GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE NOVEMBER 2018

London Cab Company Addison Lee Developing Self-Drive Taxis

After undertaking a year-long investigation with Ford and four other mobility specialists on how to build self-driving systems that integrate with London’s existing transport infrastructure, Addison Lee has announced the next step in its autonomous strategy.

The on-demand ride company — which competes with black cabs, Uber and other car services — announced a deal with self-driving start-up Oxbotica to develop autonomous vehicles, with the aim of getting them in service in London by 2021.

No financial details are being revealed about the deal. Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland, in an interview, described it as “purely commercial. Currently Addison Lee is “unfashionably profitable,” he added, and so it is working on its current self-driving efforts off its own balance sheet. It is also wholly owned by PE firm the Carlyle Group, so it’s likely that this will help with future funding, although Boland did not rule out that when the company gets closer to a commercial launch, that it might need to look for funding to do this.

Meanwhile, Oxbotica — a spin-out from Oxford University — has raised around $18 million to date, with backers including Oxford, Innovate UK, the Ministry of Defence, the IP Group, insurers Axa XL and others.

The deal potentially sets up an interesting new avenue in how we might see autonomous cars being built, rolled out and operated

Is Herpes Virus The Cause Of Alzheimer’s?

 New research supports the controversial hypothesis that Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) is a major causal factorfor Alzheimer’s disease. A new journal article makes particular note of new population data out of Taiwan, finding that people infected with HSV1 are much more likely to develop senile dementia.

The idea that neurodegenerative disease could be spawned by viral infections is not new. For much of the 20th century the intriguing hypothesis sat on the fringes of neuroscience while the more popular amyloid hypothesis rose into common consensus by the end of the century.

A few scientists have recently rekindled the viral hypothesis, and Emeritus Professor Ruth Itzhaki has been one of the primary investigators in the area, working for over 25 years on the association. Itzhaki’s latest article offers a compelling overview of the science up to now, but perhaps the most interesting discussions are the ones surrounding newly released population data from Taiwan.

Taiwan is a treasure trove of data for scientists due to its National Health Insurance Research Database, which is composed of medical data from 99.9 percent of the population. Three recent studies have examined that data surrounding associations between viral infections and the development of senile dementia.

HM Land Registry Extends Trial Of Blockchain To Manage Property

 In the UK, HM Land Registry is partnering with software company Methods, who will utilise R3’s blockchain platform, Corda, for the second phase of HM Land Registry’s ground-breaking research and development project, Digital Street.

Methods will be supported by a team of global experts from R3, Blockchain Digital, and their wider partner network. The organisations will bring their blockchain expertise to HM Land Registry, enabling Digital Street to fully explore the potential benefits of the new technology.

Digital Street will work with the industry to understand how the innovative use of technology, such as blockchain, distributed ledgers and smart contracts, could revolutionise the land registration and property buy-sell process.

Using Drones To Map Air Pollution

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) floating through the air can lead to a long list of health problems for humans, in both the long and short term. Knowing where they are and in what concentrations would therefore be an invaluable capability, and one that a team of Rice University scientists is making great headway on with their autonomous gas-sensing drones.

Volatile organic compounds are gases that can arise from household products like hairspray and glue, the exhaust pipes of cars, and dangerous leaks and explosions. When inhaled by humans, these can cause irritation in the eyes and nose, fatigue, nausea and headaches, while on the more extreme side long-term exposure has been linked to cancer.

The Rice University researchers, together with colleagues from the Baylor College of Medicine and Houston non-profit Technology For All, are looking to harness the power of drones to keep tabs on airborne VOCs. More specifically, they hope to automatically detect those rising into the atmosphere via leaks, explosions and accidents.

AI “Art” Sells For 45 Times Guide Price

A portrait created using an AI program has fetched $435,000 in auction at Christie’s, blowing the expected $7,000 to $10,000 price out of the water.

It’s the first ever auction for an AI-generated portrait, sold to an anonymous bidder. It signals “the arrival of AI art on the world auction stage,” Christie’s said. The artwork, named the “Portrait of Edmond Belamy,” was created using a type of AI software called generative adversarial networks (GANs).

The three members of the French art collective behind it, Obvious, have been accused of failing to credit the creator of the algorithms used to create it—Robbie Barrat, an artist and programmer who shared his algorithms on GitHub via an open-source license.

British Government Announces Largest Gene Bank In The World

Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary has announced an ambition to sequence 5 million genomesin the UK over the next 5 years.

Where relevant, patients will be asked to give consent for their genome data to be securely analysed by approved researchers, who will develop new tests and treatments for cancer and rare diseases.

From 2019, all seriously ill children will be offered whole genome sequencing as part of their care.

Adults with certain rare diseases or hard-to-treat cancers will also be offered the same option from 2019.

The NHS Genomic Medicine Service will expand on existing projects such as the 100,000 Genomes Project and see 1 million whole genomes being sequenced by the NHS and medical research project UK Biobank in 5 years.

Microsoft Developing Specs That Can Read Your Blood Pressure

Microsoft is working on a head-mounted display that it claims can continuously and unobtrusively monitor blood pressure.

Given the moniker Glabella, a research paper from the wearable’s chief designers has been published detailing the device, which Microsoft has now also been granted a patent for. As described, the glasses come with optical sensors built into the frame, where they are then able to take pulse wave readings from three different areas of the face.

British Police Using AI To Categorise Suspects – With Built-In Bias

An algorithm designed to help UK police make custody decisions has been altered amid concerns that it could discriminate against people from poorer areas. A review of its operation also found large discrepancies between human predictions and those made by the system.

For the last five years Durham Constabulary and computer science academics have been developing the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART). The artificial intelligence system is designed to predict whether suspects are at a low, moderate or high risk of committing further crimes in a two year period.

The algorithm is one of the first to be used by police forces in the UK. It does not decide whether suspects should be kept in custody but is intended to help police officers pick if a person should be referred to a rehabilitation programme called Checkpoint. The scheme is designed to intervene in proceedings rather than push people through the UK’s court system.

AI Can Now Isolate One Musical Instrument In The Band

 Amateur and professional musicians alike may spend hours poring over YouTube clips to figure out exactly how to play certain parts of their favourite songs. But what if there were a way to play a video and isolate the only instrument you wanted to hear?

That’s the outcome of a new AI project out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL): a deep-learning system that can look at a video of a musical performance, and isolate the sounds of specific instruments and make them louder or softer

The system, which is “self-supervised,” doesn’t require any human annotations on what the instruments are or what they sound like.

Trained on over 60 hours of videos, the “PixelPlayer” system can view a never-before-seen musical performance, identify specific instruments at pixel level, and extract the sounds that are associated with those instruments.

For example, it can take a video of a tuba and a trumpet playing the “Super Mario Brothers” theme song and separate out the soundwaves associated with each instrument.

Velocopter Will Fly Pilot-Less In Singapore

In a race to perfect driverless flying car technology that includes big-name firms Uber and Airbus, Singapore is set to begin test flights of autonomous flying vehicles in the second half of 2019.

Volocopter said its drone-based vehicles would take to the skiesin a series of “inner-urban flight tests” with the support of local authorities.

The German firm has already undertaken a one-off unmanned test in Dubai, and individuals have also flown in it in Germany.

In a statement announcing the next step toward flying passenger vehicles becoming a reality, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter described Singapore as a “logical partner” in its efforts.