COPDrelated inflammation prevented in experimental model

July 20, 2019

first_img Source:https://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/en/news/latest-news/press-information-news/article/44406/index.html May 3 2018Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short, is believed to be the third most common cause of death worldwide. However, because the underlying mechanism is still largely unknown, today’s treatments can only slow progression of the disease. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have now reported a previously unknown pathogenic mechanism, which they have already been able to prevent in the laboratory. Their findings are reported in EMBO Molecular Medicine.Cigarette smoking and general environmental pollution pose far and away the greatest risks for COPD and lead to an inflammatory reaction in the airways and lung tissue. As a result, sufferers develop chronic cough, sputum production and shortness of breath. In the long term, lung tissue is destroyed, which makes breathing more difficult.Related StoriesReceptor in the uterus can detect sperm molecule, aids in sperm survivalResearchers uncover new mechanism by which cells communicate in inflammatory processesUnhealthy gut microbiome may make breast cancers more aggressive finds studyIn a recent paper, a team led by Dr. Ali Önder Yildirim shed new light on the inflammatory process. “We focused on tertiary lymphoid organs in the bronchi,” explains Yildirim, one of the acting directors of the Institute of Lung Biology at Helmholtz Zentrum München, a member of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL). Specifically, the researchers studied what is known as inducible bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue, or iBALT for short. “It is believed that the development of iBALT plays a key role in the deterioration of COPD- but until now it was unclear exactly how iBALT forms,” says the head of the study.Therefore, the lung specialists looked for known processes in other lymphoid tissues. In this context, their attention was drawn to the metabolism of oxysterols. Oxysterols are derivatives of cholesterol that play a role in a wide range of biological processes, including the positioning of immune cells in lymphoid tissue.”We wanted to find out whether that is also the case around the lungs and specifically in cigarette-smoke-induced COPD,” Yildirim says. In fact, the researchers found elevated levels of enzymes involved in oxysterol metabolism together with immune cells that migrate into the tissue both in the experimental model and in the lungs of COPD patients. Further experiments also showed that iBALT formation is inhibited if the metabolic enzymes are absent. Their absence also prevented the migration of immune cells and damage to the lungs despite exposure to cigarette smoke.The scientists then attempted to recreate this effect pharmacologically by blocking the oxysterol pathway with an inhibitor, which they found prevented the immune cell migration following cigarette smoke irritation and therefore iBALT formation in the experimental model. “Our future goal is to transfer the results from the model to humans with a view to intervening in the development of COPD,” Ali Önder Yildirim says. “There is still a lot of work to do, however we are very much looking forward to it.”last_img read more

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Times up Covered California takes aim at hospital Csection rates

July 20, 2019

first_imgMay 24 2018Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has devised what could be a powerful new way to hold hospitals accountable for the quality of their care. Starting in less than two years, if the hospitals haven’t met targets for safety and quality, they’ll risk being excluded from the “in-network” designation of health plans sold on the state’s insurance exchange.“We’re saying ‘time’s up,’” said Dr. Lance Lang, the chief medical officer for Covered California. “We’ve told health plans that by the end of 2019 we want networks to only include hospitals that have achieved that target.”Here’s how hospitals will be measured: They must perform fewer unnecessary cesarean sections, prescribe fewer opioids and cut back on the use of imaging (X-rays, MRIs and CT scans) to diagnose and treat back pain. Research has shown these are problem areas in many hospitals — the procedures and pills have an important place, but have been overused to the point of causing patient harm, health care analysts said.C-sections, in particular, have come under scrutiny for years.Hospitals get paid more to perform a C-section than a vaginal delivery and C-sections usually take less time: 40 minutes for a scheduled procedure versus 24-hour on-call staffing for vaginal deliveries. Many women who don’t need a C-section often get one anyway, according to the data — and rates vary by hospital. Even in low-risk cases, several California hospitals are delivering 40 percent of babies by C-section, Lang said. At one hospital, it’s 78 percent.“That means that when a woman goes to a hospital, it’s the culture of the hospital that really determines whether or not she gets a cesarean section, not so much her own health,” said Lang.C-sections are major surgery. Doing them when they’re not needed exposes women to unnecessary risks: infection, hemorrhage, even death. Babies delivered by C-section are more likely to have complications and spend more time in the neonatal intensive care unit.That’s not quality health care, Lang said, and that’s why Covered California is telling hospitals they need to reduce their C-section rates to 23.9 percent or lower, for low-risk births.In this case, “low-risk” is defined as a healthy, first-time mom who has carried a single baby with its head down, all the way to full term — 39 weeks gestation.Medi-Cal, the state health program for low-income residents, CalPERS, the retirement program for state employees, and the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents self-insured employers, are also calling on hospitals to improve their quality measures. Together, these groups pay for the health care of 16 million Californians, or 40 percent of the state, which gives them substantial leverage with hospitals.But only Covered California is telling hospitals that if they don’t play by the rules, they’ll be benched.“It’s probably the boldest move we’ve seen in maternity care ever,” said Leah Binder, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that rates hospitals on quality.Expecting hospitals to meet external metrics for quality control is a recent phenomenon, and compliance is still largely voluntary, she said.“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, nobody ever thought that hospitals should have to report to anyone on how they were doing,” she said. “There’s never been a culture of accountability.”Covered California’s move is nationally significant, Binder said, given the consequences for hospitals, and the agency’s reach — 1.4 million people buy coverage through the marketplace — and they shop among plans offered by 11 state-approved insurance companies.Insurers and business groups across the country are already keeping an eye on California’s effort, she said, to see how they might band together to demand similar change from the hospitals in their regions.Overall, California’s hospitals are on board with the C-section goal. Of the 243 maternity hospitals in the state, 40 percent have met the target, Lang said, and another 40 percent have taken advantage of coaching and consulting to help educate doctors on how they can adjust their practices. They’re also finding they have to educate patients who request C-sections about the procedure’s risks.Related StoriesIt is okay for women with lupus to get pregnant with proper care, says new studyHave cancer, must travel: Patients left in lurch after hospital closesChildren’s Colorado granted IAC’s Cardiovascular Catheterization accreditation“While many may prefer [the surgery], when having the full information about the risk that they may be putting themselves and their babies in, they elect not to move in that direction,” said Julie Morath, CEO of the Hospital Quality Institute, a subsidiary of the California Hospital Association. Both groups support the C-section reduction goals as “the right thing to do,” she said.The strategy has raised some concerns among mothers who hear about the 23.9 percent target and worry about rationing.“We don’t just chase rates,” Morath said in response to that concern, “but rather look at what the clinical needs are and how to best respond to those. So if there is an indication for a cesarean section, the mother will receive a cesarean section.”Still, not all hospitals will find it easy to comply. State data show there are about 40 hospitals that are still far off the target, including a cluster of hospitals in East Los Angeles that treat low-income, often uninsured, patients.“If you have somebody who is on methamphetamines and is homeless and has not gotten any prenatal care, her chance of a C-section is way higher than someone who is not all those things,” said Dr. Malini Nijagal, an OB-GYN at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “And so the problem is, how do you adjust for the patient population of a hospital?”At Memorial Hospital of Gardena, the C-section rate is 45.2 percent. At East Los Angeles Doctors Hospital, the rate is 48.1 percent, according to publicly available state data listed on CalHospital Compare and Yelp. Both hospitals are working diligently to lower the rates, according to Amie Boersma, director for communications for Avanti Hospitals, which owns both hospitals.She said the hospitals will meet the 23.9 percent benchmark and are committed to doing so for the sake of their patients. Being excluded from Covered California health plan networks, she added, would make it even more difficult for those patients to get care. They would either have to pay out-of-network fees to be seen there, or they would have to travel farther to another facility that was still in the network.“We are in underserved, economically challenged urban neighborhoods and it is vitally important that we continue to provide appropriate, high-quality care for our communities,” Boersma said.Health plans can request an exemption from Covered California’s contract rules (in order to keep noncomplying hospitals in their networks) — as long as they document their reasoning.“That is flexibility that we asked for to ensure that we maintain adequate access to providers,” said Charles Bacchi, CEO of the California Association of Health Plans, a trade group for insurers. “Any major changes to health plan networks must be filed with regulators. And health plans have to ensure that patients continue to receive services in a timely manner.”So far, the prospect of exclusion, plus the coaching for hospitals on how to reduce the rates, have functioned as an effective motivator. By 2020, Covered California’s Lang predicted, all hospitals will either have met the target or be on their way.“It’s a quality improvement project,” Lang said, “but with a deadline.”This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and Kaiser Health News.KHN’s coverage of these topics is supported by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.last_img read more

