Data Science newsletter – August 18, 2017

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for August 18, 2017


Data Science News

Massively Big Picture

Caltech, Breakthrough magazine


The 2011 Japanese earthquake was a defining moment for Mark Simons. The devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and its subsequent tsunami, which took nearly 16,000 lives, spurred efforts around the globe that will shape how nations predict and prepare for future natural disasters and motivated new approaches to basic earthquake science that are applicable to seismic events large and small.

Urban informatics offers partnership opportunities between institutions, cities

Education Dive, Pat Donachie


In 2012, New York’s then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed colleges and universities around the world submit ideas for an applied science campus which would act as an engine of discovery and experimentation around the city’s resources.

Professor Constantine Kontakosta was part of the team which submitted a proposal to create the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress.

“We were trying to leverage existing growing strengths in research and data science. The thought was to bring this data together and use it to improve city operations,” he said. “Cities are generating incredible amounts of data…and we couple that with social media data and other nontraditional data sources to better understand how a city functions; and policymakers can make decisions on how to improve quality of life.”

Navy begins tests of unmanned subs, drones, data transmission

Bloomberg Government, Cameron Leuthy


Testing of emerging underwater drone technologies by the U.S. Navy is under way in Rhode Island and Florida at the 2017 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise, or ANTX.

Companies providing systems for “collection, fusion, and transmission of data, with coordination between autonomous undersea, surface, and air platforms and their operators” for the exercise include a team made up of Northrop Grumman Corp., Battelle Memorial Institute, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and Riptide Autonomous Solutions LLC.

Silicon Valley’s ambitious new bet: Brain ‘modems’ that restore sight, hearing, and speech

STAT, Charles Piller


In a warehouse district here, a few young engineers fueled by ramen and energy bars are inventing the future of mind reading.

Paradromics has big ambitions: It wants to squeeze a device the size of a mobile phone into a chip small enough to insert into a human brain, where it would “read” nerve signals and replace senses and abilities lost due to injury or diseases.

For now, the startup’s recently minted Ph.D.s are working in a small warren of scruffy offices and labs to perfect a stuffed-mouse mockup. You’d never guess that it won an $18 million Pentagon contract last month, vaulting it into the top ranks of Silicon Valley companies surging into the field of brain-machine interfaces.

Record-shattering 2.7-million-year-old ice core reveals start of the ice ages

Science, Latest News, Paul Voosen


Scientists announced today that a core drilled in Antarctica has yielded 2.7-million-year-old ice, an astonishing find 1.7 million years older than the previous record-holder. Bubbles in the ice contain greenhouse gases from Earth’s atmosphere at a time when the planet’s cycles of glacial advance and retreat were just beginning, potentially offering clues to what triggered the ice ages. That information alone makes the value of the sample “incredible,” says David Shuster, a geochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, who is unaffiliated with the research. “This is the only sample of ancient Earth’s atmosphere that we have access to.”

Missions to probe exoplanets, galaxies, and cosmic inflation vie for $250 million NASA slot

Science, Latest News, Daniel Clery


From exoplanet atmospheres to the dynamics of galaxies to the stretch marks left by the big bang, the three finalists in a $250 million astrophysics mission competition would tackle questions spanning all of space and time. Announced last week by NASA, the three missions—whittled down from nine proposals—will receive $2 million each to develop a more detailed concept over the coming 9 months, before NASA selects one in 2019 to be the next mid-sized Explorer. A launch would come after 2022.

Explorer missions aim to answer pressing scientific questions more cheaply and quickly than NASA’s multibillion-dollar flagships, such as the Hubble and James Webb (JWST) space telescopes, which can take decades to design and build. The missions are led by scientists, either from a NASA center or a university, and NASA has launched more than 90 of them since the 1950s. Some Explorers have had a big scientific impact, including the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which last decade mapped irregularities in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), an echo of the universe as it was 380,000 years after the big bang; and Swift, which is helping unravel the mystery of gamma-ray bursts that come from the supernova collapse of massive stars.

Trump’s first list of science priorities ignores climate—and departs from his own budget request

Science, ScienceInsider, Jeffrey Mervis


President Donald Trump has translated his campaign promise to “make America great again” into his administration’s first blueprint for federal investment in science and technology.

