Category Archives: Uncategorized

AI Beats Professionals In Poker

An artificial intelligence bot, created by researchers at Facebook and Carnegie Mellon, can beat human poker professionals in a six-player, no-limit Hold’em game, Facebook announcedPluribus, as the AI bot is called, has “decisively” won against a number of pros, including two World Series of Poker Main Event winners.

Pluribus has been built on the shoulders of Libratus, an AI that bested human pro players in two-player poker in 2017. It learned to play by competing against itself, without any data of prior human or AI play. Since poker is incredibly complex, having Pluribus look too far into the future wasn’t viable; instead, the bot used a new search algorithm that helps it make good decisions by looking at just the few next moves (instead of trying to figure out all the moves until the end of the game). It also used new and faster self-play algorithms that helped it cope with all the hidden information present in poker.

Combined, these advances made it possible to train Pluribus using very little processing power and memory — the equivalent of less than $150 worth of cloud computing resources,” wrote Facebook AI research scientist Noam Brown.

During one experiment, Pluribus played 10,000 hands of poker over 12 days, against a dozen professionals (who were playing for a total prize for $50,000, giving them a reason to win).

In money terms, Pluribus was so much better than people, that if the game were played with $1 chips, it would have made about $1,000 per hour competing against five human players.

The details on how the researchers have managed to make Pluribus so good at multiplayer poker — a notoriously hard problem in AI — are in a new paper published in Science.

Source: https://science.sciencemag.org/
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https://mashable.com/

Russia’s Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: ‘Largest Data Breach In Its History’

Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSBRussia‘s Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media, and help the state split its internet off from the rest of the world. The data was passed to mainstream media outlets for publishing.

FSB is Russia’s primary security agency with parallels with the FBI and MI5, but its remit stretches beyond domestic intelligence to include electronic surveillance overseas and significant intelligence-gathering oversight. It is the primary successor agency to the infamous KGB, reporting directly to Russia’s president.

A week ago, on July 13, a hacking group under the name 0v1ru$ that had reportedly breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor working on a range of live and exploratory internet projects, left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech’s homepage alongside pictures purporting to showcase the breach. 0v1ru$ had passed the data itself to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution” , which shared the files with various media outlets and the headlines with Twitter—taunting FSB that the agency should maybe rename one of its breached activitiesProject Collander”.

BBC Russia broke the news that 0v1ru$ had breached SyTech‘s servers and shared details of contentious cyber projects, projects that included social media scraping (including Facebook and LinkedIn), targeted collection and the “de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser.” The BBC described the breach as possibly “the largest data leak in the history of Russian intelligence services.”

As well as defacing SyTech‘s homepage with the Yoba Face0v1ru$ also detailed the project names exposed: “Arion“, “Relation“, “Hryvnia,” alongside the names of the SyTech project managers. The BBC report claims that no actual state secrets were exposed.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

Manipulating The “Boss Gene” For Reprogramming Humans

It seems like everything is going wireless these days. That now includes efforts to reprogram the human genome. A new University at Buffalo-led study describes how researchers wirelessly controlled FGFR1 — a gene that plays a key role in how humans grow from embryos to adults — in lab-grown brain tissue. The ability to manipulate the gene, the study’s authors say, could lead to new cancer treatments, and ways to prevent and treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

It represents a step forward toward genetic manipulation technology that could upend the treatment of cancer, as well as the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia and other neurological illnesses. It centers on the creation of a new subfield of research the study’s authors are calling “optogenomics,” or controlling the human genome through laser light and nanotechnology.

The left image shows the gene FGFR1 in its natural state. The right image shows the gene when exposed to laser light, which causes the gene to activiate and deactivate.

The potential of optogenomic interfaces is enormous,” says co-author Josep M. Jornet, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “It could drastically reduce the need for medicinal drugs and other therapies for certain illnesses. It could also change how humans interact with machines.

For the past 20 years, scientists have been combining optics and genetics — the field of optogenetics — with a goal of employing light to control how cells interact with each other. By doing this, one could potentially develop new treatments for diseases by correcting the miscommunications that occur between cells. While promising, this research does not directly address malfunctions in genetic blueprints that guide human growth and underlie many diseases. The new research begins to tackle this issue because FGFR1 — it stands for Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 — holds sway over roughly 4,500 other genes, about one-fifth of the human genome, as estimated by the Human Genome Project, says study co-author Michal K. Stachowiak.