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Neuroscientists identify one single control center for sleepwake cycle in the brain

July 20, 2019

first_imgJun 11 2018Until now, it was thought that multiple brain areas were needed to control sleep and wakefulness. Neuroscientists from Bern have now identified one single control center for the sleep-wake cycle in the brain. The findings are of great importance for finding new sleep therapies.Every night we spend several hours asleep and every morning we awaken to go about our lives. How brain circuits control this sleep-wake cycle remains a mystery. Our sleep is divided into two phases, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and REM (or paradoxical) sleep during which most of our dreaming occurs. Important brain circuits have been identified using both experimental and clinical evidence, yet the precise underlying mechanisms, such as the onset, maintenance and termination of sleep and dreaming, is not well understood.When we fall asleep, the electroencephalogram (EEG) reveals that our brains generate rhythmic oscillations called “slow waves”. These waves are important for keeping us asleep and for recovering after a full day of mental and physical activity. Common hypotheses hold that these slow waves are produced in the cerebral cortex, the upper part of the brain just below the surface of the skull. In contrast, wakefulness was thought to arise from the activity of “wake centers” located in the lower part of the brain including the brainstem that directly activates the neocortex, which is the part of the mammalian brain involved in higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition and generation of motor commands.In an important new study, neuroscientists at the Department of BioMedical Research (DBMR) at the University of Bern and the Department of Neurology at Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, found that neurons in the thalamus, a central hub of the brain, control sleep as well as wakefulness. The thalamus is connected to almost all other brain areas and supports important brain functions including attention, sensory perception, cognition and consciousness.Related StoriesMercy Medical Center adds O-arm imaging system to improve spinal surgery resultsSleep quality and fatigue among women with premature ovarian insufficiencyUnpleasant experiences could be countered with a good night’s REM sleepSwitching sleep on and offThe researchers headed by Prof. Dr. Antoine Adamantidis discovered that a small population of these thalamic neurons have a dual control over sleep and wakefulness, by generating sleep slow waves but also waking up from sleep, depending on their electrical activity. The research group used a technique called optogenetics, with which they used light pulses to precisely control the activity of thalamic neurons of mice. When they activated thalamic neurons with regular long-lasting stimuli the animals woke up, but if they activated them in a slow rhythmical manner, the mice had a deeper, more restful sleep.This is the first time that an area of the brain has been found to have both sleep and wake promoting functions. “Interestingly, we were also able to show that suppression of thalamic neuronal activity impaired the recovery from sleep loss, suggesting that these neurons are essential for a restful sleep after extended period of being awake”, says Dr. Thomas Gent, lead author of the study. This shows that the thalamus is a key player in both sleep and wake. The study has now been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.Breakthrough for sleep medicineThe findings of this study are particularly important in a modern world, where the active population sleeps about 20 % less than 50 years ago and suffers from chronic sleep disturbances. People frequently work irregular hours and rarely catch up on lost sleep. Poor sleep is increasingly linked to a multitude of psychiatric diseases and weakens the immune system. “We believe that uncovering the control mechanisms of thalamic neurons during sleep and wake will be key to finding new sleep therapies in an increasingly sleep deprived society”, says Prof. Antoine Adamantidis. Source:http://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2018/medienmitteilungen_2018/a_single_control_center_for_sleep_and_wake_in_the_brain/index_eng.htmllast_img read more

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New research reveals how gut bacteria and lipid metabolism may affect AD

July 20, 2019

first_imgJul 26 2018BIOCRATES’ Technology Enables Research of Host Microbiome Interactions to Investigate Neurodegenerative DiseasesBIOCRATES Life Sciences AG, a global leader in targeted metabolomics, reported today the Alzheimer’s Disease Metabolomics Consortium’s (ADMC) new breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research, which connects the Gut-Liver-Brain axis in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). During the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), Chicago, USA, researchers reported new data on how gut bacteria and lipid metabolism may influence AD.Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating and progressive neurological disorder that affects more than 60 million people worldwide. Despite major effort by researchers, the pathophysiology of this disease is not yet fully understood. However, this week in Chicago at the AAIC, scientists showed that changes in intestinal bacterial populations or activity is associated with cognitive and brain imaging changes and atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease and that this might apply to other neuropsychiatric diseases.Utilizing technology developed by BIOCRATES, which enables readouts of the host microbiome interaction, scientists shared their breakthrough findings that liver gut metabolic defects are correlated with cognitive decline in AD. Furthermore, these findings show that liver gut metabolic defects have an influence on the pathological features of AD, including neuroinflammation and amyloid-beta deposition.The Alzheimer Disease Metabolomics Consortium (ADMC) led by Prof. Rima Kaddurah-Daouk based at Duke University Medical Center is an international consortium of renowned academic institutes that includes BIOCRATES. The ADMC was formed as part of the NIA Accelerated Medicine Partnership in Alzheimer Disease (AMP-AD) to investigate pathogenic mechanisms in AD. The consortium is mapping metabolic failures across trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease and the contribution of human metabolism and the intestinal microbiota. Research carried out by Prof. Kaddurah-Daouk of the Duke Medical Center, indicate that the microbiome in our gut seems to play a major role in AD pathogenesis.Related StoriesStudy: Surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to be core focus for healthcare facilitiesGetting rid of chronic infections by waking up sleeping bacteriaTAU’s new Translational Medical Research Center acquires MILabs’ VECTor PET/SPECT/CT“BIOCRATES is excited to be a part of this important study. These findings underscore the importance of metabolism in the pathogenesis of many diseases. Results like these are only possible in large-scale collaborative research approaches, which our technology is perfectly suited to support,” commented Dr. Wulf Fischer-Knuppertz, CEO of BIOCRATES. “BIOCRATES continues to develop technologies for the better and deeper understanding of the host microbiome and its implications in the pathophysiology and progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”In two separate AD studies with over 1,500 individuals, Prof. Rima Kaddurah-Daouk’s team showed that Alzheimer’s patients had lower levels of liver produced primary bile acids (BA) in their blood, while secondary bile acids, which are bacterially produced and known to be cytotoxic, have been found at higher concentrations. Prof. Kaddurah-Daouk was also the first to show that serum-based primary and secondary BA metabolites correlated with amyloid, tau and neurodegeneration biomarkers for AD: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers, brain atrophy (measured by MRI), and glucose metabolism providing support for a role of BA pathways in AD pathophysiology.Prof. Kaddurah-Daouk of the Duke Psychiatry and Institute for Brain Sciences added: The new data suggests that the Gut-Liver-Brain axis seems to play a major role in the development of cognitive and brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease. Metabolomics might contribute to an earlier diagnosis of the disease and enable effective treatments based on peripheral influences to brain pathogenesis. This might help to find out whether available drugs might work better when applied early in the disease course.” Source:https://www.biocrates.com/2-features/197-gut-liver-brain-https:/www.biocrates.com/2-features/197-gut-liver-brain-axis-alzheimers-diseaseaxislast_img read more

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10year investigation captures information on geographic distribution of outbreaks of Salmonella enteric

