Computer science in service of medicine

MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center (Building 32), known for its striking outward appearance, is also designed to foster collaboration among the people inside. Sitting in the famous building’s amphitheater on a brisk fall day, Kristy Carpenter smiles as she speaks enthusiastically about how interdisciplinary efforts between the fields of computer science and molecular biology are helping accelerate the process of drug discovery and design. Carpenter, an MIT senior with a joint major in both subjects, said she didn’t want to specialize in only one or the other — it’s the intersection between both disciplines, and the application of that work to improving human health, that she finds compelling. “For me, to be really fulfilled in my work as a scientist, I want to have some tangible impact,” she says.  Carpenter explains that artificial intelligence, which can help compute the combinations of compounds that would be better for a particular drug, can reduce trial-and-error time and ideally quicken the process of designing new medicines. “I feel like helping make drugs in a more efficient manner, or coming up with some [...]

2019-10-26T09:27:38+00:00October 26th, 2019|

This robot helps you lift objects — by looking at your biceps

We humans are very good at collaboration. For instance, when two people work together to carry a heavy object like a table or a sofa, they tend to instinctively coordinate their motions, constantly recalibrating to make sure their hands are at the same height as the other person’s. Our natural ability to make these types of adjustments allows us to collaborate on tasks big and small. But a computer or a robot still can’t follow a human’s lead with ease. We usually either explicitly program them using machine-speak, or train them to understand our words, à la virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa. In contrast, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) recently showed that a smoother robot-human collaboration is possible through a new system they developed, where machines help people lift objects by monitoring their muscle movements. Dubbed RoboRaise, the system involves putting electromyography (EMG) sensors on a user’s biceps and triceps to monitor muscle activity. Its algorithms then continuously detect changes to the person’s arm level, as well as discrete up-and-down hand gestures the [...]

2019-10-26T09:27:37+00:00October 26th, 2019|

Moore’s Law isn’t dead, chip boffin declares – we need it to keep chugging along for the sake of AI • Dr. Rami Shaheen

Hot Chips The machine-learning world is obsessed with training AI models as quickly as possible and if the hardware community is to keep up, future chips will need to have more memory. That's according to Phillip Wong, veep of corporate research at TSMC, one of the world's largest chip manufacturers, who began his keynote at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley this week by discussing – you guessed it – Moore's Law. Instead of mourning its passing, however, Wong declared that it actually isn't dead yet and, in fact, the number of transistors that can be crammed inside microprocessors has continued to rise over time. "Moore's Law is well and alive. It's not dead, it's not slowing down, and it's not even sick," he claimed on stage. Death notice: Moore's Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018 READ MORE Yes, the processing power per transistor hasn't increased by much but that's not important. Wong argued that even if you built a chip with higher transistor performance, if the density of transistors isn't high then it's no good [...]

2019-10-26T09:26:34+00:00October 26th, 2019|

Voice-activated AI in the enterprise? Let’s have a nice chat about that over breakfast next month – Dr. Rami Shaheen

Promo When it comes to voice-powered systems in the enterprise, there’s one surefire way to work out if it’s for you: talking through the benefits and challenges with a room full of your peers. Which is why if voice is on your agenda, you should join us at next month’s Register breakfast briefing, sponsored by Nuance. We’ll be working through what voice-powered assistants can mean for digital transformation, particularly in the legal and financial sectors. We’ll examine the state of the art in voice technology, and the practical benefits of voice in the enterprise. We will also dive into the challenges and possibilities that come with integrating this sort of technology into your existing workflows, and work out best practices for implementing voice, both for the individual user and for your organisation as a whole. All this, and breakfast, too, at a fabulous venue in the heart of the City of London, England, on 20 November, 2019. Places are limited, so to ensure your seat at the table, register now. Sponsored: How to Process, Wrangle, Analyze and Visualize your [...]

2019-10-26T09:26:28+00:00October 26th, 2019|

Neural networks cut modeling times of complex biological circuits to enable new insights into their inner workings — Dr. Rami Shaheen

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have devised a machine learning approach to modeling the interactions between complex variables in engineered bacteria that would otherwise be too cumbersome to predict. Their algorithms are generalizable to many kinds of biological systems. In the new study, the researchers trained a neural network to predict the circular patterns that would be created by a biological circuit embedded into a bacterial culture. The system worked 30,000 times faster than the existing computational model. To further improve accuracy, the team devised a method for retraining the machine learning model multiple times to compare their answers. Then they used it to solve a second biological system that is computationally demanding in a different way, showing the algorithm can work for disparate challenges. The results appear online on September 25 in the journal Nature Communications. "This work was inspired by Google showing that neural networks could learn to beat a human in the board game Go," said Lingchong You, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke. "Even though the game has simple rules, there are far too many [...]

