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Nasa 'human computer' Katherine Johnson celebrates 100th birthday


Nasa has joined the 100th birthday celebrations for Katherine Johnson, an African-American “human computer” who overcame racial and gender discrimination, to become a crucial part of the US’s space programme.

The contribution of Ms Johnson and two of her black colleagues, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, who worked at Nasa’s Langley Research Centre located in Hampton, Virginia, was featured in the 2016 movie Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi. In the movie, Ms Johnson was portrayed by actress Taraji Henson.

“Wishing a #happybirthday to Katherine G Johnson on her 100th birthday today,” Nasa’s official history office wrote in a tweet. “She worked at @NASA_Langley as a human computer starting in 1953. Her calculations were critical to our early human spaceflight programme (you've probably seen that in the movies).”

Ms Johnson, who was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, was the youngster of four children and showed a talent for mathematics and calculations at an early age. Because public education for black children was not available behind the 8th grade, her parents arranged for her to attend high school on the campus of what is now West Virginia State University.

After graduating high school at the age of 14, she entered the historically black college where she studied maths and science. Among her tutors was the pioneering mathematician Angie Turner King. Ms Johnson was eventually joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which would became Nasa.

She worked to help calculate trajectories and launch windows on a series of Nasa programmes, including those that saw Alan Shepard before the first American in space in 1961, and John Glenn become the first American to orbit the earth, an accomplishment that took place in 1962.

On Saturday, a day before her 100th birthday, Ms Johnson, who graduated with degrees in both Maths and French, attended a ceremony West Virginia State University, where a new statue of her was unveiled and a scholarship in her name announced.

“What makes Katherine so extraordinary is she not only prevailed while segregation failed, Dr Johnson has continued to persevere and thrive with the gracious poise and clarity that defies mere words of explanation, let alone definition,” said Yvonne Cagle, life sciences directorate at the Johnson Space Centre, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“So what can you say after a century about someone like Dr Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson - our very own global, global genius? Let’s see - you say nothing. You don’t say anything. You listen.”
The ceremony for Ms Johnson, who was in 2015 awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honour, was also attended by West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin,

“It is my hope that the students who pass by [this statue] every day will be reminded of Katherine’s legacy and will be inspired to keep their passion for knowledge alive,” he said.
Nasa 'human computer' Katherine Johnson celebrates 100th birthday Nasa 'human computer' Katherine Johnson celebrates 100th birthday Reviewed by Admin on 21:31 Rating: 5

Autonomous underwater robot hunts and harvests massively invasive lionfish


Students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are helping to combat a major environmental threat by designing an autonomous underwater robot that can hunt for invasive lionfish. Using a combination of floating spears and machine learning, the robot is able to track down and harvest lionfish safely without the need for a human operator.

The lionfish is a major environmental problem. According to NOAA, over a million of the predators infest the warm waters of the Caribbean, Bahamas, and areas of the US south and east coasts. A native of the Indo-Pacific region, the lionfish was unknown in American waters until about 25 years ago when they began to appear and spread in large numbers. DNA analysis indicates that all the lionfish in the Americas from New England to Venezuela are descended from only a few individuals. This suggests that the fish were likely the result of a few private collectors dumping their aquaria into the sea.

The problem with the lionfish is that it not only has a voracious appetite, can lay 30,000 fish every five days, and has no natural enemies in its invaded waters, but it's also so foreign that the native fish simply ignore the it until it eats them. The lionfish even has an aggravating tendency to avoid traps. This means that one of the few effective ways yet found to exterminate the lionfish is to hunt it down using scuba divers.

In a way, that's not a bad idea. The US and state governments encourage lionfish hunting and despite its poisonous barbs, the fish is actually delicious, commands a market price of up to US$20 a pound, and is featured in many upmarket restaurants. The snag is that there are only so many recreational scuba divers, they can only operate down to about 100 ft (33 m) and can't reach many areas where the lionfish can find refuge.

For these reasons, a number of organizations have been looking at robots as a way to more effectively hunt lionfish, but these have tended to be tethered remotely piloted vehicles that need a human operator in the loop to do the actual hunting and killing. So, as part of their Major Qualifying Project (MQP), WPI student groups are working on robotic systems that can not only kill lionfish, but can also identify what is a lionfish and what isn't.