July 20, 2019

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Sep 12 2018A 10-year investigation evaluating data from four surveillance systems captured information on the geographic distribution of outbreaks of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport infections in the U.S., who is at greatest risk, the rate of antimicrobial resistance of Newport infections, and how often antimicrobial resistance may be linked to an environmental cause of infection. The findings of this 10-year study are published in an article in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.Stacy Crim, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleagues from the CDC and from IHRC, Atlanta, Georgia authored the article entitled “Salmonella enterica serotype Newport Infections in the United States, 2004-2013: Increased Incidence Investigated Through Four Surveillance Systems.” Among the important findings presented in the article, the researchers reported that the incidence of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport infections was highest in the South and among children <5 years old. Among isolates submitted for antimicrobial susceptibility testing, 88% were susceptible to all antimicrobials tested (pansusceptible) and 8% were resistant to at least seven agents. Rates of pansusceptible isolates were also highest in the South and among young children. Pansusceptible strains of Newport have been associated with produce items and environmental sources, such as creek water and sediment."Salmonella enterica serotype Newport is the third most common Salmonella serotype identified among the estimated 1.2 million human salmonellosis infections occurring annually in the US. This comprehensive analysis of four surveillance systems by Crim and colleagues identified key regional and demographic features of Newport infections in the US and provided a broad picture of the epidemiology of this important Salmonella serotype," states Stephen P. Oliver, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Foodborne Pathogens and Disease and Professor Emeritus of Animal Science & Former Co-Director of the Food Safety Center of Excellence, The University of Tennessee.Source: https://home.liebertpub.com/news/10-year-study-of-salmonella-enterica-serotype-newport-infections-in-the-us/2423last_img read more

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ScienceShot LongNosed Dino Was No Fluke

July 20, 2019

In the 1970s, a relatively small, long-nosed dinosaur was discovered in Mongolia. Some paleontologists claimed it was an unusual member of the tyrannosaurid family—which includes the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex—but many researchers were skeptical. Then, in 2009, paleontologists published details of a very similar specimen also found in Mongolia. Yet other researchers pointed out that both specimens were juveniles, and the long noses might just be a growth phase they were going through on their way to becoming typical tyrannosaurids, with tall, deep skulls and crushing jaws and teeth. But a new discovery of a much more complete adult specimen, published online today in Nature Communications and pictured here in an artist’s reconstruction, may quiet the skeptics. Qianzhousaurus sinensis (named after Qianzhou, the ancient name of the city of Ganzhou where it was discovered, and sin, from the Greek word for China), is an adult and lived until about 66 million years ago, just before most dinosaurs went extinct; but it still has the long nose and other features of the two other specimens. Moreover, because the new dino, which at an estimated 757 kilograms weighed about one-tenth as much as T. rex, was found 3000 kilometers away in China’s Jiangxi province, the team concludes that long-nosed tyrannosaurids were not just a fluke, but rather a major group of dinos with a wide geographical distribution.See more ScienceShots. read more

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Artificial intelligence turns brain activity into speech

July 20, 2019

first_img A computer reconstruction based on brain activity recorded while a person listened to spoken digits. Artificial intelligence turns brain activity into speech 00:0000:0000:00 WENHT/ISTOCK.COM M. Angrick et al., doi.org/10.1101/478644 Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Original audio from a study participant, followed by a computer recreation of each word, based on activity in speech planning and motor areas of the brain. Email Epilepsy patients with electrode implants have aided efforts to decipher speech. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country 00:0000:0000:00 H. Akbari et al., doi.org/10.1101/350124 Another team, led by computer scientist Tanja Schultz at the University Bremen in Germany, relied on data from six people undergoing brain tumor surgery. A microphone captured their voices as they read single-syllable words aloud. Meanwhile, electrodes recorded from the brain’s speech planning areas and motor areas, which send commands to the vocal tract to articulate words. Computer scientists Miguel Angrick and Christian Herff, now with Maastricht University, trained a network that mapped electrode readouts to the audio recordings, and then reconstructed words from previously unseen brain data. According to a computerized scoring system, about 40% of the computer-generated words were understandable. For many people who are paralyzed and unable to speak, signals of what they’d like to say hide in their brains. No one has been able to decipher those signals directly. But three research teams recently made progress in turning data from electrodes surgically placed on the brain into computer-generated speech. Using computational models known as neural networks, they reconstructed words and sentences that were, in some cases, intelligible to human listeners.None of the efforts, described in papers in recent months on the preprint server bioRxiv, managed to re-create speech that people had merely imagined. Instead, the researchers monitored parts of the brain as people either read aloud, silently mouthed speech, or listened to recordings. But showing the reconstructed speech is understandable is “definitely exciting,” says Stephanie Martin, a neural engineer at the University of Geneva in Switzerland who was not involved in the new projects.People who have lost the ability to speak after a stroke or disease can use their eyes or make other small movements to control a cursor or select on-screen letters. (Cosmologist Stephen Hawking tensed his cheek to trigger a switch mounted on his glasses.) But if a brain-computer interface could re-create their speech directly, they might regain much more: control over tone and inflection, for example, or the ability to interject in a fast-moving conversation. The hurdles are high. “We are trying to work out the pattern of … neurons that turn on and off at different time points, and infer the speech sound,” says Nima Mesgarani, a computer scientist at Columbia University. “The mapping from one to the other is not very straightforward.” How these signals translate to speech sounds varies from person to person, so computer models must be “trained” on each individual. And the models do best with extremely precise data, which requires opening the skull.Researchers can do such invasive recording only in rare cases. One is during the removal of a brain tumor, when electrical readouts from the exposed brain help surgeons locate and avoid key speech and motor areas. Another is when a person with epilepsy is implanted with electrodes for several days to pinpoint the origin of seizures before surgical treatment. “We have, at maximum, 20 minutes, maybe 30,” for data collection, Martin says. “We’re really, really limited.”The groups behind the new papers made the most of precious data by feeding the information into neural networks, which process complex patterns by passing information through layers of computational “nodes.” The networks learn by adjusting connections between nodes. In the experiments, networks were exposed to recordings of speech that a person produced or heard and data on simultaneous brain activity.Mesgarani’s team relied on data from five people with epilepsy. Their network analyzed recordings from the auditory cortex (which is active during both speech and listening) as those patients heard recordings of stories and people naming digits from zero to nine. The computer then reconstructed spoken numbers from neural data alone; when the computer “spoke” the numbers, a group of listeners named them with 75% accuracy. By Kelly ServickJan. 2, 2019 , 1:30 PM Finally, neurosurgeon Edward Chang and his team at the University of California, San Francisco, reconstructed entire sentences from brain activity captured from speech and motor areas while three epilepsy patients read aloud. In an online test, 166 people heard one of the sentences and had to select it from among 10 written choices. Some sentences were correctly identified more than 80% of the time. The researchers also pushed the model further: They used it to re-create sentences from data recorded while people silently mouthed words. That’s an important result, Herff says—”one step closer to the speech prosthesis that we all have in mind.”However, “What we’re really waiting for is how [these methods] are going to do when the patients can’t speak,” says Stephanie Riès, a neuroscientist at San Diego State University in California who studies language production. The brain signals when a person silently “speaks” or “hears” their voice in their head aren’t identical to signals of speech or hearing. Without external sound to match to brain activity, it may be hard for a computer even to sort out where inner speech starts and ends.Decoding imagined speech will require “a huge jump,” says Gerwin Schalk, a neuroengineer at the National Center for Adaptive Neurotechnologies at the New York State Department of Health in Albany. “It’s really unclear how to do that at all.”One approach, Herff says, might be to give feedback to the user of the brain-computer interface: If they can hear the computer’s speech interpretation in real time, they may be able to adjust their thoughts to get the result they want. With enough training of both users and neural networks, brain and computer might meet in the middle.*Clarification, 8 January, 5:50 p.m.: This article has been updated to clarify which researchers worked on one of the projects.last_img read more

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Scientists share MIT disobedience award for MeToo advocacy

