8 powerful examples of AI for good

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Amid the cacophony of concern over artificial intelligence (AI) taking over jobs (and the world) and cheers for what it can do to increase productivity and profits, the potential for AI to do good can be overlooked. Technology leaders such as Microsoft, IBM, Huawei and Google have entire sections of their business focused on the topic and dedicate resources to build AI solutions for good and to support developers who do. In the fight to solve extraordinarily difficult challenges, humans can use all the help we can get. Here are 8 powerful examples of artificial intelligence for good as it is applied to some of the toughest challenges facing society today.

There are more than 1 billion people living with a disability around the world. Artificial intelligence can be used to amplify these people’s abilities to improve their accessibility. It can facilitate employment, improve daily life and help people living with disabilities communicate. From opening up the world of books to deaf children to narrating what it “sees” to those with visual impairments, apps and tools powered by artificial intelligence are improving accessibility.

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The ‘forever chemicals’ fueling a public health crisis in drinking water

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About 700 PFAS-contaminated sites have been identified across the US while those exposed to enough chemicals can face devastating health consequences

Recent tests revelaed dangerous levels of PFAS in rain, a range of foods and sewage sludge that farmers spread on cropland as fertilizer.

In 2002, the French multinational Saint-Gobain boosted production of chemically weatherproofed fabrics that it produced in its Merrimack, New Hampshire, plant. Soon after, serious health problems began hitting residents living near the facility.

The Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water (MCCW) advocacy group says people there suffer from high levels of cancer, cardiovascular issues, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease and developmental disorders. That includes an alarming number of children facing rare and aggressive cancers, said MCCW’s Laurene Allen, who lives in the city of about 30,000 that sits an hour north of Boston.

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People lacking access to food 10-37% more likely to die prematurely: Study

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People with inadequate access to food due to financial constraints are 10 to 37 per cent more likely to die prematurely from any cause other than cancer, according to a study published on Monday.

Researchers, including those from the University of Toronto, looked at data from more than half a million adults in Canada.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, categorised people as food secure, or marginally, moderately, or severely food insecure.

By the end of the study period, 25,460 people had died prematurely, the researchers said.

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New Harvard study fights fat with salty, icy injections

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Injecting an icy saline slurry into fat deposits could be a new fat-reduction technique

It sure sounds like a pop-up ad you’d see online, but scientists have created and tested a new treatment that melts away belly fat. The new technique, developed by researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), involves injecting an icy saline solution directly into fat deposits to shrink them by half.

The new process sounds simple enough. It uses a sterile solution made up of saline, glycerol, and between 20 and 40 percent small ice particles, giving it a slushy texture. This mixture is injected directly into fat deposits, such as around the abdomen, where it crystallizes and kills the fat cells. Over the course of a few weeks following the treatment, the body will flush out the dead cells.

The team says that this process could be used to reduce fat stores in basically any part of the body, at any depth, as long as it can be accessed by a needle or catheter. Importantly, it doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects on other tissues, such as muscle.

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Google Maps may soon highlight well-lit streets for walkers

Google to provide Android operating system for media displays in cars

New Lighting layer could make walking at night safer.

Google Maps is great for getting directions while driving and using public transport, but in the last year it has been rolling out more features focused on traveling by foot as well. Recently, the company introduced AR walking directions and detailed spoken walking directions for people with vision impairments. In the future, Google may be adding a new feature to help people find safer streets to walk at night.

According to XDA Developers, an Android development community whose members have analyzed the Android APK to look for unreleased features, there are indications of a new Lighting layer in Google Maps. This layer would indicate which streets are brightly lit by street lights by showing a yellow highlight.

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Study finds aging tends to shift gears as you turn 34, 60 and 78

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It’s possible to predict a person’s age from protein levels in their blood according to a Stanford study

 The blood-borne signs of aging – and indeed, perhaps the causes of aging – make three big shifts around the ages of 34, 60 and 78, a new Stanford-led study has discovered, potentially leading to new diagnostic tests and avenues of anti-aging research.

The study measured levels of nearly 3,000 individual proteins in the plasma of small blood samples from 4,263 people aged between 18 and 95, and found that 1,379 of these proteins varied significantly with a subject’s age. Indeed, with information about levels of just 373 of these proteins, the researchers found they could predict a subject’s age “with great accuracy,” and an even smaller subset of just nine proteins could do a “passable” job.

