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Submission + - Can Tech Companies Automate Data Science? (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: As machine learning software continues to advance, even data scientists’ jobs might not be safe. Boston startup DataRobot is led by data scientists who see an opportunity to automate many of the tasks performed by their peers. The company lets business users upload data sets and tell the software what they want to glean from the data. The software tests hundreds of open-source algorithms to find the best predictive models. Full automation of data science may be a long way off, but DataRobot has now raised $111 million in venture capital, putting it in competition with IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and other startups like Dataiku and RapidMiner, all of whom are developing data science platforms.

Submission + - Visit the Titanic in a Carbon Fiber Sub for $105,129 (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: A startup called OceanGate is offering dives to the site of the world’s most famous shipwreck in 2018. The price tag? $105,129 per person for a week-long expedition in a carbon-fiber submersible. (That’s the 1912 price of a first-class ticket on the Titanic, adjusted for inflation.) It would be the first manned expedition to the Titanic since 2005. But OceanGate needs to finish construction and testing on its deep-diving vehicle this year. The company, whose previous sub dove to the Andrea Doria shipwreck last year, is collaborating on the mission with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington.

Submission + - Patriot Missile shoots down $300 quadcopter drone (bbc.co.uk)

maroberts writes: In a stunning display of the capability of Patriot or a demonstration of massive overkill, depending on your point of view, a US ally has used a Patriot missile to successfully shoot down a quadcopter drone, reports BBC News

The party responsible was described by Gen Perkins, a United States General with responsibility for training, as "a very close ally", leaving it up to the general public to guess which of the 12 allies using Patriot batteries would commit such an awesome demonstration of asymmetric warfare.

Submission + - Spy agency, DOE, are very worried about China's supercomputing advances (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are warning that China is "extremely likely" to take leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020, unless the U.S. acts quickly to increase spending. China's supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also U.S. leadership in high-tech manufacturing. If China succeeds, it may "undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy," according to a report titled U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The report stems from a workshop held in September that was attended by 60 people, many scientists, 40 of whom work in government, with the balance representing industry and academia. Meeting participants, especially those from industry, noted that it can be easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean – without considering China's motivations," the report states. "These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centers showed a mindset where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from 'Made in China' to 'Made by China."

Submission + - AI Without the Costly GPU Chips? (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Xnor.ai, a spinout from the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence, says its efficient computational model can run AI tasks like image recognition on commodity chips. The approach involves substituting binary numbers for floating-point numbers in the neural network’s operations. If the Seattle company delivers, it could accelerate the spread of machines that perceive and learn from the world around them; cut into the market for GPUs that power AI today; and overcome a major hurdle to the "democratization" of AI---its high cost. The company also sees benefits for people concerned about data privacy and data ownership.

Submission + - Are Gates, Musk Being "Too Aggressive" With AI Concerns? (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Bill Gates and Elon Musk are sounding the alarm “too aggressively” over artificial intelligence’s potential negative consequences for society, says MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson. The co-author of “The Second Machine Age” argues it will take at least 30 to 50 years for robots and software to eliminate the need for human laborers. In the meantime, he says, we should be investing in education so that people are prepared for the jobs of the future, and are focused on where they still have an advantage over machines---creativity, empathy, leadership, and teamwork.

Submission + - The Future of Sustainable Farming Might Be Bugs (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: The idea of insects as a protein source to feed the world isn’t new. But the U.S. agtech industry may be warming up to it. Now a Seattle startup called Beta Hatch is growing and harvesting mealworms and their waste, about 600 pounds a week, and packaging them as chicken feed and fertilizer. The goal is to be healthier and more eco-friendly than traditional feed, which uses soy. Together with companies like Tiny Farms, Exo, and Six Foods, this represents a new wave of efforts to commercialize insects for sustainable food and farming.

Submission + - Data Centers Drive Silicon Photonics Business (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Exploding demand for data centers at Google, Facebook, and other Web giants is driving investment in optical communications hardware. Ayar Labs, a startup with roots at MIT, has raised money from venture fund FF Science, co-led by Peter Thiel, to commercialize a new kind of optical chip that could increase bandwidth and reduce energy consumption in data centers. Meanwhile, Acacia Communications, one of the few tech companies to IPO in 2016, is making a profit on silicon-based optical interconnects for data centers and telecom applications. After more than a decade of basic research, silicon photonics seems to have found a market niche. Intel, IBM, and others with big efforts in the field are taking notice.