July 20, 2019

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Meredith WadmanNov. 27, 2018 , 5:00 PM Scientists share MIT ‘disobedience’ award for #MeToo advocacy Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin of Vanderbilt University in Nashville was honored for founding #MeTooSTEM. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img Vanderbilt University Medical Center Email The Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge today honored two women who have played leading roles in advancing the #MeToo movement within science by awarding them, along with one other #MeToo advocate, its edgy, $250,000 “Disobedience Award.”BethAnn McLaughlin, a neuroscientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, will share the prize with biologist Sherry Marts and #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke. The Disobedience Award, now in its second year, is funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to honor people or groups “who engage in ethical, nonviolent acts of disobedience in service of society.” Hoffman has said he wanted to “recognize the people who help us look in the mirror and see who our better selves could be.”McLaughlin—better known to her Twitter followers as @McLNeuro—will collect one-third of the prize money for speaking out against sexual harassment in science. Angered by a Science article describing allegations of sexual harassment against cancer scientist Inder Verma, who has since resigned from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, McLaughlin in May launched a petition urging the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to eject proven harassers from lifetime memberships in the prestigious academies. NASEM leaders soon said they would explore whether and how they might do so. They say full votes of their memberships are needed for change. She also targeted AAAS, publisher of ScienceInsider, with an online petition demanding that the organization oust AAAS fellows who are proved to be sexual harassers. AAAS’s governing council in September adopted a policy allowing that. McLaughlin also succeeded earlier this year in getting the website RateMyProfessors.com to drop its “hotness” category, formerly designated by a red chili pepper.McLaughlin, who founded the group #MeTooSTEM, does not pull punches in calling out known and alleged harassers, usually on Twitter, and has made enemies as her profile has risen; she recently received a package of excrement via FedEx. “This award provides great moral clarity on what is right,” she told ScienceInsider. “It says that doing this, shamelessly making campuses and conferences safer, puts you on the right side of history.” (At its annual meeting earlier this month, the Society for Neuroscience also honored McLaughlin for her advocacy on behalf of women in science, technology, engineering, and math.)Marts, the other scientist honored, left science after enduring sexual harassment while completing a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Marts’s life since Duke has included a 10-year stint as vice president for scientific affairs at the Society for Women’s Health Research in Washington, D.C. More recently, she has been a consultant advising nonprofits how to address sexual harassment at meetings and conferences. She also helped the American Geophysical Union adapt its code of conduct to define sexual harassment as scientific misconduct—a move that made it a leader among scientific organizations. “I’m thrilled,” Marts told ScienceInsider. “I owe a huge debt to … the scientific society executives who are willing to admit they have a problem and to face it head-on.”Another scientist was among four runners-up for the award, each of whom received $10,000. In 2017, Deborah Swackhamer, an environmental chemist, was ousted as chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Board of Scientific Counselors after refusing senior EPA officials’ requests that she alter remarks she had prepared for testimony to Congress.The award winners were chosen by a panel of 11 judges that included scientists such as MIT neuroscientist Ed Boyden.last_img read more

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Smolletts Career Falling Apart But Brothers Are Fine

July 20, 2019

first_imgRegardless of what you believe in the Jussie Smollett case, one thing that is certain is the Nigerian-American brothers, Abel and Olabinjo Osundairo, admitted to attack the “Empire” actor. The entire case against Smollett from the Chicago Police Department has relied on the Osundairos when their appears to be no corroborating evidence. The truth might be somewhere in the middle but the Osundairos have faced no repercussions.See Also: Complete Timeline Of Jussie Smollett InvestigationYesterday it was reported that Smollett is no longer considered to play the lead role in the Broadway revival of “Take Me Out,” which is about a about a mixed-race baseball star who comes out as gay. Deadline reports the 36-year-old is no longer being considered since he has been accused of staging a hate crime. It also appears that his role as Jamal Lyon on “Empire” is over. There have been several reports that this will be Smollett last season on “Empire.”On the other hand, the careers of the Osundairo got a huge boost.TMZ claims Team Abel fitness training is skyrocketing, according to the site, “The basic purchase will run ya $30 for a workout plan — does NOT include personal training. The premium plan will cost folks just $20 more … and it gets you a lot, including a diet program, strength training, power training, shred training and a 4-week meal plan.”Abel Osundairo just won a boxing competition in Chicago last week even made it into Page Six, which read that he “took home the ‘senior novice division’ title Friday night following a technical knockout in the first round” and “the division is for less experienced boxers between 21 and 35 who weigh 178 pounds or less.”Their futures appear bright, even with a previous record like  Olabinjo Osundairo being charged with attempted murder in 2011.TMZ reported earlier this month Gloria Schmidt, their former lawyer, told them to speak out publicly but they are refusing so she “bailed on them, saying she didn’t want to rep them anymore.”In addition, according to court documents, the Associated Press claims, “Chicago police provided a six-night hotel stay with separate rooms and 24-hour security.” The hotel stay was “from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21 at the Chicago South Loop Hotel near the city’s McCormick Place convention center.” Also, “Assistance for food and incidentals were also provided” one report read. Rates for the Chicago South Loop Hotel are  around $229 per night. Meghan McCain Whines That She Can’t Attack llhan Omar Because Trump Is Too Racist Gov. Cuomo Slams Mayor Bill De Blasio For The Eric Garner Case But He Also Failed The Family Senate Policy Luncheons A$AP Rocky Being In A Swedish Prison Will Not Stop Her From Going To The Country That Showed Her ‘So Much Love’center_img More By NewsOne Staff Twitter Reacts To Sen. Kamala Harris Announcing Her Run For President On Jan. 29, while walking to a subway, Smollett claimed two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, investigators told The Hollywood Reporter. They allegedly punched and poured bleach on him while one of the suspects put a rope around his neck. As they fled the scene, Smollett told police they said, “This is MAGA country.”The city of Chicago is now suing Smollett for a half a million dollars. Kim Foxx, the Cook County State Attorney, has been attacked by the Chicago Police and is calling for a prob into the investigation.Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence.SEE ALSO:Kamala Harris Leads Senate To Finally Passing Anti-Lynching BillWTH? ‘Black Panther’ Writer Roxane Gay Was Not Invited To The Movie PremiereCan Racial Profiling Be Stopped? A Federal Jury Sides With The Louisiana State Police Chicago Police Department , Hate Crime , Homophobic , Jussie Smollett , MAGA , racist attack , Trump last_img read more

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9 People At The Fourth Of July Barbecue

July 20, 2019

first_img Family , funny , Independence Day , July 4 , July 4th 7. The Faux DJGifsSource: GiphySure, they’ve held down a few parties in college, but somehow, someway they know what tunes work with the crowd. Shalamar for the adults, Rae Sremmurd for the kiddies, and a little Kendrick Lamar for the folks in between.8. The Party Starter GifsSource: GiphyThe party starter can be your adorable six-year-old cousin dancing or your auntie who jumped up once “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross blasted from the speakers. Their energy is enticing and comical, but has everyone wanting to jump on the outdoor dance floor.9.  The Fly Guy GifsSource: Giphy Much like the girlies, he came to stunt. He’s also in the cut taking selfies with his bruhs and thinking about what hot spot he’s going to next. He’ll dip out early but will end up at the BBQ just in time for when the food is ready.Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!SEE ALSO:Meet Jogger Joe, The Man Who Took Racist Cue From BBQ Becky In Tossing Homeless Man’s ClothesTrump-Supporting DA Calls ‘Ghetto’ Maxine Waters A ‘Bitch,’ Can’t Believe She Hasn’t Been ShotThis Colin Kaepernick Retweet Says Everything You Need To Know About The NFL Players’ Anthem Grievance It’s that time of the year again!We’ve been to a few family gatherings over the years, but the Fourth of July barbecue always brings out people from the woodwork. You don’t seem them often, but the moments you’ve shared in the past helps the conversations be less awkward. And if you’re welcoming enough, these family members will find a way to invade your space with their electric and sometimes pesky attitudes.See Also: ‘Troubling’ Video Shows Cops Assaulting Innocent Mother And Yanking Her Baby AwayWe all know it’s the duty of our family to keep us on our toes and have us laughing non-stop. Here are some of the people you will run into at the family BBQ. 1. The Drunk UncleGifsSource: GiphyHe’s there for the food and of course, the beer. We all love our drunk uncle, whether he’s yapping about why he’s mad at his neighbor this week or why he’s hates Donald Trump. Either way you know he’s going to bring his blunt perspective to the party.2. The Revolutionary GifsSource: GiphyThey’ve signed every GoFundMe petition you can think of and they can recite Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “mountain top” speech backwards. Sure’s it’s sweet that they’ve taken an interest in social and civil rights issues, but sometimes all you want to do is eat a burger and listen to Frankie Beverly and Maze.3. The “Chris Brown” Type GifsSource: Giphy 95 Photos Of Black People Marching For Our Lives Think a la BET Awards; he’s at the party every year and either invites his ex or current flame but still manages to have a good time. Even when he’s dealing with his drama, he leads the Soul Train line and scoops up a few honeys and Instagram likes.4. The Girlies GifsSource: GiphyWe love the girlies! They’re strictly there to look cute by wearing the highest heel to the barbecue. With the right food and the perfect blended coquito, the shoes will come flying off and they’ll jam out to “Feeling Myself” with the rest of us.6. The Master Chef GifsSource: GiphyThe master chef is the one that’s often standing by the grill, telling you the steak is too rare or the hot dogs aren’t burnt enough. Once you offer for them to take over, they’re gone faster than the cheeseburgers. That is, until someone compliments the food — then he’s Bobby Flay over here. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to MoreAddThisMoreShare to EmailEmailEmail US-SCHOOL-SHOOTING-PROTEST-POLITICS last_img read more

