DeepMind MuZero AI can master games without knowing the rules

JC Torres 

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The holy grail of AI has always been to enable computers to learn the way humans do. The most powerful AIs today, however, still rely on having certain known rules, like rules for a game of chess or Go. Human learning, however, is often messy in inferential, learning the rules of life as we go. DeepMind has long been trying to create such AIs using games as their environment and test suite. Google’s sister company focusing on AI research has just revealed its latest achievement in MuZero, an AI that can master a game without learning the rules beforehand.

DeepMind’s previous AIs like AlphaGo have been widely covered in media for beating human champions in their respective games. Impressive as they may have been, they were still a few steps shy of the ultimate goal. AlphaGo, in particular, had the advantage of knowing not only the rules of Go but also domain knowledge and data from human players. Its successors, AlphaGo Zero and AlphaZero, could still bank on having the rule book to learn from.

While these AIs excelled in games with complex strategies but simple visuals, they failed when applied to more visually complex games where the rules are not so easy to infer. That’s where the new MuZero AI comes in and it uses a selection of Atari games, like Ms. Pac-Man, to test out their theory.

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Researchers discover new way to deliver DNA-based therapies for diseases

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities researchers in the Department of Chemistry have created a new polymer to deliver DNA and RNA-based therapies for diseases. For the first time in the industry, the researchers were able to see exactly how polymers interact with human cells when delivering medicines into the body. This discovery opens the door for more widespread use of polymers in applications like gene therapy and vaccine development.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal.

Gene therapy involves altering the genes inside the body’s cells to treat or cure diseases. It requires a carrier that “packages” the DNA to deliver it into the cell—oftentimes, a virus is used as a carrier. Packaging of nucleic acids is also used in vaccines, such as the recently developed messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine, which is enclosed in a lipid.

The research team is led by chemistry professor Theresa Reineke and associate professor Renee Frontiera. Reineke’s lab synthesizes polymers, which are long-chain molecules that make up plastics, to use for packaging the nucleic acids instead.

“It’s kind of like ordering something from Amazon, and it’s shipped in a box,” Reineke explained. “Things get broken if they’re not delivered in a package. That’s basically what we’re doing here but on a nano-level. We’re taking these really sensitive RNA and DNA cargo that are susceptible to enzymatic degradation, that won’t get to their target unless you have something to protect them.”

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Scientists Invented a Wearable Device That Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Erika P. 

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Google Glass-like device could help prevent Alzheimer’s Screenshot from YouTube.

A team of scientists from the University of Otago unveiled a new wearable device strapped across the head and produces electrical pulses to arouse the olfactory nerves. That area is usually known to be dysfunctional during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

This Google Glass-like device is fitted with six electrodes placed near the temporal lobe, a part of the brain that controls the organization of sensory input. It is said that this new device will prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

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AI-powered bionic hand promises lifelike dexterity

By Dalvin Brown

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Army Capt. Carey Duval tests the device. (BrainRobotics)

BRAINROBOTICS IS TRYING OUT ITS PROSTHETICS AS IT AWAITS FDA APPROVAL 

The hand is undergoing FDA testing, and this month the company is testing the technology with the people it is intended to help.

In today’s world of brain-powered bionic limbs, highly functioning prosthetics are too expensive to reach many people who could benefit from them, researchers in the field say. The BrainRobotics device seeks to be the answer to that, with prices expected to start 30 percent lower than what’s on the market right now.

The hand is undergoing FDA testing, and this month the company is testing the technology with the people it is intended to help.

In today’s world of brain-powered bionic limbs, highly functioning prosthetics are too expensive to reach many people who could benefit from them, researchers in the field say. The BrainRobotics device seeks to be the answer to that, with prices expected to start 30 percent lower than what’s on the market right now.

What primarily sets BrainRobotics’ prosthetic apart from those on the market is its algorithm, which detects minute muscle signals, converts them into hand movements and learns over time.

Harvard-backed BrainCo developed the robotic hand for people like Army Capt. Carey Duval. (BrainRobotics/Biodesigns)

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China’s new Long March 8 rocket makes maiden flight as Beijing takes a step closer to sending travellers into space by 2045

By Emilia Jiang

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  • The Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off from southern China’s Hainan this morning 
  • The rocket is part of Beijing’s long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles
  • Once built, reusable rockets could operate commercial space flights regularly
  • Beijing hopes to establish a programme sending travellers into space by 2045

A new Chinese carrier rocket has made its first flight today, paving the way towards China‘s ambitious mission of sending travellers into space by 2045.

The medium-lift Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off at 12.37 pm (04.37am GMT) from the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying five satellites, state media reported. 

The newly launched rocket is part of China’s long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles that could operate thousands of commercial space flights a year, carrying passengers and cargo.China’s new Long

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Apple Project Titan to start electric vehicle production in 2024, says Reuters

By Tiernan Ray 

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Central to Apple’s electric car strategy is a novel battery technology, says Reuters.

Apple plans to start producing its own electric vehicle in 2024, according to a report this afternoon by Reuters that says the company’s on-again, off-again Project Titan has a renewed momentum.

According to the report, by Reuters‘s Stephen Nellis, Norihiko Shirouzu, and Paul Lienert, multiple unnamed sources have told the news outlet that Project Titan is aiming to make a passenger vehicle for the mass market. 