The White House today issued a four-page memo telling federal agencies that their research dollars should be focused on delivering short-term dividends in strengthening national defense and border security, the economy, and “energy dominance,” as well as improving public health. It says achieving those goals should not require additional spending, and that agencies should focus primarily on basic science, and then step aside as quickly as possible to let industry pursue any results that show commercial promise.

Apple Plans to Invest $1 Billion in Original TV Shows and Films

BloombergTechnology, Alex Webb


Apple Inc. plans to spend about $1 billion on original programming in the next 12 months, intensifying efforts to compete with Inc. and Netflix Inc. in video streaming, according to people familiar with the plan.

A new Los Angeles-based team, led by former Sony Corp. television executives Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were hired in June, will produce and buy television shows and films for Apple Music and other future video streaming products, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The Wall Street Journal reported the new budget earlier Wednesday. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

A prognostic cancer map

Nature, Research Highlights


An analysis of 17 major types of cancer using data from almost 8,000 people has yielded patterns of gene expression that can be linked to patient survival.

Mathias Uhlen at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and his colleagues mined databases of gene and protein expression from cells including liver, brain, breast and lung tumours, and compared these expression levels with those of normal cells, and with patient survival. Genes involved in DNA replication, cell division and programmed cell death tended to be expressed at higher levels in tumours than in non-cancerous cells.

These AI Gliders Hunt for Updrafts to Fly Forever

Popular Mechanics, David Grossman


Microsoft is working on an autonomous glider that aims to replicate the patterns of birds. The hope is that if these gliders can learn enough from our feathered friends, they can fly basically forever and turn into node for wide-ranging wireless internet.

The company is trying to replicate what buzzards, falcons, hawks and other birds can do naturally: locate moving warm pockets of air called thermals and glide. “Birds do this seamlessly, and all they’re doing is harnessing nature. And they do it with a peanut-sized brain,” says Ashish Kapoor, a principal researcher at Microsoft, in a recent company blog post.

Law & Ethics of Scraping: What HiQ v LinkedIn Could Mean for Researchers Violating TOS

Medium, Casey Fiesler


“Is it legal for me to violate Terms of Service in order to collect data for a research project?” As the token legal expert among computer scientists, I get this question a lot. It’s also a huge point of contention right now, particularly in the social computing research community. Because the problem is, some people abide by TOS and others don’t. Some people (like me) came to their research labs as a grad student and said “um guys, I hate to be the buzzkill lawyer in the group, but Yik Yak’s TOS say we can’t scrape,” while others wrote awesome papers using Yik Yak data. Some reviewers will ding you for being unethical for breaking TOS, while others don’t know or don’t care.

AI Is Taking Over the Cloud

MIT Technology Review, Will Knight


The cloud is getting smarter by the minute. In fact, it will soon know more about the photos you’ve uploaded than you do.

Cloud storage company Box announced today that it is adding computer-vision technology from Google to its platform. Users will be able to search through photos, images, and other documents using their visual components, instead of by file name or tag. “As more and more data goes into the cloud, we’re seeing they need more powerful ways to organize and understand their content,” says CEO Aaron Levie.

ThoughtSpot raises $60 million, ends funding round for artificial intelligence technology

Reuters, Heather Somerville


Silicon Valley technology company ThoughtSpot has completed a $120 million funding round to fuel the start-up’s new artificial intelligence endeavor.

ThoughtSpot, based in Palo Alto, California, said on Thursday it had raised $60 million from investors in a financing round led by venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners. The investment round, completed in January but previously undisclosed, was an extension of a $60 million financing round ThoughtSpot completed a year ago and doubles the total amount raised.

Beyond the Hype in AI: Implementing and Maintaining Artificial Intelligence FTW

Bloomberg Law, Big Law Business, Baretz + Brunelle


Following its artificial intelligence series kickoff on Monday, experts gathered twice more during ILTACON (International Legal Technology Association Conference) panels to explore AI from the perspective of implementation and conduct a frank discussion on the way law firms and legal departments are achieving results for their organizations today.

“To implement AI in a large law firm environment requires firm leadership with foresight that is committed to making ‘innovation’ an action word, not just a marketing phrase. It takes an upfront investment of time and money, a mindful business plan, a willingness to learn and adapt as you go, and pretty much abolishing a compensation model based on an hourly rate,” said Martin Tully, co-chair of the data law practice at Akerman and a panelist at the AI kickoff session entitled “The Myths, Realities and Future of Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the Law (Part 1 of 3).” “This is the way of the future, and as a profession, we have to not only embrace it, we need to lead the charge because it is in the best interests of our clients to do so.”