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Scientists home in on landing site for the next Mars rover

July 20, 2019

first_img After 3 days of intense debate, a nonbinding vote by planetary scientists meeting in Glendale, California, resulted in a virtual tie between several candidate landing sites for NASA’s next $2.5 billion Mars rover, due for launch in 2020.The straw poll is the culmination of years of scientific and engineering analysis of three NASA-approved sites: Jezero, a fossilized delta that spills into an impact crater; Northeast Syrtis, a stretch of ancient crust that may have been created by underground mineral springs; and Columbia Hills, a potential former hot springs previously visited by the Spirit rover. Earlier this year, the team added to the mix a fourth site, nearly identical in composition to Northeast Syrtis, called Midway, with the potential that a mission could visit Jezero and then Midway, or vice versa.All four sites were evaluated both for their suitability as the primary landing site and as an area for continued exploration following the rover’s first couple of years. In turn, each site was rated for the value of the science the rover could conduct itself, with its fleet of instruments, and the value of the samples that it will drill for return to Earth. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Scientists home in on landing site for the next Mars rover Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email With 158 votes tallied, Jezero and Northeast Syrtis rated in a near tie for their value as a primary destination, with Midway close behind. Jezero and Midway, in turn, rated higher as destinations for an extended mission. Across both categories, only Columbia Hills was rated much lower. Although the method of the vote—rating candidates—did not lead to a clear recommendation, the combined ratings do seem to endorse the Midway-Jezero pairing. As Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, put it, “A mega-mission in either direction looks pretty likely.”What the vote means will be up to the Mars 2020 team and, ultimately, NASA’s science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, who made a brief appearance at the workshop. Although a plan to return the rover’s samples is not finalized, Zurbuchen noted, a mission should come into view by early 2020, after Europe, a vital potential contributor, finalizes its next round of science funding. “Make no mistake,” Zurbuchen told the scientists, “we want those samples back.”Read our in-depth preview of the landing sites, including the rise of Midway here.center_img By Paul VoosenOct. 18, 2018 , 5:50 PM Jezero crater and its fossil river delta is a favored landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY last_img read more

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KSI Metals Inc wins the NPC SBDCs Small Business Award

July 19, 2019

first_imgKSI Metals, Inc. wins the NPC SBDC’s Small Business Award Photo courtesy of Northland Pioneer CollegeTerril Kay (right) is the owner of KSI Metal, Inc. with an expansion planned in Snowflake/Taylor. Also pictured are (left to right) Northland Pioneer College President Mark Vest, Christy Kay and State Representative Walter Blackman. May 8, 2019center_img By Dennis Durband NPC Staff Writer       Success in business doesn’t happen by accident, especially with new start-ups. Snowflake native Terril Kay has started four businesses and, thanks to the expert guidance he’s received fromSubscribe or log in to read the rest of this content. Bottom Adlast_img

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Upcoming iOS Access Restrictions Could Stymie Law Enforcement

July 19, 2019

first_imgUSB Restricted Mode “supports our right to privacy,” observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.”For some screwy reason, the U.S. principle for cellphones and technology in general is that if it could help convict a criminal it’s OK to put the billions using the technology at risk,” he told TechNewsWorld.”I think U.S. law enforcement has lost perspective here badly,” Enderle said, “largely because the senior folks fundamentally don’t understand the related risks.” Once USB Restricted Mode is invoked, iOS stops sending data over the USB port, noted researcher Oleg Afonin in a post published earlier this month.The second beta of iOS 11.4.1, released earlier this week, extends the SOS mode so that it blocks all USB communications, Touch ID and Face ID, until the user unlocks the iPhone with a passcode.There’s a widespread belief that USB Restricted Mode targets law enforcement agencies, which use passcode cracking tools — such as those from Cellebrite and GrayShift — to get around iPhone security.Police departments around the country reportedly have been purchasing those solutions.The United States Drug Enforcement Agency earlier this year issued a solicitation for GrayShift’s GrayKey. The DEA had subscribed to Cellebrite’s solution in 2016. USB Restricted Mode will render these technologies useless.U.S. law enforcement agencies have demanded a backdoor in high-tech products, and the FBI has been trying to crack Apple’s security for years.Their side took a hit last month, when The Washington Post reported that the FBI repeatedly had overstated the dangers of encryption, both to the public and to Congress.”It’s tempting to believe that this is part of a tit-for-tat with U.S. law enforcement agencies reportedly buying unlocking technologies in recent months,” said Eric Smith, director of connected computing at Strategy Analytics.”However, I believe Apple has been working on these ‘bugs’ as a practical matter to secure its devices primarily as a consumer issue, especially since it has positioned itself as the antithesis of Google — and now Facebook — when it comes to how personal data is used, monetized and where that data is stored,” he told TechNewsWorld.”I don’t think [USB Restricted Mode] is aimed at law enforcement agencies, however severe the impact to those entities may be,” Webroot’s Abrams said, likening the feature to PGP. Shortening the Long Arm of the Law Loss of Perspective?center_img Apple plans to equip iOS 12 with USB Restricted Mode, a feature that requires users to unlock their iPhone with their passcode before USB accessories can connect if the phone last was unlocked more than an hour earlier.The company included this feature in the developer versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS 12.Apple will release USB Restricted Mode publicly in a future software update, it confirmed to Reuters this week.USB Restricted Mode should work on iPads the same way as on iPhones because it’s a software feature, ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov told TechNewsWorld.”For the average user, this will probably be inconsequential,” said Randy Abrams, senior security analyst at Webroot.”For someone such as a government contractor, someone with expensive proprietary information, or any high-value target, it can make a difference,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Enterprises are subject to espionage and the theft of proprietary information.” Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.last_img read more

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New approach to understanding cancers will accelerate development of better treatments

