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Last Week in AI #179: AI to save threatened species, ace university math, talk to animals, and more!
How machine learning could help save threatened species from extinction, new algorithm aces university math course questions, a 175B parameter publicly available chatbot
Summary: Some species of animals are labeled "data deficient" because conservationists haven't been able to find enough information on how these animals live or how many of them are left. Unfortunately, it appears these species are not only data deficient: they are more threatened than other, well-known species. Jan Borgelt, an ecologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and his colleagues have turned to machine learning to try to solve this problem. They trained an algorithm to predict the extinction risk of data deficient species, using information on 28,363 different kinds of animals.
Our Take: It's great to see an application of AI to something like conservation which I don't normally come across. One benefit I see in applications to areas like these where ML isn't normally used is that there's less of a bias towards "full automation"--no one thinks that an AI system can actually do everything needed to save a threatened species. However, as this article points out, an ML system could (if it works well) help direct efforts to the right species and make them more fruitful.
Summary: Researchers from MIT and elsewhere developed a machine-learning model that can provide detailed solutions to university-level mathematics problems in a few seconds at a human level. The main underlying idea was to cast questions as programming tasks and then solve these tasks using program synthesis by showing the model millions of examples of online text. Furthermore, the researchers also used this model to generate new math questions, which when shown to university students, were found to be indistinguishable from human-generated questions.
Our Take: The idea of framing questions as programs is elegant, not only because of its cleverness and simplicity, but also because it is accurate and efficient (up to 80%). In our opinion, the applications of this research are wide-ranging; from streamlining course content for schools and colleges to adding to the already growing plethora of massive open online courses (MOOCs) with enrollments of up to thousands of students. Perhaps most interestingly, one could also create an automated "artificial" tutor with this technology to help them in school. We are excited and curious to see where this technology is headed in the future.
The researchers develop an amphibious artificial vision system with a panoramic field-of-view based on the Fiddler crab’s eye structure - “Artificial vision systems find a wide range of applications, including self-driving cars, object detection, crop monitoring, and smart cameras. Such vision is often inspired by the vision of biological organisms.”
The Computer Scientist Challenging AI to Learn Better - “Christopher Kanan is building algorithms that can continuously learn over time — the way we do. Artificial intelligence algorithms are designed to learn in fits and starts.”
The AI-powered swimmer is able to switch between different locomotory gaits adaptively to navigate toward any target location on its own - “Researchers from Santa Clara University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong have been able to successfully teach microrobots how to swim via deep reinforcement learning, marking a substantial leap in the progression of microswimming capability.”
U.S. Develops Faster, More Energy-Efficient AI Hardware - “Programmable resistors are essential building blocks in analogue deep learning, just as transistors are in digital processors.”
BlenderBot 3: A 175B parameter, publicly available chatbot that improves its skills and safety over time - “Today, we’re announcing that Meta AI has built and released BlenderBot 3, the first 175B-parameter, publicly available chatbot complete with model weights, code, datasets, and model cards. We’ve deployed it in a live interactive conversational AI demo here.”
Ensuring the Fairness of Algorithms that Predict Patient Disease Risk - ““To treat or not to treat?” is the question continually faced by clinicians. To help with their decision making, some turn to disease risk prediction models.”
Can artificial intelligence really help us talk to the animals? - “Adolphin handler makes the signal for “together” with her hands, followed by “create”. The two trained dolphins disappear underwater, exchange sounds and then emerge, flip on to their backs and lift their tails.”
Exclusive: NHS to use AI to identify people at higher risk of hepatitis C - “The NHS is to use artificial intelligence to detect, screen and treat people at risk of hepatitis C under plans to eradicate the disease by 2030.”
The NHS hopes an AI chatbot will help tackle patient wait times - “An NHS trust in Liverpool is partnering with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to develop an AI chatbot to help tackle patient wait times. Brits have become used to long NHS wait times for many years. However, the post-covid backlog has sent the number of patients on waiting lists rocketing:”
How rangers are using AI to help protect India’s tigers - “For 22 years vet, Akilesh Tiwari has been treating animals at Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh state in India. He does not hesitate to name the tiger as his favourite animal. “They are so magnificent and beautiful. I just need to feel their soft skin to feel relaxed” he says.”
Using artificial intelligence to control digital manufacturing - “Scientists and engineers are constantly developing new materials with unique properties that can be used for 3D printing, but figuring out how to print with these materials can be a complex, costly conundrum.”
Think Your Street Needs a Redesign? Ask an AI - “What would a six-lane highway look like if it were replaced by a promenade bordered with trees and luxurious grass? DALL-E can now show you that easily. Born out of the San Francisco lab of artificial intelligence company OpenAI, DALL-E generates photorealistic images based on a text prompt.”
Artificial intelligence making our hospitals smarter and more efficient - “Leading public hospitals in Shanghai are using artificial intelligence on their WeChat to streamline patient registration and provide better treatment. The Internet hospital service has been widely adopted by hospitals and patients since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020.”