In some respects, it’s like a boss gene,” says Stachowiak, PhD, professor in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “By controlling FGFR1, one can theoretically prevent widespread gene dysregulations in schizophrenia or in breast cancer and other types of cancer.”

The work — spearheaded by UB researchers Josep M. Jornet, Michal K. Stachowiak, Yongho Bae and Ewa K. Stachowiak — was reported in the June edition of the Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Source: http://www.buffalo.edu/

How To Merge Your Brain With A.I.

Elon Musk said startup Neuralink, which aims to build a scalable implant to connect human brains with computers, has already implanted chips in rats and plans to test its brain-machine interface in humans within two years, with a long-term goal of peoplemerging with AI.” Brain-machine interfaces have been around for awhile. Some of the earliest success with the technology include Brown University’s BrainGate, which first enabled a paralyzed person to control a computer cursor in 2006. Since then a variety of research groups and companies, including the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and DARPA-backed Synchron, have been working on similar devices. There are two basic approaches: You can do it invasively, creating an interface with an implant that directly touches the brain, or you can do it non-invasively, usually by electrodes placed near the skin. (The latter is the approach used by startup CTRL-Labs, for example.)

Neuralink, says Musk, is going to go the invasive route. It’s developed a chip containing an array of up to 96 small, polymer threads, each with up to 32 electrodes that can be implanted into the brain via robot and a 2 millimeter incision. The threads are small — less than 6 micrometers — because, as Musk noted in remarks delivered Tuesday night and webcast, Once implanted, according to Musk, the chip would connect wirelessly to devices. “It basically Bluetooths to your phone,” he said. “We’ll have to watch the App Store updates to that one,” he added (the audience laughed).

Musk cofounded Neuralink in 2017 and serves as the company’s CEO, though it’s unclear how much involvement he has given that he’s also serving as CEO for SpaceX and Tesla. Company cofounder and president, Max Hodak, has a biomedical engineering degree from Duke and has cofounded two other companies, MyFit and Transcriptic. Neuralink has raised $66.27 million in venture funding so far, according to Pitchbook, which estimates the startup’s valuation at $509.3 million. Both Musk and Hodak spoke about the potential for its company’s neural implants to improve the lives of people with brain damage and other brain disabilities. Its first goal, based on its discussions with such patients, is the ability to control a mobile device.

The company’s long-term goal is a bit more fantastical, and relates to Musk’s oft-repeated concerns over the dangers of advanced artificial intelligence. That goal is to use the company’s chips to create a “tertiary level” of the brain that would be linked to artificial intelligence.We can effectively have the option of merging with AI,” he said. “After solving a bunch of brain related diseases there is the mitigation of the existential threat of AI,” he continued.

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In terms of progress, the company says that it has built a chip and a robot to implant it, which it has implanted into rats. According to the whitepaper the company has published (which has not yet undergone any peer review), it was able to record rat brain activity from its chips, and with many more channels than exist on current systems in use with humans. The first human clinical trials are expected for next year, though Hodak mentioned that the company has not yet begun to the FDA processes needed to conduct those tests.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

Air Taxi Will Offer 15-Minute Rides In 25 Cities Next Year

We were promised jetpacks, but let’s be honest, they’re just plain unsafe. So a nice drone ride is probably all we should reasonably expect. Lift Aircraft is the latest to make a play for the passenger multirotor market, theoretical as it is, and its craft is a sleek little thing with some interesting design choices to make it suitable for laypeople to “pilot.”

The Austin-based company just took the wraps off the Hexa, the 18-rotor craft it intends to make available for short recreational flights. It just flew for the first time last month, and could be taking passengers aloft as early as next year.

The Hexa is considerably more lightweight than the aircraft that seemed to be getting announced every month or two earlier this year. Lift’s focus isn’t on transport, which is a phenomenally complicated problem both in terms of regulation and engineering. Instead, it wants to simply make the experience of flying in a giant drone available for thrill-seekers with a bit of pocket money.