July 19, 2019

first_img Source:https://uvahealth.com/ Oct 19 2018Lets Researchers Quickly Analyze Diseases’ Complex Causes A new innovation in cancer research will enable scientists to understand the complex causes of the disease with unprecedented speed and sophistication. This will accelerate the development of new and better treatments, and it will help researchers find ways around roadblocks that now stand in their path.Rather than looking at individual gene mutations in isolation, the new approach allows scientists to create models incorporating many mutations. Studying the mutations’ collective effect will provide a much more complete picture of cancers’ causes and allow scientists to better mimic human disease when working to develop new treatments. You might think of it like trying to understand the workings of a clock: Instead of looking at a single gear, scientists can now examine the larger mechanism.“Our work provides proof-of-concept for new models in which we can test numerous genes and mutations simultaneously, sometimes one-by-one, sometimes combinations of the different mutations,” said researcher Kwon-Sik Park, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the UVA Cancer Center. “Patients not only acquire different mutations but they acquire combinations, so you have to model really faithfully to understand what is happening.”Overcoming Cancer Obstacles One of the biggest obstacles for cancer researchers today is the sheer volume of variables at play when a healthy cell turns cancerous. This often makes it difficult for researchers to determine where to focus. “We can have hundreds of candidates,” Park explained. “You want to know which one is really the driver, so we can prioritize for further study in developing therapy.”The new approach developed by Park, of UVA’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology, and his colleagues will help with that. They have demonstrated the approach’s potential by creating a model of small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), the most aggressive and fastest growing form of lung cancer.In creating the model, the researchers used CRISPR – a gene editing system that has revolutionized genetic research in recent years – to mimic mutations often seen in patients with small cell lung cancer. The scientists wanted to see if the mutations collectively would cause pre-cancerous cells to become cancerous. And they did, even though the individual mutations, on their own, might not have.Related StoriesSugary drinks linked to cancer finds studyNanoparticles used to deliver CRISPR gene editing tools into the cellLiving with advanced breast cancerThe researchers were able to show that an important contributor to the development of the cancer was a common mutation in the CREBBP gene. The gene, in its non-mutated form, is thought to act as a tumor suppressor by turning on genes that attach lung neuroendocrine cells together and prevent uncontrolled growth. “Those particular cells become mutated by the carcinogens from smoke,” Park explained. “When the cells acquire that part of the mutation, CREBBP mutation, they lose their interactions with the neighboring cells. Normally, this lost cell-cell contact would prompt cells to die through a process called programmed cell death or apoptosis. However, if the same cells acquire additional mutations in other critical tumor suppressor genes such as RB and P53, as is frequently the case in SCLC, then instead of dying, they survive and continue to expand.”The researchers were able to determine exactly what molecular changes are occurring within the cells as a result of the mutation. With follow-up studies of the information, the researcher at UVA hopes to provide critical insights into strategies for stopping the cancer’s formation and spread. “By understanding how the disease actually arises and the key players in the disease,” Park said, “we can design strategies for detection and prevention as well as treatment.”Putting UVA on the Map of SCLC Research The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Cancer Discovery.Park and David MacPherson at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle led the collaborative research team that includes Deshui Jia, Arnaud Augert, Dong-Wook Kim, Emily Eastwood, Nan Wu, Ali H. Ibrahim, Kee-Beom Kim, Colin T. Dunn, Smitha P.S. Pillai, Adi F. Gazdar and Hamid Bolouri.The work of the Park lab was supported by the National Institutes of Health grants (R01CA194461 and R03CA215777), the American Cancer Society grant (RSG-15-066-01-TBG), the David R. Jones Fund, the UVA Department of Surgery and the UVA Cancer Center (P30CA044579).The new findings and other unpublished results have helped the Park lab obtain a new NIH grant and become a full member of the NIH SCLC Consortium as one of 13 institutes nationwide that work cooperatively to understand the biology of the most aggressive lung cancer.last_img read more

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Opioid epidemic increases proportion of hearts transplanted from overdose death donors

July 18, 2019

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 7 2019The confluence of two major health crises—the opioid epidemic and organ shortage—has moved surgeons to consider transplanting organs deemed as less than “perfect” in an effort to expand the donor pool and save more lives, according to research published online today in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, published by Elsevier. The opioid epidemic has increased the proportion of hearts transplanted from overdose death donors (ODD). One of the roles of the transplant community is to at least partially mitigate the tragedy of this exponentially growing problem by maximizing the utilization of organs from ODD.”Nader Moazami, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, NY, USA Dr. Moazami and colleagues evaluated trends in organ donation and transplants among drug overdose deaths using data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients for the years 2000 to 2017. Of the 15,904 isolated heart transplants from adult donors during this period, opioid overdoses (10.8 percent) were the fourth most common cause of death, behind blunt injury (30.5 percent), hemorrhage/stroke (22.1 percent), and gunshot wound (18.3 percent). In 2017, overdoses accounted for more than 20 percent of donor deaths in 11 states; whereas in 2000, the highest state’s rate was 5.6 percent and 33 states had less than 1 percent of donor deaths attributed to overdoses. The researchers also identified a significant increase in the percentage of transplants that utilized ODD hearts: 1.1 percent in 2000; 6 percent in 2012; and 14.2 percent in 2017. The current rate of ODD utilized for heart transplantation is 16.9 percent—a 14-fold increase from 2000.”The dramatic increase in the rate of ODD utilization was striking, and it has increased concordantly with the rate of overdose deaths,” said Dr. Moazami. “The significant impact of the opioid epidemic on transplantation is one of the major reasons that organ transplant numbers have increased over the last several years.”In addition, the researchers found that donors who died from opioid overdoses were frequently younger than age 40 and had higher rates of substance abuse. However, they also had lower rates of diabetes and hypertension. As a result, the researchers found that ODD hearts had “favorable heart donor quality” and provided excellent outcomes equivalent to all other mechanisms of donor deaths (non-overdose).”We do not believe that overdose status alone is a valid reason to discard an otherwise viable donor heart, and this study supports that ODD organs should not be rejected due to inappropriate bias,” said Dr. Moazami. “With no significant difference in survival between ODD and non-ODD recipients, further expansion of this donor pool may be appropriate, with more hearts potentially used for transplantation.”For other organs, the opioid epidemic has also boosted the number available for donation in the US. In another study from Dr. Moazami and colleagues to be published in The Annals, opioid ODD provided 7 percent of the transplanted lungs from 2010-2017, up from 2 percent in 2000-2007. The overall findings also concurred with those of this recent study, suggesting that ODD lungs do not pose any extra safety risk to transplant recipients.Related StoriesCommon cold virus strain could be a breakthrough in bladder cancer treatmentWeightlifting is better for the heart than cardioFight for Sight poll: Brits put their eyesight at risk through unsafe contact lens habitsImpact of Hepatitis C virus on organ transplantationThe recent rise in opioid use has not only resulted in opioid-related overdose deaths, but also a surge in hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases due to injection drug use. In fact, the study showed HCV is often the reason why organs are discarded and not used. But in the current era, medical advances and sophisticated testing have helped minimize the risks associated with transplanting an organ that is hepatitis C positive, explained Dr. Moazami. In addition, hepatitis C is now a curable disease, so if organ recipients become infected, antiviral medication can be administered, making it especially important that efforts are made to minimize discarding HCV-positive organs and improve efficient utilization of them, according to the researchers.”In spite of the public crisis that the opioid overdose epidemic has created recently, the impact on organ transplantation and the unintended consequences of increasing the number of donor hearts is noteworthy,” said Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, Surgeon-in-Chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, STS President, and former president of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), who was not directly involved with this research. “Many of these donors have been associated with diseases that have historically been considered ‘high risk’ by public health services. This important study highlights the need for additional research in this area to further define the ‘risk’ as well as the reward of expanding the donor pool to save more lives.”According to UNOS, more than 36,500 transplants were performed in 2018—more transplants than ever before. Approximately 3,400 of those were heart transplantations. While 2018 was a record-breaking year, the need for organ donors remains massive. On average, 18 patients died every day waiting for a transplant in 2017.Source: ElsevierJournal reference:Phillips, K G. et al. (2019) Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Heart Transplantation: Donor Characteristics and Organ Discard. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2019.03.076.last_img read more

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Livingdonor liver transplant offers advantages over deceaseddonor research finds

