Data Science newsletter – March 30, 2019

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for March 30, 2019


Data Science News

Stanford’s new “diverse” AI institute is overwhelmingly white and male

Quartz, Dave Gershgorn


It’s a laudable goal. But in trying to address AI’s blind spots, the institute has been accused of replicating its biases. Of the 121 faculty members initially announced as part of the institute, more than 100 appeared to be white, and a majority were male.

Earbuds that can read your mind? Orbityl pushes boundaries of brain-computer interfaces

GeekWire, James Thorne


… Right now, their prototype can recognize basic thoughts from Kaiser’s brain, but it struggles with other users.

“One of the challenges in developing this stuff is that you need a lot of examples to train the algorithms,” Kaiser said. “The calibration time is very high for other individuals to use, so that’s where a lot of our research is going right now.”

Inside an Effort to Use Data-Crunching to Reduce Preterm Births

WIRED, Business, Gregory Barber


In Kentucky, Passport Health, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer, is testing an unlikely hypothesis: Whether artificial intelligence can make sense of the cacophony of risk factors and direct expecting mothers into more personalized care. Last year, a Louisville startup, Lucina Health, started mining the health plan’s records for signs of women who are most at risk of an early delivery. It’s a test of whether insurers, normally associated with cost-cutting, can help tackle a national health problem.

Finland’s Newest Prison Job: Training AI

Fortune, Alyssa Newcomb


Inmates in Finland are working to train artificial intelligence algorithms as part of their prison work. There are 10 workstations between the prisons in Helsinki and Turku, a town located two hours northwest of the Finnish capitol, according to a blog post from Finland’s Criminal Sanctions Agency.

Gene-Editing Record Smashed With Over 13,000 Changes Made to a Single Human Cell

Gizmodo, George Dvorsky


Using a modified version of CRISPR, a team of geneticists has successfully triggered 13,200 genetic changes to a single human cell. That’s a new record, by a long shot. This sweeping new editing process could eventually be used to strip DNA of useless or dangerous genetic information—or create entirely new kinds of life.

New research uploaded to the preprint bioRxiv server describes the achievement, in which a Harvard University team led by George Church edited the living crap out of a single human cell to the tune of 13,200 total modifications. Incredibly, the cell survived.

Top US institutes still aren’t reporting clinical-trial results on time

Nature, News, Nic Fleming


Many leading US universities are breaking the law by failing to make public the results of their clinical trials.

A report published on 25 March found that 25 of the 40 universities that sponsor the most trials in the United States did not post study results on a public, government register within 12 months of completion, as is required by US law.

The results of 31% of trials sponsored by these universities since January 2017 that were due to be reported couldn’t be found on the repository, says the analysis, which was carried out by organizations that campaign for transparency in medical research.

To PhD or not to PhD

symmetry magazine, Laura Dattaro


Respondents to Symmetry’s survey about what it’s like to earn a PhD in particle physics or astrophysics offer their views of the experience.

New European collaborations supported by Imperial seed fund

Imperial College London, Imperial News


New European partnerships in machine learning, drug design, quantum physics and cardiology have been funded by Imperial’s seed fund this year.

In the latest wave of grants, 16 projects have been supported by the European Partners Fund to initiate and pursue collaborations with colleagues in Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Turkey and Greece.

The European Partners Fund provides up to £100,000 per year for seed funds and travel grants for Imperial academics and the call for 2019 applications is now open.

FSU prof developing first online polygraph

The Times (Apachicola, FL), Dave Heller


Can you spot a liar?

It’s tricky enough in face-to-face conversations that offer facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice because those physical cues add context. Spotting a liar gets even tougher in blind computer conversations.

Florida State University researcher Shuyuan Ho wants to shed those blinders by creating a revolutionary online polygraph.

“The future of my research is an online polygraph that could be used many different ways,” said Ho, an associate professor in the college of communication and Information. “You could use it for online dating, Facebook, Twitter — the applications are endless. I think the future is unlimited for an online polygraph system.”

Artificial intelligence identifies key patterns from video footage of infant movements

EurekAlert! Science News, University of Helsinki


Subtle characteristics in the spontaneous movement of very young babies may reveal clinically important aspects of their neurodevelopment. Visual assessment of typical movement patterns (General movements, GM) by a clinical expert is known to be effective in early identification of e.g. cerebral palsy (CP).

“A three month old infant shows frequently occurring stereotypical, dancing-like movements throughout the body and limbs. A noted absence of them is highly predictive of later emergence of CP,” says Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology, University of Helsinki.

Inside Google’s Rebooted Robotics Program

The New York Times, Cade Metz


Google has quietly been retooling an ambitious but troubled robotics program that was once led by an executive who left the company amid accusations of sexual harassment. … Google regrouped, and reconsidered its focus on the mechanics of complex robots. It has been rebuilding its program for the last few years, with robots that are much more simple than the humanoid-shaped machines that hung on the walls inside [Andy] Rubin’s lab.

Google and university researchers are using deep learning to discover exoplanets

VentureBeat, Khari Johnson


Researchers from Google and multiple universities have discovered two new exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) using a convolutional neural network dubbed AstroNet K2. An additional 14 objects could be also be identified as exoplanets with additional research.

The announcement builds upon research released last year by Harvard University astrophysicist Andrew Vanderburg and Google AI’s Chris Shallue that uses machine learning to sift through NASA’s Kepler data to find celestial bodies in space. Google later open-sourced its exoplanet-searching model trained with Kepler data on GitHub.