With new $8M, MedAware uses AI to spot preventable prescription errors

MobiHealthNews, Jonah Comstock


Raannana, Israel-based MedAware, which leverages machine learning algorithms to find and eliminate dangerous prescription errors, has raised $8 million. BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), Gefen Capital, OurCrowd and Yingcheng City Fubon Technology Company all participated in the Series A round. In addition to the $8 million in venture funds, MedAware has picked up $4 million in grants from Israel’s Innovation Authority, the BIRD Foundation, and the European Commission.


Astronomy on Tap

Cameron Hummels


Pasadena, CA September 11 at Der Wolfkopf bar, starting at 7:30 p.m. [free]

Big Data Neuroscience 2017 Workshop

Advanced Neuroscience Network (ACNN)


Bloomington, IN September 8-9. Scholarships available. [registration required]

California BD2K Workshop

Big Data for Discovery Science / Big Data to Knowledge


Huntington Beach, CA September 15 — “A highly interactive opportunity to present your software, big data discoveries, and big data resources and to discuss how to leverage our California-based BD2K efforts into further consortia activities for large-scale biomedical science and training” [registration required]

Crowdsourcing Data for Good – presentation by Peter Bull of DrivenData

Meetup, Data for Good


San Francisco, CA SF Data for Good Meetup on August 30, starting at 5:30 p.m. [rsvp required]

Bio-Logging Symposium 2017

Bio-Logging Society


Lake Constance, Germany September 25-29. [$$$]


Call for Nominations-Advisory Committee for the Climate Communications Initiative

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are establishing a new Climate Communications Initiative (CCI) to coordinate efforts across the institution to facilitate rapid and effective communication of evidence-based insights to an attentive public and critical decision makers. Deadline to submit nominees is September 15.

Data Science Rotation for Advancing Discovery Trip (RoAD-Trip) NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 2017

Our program is titled Data Science RoAD-Trip because we aim to invite selected junior investigators to “take to the road” and collaborate with prospective senior data science mentors at one of many eligible research universities across the United States. After rotations have ended, and project abstracts have been submitted, a $4000 stipend will be granted to non-USC affiliated RoAD-Trip fellows and a travel reimbursement for up to $4000 will be granted to USC affiliated RoAD-Trip fellows. Deadline for applications is September 16.
Tools & Resources

Educational Resource Discovery Index

BD2K Training Coordinating Center


Big Data U’s ERuDIte ‘knowledge’ maps contain available educational resourses which will prepare you for further explorations of your own large-scale biomedical data science. Login to create and share collections and receive personalized recommendations.

How to Build an AI Sandbox

Prolego blog, Kevin Dewalt


The AI Sandbox is the development hardware, software, data, tools, interfaces, and policies necessary for starting an enterprise deep learning practice.

Deep learning models require lots of data and specialized computing resources called GPUs (graphical processing units). Thus an AI Sandbox is more complex than your developers’ “dev stack” running on laptops and cloud platforms.

Artificial intelligence on the NES

Gamasutra, Sylvain Gadrat's Blog


The implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in games is certainly not something new, but this art matured greatly in the last decades. In this article, we will aim at taking the better of modern ideas while fitting it for the NES, a 1980s game system featuring an 8-bits CPU running at 1.6 Mhz and 2 KB of RAM.

We will concretely discuss the new AI implementation in Super Tilt Bro, a NES homebrew that features two players fighting on a platform akin to Super Smash Bros. The former AI implementation will be described and analyzed, then we will take inspiration from a modern concept, finally we will adapt it to our system and game.

How to optimize for Amazon, one of the world’s largest product search engines

The Drum, Lisa Lacy


“It’s just a different mindset,” said Joe Migliozzi, managing director of e-commerce and retail media unit Shop+ and lead of media company Mindshare North America. “On Google, they might be doing research, but on Amazon, they’re actually looking for a product to put in a basket.”

So how do brands ensure their products appear prominently before these eager shoppers?

The short answer: It both is and isn’t like optimizing for Google.


Tenured and tenure track faculty positions

Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Games

University of Essex; Colchester, England
Full-time, non-tenured academic positions

Clinical Research Coordinator – Neurological Institute

The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center; Columbus, OH

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