The WPI robot is designed to work untethered and autonomously hunt down, intercept, and kill lionfish without an operator, then send them to the surface for collection.
At the heart of the robot are two systems. One is an AI platform that uses machine learning, advanced computer vision libraries, neural network software, and computer vision models to help the robot identify lionfish. This system uses a database created by looking at thousands of lionfish images as well as images of what isn't a lionfish and shouldn't be hunted, like a scuba diver.
The second part is a type of revolving spear holder. This consists of a rotating cylinder containing eight buoyant spears. When closing in on a lionfish, a metal shaft thrusts the spear into the fish. As the shaft retracts, the spear tip detaches and its buoyancy pulls to lionfish to the surface for collection. Meanwhile, a watertight, air-filled chamber displaces water equal to the spear to maintain the robot's trim.

WPI says the new robot is designed to be compatible with commercial autonomous robots, and that a second MQP team will spend the 2018-19 academic year working on a navigation system that will allow the robot to autonomously set up and carry out a 3D search grid.

"The goal is to be able to toss the robot over the side of a boat and have it go down to the reef, plot out a course, and begin its search," says Craig Putnam, senior instructor in computer science and associate director of WPI's Robotics Engineering Program. "It needs to set up a search pattern and fly along the reef, and not run into it, while looking for the lionfish. The idea is that the robots could be part of the environmental solution."

Autonomous underwater robot hunts and harvests massively invasive lionfish Autonomous underwater robot hunts and harvests massively invasive lionfish Reviewed by Admin on 10:41 Rating: 5

MicroSoft Release New Visual Studio Road Map on July


Collaboration and AI will get attention along with performance and productivity

Microsoft’s vision for Visual Studio 2019, the next major version of its signature IDE, emphasizes collaboration and cloud development as well as familiar areas like performance, reliability, and productivity.

The blueprint for Visual Studio 2019, as well as Visual Studio for Mac, also calls for easy upgrades. But Visual Studio 2019 remains in the early planning phase, with no timeline for betas or production release.

Here’s what Microsoft has revealed so far about its plans:
  • It will continue to explore connected capabilities such as Live Share, for users to collaborate in real time on the same code base worldwide.

  • It wants to investigate making cloud development situations, such as working with online source repositories, smoother.

  • Enhancements for AI-assisted development via IntelliCode and use of the Azure cloud to deliver AI-powered assistance to developers.

  • Operational enhancements such as additional refactoring, quicker application load, faster builds, improved navigation, and improved debugging.


MicroSoft Release New Visual Studio Road Map on July MicroSoft Release New Visual Studio Road Map on July Reviewed by Admin on 00:26 Rating: 5

AI Technology For Every One On Earth


Artificial intelligence has so far been mainly the plaything of big tech companies like Amazon, Baidu, Google, and Microsoft, as well as some startups. For many other companies and parts of the economy, AI systems are too expensive and too difficult to implement fully.

AI for Everybody

  • Breakthrough Cloud-based AI is making the technology cheaper and easier to use.

  • Why It Matters Right now the use of AI is dominated by a relatively few companies, but as a cloud-based service, it could be widely available to many more, giving the economy a boost.

  • Key Players Amazon; Google; Microsoft

  • Availability Now
What’s the solution? Machine-learning tools based in the cloud are bringing AI to a far broader audience. So far, Amazon dominates cloud AI with its AWS subsidiary. Google is challenging that with TensorFlow, an open-source AI library that can be used to build other machine-learning software. Recently Google announced Cloud AutoML, a suite of pre-trained systems that could make AI simpler to use.

Microsoft, which has its own AI-powered cloud platform, Azure, is teaming up with Amazon to offer Gluon, an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural netsa key technology in AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learnsas easy as building a smartphone app.

It is uncertain which of these companies will become the leader in offering AI cloud services.  But it is a huge business opportunity for the winners.

These products will be essential if the AI revolution is going to spread more broadly through different parts of the economy.

Currently AI is used mostly in the tech industry, where it has created efficiencies and produced new products and services. But many other businesses and industries have struggled to take advantage of the advances in artificial intelligence. Sectors such as medicine, manufacturing, and energy could also be transformed if they were able to implement the technology more fully, with a huge boost to economic productivity.

