, a project to map the world's shallow coral reefs with high-resolution satellites, last week launched a monitoring system to detect coral bleaching events as they occur. When corals face extreme heat, they expel their algal symbionts, leaving them bone white and vulnerable to stress; repeated bleaching episodes, growing more common with global warming, can cause massive die-offs. The system detects the whitening using imagery from the privately owned Planet satellite constellation, processed with machine learning. A pilot has begun in Hawaii to use the data as an early warning system for researchers, to help them identify and study species both vulnerable and resistant to warming extremes. The monitoring of bleaching is expected to expand next year to shallow reefs globally. ### Diagnostics The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first emergency use authorization last week for an at-home diagnostic test that can detect the pandemic coronavirus in just minutes. However, the test might not be widely available until spring 2021. Produced by Lucira Health, a biotech company, it is expected to cost less than $50 and require a doctor's prescription. The company says it will soon distribute tests in parts of California and Florida; it says it needs time to scale up manufacturing for national distribution. Lucira's test amplifies viral genetic material, making it nearly as accurate as laboratory tests that use the polymerase chain reaction, the current gold standard. FDA previously approved at-home tests that must be mailed to a laboratory for analysis. Several other companies are working on rapid antigen tests, which detect viral particles, for home use. But concerns remain about antigen tests' reliability. Still, some public health specialists consider widely available, low-cost, at-home testing vital for controlling the pandemic. ### Funding A new U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) award will allow early-career investigators who want to shift research directions when applying for their first independent award to submit a proposal without first generating preliminary data to support their idea. Reviewers will instead assess the soundness of the project's approach. The Katz award is named for Stephen Katz, a longtime champion of young researchers who was director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases when he died in 2018. The grant will build on an NIH policy that prioritizes proposals from early-stage investigators—those no more than 10 years from completing their training who are applying for their first research grant. The policy has been credited with raising their numbers from fewer than 600 supported in 2013 to more than 1300 last year. Applications for the first Katz awards are due on 26 January 2021. ### Leadership Democrats in Congress say a political appointee given a senior post at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is unfit for the job because he lacks technical skills and holds pseudoscientific views about racial differences on IQ tests. On 9 November, Jason Richwine, an independent public policy analyst, took up the new position of deputy undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross subsequently issued an order that would put Richwine in charge of the $1 billion research agency if NIST Director Walter Copan leaves or is fired. On 17 November, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), who leads the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, asked Ross to justify the moves. Richwine has advocated for more restrictive immigration policies, and his 2009 doctoral thesis argued that lower IQ scores by Mexican and Hispanic immigrants suggest a genetic component to intelligence that is “likely to persist over several generations.” ### Diversity The editors of Nature Communications say they are reviewing a paper that drew scalding criticism after it suggested that encouraging female junior scientists to work with female mentors could “hinder the careers of women.” The 17 November study, led by data scientist Bedoor AlShebli of New York University, Abu Dhabi, examined 3 million mentor-protégé pairs and how gender influenced the impact of papers later published by the protégés. Female protégés, it concluded, did better if they worked with male mentors. Critics pounced, noting the authors ignored reviewer complaints about the study's methods and arguing the journal was promoting a harmful and unfounded message. The article's authors said they welcome the review. ### Animal diseases European authorities reported on 19 November they have detected highly pathogenic avian influenza in 302 birds in eight countries. Only 18 cases were in poultry; most of the rest were in wild birds, the European Food Safety Authority and its partners said. The number of infected birds is expected to rise with winter migrations. Several flu strains were identified, but no people were reported to be infected, and the risk of that occurring is considered low; researchers studying the viruses found no genetic markers indicating they had adapted to infect mammals. But the threat to poultry is high, and the report's authors recommended bird producers increase precautions against infections. VACCINE APPLICATION Days after making public the final analysis of their 40,000-person COVID-19 vaccine trial, which found 95% efficacy, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech filed for emergency authorization of the messenger RNA vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—the first such request for a vaccine during the pandemic. They plan to seek additional approvals in other countries soon. Pfizer hopes to supply up to 50 million doses this year. REMDESIVIR PANNED A World Health Organization panel recommended against using the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat most hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Its review of four studies of 7000 people found that the drug, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved last month for hospitalized patients, did not reduce mortality or speed recovery. But the panel encouraged further study of it. AMMO BAN Denmark has become the first nation to ban all lead-based hunting ammunition, including bullets and shotgun pellets, to protect wildlife. Hunters annually release about 2 tons of lead into Denmark's environment; waterbirds and other species eat the toxic material and die. European regulators are considering a ban like Denmark's.