2019-10-26T09:24:36+00:00October 26th, 2019|

‘Soft tactile logic’ tech distributes decision-making throughout stretchable material — Dr. Rami Shaheen

Inspired by octopuses, researchers have developed a structure that senses, computes and responds without any centralized processing -- creating a device that is not quite a robot and not quite a computer, but has characteristics of both. The new technology holds promise for use in a variety of applications, from soft robotics to prosthetic devices. "We call this 'soft tactile logic,' and have developed a series of prototypes demonstrating its ability to make decisions at the material level -- where the sensor is receiving input -- rather than relying on a centralized, semiconductor-based logic system," says Michael Dickey, co-corresponding author of a paper on the work and Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. "Our approach was inspired by octopuses, which have a centralized brain, but also have significant neuronal structures throughout their arms. This raises the possibility that the arms can 'make decisions' based on sensory input, without direct instruction from the brain." At the core of the soft tactile logic prototypes is a common structure: pigments that change color at different temperatures, [...]

2019-10-26T09:24:31+00:00October 26th, 2019|

3 Questions: The social implications and responsibilities of computing

Since February, five working groups have been generating ideas about the form and content of the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. That includes the Working Group on Social Implications and Responsibilities of Computing, co-chaired by Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and a professor of political science, and Julie Shah, associate professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and head of the Interactive Robotics Group of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. MIT News talked to Shah about the group’s progress and goals to this point. Q: What are the main objectives of this working group? A: The goals of the working group are to think about how we can weave social and ethical considerations into the fabric of what the college is doing. That includes our educational mission, our research mission, and how we engage externally. The pull for this right now is enormous. We need to deal with these issues, which are very complex. No single person here at MIT [...]

2019-05-31T18:20:20+00:00May 31st, 2019|

Google’s cunning AI linguist, Uncle Sam drills ML skills into .mil, Intel’s iffy CPU claims – Dr. Rami Shaheen

Roundup Let's get you up to speed on the latest AI news, beyond what we've already covered lately. Hey, our CPUs can do AI, too: One of Intel’s processors, the Xeon Platinum 9282, can train the popular computer vision model ResNet-50 faster than Nvidia’s Tesla V100 GPU. Chipzilla gushed about its 14nm CPU being able to crunch through 7,878 images per second on the ResNet-50 AI architecture compared to Nvidia’s 7,844 images per second on its Tesla V100 and 4,944 images per second for its newer T4 chip. Essentially, that means the Intel’s top-end data-center processor can train ResNet-50 neural nets slightly faster than those two Nvidia GPUs can. But there’s a catch (there always is). Firstly, it won’t work for all configurations of the model. It requires ResNet-50 to be written in Caffe so that it can be optimized by Intel’s Optimization for Caffe software package. Secondly, it was demonstrated by spinning up 28 virtual instances, each one assigned four CPU cores, and using a batch size of 11. That’s a total of 112 cores, and each Xeon [...]

2019-05-31T18:20:14+00:00May 31st, 2019|

AI: Seeking emotional loving human for long-term relationship

Newton’s third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Given the limitless possibilities, very few would have known precisely what this would have been when artificial intelligence (AI) started to become common. Though several years down the line, we’re starting to have an idea. As AI has become more sophisticated, and its ability to perform human tasks accelerates exponentially, we are seeing a moral wrangling of what this means for humanity as a whole. The changing shape of work Until recently, humans have developed technology to handle specific routine tasks. A human needed to break down complex processes into component tasks, determine how to automate each of those tasks, and to create and refine the automation process. AI is different because it can evaluate, select, act, and learn from its actions and be independent and self-sustaining. The ‘death of the worker’ bell has been tolled for some time now, while a Google search will throw out reams of well-educated commentators talking on the rise of the robots. Both views are completely valid because [...]

2019-05-31T18:20:05+00:00May 31st, 2019|

the role of technology in terrorist content online – Dr. Rami Shaheen

Osama bin Laden’s televised statement celebrating the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was confirmation of just how sophisticated terrorist communication in the twenty-first century had become. However, even once technologically-advanced groups such as al-Qaeda now have a tiny digital footprint compared with groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), whose origins coincided with the emergence of Web 2.0 (the Participative and Social Web). ISIS has established a technologically savvy campaign strategy that began when former leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi uploaded the first online footage of a beheading in 2004. ISIS has since become more versatile online than any other non-state terrorist organisation, leading to it being dubbed ‘The World’s Deadliest Tech Start-Up’ by Vanity Fair. As ISIS fighters lose their grip on its physical territory, the group’s digital territory will become increasingly important to their survival as a non-state terrorist organisation. - Dr. Rami Shaheen’ forthcoming project will shed light on the relationship between technology and non-state terrorist organisations. The immediacy and range of communication channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, built to bring people closer [...]

2019-05-31T18:19:59+00:00May 31st, 2019|