Most companies, though, still don’t have enough people who know how to use cloud AI. So Amazon and Google are also setting up consultancy services. Once the cloud puts the technology within the reach of almost everyone, the real AI revolution can begin.
Jackie Snow
AI Technology For Every One On Earth AI Technology For Every One On Earth Reviewed by Admin on 10:27 Rating: 5

Google DeepMind's AI Can Detect 50 Eye Disease Conditions And Save Sight


eepMind, a Google-owned artificial intelligence company, has developed an AI system that can accurately identify 50 different types of eye condition as accurately as a doctor.

The system — capable of analysing 3D retinal OCT scans for early signs of conditions like glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and macular degeneration — has been developed through a joint research partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital in London over the last 18 months.

The AI,  which can correctly identify types of eye disease from OCT scans 94.5% of the time, learned how to detect eye conditions by studying approximately 15,000 anonymous eye scans. The results of the trial were published in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday.

DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman, who leads DeepMind Health, claimed in a blog post that the AI system could help to save people's sight, adding that it could one day be rolled out in hospitals around the world.

"Our AI system can quickly interpret eye scans from routine clinical practice with unprecedented accuracy. It can correctly recommend how patients should be referred for treatment for over 50 sight-threatening eye diseases as accurately as world-leading expert doctors," he wrote.

"These are early results, but they show that our system could handle the wide variety of patients found in routine clinical practice. In the long term, we hope this will help doctors quickly prioritise patients who need urgent treatment – which could ultimately save sight."


DeepMind intends to let NHS hospitals use a validated version of the technology for free for five years, providing the software meets all the necessary regulatory approvals.

Dr Pearse Keane, a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields, said in a press statement: "The number of eye scans we're performing is growing at a pace much faster than human experts are able to interpret them. There is a risk that this may cause delays in the diagnosis and treatment of sight-threatening diseases.

"If we can diagnose and treat eye conditions early, it gives us the best chance of saving people's sight. With further research, it could lead to greater consistency and quality of care for patients with eye problems in the future."


DeepMind's work with the NHS got off to a bad start after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the UK data watchdog, ruled that a DeepMind trial with the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust failed to comply with data protection law. Specifically, the ICO said that around 1.6 million sensitive patient records were mishandled and it claimed patients were not adequately informed that their data would be used as part of the test.

But DeepMind sees healthcare as an area ripe for disruption and it likely sees the NHS as a potential major revenue source, although it would never openly admit this. It is already charging some NHS organisations for access to different DeepMind products and the eye scanning technology could end up being highly lucrative if rolled out at scale.

Google paid a reported £400 million for DeepMind in 2014 but the AI lab's aggressive expansion means that it currently operates at a loss, according to the most recent filings with Companies House. In 2016, it made a loss of £164 million in total, a significant increase on the £54 million loss it posted in 2015.

The majority of DeepMind's expenditure has gone towards hiring as many of the brightest machine learning scientists in the world as it can. In 2016, when it had a workforce of around 600 people, it spent a whopping £104.8 million on "staff costs and other related costs". 
A report from The Information in April said some Google staff are unhappy with DeepMind's lack of revenue.

 It's worth noting that DeepMind has helped the search giant in a number of areas. In July 2016, DeepMind announced it had developed software that allows Google to reduce the amount of electricity used by the cooling units in its data centres by 40%. DeepMind's AI has also helped Google to make its text-to-speech service more realistic.



Google DeepMind's AI Can Detect 50 Eye Disease Conditions And Save Sight Google DeepMind's AI Can Detect 50 Eye Disease Conditions And Save Sight Reviewed by Admin on 10:22 Rating: 5

After United States' warning, Russia denies plans to put weapons in space first


Russia does not plan to put weapons in space first and considers this to be an important signal that Washington should not ignore, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Monday.

The United States last week voiced suspicion over Russia’s pursuit of new space weapons, including a mobile laser system to destroy satellites in space, and the launch of a new inspector satellite which was acting in an “abnormal” way.
After United States' warning, Russia denies plans to put weapons in space first After United States' warning, Russia denies plans to put weapons in space first Reviewed by Admin on 08:21 Rating: 5

How Will ICO Market Change in 2018?


2017 saw explosive growth in the number of ICOs, as a revolutionary way to attract investment. This year 234 ICO projects have raised more than $3.7 billion, with the most considerable part of the total investment being attracted from May to October, according to Coinschedule. Experts believe that next year, however, this trend will decline and ICO market will face a significant reduction and restructuring.

