hackingbear writes: In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, a computing system developed by Google's DeepMind researchers in Great Britain has beaten a top human player, Fan Hui, Europe’s reigning Go champion, at the game of Go, the ancient Eastern contest of strategy and intuition that has bedeviled AI experts for decades. Nature published a paper describing DeepMind’s system, which makes clever use of, among other techniques, an increasingly important AI technology called deep learning. Using a vast collection of Go moves from expert players—about 30 million moves in total—DeepMind researchers trained their system to play Go on its own as well as playing against itself. “The most significant aspect of all thisis that AlphaGo isn’t just an expert system, built with handcrafted rules,” says Demis Hassabis, who oversees DeepMind. “Instead, it uses general machine-learning techniques how to win at Go.”
hackingbear writes: Scientists at Institute of Microbiology of Chinese Academic of Science in Beijing have discovered the mechanism of how Ebola virus infects human beings. Filoviruses, including Ebola and Marburg, cause fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and primates. Understanding how these viruses enter host cells could help to develop effective therapeutics. An endosomal protein, Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1), has been identified as a necessary entry receptor for this process, and priming of the viral glycoprotein (GP) to a fusion-competent state is a prerequisite for NPC1 binding. The researchers have determined the crystal structure of the primed GP (GPcl) of Ebola virus bound to domain C of NPC1 (NPC1-C) at a resolution of 2.3 Å. NPC1-C utilizes two protruding loops to engage a hydrophobic cavity on head of GPcl. Upon enzymatic cleavage and NPC1-C binding, conformational change in the GPcl further affects the state of the internal fusion loop, triggering membrane fusion.
hackingbear writes: Following similar path of the 19th century America, China has advanced from being copycats to innovators. After its middle class has risen from 4% of population to 2/3 in the last decade, a generation both creative and comfortable with risk-taking are born. “We’re seeing people in their early twenties starting companies—people just out of school, and there are even some dropouts,” says Kai-Fu Lee, a Chinese venture capitalist and veteran of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, who has spent the past decade crisscrossing the nation, helping youths start firms. Major cities, i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, are crowded with ambitious inventors and entrepreneurs, flocking into software accelerators and hackerspaces. They no longer want jobs at Google or Apple; like their counterparts in San Francisco, they want to build the next Google or Apple. Venture capitalists pumped a record $15.5 billion into Chinese startups last year, so entrepreneurs are being showered in funding, as well as crucial advice and mentoring from millionaire angels. Even the Chinese government—which has a wary attitude toward online expression and runs a vast digital censorship apparatus—has launched a $6.5 billion fund for startups.
hackingbear writes: China's Dark Matter Particle Explorer Satellite Wukong (literally Understanding Emptiness,) named after the Buddhist name of the fictional character Monkey King, was successfully launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province on Thursday. The probe will be in service for three years to observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space in search of dark matter. Two further missions will blast off next year: the world’s first quantum-communications satellite and an X-ray telescope observing in a unique energy band. Together, these missions mark a new start for space science in China which previously focused on non-science missions, says Wu Ji, director-general of the National Space Science Centre (NSSC).
hackingbear writes: When Anthem revealed a data breach that exposed the details of more than 80 million people, the incident raised a lot of questions: who would conduct such a hack against a health insurance firm? Investigators finally have some answers... and they're not quite what you'd expect. Reportedly, the culprits were Chinese hackers helping their nation understand how US medical care works. It may be part of a concerted campaign to get ready for 2020, when China plans to offer universal health care. Next, we should outsource politicians from China to fix our healthcare system.
hackingbear writes: On August 21st, the research team led by Prof. Yigong Shi from School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University in China published two side-by-side research articles in Science, reporting the long-sought-after structure of a yeast spliceosome at 3.6 angstrom resolution determined by single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and the molecular mechanism of pre-messenger RNA splicing. Until now, decades of genetic and biochemical experiments have identified almost all proteins in spliceosome and uncovered some functions. Yet, the structure remained a mystery for a long time. The works, primarily performed by Dr. Chuangye Yan, and Ph.D students Jing Hang and Ruixue Wan under Prof. Yigong Shi’s supervision, settled this Holy Grail question and established the structural basis for the related area. This work was supported by funds from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
hackingbear writes: While American politicians, for their own political marketing images, pitch more math and science to children and parents and the U.S. eventually won the 2015 International Math Olympiad (with half of the team descendants of Chines or Indian,) many in China celebrates their country's loss in the competition after country had won 19 times in the past. To them, losing the Olympiad offers hope that painful, nightmarish years spent studying for the contest could finally be over. Chinese students often start paying for expensive math Olympiad training in elementary school on the motivation that winners of math Olympiads receiving bonus points in school entrance exams, a policy some provinces have taken steps to eliminate since last year. "The question we should ask is why we don't have great mathematicians in China," Yang Dongping, the director of a education think-tank asked and answer, "Not many of our math champions continued to study math — many left academia for Wall Street."
