GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE – MARCH 2018

Crunch Time For Digital Coins and Currencies

 France and Germany are to make joint proposals to regulate the bitcoin cryptocurrency at the next summit of the G20 group of major economies in Argentina next month.

“We will have a joint Franco-German analysis of the risks linked to bitcoin, regulation proposals and these will be submitted as a joint proposal to our G20 counterparts at the G20 summit in Argentina in March,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters.

The world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency has fallen to half its record peak of almost $20,000 recently on fears that regulators could seek to curb speculation.

“We have a responsibility towards our citizens to explain and reduce the risks,” Le Maire’s German counterpart Peter Altmaier said.

The App That Can Warn Seniors Of Falling Risk

Nobody likes falling down. For the elderly, however, doing so can cause serious injuries from which they never fully recover. What’s preferable is for them to avoid getting hurt in the first place – and that’s why the FallSkip system was created.

Designed by a team at Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de València, FallSkip consists of an Android-based mobile device, a custom app that runs on that device, and a waistband on which the device is mounted.

Doctors start by entering information about the patient on the app, such as their age, gender and medical record. Wearing the waistband/device, the patient then stands on the spot, walks a distance of 3 meters (9.8 ft), and sits down in then gets up from a chair. The whole testing process takes less than two minutes.

Using the device’s accelerometer and gyroscope, the app is reportedly able to measure parameters such as their balance and gait patterns, coordination, reaction time (after hearing an audible cue), and muscle strength. Based on these factors, a fall risk score is immediately assigned to the patient – if that score indicates that a fall is likely to occur in the near future, then preventative measures can be taken.

AI That Learns To Collaborate and Compromise

In the last year it has become pretty clear that machines can now beat us in many straightforward zero-sum games. Now, a new study from an international team of computer scientists set out to develop a new type of game-playing algorithm – one that can play games that rely on traits like cooperation and compromise – and the researchers have found that machines can already deploy those characteristics better than humans.

Chess, Go and Poker are all adversarial games where two or more players are in conflict with each other. Games such as these offer clear milestones to gauge the progress of AI development, allowing humans to be pitted against computers with a tangible winner.

But many real-world scenarios that AI will ultimately operate in require more complex, cooperative long term relationships between humans and machines.

“The end goal is that we understand the mathematics behind cooperation with people and what attributes artificial intelligence needs to develop social skills,” says lead author on the new study Jacob Crandall. “AI needs to be able to respond to us and articulate what it’s doing. It has to be able to interact with other people.”

New Blood Test Can Detect Ovarian Cancer “Years Before Symptoms Appear”

A blood test that detects ovarian cancer in its early stages may reduce the deadliness of the disease.

Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because most patients don’t know they have it until it spreads to other organs and causes symptoms, at which point it is usually too late to treat.

Now, Martin Widschwendter at University College London and his colleagues have shown that the disease can be detected years earlier by looking for tell-tale DNA fragments that ovarian tumours leak into the bloodstream.

By analysing DNA fragments in 648 blood samples from healthy women and ovarian cancer patients, they were able to pinpoint 3 fragments that marked the presence of the disease.

In a follow-up study of 250 women, they showed they could identify those with ovarian cancer with 91 per cent accuracy by measuring these 3 DNA fragments in their blood.

You Can Now Scan Your Baby’s Genes For 193 Conditions

A DNA test has just been launched allowing parents to screen their newborn babies and children for a variety of childhood-onset diseases.

Offered by genomic testing company Sema4, the test involves gathering a DNA sample via a simple cheek swab that is then mailed back to the company for sequencing.

Newborns in the United States are currently screened for around 34 genetic conditions. This new test, the Sema4 Natalis, is designed to identify 193 different disorders that are all designated as childhood-onset diseases.

“Until now, families have been likely to be caught off-guard by these early-onset diseases, and prognosis is often poor by the time symptoms have manifested,” says CEO of Sema4, Eric Schadt. “Thanks to breakthroughs in science and medicine, we can now identify babies at risk for these broader set of diseases and deliver interventions – sometimes as simple as vitamin supplements – in time to make a real difference.”

Sema4 suggests that all conditions covered by the test have associated medical interventions, meaning the results have directly actionable outcomes either through medication or dietary interventions. The test also screens for variants in 10 genes associated with side effects or sensitivity to 38 different commonly prescribed medications. The company suggests this information can help guide parents and doctors in avoiding incorrect doses or adverse effects from medications.

It Is Now Becoming Profitable to Include The World’s Poorest People

 One of the internet’s most important qualities is that it slashes transaction costs to a bare minimum. What has followed is a remarkable development: It is becoming cost-effective, even profitable, to serve the world’s poorest two billion people—whether they are online or not.

Entrepreneurs are devising new services to provide neighbourhood-scale renewable energy and clean water, gas cooking-stoves, microloans for consumer goods and insurance against natural disasters. The enablers are mobile money, the internet of things, data science, even satellite imaging—all now remarkably cheaper and more accessible.

One thing that isn’t necessarily required: a smartphone. While the narrative from U.S. tech giants like Google and Facebook implies that economic development comes from directly connecting people to the internet, billions of people can’t afford smartphones, and many might never get them. Innovators in the developing world are now successfully thinking around that barrier.