Celtic on alert to shock Champions League change as artificial intelligence gets the green light - “Scottish Premiership champions Celtic will be among the 32 teams who will trial Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) during this season’s Champions League group stage.”
Meta Starts Testing Its Latest AI Chatbot, BlenderBot 3 - “Meta has introduced a new AI called BlenderBot 3(Opens in a new window) that is supposed to be able to hold a conversation with pretty much anyone on the internet without becoming a jerk in the process. The phrase “unhelpful or dangerous responses” is an understatement.”
Toyota-backed robotaxi unicorn Pony.ai sues ex-employees over trade secrets - “Pony.ai, a Chinese autonomous vehicle company valued at $8.5 billion as of late, has sued two former employees over alleged trade secret infringement.”
AI startup Cerebras celebrated for chip triumph where others tried and failed - “A new display in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California recognizes Cerebras Systems’s “WSE-2,” its second-generation chip, as achieving a decades’-long quest to make a single chip from an entire silicon wafer.”
Mount Sinai unveils first-of-its-kind department to develop AI tools for healthcare - “Many hospitals and health systems talk a big game about integrating artificial intelligence into nearly every aspect of clinical care, but Mount Sinai, for one, is actually putting its money where its mouth is.”
It’s paintbrushes at dawn as artists feel the pressure of AI-generated art - “When beautiful art is available at the press of a button, what does that mean to artists? If you’ve been anywhere close to the interwebs recently, you’ll have heard of DALL-E and MidJourney.”
Elon Musk and Silicon Valley’s Overreliance on Artificial Intelligence - “When the richest man in the world is being sued by one of the most popular social media companies, it’s news.”
Machine learning creates a new attack surface requiring specialized defenses - “Machine learning (ML) inputs and outputs are becoming more widely available to customers thanks to organizations in almost every sector integrating artificial intelligence (AI) technology into their hardware and software products. Naturally, this has attracted the attention of malicious actors.”
Is Google’s AI sentient? Stanford AI experts say that’s ‘pure clickbait’ - “Following a Google engineer’s viral claims that artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot “LaMDa” was sentient, Stanford experts have urged skepticism and open-mindedness while encouraging a rethinking of what it means to be “sentient” at all.”
Traditionally a late adopter of technology, the insurance industry is embracing A.I. - “DeepMind uses A.I. to predict a structure for almost every protein known to biology. As I reported in last week’s special edition of Eye on A.I., DeepMind, the London-based A.I. company that is owned by Alphabet, used its AlphaFold A.I.”
Americans tend not to know about AI in journalism - “Although artificial intelligence has a growing role in journalism, research finds that Americans don’t know about AI’s role in their lives—or their news. Technology has repeatedly transformed the news media industry—telegraph, radio, television, and then the internet.”
The Trouble With Trusting AI to Interpret Police Body-Cam Video - “a group of New York City police officers approached 43-year-old Eric Garner on a Staten Island sidewalk and attempted to arrest him—for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.”
Estonia is building AI Gov Stack - “Estonia is developing the artificial intelligence (AI) components that can underpin digital government services and is sharing them with the world through its “AI Gov Stack”.”
UK Government gives the green light for World’s longest drone ‘superhighway’ - “Revolutionary technology will enable automated ‘pilotless’ drones to be flown beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS). London, UK: The UK government has today announced it has given the go-ahead to for the world’s largest and longest network of drone superhighways to be built in the UK.”
U.S. appeals court says artificial intelligence can’t be patent inventor - “The Patent Act requires an “inventor” to be a natural person, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said, rejecting computer scientist Stephen Thaler’s bid for patents on two inventions he said his DABUS system created.”
‘Risks posed by AI are real’: EU moves to beat the algorithms that ruin lives - “It started with a single tweet in November 2019. David Heinemeier Hansson, a high-profile tech entrepreneur, lashed out at Apple’s newly launched credit card, calling it “sexist” for offering his wife a credit limit 20 times lower than his own.”
How artificial intelligence cracked biology’s biggest problem - “DEEPMIND’S artificial-intelligence system AlphaFold has predicted the three-dimensional shape of almost all known proteins. The company’s boss Demis Hassabis tells us how the AI was able to solve what was, for decades, biology’s grand challenge.”
‘An engine for the imagination’: the rise of AI image generators - “If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement. AI-generated artwork is quietly beginning to reshape culture.”
Back to school: study justifies Nvidia’s push to arm students with deep learning laptops - “As we approach that time of year again, students are gearing up to return to (or begin) their studies, and that means sales of the best student laptops are about to spike once more.”
Man who threw away £150m in bitcoin hopes AI and robot dogs will get it back - “A computer engineer who accidentally threw away a hard drive containing approximately £150m worth of bitcoin plans to use artificial intelligence to search through thousands of tonnes of landfill.”