This reduced scope means the craft can get away with being just 432 pounds and capable of 10-15 minutes of sustained flight with a single passenger. Compared with Lilium’s VTOL engines or Volocopter’s 36-foot wingspan, this thing looks like a toy. And that’s essentially what it is, for now. But there’s something to be said for proving your design in a comparatively easily accessed market and moving up, rather than trying to invent an air taxi business from scratch.

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Multi-seat eVTOL air taxis, especially those that are designed to transition to wing-borne flight, are probably 10 years away and will require new regulations and significant advances in battery technology to be practical and safe. We didn’t want to wait for major technology or regulatory breakthroughs to start flying,” said CEO Matt Chasen in a news release. “We’ll be flying years before anyone else.”

The Hexa is flown with a single joystick and an iPad; direct movements and attitude control are done with the former, while destination-based movement, take-off and landing take place on the latter. This way people can go from walking in the front door to flying one of these things — or rather riding in one and suggesting some directions to go — in an hour or so.

It’s small enough that it doesn’t even count as a “real” aircraft; it’s a “powered ultralight,” which is a plus and a minus: no pilot’s license necessary, but you can’t go past a few hundred feet of altitude or fly over populated areas. No doubt there’s still a good deal of fun you can have flying around a sort of drone theme park, though. The whole area will have been 3D mapped prior to flight, of course.

Source: https://www.liftaircraft.com/
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https://techcrunch.com/

Price Of Lab-grown Meat To Plummet From $280,000 To $10 Per Patty By 2021

The price of producing a burger patty made from lab-grown meat is expected to drop to $10 by 2021, according to Dutch food technology company Mosa Meat and Spain-based Biotech Foods. Mosa Meats co-founder Mark Post created the first lab-grown beef burger (using a small amount of animal cells grown in a lab setting) in 2013 at a cost of €250,000 ($280,400)—funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin—but Mosa Meat and Biotech Foods say production costs have fallen dramatically since then. The average cost of producing a kilogram of lab-grown meat (also known as cultured meat) is now about €100 ($112) which is significantly lower than the $800 cited a year ago by Israeli biotech company Future Meat Technologies.

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The burger was this expensive in 2013 because back then it was novel science and we were producing at a very small scale,” a Mosa Meat spokeswoman told media outlet Reuters. “Once production is scaled up, we project the cost of producing a hamburger will be around €9 ($10).” And they could ultimately become even cheaper than a conventional burger, the spokesperson said. A number of companies have invested in research and development of lab-grown meat in recent years. Biotech Foods hopes to reach production scale of its meat and have regulatory approval by 2021, when it expects to begin generating revenue. Earlier this year, animal agriculture feed supplier Cargill announced its investment in lab-grown meat company Aleph Foods to help the startup brings its slaughter-free steak to market.

Source: https://vegnews.com/

U.S. Proposes Barring Big Tech Companies From Offering Financial Services, Digital Currencies

A proposal to prevent big technology companies from functioning as financial institutions or issuing digital currencies has been circulated for discussion by the Democratic majority that leads the House Financial Services Committee, according to a copy of the draft legislation seen by Reuters.

In a sign of widening scrutiny after Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) proposed Libra digital coin aroused widespread objection, the bill proposes a fine of $1 million per day for violation of such rules.

Such a sweeping proposal would likely spark opposition from Republican members of the house who are keen on innovation, and would likely struggle to gather enough votes to pass the lower chamber. Even if it were to pass the full house, it would still have to pass the senate which would also likely be an uphill struggle. Nevertheless, the draft proposal sends a strong message to large tech firms increasingly eyeing the financial services space.

The draft legislation, “Keep Big Tech Out Of Finance Act”, describes a large technology firm as a company mainly offering an online platform service with at least $25 billion in annual revenue.

A large platform utility may not establish, maintain, or operate a digital asset that is intended to be widely used as medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, or any other similar function, as defined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System,” it proposes.