Position Description We seek an experienced scientist to advance our research at the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Neurosurgery in the laboratory of Dr. Itzhak Fried. Dr. Fried's research involves the investigations of the neural mechanisms of memory and cognition in humans. We collect and analyze electrophysiological data including single neuron activity and local field potentials from human epilepsy patients during a variety of memory and cognitive tasks, examine the relationships between neural signals and behavior, as well as the effects of electrical stimulation on neural signals and cognition. The successful applicant will be capable of: planning long-term timelines, conducting and coordinating multiple projects, supervising researchers in various stages of the projects, applying for grants, and presenting findings to the scientific community. Specific Responsibilities The successful candidate will work on multiple projects in parallel.
Relativity Space, a California-based company that can 3D print an entire rocket and can build large metal 3D printers, has now secured $300 million in a Series D funding round. Relativity Space is founded by Tim Ellis in the year 2015. It combines 3D printing, autonomous robotics, and Artificial Intelligence to build a rocket in less than 60 days. The company is as of now on its way to launch an entirely 3D printed rocket to orbit. The company has a team size of 230 employees.
Dog training generally requires a human dog trainer, but what if it didn't and delivered better results? That's the promise of a startup called Companion Labs that has unveiled its first AI-driven dog-training machine in conjunction with the San Francisco SPCA. The CompanionPro trainer looks like a Soviet-era space heater but contains image sensors, a Google Edge TPU AI processor, wireless connectivity, lights, a speaker and a proprietary "treat launcher" that delivers all-important training rewards. Computer vision is key to how the machine works, detecting a dog's comportment in real time to tune its delivery of rewards to reinforce desired behavior. It remains to be seen how well it can approximate the experience of a skilled human trainer, though SF SPCA says it will soon release a peer-reviewed case study on how the machine worked with one dog suffering from separation anxiety which, by definition, manifests itself when no trainer is around to address it.
Concordia University in Irvine will discontinue its use of antigen testing for asymptomatic students and employees, after more than 50 false positives prompted unwarranted concern about a possible major coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday, university officials said there were six active cases -- four students and two employees -- on campus as opposed to the more than 60 infections reported two days ago. Testing in another six cases has not been confirmed, and 55 students and employees have been confirmed as negative for the virus, they said. Campus officials had canceled athletic practices and urged against out-of-state travel for Thanksgiving because of the erroneous test results, which were preliminary pending confirmation from an outside lab. The university previously had been posting only confirmed test results on its COVID-19 dashboard, but made an exception for the unconfirmed numbers because of the indication of a "potential outbreak."
Only 4 percent of all cancer therapeutic drugs under development earn final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "That's because right now we can't match the right combination of drugs to the right patients in a smart way," said Trey Ideker, Ph.D., professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center. "And especially for cancer, where we can't always predict which drugs will work best given the unique, complex inner workings of a person's tumor cells." In a paper published October 20, 2020 in Cancer Cell, Ideker and Brent Kuenzi, Ph.D., and Jisoo Park, Ph.D., postdoctoral researchers in his lab, describe DrugCell, a new artificial intelligence (AI) system they created that not only matches tumors to the best drug combinations, but does so in a way that makes sense to humans. "Most AI systems are'black boxes'--they can be very predictive, but we don't actually know all that much about how they work," said Ideker, who is also co-director of the Cancer Cell Map Initiative and the National Resource for Network Biology.
HYPR is testing its self-learning autonomous driving system in a modified Daimler Smart Car. As Zoox, the secretive robotaxi developer recently acquired by Amazon, gets ready to unveil its futuristic fleet vehicle, its former CEO who dreamed up the company is re-emerging with a new startup that's designing AI-enabled software he hopes will allow cars to "teach themselves" to drive. Early-stage HYPR, created by Zoox cofounder Tim Kentley Klay, says it's using reinforcement learning, a branch of machine learning that utilizes a reward-based approach, to train driving algorithms dynamically–ideally with no need for direct human instruction or supervision. The Alameda, California-based startup has raised a $10 million seed round and begun testing its approach with a modified Daimler Smart Car. Backers include R7 Ventures and Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.