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U.S. life expectancy declining due to more deaths in middle age

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(Reuters Health) – After rising for decades, life expectancy in the U.S. decreased for three straight years, driven by higher rates of death among middle aged Americans, a new study suggests.

Midlife all-cause mortality rates were increasing between 2010 and 2017, driven by higher numbers of deaths due to drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, suicides and organ system diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, according to the report published in JAMA.

“There has been an increase in death rates among working age Americans,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “This is an emergent crisis. And it is a uniquely American problem since it is not seen in other countries. Something about life in America is responsible.”

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An electromagnetic health crisis

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If living beings have always been exposed to natural electromagnetic fields, and their bodies produce electric currents as well, why is there a growing concern about the human-made electromagnetic fields?

Exposure to the electromagnetic field is not a new phenomenon for living beings. While living beings have always been exposed to natural electromagnetic fields, the growing sources, applications, and impact of human-made electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) on humans and the environment are creating more questions than answers.

This is extraordinarily complex to evaluate when all living beings are technically electromagnetic, and every thought and emotion is a measurable frequency as well. Moreover, even in the absence of external electric fields, there is a presence of tiny electrical currents in living beings due to the numerous chemical reactions that occur as part of the healthy living bodily functions. According to a WHO report, the heart is electrically active and nerves relay signals by transmitting electrical impulses. Furthermore, since all human body systems are regulated by EMF signals, it is essential to evaluate not only how the biologically active human-made electric and magnetic fields impact humans, but also how it impacts all living beings at the cellular level.

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The world’s most popular artificial sweetener may not be safe for consumption

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The hugely popular sweetener aspartame – also known as Nutrasweet – has been taken to task by researchers for not being sufficiently proven to be safe for consumption. Aspartame has been a controversial ingredient for decades.

According to a new study by Professor Erik Millstone, a University of Sussex expert on food chemical safety policy, and Dr. Elisabeth Dawson, the 2013 appraisal by the European Food Safety Authority that aspartame is safe is flawed. The study finds that the EFSA disregarded the results of every one of the 73 studies that indicated that aspartame could be deleterious to health while accepting as reliable 84% of studies that concluded that aspartame was safe.

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Dutch city cuts ribbon on World’s largest bike garage

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The world’s largest bicycle parking facility in Utrecht, the Netherlands. (Photo via CU2030/City of Utrecht)

UTRECHT, Netherlands (CN) – When your country has more bikes than people, you need somewhere to park them all.

On Monday, the Dutch city of Utrecht opened the world’s largest bicycle parking facility. The Netherlands has a population of 18 million people but 23 million bicycles.

Located beneath the central train station in the country’s fourth-largest city, the Stationsplein bicycle parking can hold 12,656 bikes. The previous record was held by Tokyo, Japan, which has a facility that can hold 9,400 bikes.

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Scientists create contact lenses that zoom on command

Close-up of a contact lens on a womans finger

Blink twice to get a closer look.

Nosebleed seats may soon be a thing of the past. Scientists at the University of California San Diego have created a prototype contact lens that is controlled by the eye’s movements. Wearers can make the lenses zoom in or out by simply blinking twice. A paper detailing the team’s findings was published this month in Advanced Functional Materials.

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New research uncovers compelling link between gut bacteria, obesity and the immune system

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Researchers have discovered the immune system can directly alter populations of certain bacteria in the gut that affect how dietary fats are absorbed

An impressive new study from scientists at the University of Utah has described how an impaired immune system can alter the composition of the gut microbiome resulting in metabolic disease and obesity. Demonstrated in mouse experiments, the research suggests certain species of gut bacteria can prevent the gut from absorbing fat, pointing to exciting potential future anti-obesity therapies.

The research originated from an unexpected observation. Ongoing experiments in mice engineered to lack a gene called MyD88 surprisingly resulted in the animals gaining significant amounts of weight. The specific gene was being studied for its relationship to immune function in the gut. It was discovered that suppressing this gene resulted in lower production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in the gut, but the real mystery was how this gut-related immune mechanism resulted in metabolic disease and obesity.

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