The article relates that sources say things at Project Titan have “progressed” since Apple brought in a veteran of both Tesla and Apple, Doug Field, to take over operations in 2018. The car effort has seen something of a revolving door of executives over the years.

The New York Times in 2016 said the effort had been rebooted at Apple, and that dozens of layoffs happened. 

A key element, the article claims, is a “a new battery design that could ‘radically’ reduce the cost of batteries and increase the vehicle’s range,” according to a source who has seen the design of the battery. 

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Researchers create a device that can detect hand gestures

Shane McGlaun 

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Researchers at UC Berkeley have created a device that uses wearable sensors and artificial intelligence software to recognize what hand gesture a person intends to make. The sensors and AI are able to determine the hand gesture a person intends to make based on electrical signal patterns in the forearm. Researchers say the device paves the way for improved prosthetic control and interaction with electronic devices.

The device has implications that could usher in a new era of controlling computers without using a keyboard or playing games without a controller. The system also has the potential to replace steering wheels inside cars. A more likely use is enabling amputees to control prosthetic devices or interact with electronics.

UC Berkeley doctoral student Ali Moin says reading hand gestures is a way to improve human-computer interaction. Human-computer interaction can be improved using cameras and computer vision, but Moin says the system her team has developed also maintains an individual’s privacy. The team created a flexible armband able to read electric signals from 64 points on the forearm.

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McDonald’s Restaurants Are Putting Cameras, Sensors, and AI Technology in Their Dumpsters

By B.N. Frank

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Here’s why some McDonald’s restaurants are putting cameras in their dumpsters

McDonald’s restaurants are putting cameras in their dumpsters and trash containers in an effort to improve their recycling efforts and save money on waste collection.  Nordstrom department stores are doing this as well.

Jason Gates spends a lot of his time thinking about trash, and how we can generate less of it.

Since 2013 his San Francisco-based startup, Compology, has used cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor what’s thrown into dumpsters and trash containers at businesses such as McDonald’s restaurants and Nordstrom department stores. The point is to make sure dumpsters are actually full before they’re emptied and to stop recyclable materials like cardboard from being contaminated by other junk so it, too, doesn’t become waste.

“We’ve found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling, but oftentimes they just don’t know what the proper way to recycle is,” Gates, CEO of Compology, told CNN Business’ Rachel Crane.

To help them do it correctly, Compology puts trash-monitoring cameras and sensors inside industrial waste containers. The cameras take photos several times each day and when the container is lifted for dumping. An accelerometer helps trigger the camera on garbage day.

AI software analyzes the images to figure out how full the container is and can also let a customer know when something is where it shouldn’t be, such as a bag of trash tossed into a dumpster filled with cardboard boxes for recycling. Gates said the company’s cameras can cut the amount of non-recyclable materials thrown in waste containers by as much as 80%.

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Toyota’s driverless shuttles could double as ‘office-on-the-go’

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Toyota’s e-Palette is a largely transparent, driverless oblong carriage on wheels that’s powered by a battery. It can accommodate up to 20 passengers, with seats that fold up and allow the space to be re-purposed. (Bloomberg)

TOYOTA IS AIMING TO COMMERCIALISE AN AUTONOMOUS SHIPPING-CONTAINER-LIKE VEHICLE WITHIN A FEW YEARS THAT IT SAYS COULD DOUBLE AS A MOBILE STORE OR ROVING OFFICE.

Toyota is aiming to commercialize an autonomous shipping-container-like vehicle within a few years that it says could double as a mobile store or roving office.

Toyota’s e-Palette is a largely transparent, driverless oblong carriage on wheels that’s powered by a battery. It can accommodate up to 20 passengers, with seats that fold up and allow the space to be re-purposed.

The e-Palette began as a concept vehicle, announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who said it is a symbol of how he is trying to transform the world’s second-largest automaker into a mobility company. On Tuesday, Toyota said it plans to make the e-Palette commercially viable within a few years.

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Airbus Releases New Details for Hydrogen ‘Pods’ Aircraft Concept

By  Chris Young

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The pods would contain the propellers, electric motors, and all of the liquid hydrogen fuel necessary.

Aviation giant Airbus revealed more details about its potentially revolutionary hydrogen aircraft project, called ZEROe.

The new zero-emission aircraft could include a propeller-driven plan “unlike anything seen on today’s runways,” Airbus explained in a press release.

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Smart farming: The growing role of precision agriculture and biotech

BY FASTCO WORKS

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EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY GO HAND-IN-HAND, WITH AN ADDED BONUS: FARMERS IMPROVE CROP YIELDS 

Farming has always involved risk. Risk of pestilence, water shortages or excess, and weather events are only a few of the conditions affecting successful crop growth. Applied nutrients and crop protectors help plants thrive but can result in environmental harm. Given sustainability concerns, growing tomorrow’s food supply is even more fraught with challenges. The world’s population continues expanding, but available farming land is actually shrinking, inside and outside the U.S. And the demands are growing. Currently the planet contains 7.6 billion inhabitants, but the population is expected to expand to 9.8 billion by 2050. Farmers are tasked with feeding the world, but increasingly, they need to do so with fewer resources.ADVERTISEMENT

The good news is that agricultural technology designed to address this growing need is booming. Smart farming technologies are gaining steam, with innovations ranging from seed breeding to seed feeding to the ability to monitor crops and conditions in real time using sensors and internet of things (IoT) capabilities. Farmers can incorporate current and past weather data and field performance history, weaving in localized data for planning and crop management.

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