Lee Pillsbury: Hotel Companies to Become Data Science Companies in Five Years

Hotel Business magazine


Marriott, Hilton and other major players in the hotel industry are destined to become “data science companies in five years or less,” said hotel industry veteran Lee Pillsbury, speaking to a group of investors, hotel executives and innovators at a private Travel Conversations event held in Manhattan earlier this month.

“Loyalty is not as dead as people think,” said Pillsbury, and hotel brands can now understand everything about how a traveler searches for, books and pays for a reservation. “But the key is knowing who is in room 502 at any given moment, why they are there, where they stayed before they arrived and where they are headed to next.”

A Permanent Place for Data Analytics

Data-Smart City Solutions, Stephen Goldsmith


We teach (and preach) innovation in government to local officials who often ask about how to institutionalize their new technologies and processes. One reassuring answer to this question came in November, when the New York City Council approved legislation guaranteeing the continued support of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA).

By amending the city charter to make MODA a permanent part of its government, “we will ensure that the effective, responsible use of data remains a fundamental part of how New York City operates,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. The legislation, Local Law 222, details the types of projects the office will undertake, how it will collaborate across the city, and how its staff members will fulfill their multifaceted roles as data stewards, analysts, integrators and educators.

The law “marks the first time a major city has codified a data analytics office into law,” according to Kelly Jin, the city’s chief analytics officer and MODA’s director. It lays out a road map other cities might follow when structuring and institutionalizing their own data analytics operations.


Next in Data Visualization

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study


Cambridge, MA April 1, starting at 2:30 p.m., Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center (10 Garden Street). “The Next in Science series allows early-career scientists whose creative, cross-disciplinary research is thematically linked to introduce their work to one another, to fellow scientists, and to nonspecialists from Harvard and the Greater Boston area.” [free, registration required]

Kaggle Career Con



Online April 16-18. “A Free Digital Event All About Landing Your First Data Science Job.” [registration required]

C++: an invisible foundation Berkeley Distinguished Lectures in Data Science

University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley Institute for Data Science


Berkeley, CA April 2, starting at 4:10 p.m., University of California-Berkley, 190 Doe Library. Speaker: Bjarne Stroustrup. [free]

Berkeley Executive Education – Data Science for the C-Suite

University of California-Berkeley


Berkeley, CA June 20-21, two-day immersive program at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business campus. [$$$$]


Call for Participation: Cyberlearning 2019 – CIRCL

“Cyberlearning 2019 will provide opportunities to join colleagues with diverse expertise and perspectives to explore the tensions that arise as research teams expand the boundaries of learning, and explore learning in the context of working with technology.” Deadline to apply to attend is April 26.

Michigan Data Science Fellows Program

“The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) is seeking applications for its Michigan Data Science Fellows (DS Fellows) Program. This two-year program provides outstanding young researchers with intensive data science experience as they ready themselves for independent research and faculty positions. In addition, they will develop collaborative relationships with other Fellows in the program and within the University of Michigan (U-M) data science community.” Deadline to apply with full consideration is April 30.

NSF Program on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence in Collaboration with Amazon (FAI) – Program Solicitation

“NSF and Amazon are partnering to jointly support computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of contributing to trustworthy AI systems that are readily accepted and deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society. Specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to transparency, explainability, accountability, potential adverse biases and effects, mitigation strategies, validation of fairness, and considerations of inclusivity. Funded projects will enable broadened acceptance of AI systems, helping the U.S. further capitalize on the potential of AI technologies. Although Amazon provides partial funding for this program, it will not play a role in the selection of proposals for award.” Deadline to submit letter of intent is May 10.

DCASE2019 Workshop

Brooklyn, NY October 25-26 at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Workshop on Detection and Classification of Acoustic Scenes and Events. General Chairs: Juan P. Bello (NYU) and Mark Cartwright (NYU). Deadline for submissions is July 5.
Tools & Resources

DLI | Good Code Podcast

Cornell Tech's Digital Life Initiative, Chine Labbé


“Good Code is a weekly podcast about ethics in our digital world. We look at ways in which our increasingly digital societies could go terribly wrong, and speak with those trying to prevent that. If you like TV shows, think of it as Black Mirror meets The Good Place: dystopian scenarios with a way out. Each week, our host Chine Labbé engages with a different expert on the ethical dilemmas raised by our ever-more pervasive digital technologies.”


GitHub – Tone.js


Tone.js is a Web Audio framework for creating interactive music in the browser. The architecture of Tone.js aims to be familiar to both musicians and audio programmers looking to create web-based audio applications.


Brad Myers, Natural Programming Project


The Unakite Chrome extension is designed to help developers organize information forgaged from the web so that they can make better-informed programming decisions.

You can use Unakite’s light-weight clipping tool to quickly snip any information into a sidebar. You can then start organizing the information into a comparison table directly in the sidebar. After you make a decision, you can get a sharable link to the table and the snippets and embed it in your code or share it with your friends or colleagues.



Research Fellow in Machine Learning

Imperial College, Data Science Institute; London, England

PostDoctoral Associate

University of Colorado, BioFrontiers Institute; Boulder, CO
Full-time positions outside academia

Data Engineer

OpenAI; San Francisco, CA

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