UBER driver data helps track and potentially alleviate urban traffic congestion — ScienceDaily

A new machine learning algorithm is poised to help urban transportation analysts relieve bottlenecks and chokepoints that routinely snarl city traffic.

The tool, called TranSEC, was developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to help urban traffic engineers get access to actionable information about traffic patterns in their cities.

Currently, publicly available traffic information at the street level is sparse and incomplete. Traffic engineers generally have relied on isolated traffic counts, collision statistics and speed data to determine roadway conditions. The new tool uses traffic datasets collected from UBER drivers and other publicly available traffic sensor data to map street-level traffic flow over time. It creates a big picture of city traffic using machine learning tools and the computing resources available at a national laboratory.

“What’s novel here is the street level estimation over a large metropolitan area,” said Arif Khan, a PNNL computer scientist who

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New AI-Based Navigation Helps Loon’s Balloons Hover in Place

Candido and his team have been working on this problem for several years, since the company was first launched as part of the Google X research lab in 2012. Loon is now a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

The big advancement since then has been applying reinforcement learning, something previously used in video games, to a real-world challenge, according to Marc Bellemare, lead author on the Nature paper and a research scientist at Google Canada. “Machine learning refers to the idea of taking data and making predictions about outcomes,” Bellemare says. “With reinforcement learning we are focusing on the decision part. How do we go up or down based on that data? Not only is [the AI controller] making decisions, but making decisions over time.”

Some experts believe the AI-powered balloons can also be used to monitor Earth’s environmental vital signs, such as checking on melting in the Arctic

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Molecular ‘barcode’ helps decide which sperm will reach an egg — ScienceDaily

A protein called CatSper1 may act as a molecular ‘barcode’ that helps determine which sperm cells will make it to an egg and which are eliminated along the way.

The findings in mice, published recently in eLife, have important implications for understanding the selection process that sperm cells undergo after they enter the female reproductive tract, a key step in reproduction. Learning more about these processes could lead to the development of new approaches to treating infertility.

“Male mammals ejaculate millions of sperm cells into the female’s reproductive tract, but only a few arrive at the egg,” explains senior author Jean-Ju Chung, Assistant Professor of Cellular & Molecular Physiology at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, US. “This suggests that sperm cells are selected as they travel through the tract and excess cells are eliminated. But most of our knowledge about fertilisation in mammals has come from studying

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Tweaking carotenoid genes helps tomatoes bring their A-game — ScienceDaily

Cooked, fresh, sun-dried, or juiced, whichever way you prefer them, tomatoes are arguably one of the most versatile fruits on the planet — and yes, despite mainly being used in savory dishes, tomatoes really are a fruit.

The popularity of tomatoes has led to the development of more than 10,000 cultivars of various sizes, shapes, and hues. Interestingly though, there is little genetic diversity among modern tomato varieties. This lack of diversity, coupled with the fact that many traits are controlled by multiple genes, makes improving plant yield and quality a major challenge for tomato breeders.

But in a study published this week in Scientific Reports, researchers led by the University of Tsukuba explain how modern gene editing technology may be able to give tomato breeders a helping hand.

“The tomato was the first genetically modified food to be approved for human consumption,” says senior author of the study Professor

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DeepMind Breakthrough Helps to Solve How Diseases Invade Cells

(Bloomberg) — Google’s artificial intelligence unit took a giant step to predict the structure of proteins, potentially decoding a problem that has been described as akin to mapping the genome.

a hand holding a cellphone: A Deepmind Health logo sits displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. Three years ago, artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies Ltd. embarked on a landmark effort to transform health care in the U.K. Now plans by owner Alphabet Inc. to wrap the partnership into its Google search engine business are tripping alarm bells about privacy.

© Bloomberg
A Deepmind Health logo sits displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. Three years ago, artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies Ltd. embarked on a landmark effort to transform health care in the U.K. Now plans by owner Alphabet Inc. to wrap the partnership into its Google search engine business are tripping alarm bells about privacy.