July 18, 2019

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 12 2019Living-donor liver transplant offers numerous advantages over deceased-donor transplant, including better three-year survival rates for patients and lower costs, according to new research from the UPMC Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.The findings, published online today in the Annals of Surgery, highlight living donation as a viable, if not preferable, option for the more than 14,000 people currently on the waiting list, as well as many more who never qualify to be on the list under current allocation rules.About 8,000 liver transplants are performed each year, according to the Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network, and living-donor liver transplant comprises less than 5% of that total. Additionally, about 25% of people on the waiting list die each year waiting for a transplant, and those who eventually receive a transplant often have a lengthy period on the waiting list, resulting in poorer health at the time of transplant. The consequences for patients on the waiting list can mean the difference between life and death because the longer they are waiting, the sicker they become. Living-donor liver transplants, in tandem with deceased-donor liver transplants, represents an opportunity to significantly decrease the risk of wait-list mortality, and gives us the ability to transplant a person sooner.”Abhinav Humar, M.D., chief of transplant services at UPMC, clinical director of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and lead author of the study The retrospective review of 245 adult living-donor liver transplants and 592 deceased-donor liver transplants performed over the last 10 years at UPMC–which has the country’s largest living-donor liver transplant program–compared survival rates and other outcomes such as recovery times, complications, costs and resource utilization. The patients were followed for at least two years post-transplant.Of those comparisons, three-year patient survival outcomes were superior in living-donor liver transplant recipients–86% versus 80%. Living-donor liver transplant recipients overall had about a 5% survival advantage over deceased-donor recipients. Patients who received a liver from a living donor had a hospital stay of 11 days as compared to 13 days for those who received a liver from a deceased donor, had less likelihood of intraoperative blood transfusion (53% compared to 78%) and less likelihood of the need for post-transplant dialysis (1.6% versus 7.4%). Hospital costs related to transplant also were 29.5% lower for living donor recipients. For the living-liver donor, there were no mortalities observed, and the overall complication rate was 20%.Related StoriesAASLD Foundation awards $3.42 million for liver disease research and advanced hepatology trainingGenetic study on liver iron content may pave way for better treatmentNew findings offer pathway for fight against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”Living-donor liver transplant should be considered the first and best option for most patients with liver disease,” Humar said. “It is not only an option for those on the waiting list but could perhaps offset the fact that not everyone who may benefit from transplant qualifies to receive a deceased-donor transplant based on today’s current rules of allocation.”Given the advantages, UPMC in recent years expanded its living-donor liver transplant program. In 2018, living-donor transplants comprised about 54% of the program’s total number of liver transplants compared to the national average of around 4%. UPMC’s transplant rate also increased from 45 out of every 100 persons on the program’s waiting list in 2015 to around 88 in 2018. The program has led the country in living-donor liver transplants the past two years and is the only center in the U.S. to perform more living- than deceased-donor transplants.”It is unclear why the number of living-donor liver transplants is so low in the United States,” said Amit Tevar, M.D., associate professor of surgery in the Pitt Department of Surgery and director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at UPMC. “Fewer than 15 U.S. programs did more than 10 living-donor liver transplants in 2018, and this is surprising given the number of analyses nationwide like this that have now been reported.” Source:University of Pittsburghlast_img read more

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Facebook faces Indonesia investigation over privacy breach

July 18, 2019

© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. UK regulator investigating Facebook over political campaigning The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said in a statement that it had asked the National Police chief to investigate possible violations of Indonesia’s privacy law a day after Facebook announced that personal data of more than 1 million Indonesians might have been exposed by political consultant Cambridge Analytica.It said Facebook representatives in Indonesia could face up to 12 years in prison and a fine of $871,000, if convicted.The ministry summoned the representatives late Thursday to deliver a warning letter.Communications Minister Rudiantara told reporters after the meeting that he has asked Facebook to stop its applications that could allow third parties to get users’ personal information.”We ask Facebook to provide us their audit results to see how the personal information is used by the Cambridge Analytica,” said Rudiantara, who like many Indonesians uses a single name.Facebook Indonesia Head of Public Policy Ruben Hattari said they will keep cooperating with the Indonesian government.”Our main goal is to secure privacy data of all Facebook users,” Hattari said after the meeting.Indonesia is the world’s fourth-largest Facebook user with more than 115 million active members, and nearly 97 percent of them are on mobile devices. Explore further Citation: Facebook faces Indonesia investigation over privacy breach (2018, April 6) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-facebook-indonesia-privacy-breach.html Indonesian government said Friday it is investigating Facebook over the privacy breach of its Indonesian users. read more

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How installing hitech windows helped a DFW Airport bar sell twice as

July 18, 2019

At DFW International Airport, the coolest seats in the house can be found near Gate A28. Citation: How installing hi-tech windows helped a DFW Airport bar sell twice as many drinks (2018, April 20) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-hi-tech-windows-dfw-airport-bar.html While more expensive to manufacture than standard window panes, the energy savings from View’s dynamic glass can quickly pay for themselves, Platon said.”It really does track with our other findings, which is whenever we do something to be more green, it helps the bottom line as well,” airport spokesman David Magana said.On a recent weekday morning, the impact of the dynamic glass was on full display. As sunlight beamed into Gate A25, passengers largely avoided the seats near the standard windows, favoring shadier spots a bit further into the terminal.A few feet away, the bright natural light takes on a subtle blue hue and the temperature near the windows is noticeably cooler. There, passengers seemed to pay no mind to sitting in the sun, with window-adjacent seats filling up quickly.A similar effect played out down the terminal, where Twisted Root saw its alcohol sales double in the six months after the windows were installed at its east-facing bar overlooking the tarmac.That’s a result of people being more comfortable and spending more time at the bar, according to a study conducted for View by a Cornell University professor.”When it’s this kind of environment where you have a lot of glare and heat, it tends to drive people away,” said Platon. “We’re trying to do something that’s good for the planet, good for people’s health and wellness, and also good for profitability.”View has installed or is in the process of installing its dynamic glass windows at several other airports, including in San Francisco; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; and Meachem International Airport in Fort Worth.Platon said the windows have also been popular with corporate offices, hospitals and university campuses, including at Southern Methodist University, where the dining hall incorporates the technology. View said it has completed 200 commercial installations, with another 200 in progress.Magana, the airport spokesman, said the airport is finalizing its request for dynamic glass, which will be put out to a competitive bid in the coming weeks. Explore further That’s where the airport, working with California-based technology company View, has replaced a bank of tarmac-facing windows with panes coated in microscopic layers of electrochromic ceramic that significantly reduce the amount of heat and glare coming into the terminal.The technology, referred to as dynamic glass, uses an electrical current to change how much light is let in and has been shown to reduce surface temperatures on gate area seats and carpets by as much as 15 degrees compared to standard windows. All that heat savings add up, with View estimating its product can cut energy costs by as much as 20 percent when the technology is deployed widely in a building.At DFW Airport, the energy bill runs about $18 million per year, putting the potential savings from dynamic glass into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, annually.Besides the money, it’s an appealing set of characteristics for DFW Airport, which is North America’s only carbon-neutral airport and regularly ranks among the top large airports for customer experience in the world.After installing the dynamic glass near Gate A28 and a nearby Twisted Root restaurant in September at a cost of $49,000, the airport is now looking at ordering more for use throughout its terminals, although how many and at what cost hasn’t been finalized yet.”We are constantly evaluating new technologies and solutions throughout the airport to identify improvements for customer experience and sustainability,” the airport’s CEO Sean Donohue said in a statement. “We were very pleased to see the positive effect on the customer experience and how the glass changed customer behavior with less glare and cooler temperatures.”The View system is more than just a fancy sheet of glass, with a proprietary software algorithm backing it up that automatically adjusts how much light is let in based on the time of day, the outdoor temperature, cloud cover and the direction the windows are facing, among other factors.View has even measured how far back seats at DFW are from the windows and the average height of a seated person in the gate area to incorporate into the software’s calculations, said Jeff Platon, the company’s vice president of marketing. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Researchers invent new method to create self-tinting windows ©2018 The Dallas Morning News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. read more

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Color effects from transparent 3D printed nanostructures

