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Submission + - Massachusetts Prepares to Vacate Nearly 24,000 Tainted Drug Convictions (reason.com)

schwit1 writes: Massachusetts prosecutors will move in mid-April to vacate nearly all of the roughly 24,000 drug convictions tainted by a single corrupt forensic lab chemist, The Boston Globe reported Saturday, marking the denouement of one of the largest drug lab scandals in U.S. history.

A Massachusetts prosecutor told the state's Supreme Judicial Court last week that D.A.'s would seek to keep fewer than 1,000 of the 24,000 convictions tainted by drug lab chemist Annie Dookahn, who pled guilty in 2012 to falsifying test results in favor of law enforcement and tampering with evidence over a nine-year period starting in 2003.

Submission + - Scientists turn mammalian cells into complex biocomputers (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Computer hardware is getting a softer side. A research team has come up with a way of genetically engineering the DNA of mammalian cells to carry out complex computations, in effect turning the cells into biocomputers. The group hasn’t put those modified cells to work in useful ways yet, but down the road researchers hope the new programming techniques will help improve everything from cancer therapy to on-demand tissues that can replace worn-out body parts.

Submission + - Psychologists enlist machine learning to help diagnose depression (utexas.edu)

aarondubrow writes: Depression affects about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population. Cognitive neuroscientists from The University of Texas at Austin have been able to classify individuals with major depressive disorder with roughly 75% accuracy using a machine learning approach. Their study revealed that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) MRI scans — which tag water molecules to determine the extent to which those molecules are microscopically diffused in the brain over time — can accurately classify depressed or vulnerable individuals versus healthy controls. It also showed that predictive information is distributed across brain networks rather than being highly localized.

Submission + - Climate Change Is Altering Global Air Currents (independent.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: One of the scientists who demonstrated conclusively that global warming was an unnatural event with the famous “hockey stick” graph is now warning that giant jetstreams which circle the planet are being altered by climate change. Jetstreams are influenced by the difference in temperatures between the Arctic and the equator. But the Arctic has been warming much faster than tropical climates – the island of Svalbard, for example was 6.5 degrees celsius warmer last year compared to the average between 1961 and 1990. The land has also been warming faster than the sea. Both of those factors were changing the flow of these major air currents to create “extreme meanders” which were helping to cause “extreme weather events”, Professor Michael Mann said. In a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, Professor Mann and other researchers wrote that evidence of the effect of climate change on the jetstreams had “only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability." They said that projections of the effect on the jetstreams in “state-of-the-art” climate models were “mirrored” in “multiple” actual temperature measurements. The jetstream normally flows reasonably consistently around the planet, but can develop loops extending north and south. The researchers, who studied temperature records going back to 1870 as well as satellite data, said these loops could grow “very large” or even “grind to a halt” rather than moving from west to east. The effect has been most pronounced during the past 40 years, they found.

Submission + - Living in the robotic age (medium.com)

aarondubrow writes: For more than four decades, researchers—many of them funded by the federal government—have developed the tools required to help machines interpret their environment and humans’ instructions so they may operate safely and reliably alongside people. These research advances have brought us to an inflection point, enabling humans and robots to begin working collaboratively on a host of new problems and environments.

Submission + - Supercomputers help researchers improve severe hail storms forecasts

aarondubrow writes: Researchers working on the Severe Hail Analysis, Representation and Prediction (SHARP) project at University of Oklahoma used the Stampede supercomputer to gain a better understanding of the conditions that cause severe hail to form, and to produce hail forecasts with far greater accuracy than those currently used operationally. The model the team used is six times more resolved that the National Weather Service's highest-resolution official forecasts and applies machine learning algorithms to improve its predictions. The researchers will publish their results in an upcoming issue of the American Meteorological Society journal Weather and Forecasting.

Submission + - Fighting food poisoning in Las Vegas with machine learning

aarondubrow writes: Computer science researchers from the University of Rochester developed an app for health departments that uses natural language processing and artificial intelligence to identify likely food poisoning hot spots. Las Vegas health officials recently used the app, called nEmesis, to improve the city's inspection protocols and found it was 63% more effective at identifying problematic venues than the current state of the art. The researchers estimate that if every inspection in Las Vegas became adaptive, it could prevent over 9,000 cases of foodborne illness and 557 hospitalizations annually. The team presented the results at the 30th Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference in February.