Kaspersky Lab says that the number of successful ICOs will be noticeably reduced in 2018 compared to 2017, while most of the projects will remain without financing. Moreover, Vitalik Buterin—founder and leader of Ethereum—believes that 90% of current ICO projects will eventually crash. But this recession does not mean token market collapse. Only ICO structure and approach to market regulation will change. Investors will pay attention to things, such as fraud protection, an effective business plan, a clear strategy for its implementation, transparency, and organizers' compliance with the regulatory framework. 

According to Jerry Brito, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Coin-Center, governments will increase control over token sales. This year the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that the virtual coins or tokens that are offered or sold might be securities.  If they are securities, the offer and sale of these virtual coins or tokens in an ICO are subject to the federal securities laws. In this regard, the SEC filed charges of scam and non-compliance with the legislation against several ICO organizers. Brito thinks that other countries, which are going to take anti-scam measures, will follow the US example. 

"The need for token sales to comply with SEC rules, combined with investors' desire for greater confidence, may lead to a new trend. In 2018, we'll see the emergence of platforms for the offering of new tokens that will better qualify the tokens before they're allowed to be sold, and will help investors make better judgments about them."

Brito predicts that initially, these platforms will only be open to accredited investors.
"So, as the industry professionalizes, we may perceive that the ICO bubble has burst. In fact, a slowdown would indicate that there are simply fewer scams. As a new funding model, ICOs are here to stay."

Oliver Bussmann, founder and managing partner at Bussmann Advisory, the president of not-for-profit Crypto Valley Association and former group CIO and managing director at Swiss financial holding UBS, firmly believes that the world of ICOs will become more mature in 2018 as more traditional players get involved. As a result, they will invest their IPO experience and expertise to develop a new market and the whole business will stick to a better structured and more professional model of attracting investments. 

"Over the next 12–18 months, I expect there will be ICO's attributes, such as book building, pricing, startup evaluation, and so on. As we've already begun to see, it will be harder to get funding simply on the back of a white paper. Investors will demand sound business plans and high levels of transparency.”

The head of the technical department at Ripple, Stephan Thomas agrees with the arguments above, according to his post at Quora (social platform of knowledge sharing). He sees a lot of parallels between the ICO wave today and the altcoin wave of 2014. In this regard, the initial hype will give way to a more realistic and balanced ICO; many ICOs will have to change their approach to attract investment. Mark Lurie also believes that next year there will be a lot more institutional capital that will all go to the highest quality projects. 

“There will be a shakeout in ICOs and a flight to quality. There will be a proliferation of ICOs where a few will go bust. There will be a lot more institutional capital that will all go to the highest quality projects. That's what happened during the financial crisis with venture capital and growth equity rounds, too. Most companies could not raise any funds, but those that could raise funds did it at really high valuations.”

In 2018, the smartest move on the part of companies making ICOs and Bitcoin-related products will be to wean the public and the media off the "digital cash" concept, as Wired reports. It's a metaphor that no longer makes sense, and it's getting in the way of our proper understanding of a new technology that looks like money but really isn't. But ICO participants will have to make enormous efforts to change the image of the industry. William Mougayar, a well-known Canadian Investor, entrepreneur, and author of several blockchain books, states that the current ICO market and tokens attract the wrong players. 

“Not only is Token 1.0 attracting the wrong types of projects, but it is also attracting the wrong types of people who see opportunistic gains from spinning a currency, raising from the crowd and promising the moon, with little accountability to be held against. First and foremost, we must revisit and apply the basic innovations of the blockchain. Then we need to assess token functionality critically, without over-engineering the token capabilities. We need to put the blockchain back into the equation, and not the token”.

Vitalik Buterin says about a new kind of tokens as well. He is sure that in 2018–2019 a new type of tokens, ICO 2.0, will appear for more mature ICO market. 

“There are some good ideas, there are a lot of terrible ideas, and there are a lot of very, very bad ideas, and quite a few scams as well. I expect that tokens 2.0 and the kinds of things that people will start building in 2018 and 2019 will, in general, be of substantially higher quality. Especially once we start seeing what the consequences of the first wave of tokens are in the medium-to-longer term.”
How Will ICO Market Change in 2018? How Will ICO Market Change in 2018? Reviewed by Admin on 10:42 Rating: 5
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