Submission + - Facebook Exec's New Startup Targets Wearable Brain Imaging (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Display-tech guru Mary Lou Jepsen is leaving her post at Facebook/Oculus to work on a new startup called Open Water. Jepsen, a veteran of Google X and the MIT Media Lab, says the company will develop wearable MRI devices that could help doctors do early detection of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Inspired in part by musician Peter Gabriel, Open Water also hopes to use advances in neural imaging and brain-machine interfaces to create a system for reading and communicating human thoughts electronically.

Submission + - Startup Uses Sensor Networks to Debug Science Experiments (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Environmental factors like temperature, humidity, or lighting often derail life science experiments. Now Elemental Machines, a startup from the founders of Misfit Wearables, is trying to help scientists debug experiments using distributed sensors and machine-learning software to detect anomalies. The product is in beta testing with academic labs and biotech companies. The goal is to help speed up things like biology research and drug development. Wiring up experiments is part of a broader effort to create “smart labs” that automate some of the scientific process.

Submission + - A.I. Startups Building Bots for Businesses (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Virtual digital assistants are gaining popularity with the rise of Siri, Google Now, and Facebook’s M service. Now startups are using related artificial intelligence techniques to solve business problems. Talla is building an interactive bot on Slack and HipChat for handling workflows in recruiting and human resources. The software uses natural language processing, word vectors, and some deep learning. Other startups, such as Gamalon, DataRobot, and Sentenai, are focused on probabilistic programming, data science, and machine learning for the Internet of things. Working with private data sets and business apps could help these startups avoid competing with the big players, at least for now.

Submission + - This Company Runs the Internet, and Now You Can Too (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: A New Hampshire tech company called Dyn is known for its Domain Name System (DNS) services that help direct traffic for big websites like Twitter, Netflix, and Zillow. Now the company has made its Internet-monitoring technology available to small teams and startups that want to see the root cause of outages and traffic problems worldwide, from Facebook to Fandango. The move represents a shift toward individual companies and sites being able to optimize and redirect traffic for their own purposes---something that could become automated in the coming years, even as the Web gets more complex.

Submission + - Would You Spend $2,000 on This Laser Cutter? (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Desktop 3D printers may be all the rage, but laser cutters have a market, too. Seattle startup Glowforge has made its consumer-grade laser cutter and engraver available for pre-order this week, at a price point of about $2,000. As technology editor Ben Romano reports, the device uses a 40-watt laser that can cut through wood, fabric, leather, rubber, foods, and even pumpkins, to make intricate decorations and toys. You can custom engrave anything from glass to marble to a MacBook. What convinced Romano to shell out the cash, though, is something more hopeful: the promise of making industrial-quality décor in the comfort of his own home.

Submission + - Startups Push 3D Printers as Industry Leaders Falter (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Given the hype around 3D printing, you’d never guess that established leaders like 3D Systems and Stratasys have seen their stock fall by 75 percent in the last year. Big companies like HP, Amazon, and Boeing are getting into the field, too, but startups are still where a lot of the action is. Now Formlabs, a Boston-area startup, has released a new 3D printer that is supposed to be more reliable and higher quality than its predecessors. The device uses stereolithography and is aimed at professional designers and engineers. The question is whether Formlabs---and other startups like MarkForged, Voxel8, and Desktop Metal---can find enough of a market to survive until 3D printing becomes a more mainstream form of manufacturing.

Submission + - MIT Stealth Startup Charges Up Wireless Power Competition (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Wireless charging of electronics is an old concept, but there’s a new player in the competition between companies like WiTricity, Energous, and tech giants Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm. A new spinout from Dina Katabi’s lab at MIT, called Pi, may have a new take on how to charge mobile devices at a distance. The company isn’t talking yet, but Katabi’s research suggests the system uses an array of coils to produce a magnetic field and detect when a device is within range, like a Wi-Fi router. The array can then focus the magnetic field on a coil attached to a phone or mobile device and induce a current to charge the battery. But it’s still very early, and the field of wireless charging needs to settle on technical standards and work out its commercial kinks.

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