DeepMind Technologies Ltd.’s AlphaFold reached the threshold for “solving” the problem at the latest Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction competition. The event started in 1994 and is held every two years to accelerate research on the topic.


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Different folds in a protein determine how it will interact

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Technology helps ‘democratise’ education system

Ayanda Mtanyana, head of advisory services at New Leaders Foundation.

Ayanda Mtanyana, head of advisory services at New Leaders Foundation.

Technology has been a critical enabler in democratising decision-making within the education sector, says Ayanda Mtanyana, head of advisory services at New Leaders Foundation (NLF).

Mtanyana spoke to ITWeb about the growth of technology-enabled monitoring, evaluation, research and learning in the local education space in recent years.

“What you find in public sector systems – where there are people at national and provincial office that are running or managing departments – is that the system is big and complex, in that every school is an organisation of its own.

“You need to be able empower each and every head of those institutions to be able to use insights, to drive the agenda of the institution and technology helps us do that at scale. You can democratise that decision-making and empower each of those individuals with insights that they can

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New Technology Helps Find Koi Carp

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is pleased that new
environmental DNA technology has helped confirm a suspected
presence of the invasive koi carp in a farm pond in
Hawke’s Bay.

A tip off from a farm manager,
followed by an eDNA sample has resulted in a process to
remove two fish that had been in the pond for some

Regional Council freshwater ecologist Daniel
Fake says koi carp have wreaked havoc in the Waikato,
Auckland and Northland where they have proliferated, and the
council doesn’t want that to happen in Hawke’s

“In this instance we’re lucky that they
haven’t bred in the pond, or escaped into a larger
waterway, and we’re very grateful that a member of the
public has alerted us to their presence,” he

The Regional Council used a novel new
technology called

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AI helps scientists understand brain activity behind thoughts — ScienceDaily

A team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University has developed artificial intelligence (AI) models that help them better understand the brain computations that underlie thoughts. This is new, because until now there has been no method to measure thoughts. The researchers first developed a new model that can estimate thoughts by evaluating behavior, and then tested their model on a trained artificial brain where they found neural activity associated with those estimates of thoughts. The theoretical study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“For centuries, neuroscientists have studied how the brain works by relating brain activity to inputs and outputs. For instance, when studying the neuroscience of movement, scientists measure muscle movements as well as neuronal activity, and then relate those two measurements,” said corresponding author Dr. Xaq Pitkow, assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor and of electrical and computer engineering

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Google’s new tool helps cities plant trees to combat the climate crisis


Google is scoping out tree coverage in Los Angeles.


Google is working on bringing more shade to help cool our cities as the climate crisis worsens. The new Tree Canopy Lab combines artificial intelligence and aerial imaging to help cities see where there are gaps in their tree coverage and tree planting projects. Cities will then know where to plant more trees, Google said.

Google is working with the City of Los Angeles on the project, and said it plans to make insights from Tree Canopy Lab available to hundreds of cities in the next year. 

“Extreme temperatures are becoming more common in cities where concrete and infrastructure are now creating heat islands — areas that experience higher temperatures, leading to poor air quality, dehydration and other public health concerns,” Google

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Texas A&M System helps develop new COVID-19 breathalyzer kiosk

Researchers are currently working to obtain FDA emergency use authorization before beginning mass production early next year.

HOUSTON — At Texas A&M University, researchers are working on a way to get us all back to normal. 

“Most Americans don’t have COVID-19, but we’re treating ourselves like we do,” said Rob Gorham, executive director of the Secure America Institute at Texas A&M University. “The end objective is to rapidly detect and help determine folks don’t have COVID.”

Worlds Inc., the U.S. Air Force and Texas A&M teamed up to develop these breathalyzer kiosks.

“You literally breathe into the device,” said Gorham. 

You can use something as simple as a straw. There’s no contact required. The device uses artificial intelligence to analyze that breath for signs of the virus. A result is sent to your phone within seconds. The copper inlet heats itself between each use to clean and sanitize the device. 

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