UK National Grid to Build Network of Electric Car Charing Points

 The UK’s National Grid power distribution company is examining plans to install a fleet of superfast charging points for electric vehicles along Britain’s motorways that would feed directly off the electricity transmission network.

 The utility company operates the country’s high-voltage power grid. Superfast chargers could allay fears of electric car owners that they might run out of charge on a motorway, as well as helping to prevent any potential local power shortages.

National Grid has mapped Britain’s motorways and transmission networks and identified 50 strategic sites, said Graeme Cooper, project director of electric vehicles at the group. Those locations mean that more than 90 per cent of drivers would be able to drive in any direction from any location in the UK and be within 50 miles of an ultra-rapid charger.

The chargers would provide up to 350KW of power and would allow a driver to charge their car in five to 12 minutes, a big improvement on the 20 to 40 minutes it currently takes. That would make electric charging comparable to the seven minutes it currently takes on average to fill up a petrol car.

 What Will Happen To Elon Musk’s Tesla Now?

 If the SpaceX Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket, then the Tesla Roadster that it shot into interplanetary space holds the record for the fastest car in history. The question is, what happens to the Roadster now?

This cosmic convertible will orbit around the Sun once every 1.6 years, but how long will it continue to do so, and what will be its fate? Will it still look as pristine a billion years from now as it did in the videos beamed back to Earth? Probably not.

In fact, the Starman and the Roadster are in for a very unpleasant time and may not be in very good shape after a few years. And their lifespan, while huge by human standards, may be rather limited.

The popular idea is that the Roadster will orbit the Sun for hundreds of millions, if not billions of years, but that isn’t the case. The second stage and Roadster are now essentially a near-Earth object (NEO), much like the asteroids that space agencies keep an eye on just in case a large one is going to hit the Earth.

So what will the Tesla Roadster look like in a couple of centuries? The most obvious thing will be that the carbon composite body will be gone as the epoxy resins have all broken down and the carbon fibres fallen apart. The rubber tyres on the wheels won’t be there either.

Many other bits will have come loose as the adhesives turned brittle and ceased to stick. Even the windscreen will have a yellowy opaque look, provided the laminate hasn’t failed completely or a meteoroid hasn’t slammed into it. In the cockpit, Starman is now reduced to a few metal joints. The seats are bare metal frames with the fabric covers now powder, and the foam rubber cushions long gone.

Other materials in the car will also suffer over time. Any lubricants will have frozen or boiled away. Those that remain will degrade like the plastics, turning into a brittle mess. If any graphite was used for lubricant, the water molecules that make graphite powder slippery will evaporate and the carbon molecules left behind will now have the property of jeweller’s polish.

Clever AI May Finally Turn Apple Watch Into A Health Monitor

 Research presented at the American Heart Association meeting recently  claims that, when paired with the right machine-learning algorithms, the Apple Watch’s heart-rate sensor and step counter can make a fair prediction of whether a person has high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly through the night. Both are common—and commonly undiagnosed—conditions associated with life-threatening problems, including stroke and heart attack.

The new study adds to evidence that the right algorithms might transform the Apple Watch from personal trainer to personal physician.

Apple said in September 2017 that it is working on a study with Stanford that will test whether the gadget can detect atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, which can lead to stroke or heart failure. A study independent of Apple presented in May has already suggested the answer is yes. And health insurer Aetna said last week that it is partnering with Apple to give Apple Watches to members to try to reduce health costs.

AI Can Detect Alzheimer’s A Decade Before Symptoms Show

Artificial intelligence can identify the signs of Alzheimer’s in scans a decade before symptoms show, scientists say.

Researchers have developed an algorithm that analyses MRI scans to identify structural changes to the brain caused by the disease, with accuracy of more than 80 per cent.  Experts believe that AI could be used by the NHS to predict Alzheimer’s and other diseases within ten years.

It is expected to be available sooner privately for those worried about mild memory loss, often the first sign of dementia, or family history. Having a close relative with the disease is thought to raise slightly the risk of developing it.

AI algorithms can make predictions without being explicitly programmed after they are “trained” or fed information from a data set.…

Rolls-Royce Is Developing A Jet Engine That Will Repair Itself

 At this year’s Singapore Airshow, Rolls-Royce launched IntelligentEngine, a new initiative aimed at developing intelligent aircraft engines that are safer or more efficient thanks to their ability to communicate with each other and their support networks. They would also learn from their own previous experience and the experience of other engines, and with technological advances, may one day even be able to repair themselves.

Modern aerospace engines are incredibly complex pieces of machinery that require a great deal of care and maintenance, and with air travel growing by leaps and bounds yearly, keeping up with this is a major problem.

According to Rolls-Royce, IntelligentEngine is an extension of the company’s TotalCare service, which began in the 1990s after the company recognized that selling aircraft engines was linked to the services to maintain and upgrade them.

IntelligentEngine will work towards a future where engine design, testing, and maintenance uses digital technology to further blend engines and support services. The technology will allow engines to connect to other engines, support services, and the airline.

Using Big Data and machine learning, the IntelligentEngine vision involves the engine being “aware” of its environment and operating context. This will not only let it learn, but also anticipate its requirements and make changes – in response to changing weather, for example – to improve efficiency and reliability, and reduce costs and risks.

 

 

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