Submission + - NSF and federal partners award $37M to advance nation's co-robots

aarondubrow writes: Today, NSF, in partnership with DOD, NASA, NSF, NIH and USDA, announced $37 million in new awards to spur the development and use of co-robots, robots that work cooperatively with people. From unmanned vehicles that can inspect and fix ailing infrastructure to co-robots that can collaborate with workers on manufacturing tasks, scientists and engineers are developing the next generation of robots that can handle critical tasks in close proximity to humans, providing for unprecedented safety and resilience. This year, the initiative funded 66 new research proposals to 49 distinct institutions in 27 states.

Submission + - NSF awards $74.5 million to support interdisciplinary cybersecurity research (nsf.gov)

aarondubrow writes: The National Science Foundation announced $74.5 million in grants for basic research in cybersecurity. Among the awards are projects to understand and offer reliability to cryptocurrencies; invent technologies to broadly scan large swaths of the Internet and automate the detection and patching of vulnerabilities; and establish the science of censorship resistance by developing accurate models of the capabilities of censors. According to NSF, long-term support for fundamental cybersecurity research has resulted in public key encryption, software security bug detection, spam filtering and more.

Submission + - Robots to the Rescue: 5 Lessons From 23 Emergency Robot Deployments (huffingtonpost.com)

aarondubrow writes: Robin Murphy, director of Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at Texas A&M University and one of the leading researchers in the field of disaster robotics, has used robots and UAVs for search-and-rescue missions and structural inspections during more than 20 disasters, from 9/11 to Katrina to Fukushima and the 2015 Texas floods. The Huffington Post carried a story where she describes five lessons she's learned from her robot deployments and research.

Submission + - Democratizing the Maker Movement (huffingtonpost.com)

aarondubrow writes: To its advocates and participants, the Maker Movement resonates with those characteristics that we believe makes America great: independence and ingenuity, creativity and resourcefulness. But as impressive as today's tools are, they're not accessible to many Americans simply because of their cost and high technological barrier to entry. An article in the Huffington Post describes efforts supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies to create new tools, technologies and approaches to make the Maker movement more inclusive and democratic.

Submission + - NSF and Intel partner to secure the emerging Internet of Things (nsf.gov)

aarondubrow writes: NSF and Intel announced two new grants totaling $6 million to teams led by Stanford and University of Pennsylvania professors that will address the security and privacy of cyber-physical systems. The new model of cooperation between government, industry and academia aims to increase the relevance and impact of long-range research by transitioning important discoveries into products and services more easily.

Submission + - Cyber-defense and forensic tool turns 20 (nsf.gov)

aarondubrow writes: In 1995, Vern Paxson, then a computer science Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, began writing what would eventually become Bro, the open source cybersecurity software that defends innumerable networks today, including key government and business enterprises in the U.S. (The name, "Bro," is a reference to Big Brother, an Orwellian reminder that monitoring comes hand in hand with the potential for privacy violations.) On Tuesday, at its annual meeting of users and cybersecurity engineers, Bro celebrates its 20th Anniversary. The project represents one of the best examples of federal funding helping to transition innovative cybersecurity technology out of academia and into the world in support of networking security.

Submission + - 7 Cyberlearning Technologies Transforming Education

aarondubrow writes: The National Science Foundation funds basic cyberlearning research and since 2011 has awarded roughly 170 grants, totaling more than $120 million, to EdTech research projects around the country. However, NSF's approach to cyber-learning has been different from other public, private and philanthropic efforts. NSF funds compelling ideas, helps rigorously test them and then assists in transitioning the best ideas from research to practice. A story in the Huffington Post describes 7 examples of leading cyberlearning projects, from artificial intelligence to augmented reality, that are transforming education.

Submission + - Programming safety into self-driving cars (nsf.gov)

aarondubrow writes: Automakers have presented a vision of the future where the driver can check his or her email, chat with friends or even sleep while shuttling between home and the office. However, to AI experts, it's not clear that this vision is a realistic one. In many areas, including driving, we'll go through a long period where humans act as co-pilots or supervisors before the technology reaches full autonomy (if it ever does). In such a scenario, the car would need to communicate with drivers to alert them when they need to take over control. In cases where the driver is non-responsive, the car must be able to autonomously make the decision to safely move to the side of the road and stop. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed 'fault-tolerant planning' algorithms that allow semi-autonomous machines to devise and enact a "Plan B."

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