July 18, 2019

first_img Explore further Interactive software tool makes complex mold design simple The changing colors of a chameleon and the iridescent blues and greens of the morpho butterfly, among many others in nature, are the result of structural coloration, where nanostructures cause interference effects in light, resulting in a variety of colors when viewed macroscopically. Structural coloration has certain advantages over coloring with pigments (where particular wavelengths are absorbed), but until recently, the limits of technology meant fabricating such nanostructures required highly specialized methods. New “direct laser writing” set-ups, however, cost about as much as a high-quality industrial 3-D printer, and allow for printing at the scale of hundreds of nanometers (100 – 1000 times thinner than a human hair), opening up possibilities for scientists to experiment with structural coloration.So far, scientists have primarily experimented with nanostructures that they had observed in nature, or with simple, regular nanostructural designs (e.g. row after row of pillars). Thomas Auzinger and Bernd Bickel of IST Austria, together with Wolfgang Heidrich of KAUST, however, took an innovative new approach that differs in several key ways. First, they solve the inverse design task: the user enters the color they want to replicate, and then the computer creates a nanostructure pattern that gives that color, rather than attempting to reproduce structures found in nature. Moreover, “our design tool is completely automatic,” says Thomas Auzinger. “No extra effort is required on the part of the user.”Second, the nanostructures in the template do not follow a particular pattern or have a regular structure; they appear to be randomly composed—a radical break from previous methods, but one with many advantages. “When looking at the template produced by the computer I cannot tell by the structure alone if I see a pattern for blue or red or green,” explains Auzinger. “But that means the computer is finding solutions that we, as humans, could not. This free-form structure is extremely powerful: it allows for greater flexibility and opens up possibilities for additional coloring effects.” For instance, their design tool can be used to print a square that appears red from one angle, and blue from another (known as directional coloring).Finally, previous efforts have also stumbled when it came to actual fabrication: the designs were often impossible to print. The new design tool, however, guarantees that the user will end up with a printable template, which makes it extremely useful for the future development of structural coloration in industry. “The design tool can be used to prototype new colors and other tools, as well as to find interesting structures that could be produced industrially,” adds Auzinger. Initial tests of the design tool have already yielded successful results. “It’s amazing to see something composed entirely of clear materials appear colored, simply because of structures invisible to the human eye,” says Bernd Bickel, professor at IST Austria. “We’re eager to experiment with additional materials, to expand the range of effects we can achieve.””It’s particularly exciting to witness the growing role of computational tools in fabrication,” concludes Auzinger, “and even more exciting to see the expansion of ‘computer graphics’ to encompass physical as well as virtual images.” Light hits the 3-D printed nanostructures from below. After it is transmitted through, the viewer sees only green light — the remaining colors are redirected. Credit: Thomas Auzinger Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and certain color effects are impossible to achieve. The natural world, however, also exhibits structural coloration, where the microstructure of an object causes various colors to appear. Peacock feathers, for instance, are pigmented brown, but—because of long hollows within the feathers—reflect the gorgeous, iridescent blues and greens we see and admire. Recent advances in technology have made it practical to fabricate the kind of nanostructures that result in structural coloration, and computer scientists from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have now created a computational tool that automatically creates 3-D-print templates for nanostructures that correspond to user-defined colors. Their work demonstrates the great potential for structural coloring in industry, and opens up possibilities for non-experts to create their own designs. This project will be presented at this year’s top computer graphics conference, SIGGRAPH 2018, by first author and IST Austria postdoc Thomas Auzinger. More information: Thomas Auzinger et al, Computational design of nanostructural color for additive manufacturing, ACM Transactions on Graphics (2018). DOI: 10.1145/3197517.3201376Project page: visualcomputing.ist.ac.at/publications/2018/StructCol/ This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Provided by Institute of Science and Technology Austria Citation: Color effects from transparent 3-D printed nanostructures (2018, August 17) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-effects-transparent-d-nanostructures.htmllast_img read more

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Will talking to AI voice assistants reengineer our human conversations

July 18, 2019

first_img Explore further Citation: Will talking to AI voice assistants re-engineer our human conversations? (2019, January 15) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-01-ai-voice-re-engineer-human-conversations.html XiaoIce: When a chatbot chat moves up to human-sounding flow And so it is with the legion of virtual personal assistants that are entering our lives. From Amazon’s Alexa to Google’s Home, people are busy talking to intelligent machines as never before.It’s estimated that more than 60% of internet traffic is now generated by machine-to-machine, and person-to-machine, communication. IT advisory firm Gartner has predicted that by 2020 the average person will be having more conversations with robots than with their partner. (Sometimes we don’t even know we are doing it). And just as texting changed written communication, talking bots could change the way we communicate with each other.Talk is socialThe late sociologist Diedre Boden wrote that human sociability is created through “talk, talk, talk and more talk”. Talking person-to-person is not only how we exchange information, but also how we used to carry out many tasks, such as ordering pizzas, booking plane tickets and confirming meetings. And it’s these tasks that we are increasingly subcontracting to robots.When we communicate face-to-face there is an expectation of mutual attentiveness, but these norms could be wholly deconstructed if we were to have the majority of our conversations with non-humans. Unlike face-to-face talk, chatbots do not require us put effort into making the conversation polite or interesting. We don’t need to be charming, amusing, or assert our intelligence. Bots don’t need to like us, even if we have a need to be liked. In fact, this would wildly complicate matters. A machine will simply extract the information it needs to create an appropriate response. When you’re lost, Siri can be your best friend. But if she can’t retrieve the right address from your contacts, she can drive you crazy. We don’t need to put the same effort into making the conversation polite or interesting when we’re talking to a chatbot. Credit: Andy Kelly/Unsplashcenter_img This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. It is possible that talking to machines all the time could re-engineer the way we have conversations. We could end up with the linguistic equivalent of emojis. As an article in the New York Times recently put it, interacting with robots could “mean atrophy for our social muscles”. If they’re just machines, why bother with pleasantries? The scientific research on this is still unclear. Some studies have found people can actually be remarkably cordial to robots, while other research suggests we’re liable to be rude and curt when we know our conversational partner isn’t human. We could get used to bossing things around, and this behaviour could bleed into everyday life. Remembering our mannersTech companies are already trying to head off this problem. After fielding concerns from parents, Amazon created a politeness mode for its Echo devices that gently reminds its users to say “please.”And some chatbots are being developed to go even further and mimic human emotion. For example, clinical psychologist Alison Darcy built a talking bot to help people with depression and anxiety. The delightfully named Woebot spoke to 50,000 people in its first week of deployment – more than a human psychologist could speak to in a lifetime.In a study with 70 young adults, Darcy found that after two weeks of interacting with the bot, the test subjects had lower incidences of depression and anxiety. They were impressed, and even touched, by the software’s attentiveness. One of the subjects told Darcy’s team: “Woebot felt like a real person that showed concern.”Glitches and misunderstandingsIn 1950, scientist Alan Turing designed an experiment to answer one of science’s most enduring questions: Is it possible to create a robot that could be mistaken for a human? To date, the answer has mostly been no.The reason for this is that AI devices respond to speech by drawing from an enormous database of code, scripted utterances and network conversation. So they can rarely respond to the unexpected shifts in, and immense complexity of, human conversation, save in minor ways.Brian Christian, author of two books about AI, says of such machine talk: “What you get, the cobbling together of hundreds of thousands of prior conversations, is a kind of conversational purée. Made of human parts, but less than a human sum.” At this stage, we can best get a glimpse into the differences between day-to-day talk and automated machine conversation when something goes awry, or there is a technical glitch.Take, for example, the story of a family in Portland Oregon whose Amazon Alexa interpreted a background human conversation in the family home as answers to its questions. Alexa subsequently sent a recording of the conversation to a person in their list of contacts, just as (it thought) it had been requested to.AI is all around usEven though we might be having less of them, human conversations aren’t going to decrease in significance anytime soon. Nevertheless, the ubiquity of the smartphone has essentially liquefied our social world, which almost always includes a level of digital engagement with others outside the immediate social context. This has created a complex, contradictory mix of being present with others, even when they’re not physically there.AI is not about the future – our lives are already saturated in it. Chatbots, softbots, and virtual personal assistants are becoming an integral part of our daily lives, even if we are not always aware of their role.If talking to chatbots and virtual personal assistants becomes the new normal, we should be aware of the ways they could change how we talk to each other, and how we relate to ourselves. One thing is certain. AI is having a profound impact on what it means to be human. Provided by The Conversationlast_img read more

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