Facebook, which would qualify to be such an entity, said last month it would launch its global cryptocurrency in 2020.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

3D-printed Guns Are Back

A new network of 3D-printed gun advocates is growing in America – and this time things are different. Unlike previous attempts to popularise 3D-printed guns, this operation is entirely decentralised. There’s no headquarters, no trademarks, and no real leader. The people behind it reckon that this means they can’t be stopped by governments.


3D-polymer-Glock

If they [the government] were to come after me, they’d first have to find my identity,” says Ivan the Troll, a member of the group. “I’m one of many, many like-minded individuals who’re doing this sort of work.”

Blood Test Predicts Breast Cancer Relapse

Using data from a person’s immune response, researchers have devised a blood test that may accurately predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Despite scientific advancements in breast cancer research, this type continues to be the leading cancer among women in the United States and the second deadliest after lung cancer. Many breast cancer survivors live with a continual worry that the condition will reemerge, while researchers are hard at work, trying to discern patterns of breast cancer recurrence. For instance, studies of breast cancer receptors show that estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancers are more likely to recur in the first 5 years after diagnosis, while ER-positive breast cancers are associated with a higher risk of recurrence in the following 10 years.

New research looks at the body’s antitumor inflammatory response to devise a blood test that may soon predict a person’s chances of experiencing breast cancer recurrence. Dr. Peter P. Lee, chair of the Department of Immuno-Oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, CA, is the senior author of the new study, which appears in the journal Nature ImmunologyThe balance between the immune system’s pro- and anti-inflammatory signaling in response to cytokines can determine a person’s antitumor immune reaction, explain Dr. Lee and colleagues in their paper.

For the study, the researchers recruited 40 breast cancer survivors and clinically followed them for a median period of 4 years. The researchers also used an additional sample of 38 breast cancer survivors to attempt to replicate their findings from the previous group. A person with cancer tends to have peripheral blood regulatory T cells (T-reg cells, for short) with less active pro-inflammatory cytokine signaling pathways and more active immune suppressive cytokine signaling pathways, explain the researchers.

Using this signaling data, the scientists created an index. The hope is that, eventually, healthcare professionals will be able to run data of a blood sample from a breast cancer survivor through an algorithm based on Lee and the team’s cytokine signaling index. The goal is for physicians and breast cancer patients to know the risk of the disease recurring within the next 3–5 years.

Knowing the chance of cancer relapse will inform doctors how aggressive a particular patient’s cancer treatment should be,” Dr. Lee explains. “The [cytokine signaling index] is an overall reflection of a patient’s immune system at diagnosis, which we now know is a major determinant of future relapse.

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

How To Detect Autism

Researchers have developed a new technique to help doctors more quickly and accurately detect autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. In a study led by the University of Waterloo in Canada, researchers characterized how children with ASD scan a person’s face differently than a neuro-typical child. Based on the findings, the researchers were able to develop a technique that considers how a child with ASD gaze transitions from one part of a person’s face to another.

According to the developers, the use of this technology makes the diagnostic process less stressful for the children and if combined with existing manual methods could help doctors better avoid a false positive autism diagnosis.

Many people have autism, and we need early diagnosis especially in children,” said Mehrshad Sadria, a master’s student in Waterloo’s Department of Applied Mathematics. “The current approaches to determining if someone has autism are not really child-friendly. Our method allows for the diagnosis to be made more easily and with less possibility of mistakes.

The new technique can be used in all ASD diagnosis, but we believe it’s particularly effective for children.

In developing the new technique, the researchers evaluated 17 children with ASD and 23 neuro-typical children. The mean chronological ages of the ASD and neuro-typical groups were 5.5 and 4.8, respectively. Each participant was shown 44 photographs of faces on a 19-inch screen, integrated into an eye-tracking system. The infrared device interpreted and identified the locations on the stimuli at which each child was looking via emission and reflection of wave from the iris.

The images were separated into seven key areas  interest (AOIs) in which participants focussed their gaze: under the right eye, right eye, under the left eye, left eye, nose, mouth and other parts of the screen. The researchers wanted to know more than how much time the participants spent looking at each AOI, but also how they moved their eyes and scan the faces. To get that information, the researchers used four different concepts from network analysis to evaluate the varying degree of importance the children placed on the seven AOIs when exploring the facial features.

Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/