hackingbear writes: Following similar hi-tect export restriction policies in the U.S. (or perhaps in response to the U.S. ban on China,) China will impose export control on some drones and high performance computers starting on August 15th, according to an announcement published on Friday by China's Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs. The ban includes (official documents in Chinese) drone that can take off in wind speed exceeding 46.4km/hour or can continuously fly for over 1 hour as well as electronic components specifically designed or modified for supercomputers with speed over 8 petaflops. Companies must acquire specific permits before exporting such items. Drones and supercomputers are the two areas where China is the leader or among the top players. China is using its rapidly expanding defense budget to make impressive advances in (military) drone technology, prompting some to worry that the United States' global dominance in the market could soon be challenged. The tightening of regulations comes two weeks after an incident in disputed Kashmir in which the Pakistani army claimed to have shot down an Indian "spy drone", reportedly Chinese-made. China's 33-petaflops Tianhe-2, currently the fastest supercomputer in the world, while still using Intel Xeon processors, takes use of the home-grown interconnect, arguably the most important component of modern supercomputers.
hackingbear writes: A biological mechanism explaining part of the mystery of the acupuncture has been pinpointed by scientists studying rats. The research showed that applying electroacupuncture to an especially powerful acupuncture point known as stomach meridian point 36 (St36) affected a complex interaction between hormones known as the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. In stressed rats exposed to unpleasant cold stimulation, HPA activity was reduced. The findings provide the strongest evidence yet that the ancient Chinese therapy has more than a placebo effect when used to treat chronic stress, it is claimed. “Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exert their therapeutic effects on these same mechanisms,” said lead investigator Dr Ladan Eshkevari, from Georgetown University medical centre in Washington DC.
hackingbear writes: If you think your intellectual properties get no legal protection in China, hundreds of thousands of patent applicants (or trolls) would disagree with you. China had more invention patent applications than any other country in 2014 for the fourth year running, with 928,000 invention patent applications filed to the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), up 12.5 percent from 2013. One of the Chinese government's priorities has been to boost innovation by improving intellectual property rights protection. While that's probably true, the logical consequence is that it will become another paradise for patent trolls and lawyers.
hackingbear writes: China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.
hackingbear writes: Shanghai's Free Trade Zone entered a new dimension of economic reform on 14 January, allowing foreign investors to fully own e-commerce companies, according to Chinese state-owned media Xinhua News Agency. Previously, foreign investors originally needed a Chinese partner to break into the online shopping market, and were only allowed to have a maximum of 55 percent stake. Currently, the zone, set to be replicated in three other cities, is home to more than 12,000 companies, including 1,677 foreign-funded firms. The Chinese e-retail market is lucrative, with 330 million online shoppers and a trade volume of 5.66 trillion yuan ($910 billion) in the first half of 2014.
hackingbear writes: Two Chinese ministers offered support for Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to shore up the plummeting ruble without depleting foreign-exchange reserves which is already the largest in the world. Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia. Western governments and experts have been criticizing China for restricting exchange and suppressing the value of its currency, even though anyone who lived in China during the 1990's knew that the value of Yuan was cut to align the same as in the (vibrant) black market that is still thriving. But as grandma has warned us, be careful of what we wish for. China has recently greatly sped up the relaxation of currency exchange and is promoting the yuan as an alternative to the dollar for global trade and finance and has signed currency-swap agreements with 28 other central banks to encourage this. Once accomplished, back by China's growing military might, Renminbi would be a formidable competitor to U.S. Dollar and which means U.S. wouldn't borrow almost freely from the world and our state of finance would be like that of Greece.