Data Science newsletter – February 12, 2020

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for February 12, 2020


Data Science News

Study looks at the impact of AI in finance

Cambridge Network


According to a newly released global AI in financial services survey by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and the World Economic Forum, artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to become an essential business driver across the financial services industry in the short run, with 77 per cent of respondents anticipating AI to possess high or very high overall importance to their businesses within two years and 85 per cent of the surveyed financial firms having already implemented AI in some way.

The study, launched 4 February at an event in London, was recently highlighted at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos and was co-sponsored by EY and Invesco. It also shows financial services organisations will move away from mainly leveraging AI for cost reduction purposes to using it for new revenue streams. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents expect to become AI mass adopters within two years, simultaneously using AI for revenue generation, process automation, risk management, customer service and client acquisition within two years, compared to a current figure of just 16 per cent.

Deep learning godfathers Bengio, Hinton, and LeCun say the field can fix its flaws

ZDNet, Tiernan Ray


Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yann LeCun took the stage in Manhattan at an AI conference to present a united front about how deep learning can move past obstacles like adversarial examples and maybe even gain common sense.

AAAS panel focuses on roadmap to ‘radical transformation of the AI research enterprise’

EurekAlert! Science News, Lehigh University


When Dan Lopresti and his colleagues talk about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) during their upcoming panel at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), be prepared to imagine a better world.

In this world, the full potential of AI is unleashed to benefit society: health care is personalized and accessible through a friendly robot companion; education is customized to offer individualized plans for retraining and skills-building; and, businesses, large and small, operate with previously unheard-of efficiency and provide a level of customer service that can only be dreamed of today.

“The question is what are we going to see over the next ten or twenty years break loose as a result of the research, which is assuming the research gets done because of investments made,” says Lopresti, a professor of computer science and engineering at Lehigh University. Lopresti is also the incoming Vice Chair of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Council which, along with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), spearheaded the creation of “A Twenty-Year Community Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Research in the U.S.”

Why sequencing the human genome failed to produce big breakthroughs in disease

The Conversation, Ari Berkowitz


It is now 2020 and no one carries a genome card. Physicians typically do not examine your DNA to diagnose or treat you. Why not? As I explain in a recent article in the Journal of Neurogenetics, the causes of common debilitating diseases are complex, so they typically are not amenable to simple genetic treatments, despite the hope and hype to the contrary.

Causation is complex

The idea that a single gene can cause common diseases has been around for several decades. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, high-profile scientific journals, including Nature and JAMA, announced single-gene causation of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and alcoholism, among other conditions and behaviors. These articles drew massive attention in the popular media, but were soon retracted or failed attempts at replication.

Analyzing Moon Dust, Atom by Atom

Optics & Photonics News, Stewart Willis


The specific problem studied by the Chicago team, led by meteoritics professor Philipp Heck and first author and Ph.D. student Jennika Greer, involves “space weathering,” the alteration of minerals that takes place as the moon and other airless planets encounter the solar wind, micrometeoroids, cosmic rays and other extraterrestrial insults. These features of the harsh space environment leave a crusty patina a few tens of nanometers thick on a moon rock’s surface whose mineralogy can differ profoundly from that of the rest of the rock.

The impact of space weathering means, among other things, that the optical properties of the lunar surface don’t necessarily provide a direct clue to the rocks that lie only microns beneath the soil. Sussing out the difference between weathered and unweathered layers, the researchers believe, could enable a better understanding of the true composition not only of the moon, but of other planetary bodies far too distant for the collection of physical samples.

NSF Science of Science Proposal: Randomized Trial of Registered Reports

MetArXiv Preprints; Brian Nosek et al.


In theory, Registered Reports eliminate publication bias against negative results because publication decisions are made without knowledge of the results; increase clarity between planned (hypothesis testing; confirmatory) and unplanned (hypothesis generating; exploratory) analyses, thereby increasing the diagnosticity of statistical inferences; and, leverage peer review expertise more effectively to foster better research methodology and more informative outcomes–regardless of whether they are positive or negative results, or are consistent or inconsistent with hypothesized outcomes. With the RRs published to date, there is observational evidence for some of these expectations. But, given the potentially transformative impact of RRs on the research process, we believe that it is essential to conduct a randomized trial to evaluate the model’s qualities. By collaborating with journals, we can conduct a randomized trial of RRs in an ecologically valid context. Authors who receive revise-and-resubmit decision letters asking for an additional study will be invited to participate in the trial. Those that opt-in will be randomized to either a status quo (i.e., standard of care) or RR condition for their resubmission with the additional study. We will examine the impact of RRs on publication (e.g., acceptance rate), research outcomes (e.g., rate of positive results), and qualities of methodology (e.g., sample size, transparency, rigor).

Trump budget projects doubling federal AI research spending by FY 2022

Federal News Network, Jory Heckman


The Trump administration expects to make a “significant increase” in research spending for artificial intelligence and quantum information science next fiscal year, and has proposed doubling the amount of non-defense R&D spending in those areas by FY 2022.

Monday’s FY 2021 budget request from the White House, which outlines the administration’s federal spending priorities, follows two executive orders President Donald Trump signed last year making AI and quantum R&D top priorities for federal research agencies.

Increased funding for federal AI and quantum research, however, would come at the sacrifice of spending on other areas of research. The Trump budget request proposes cutting total federal R&D spending by nearly $13.8 billion, a 9% cut from estimated FY 2020 spending levels.

Can leading universities be engines of sustainable development? A conversation with Judith Rodin

The Brookings Institution, Rebecca Winthrop and Emal Dusst


In our ongoing exploration of trends in higher education, we are looking at how leading higher education institutions can contribute to much needed social change both inside and outside their classroom walls. There is an increasing interest
among universities around the world to actively contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, well beyond their core business of educating students.

To investigate the ways in which premier university institutions can contribute to social and economic development, we sat down with Judith Rodin, author of “The University and Urban Revival” and former president of both the University of Pennsylvania and Rockefeller Foundation. We asked her to reflect and share her insights on how higher education should approach some of the hot topics of our time.

The Virtues and Downsides of Online Dating

Pew Research Center; Monica Anderson, Emily A. Vogels and Erica Turner


30% of U.S. adults say they have used a dating site or app. A majority of online daters say their overall experience was positive, but many users – particularly younger women – report being harassed or sent explicit messages on these platforms

Economic Risks Are Up Front in World Economic Forum Survey

Global Association of Risk Professionals, Katherine Heires


For the first time in the 15 years of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report surveys, the five highest-ranking risks in likelihood over a 10-year horizon are environmental: extreme weather, climate action failure, natural disaster, biodiversity loss and human-made natural disasters.

The short-term outlook, however, is clouded by economic concerns, including stagnation, trade conflicts and debt. Economic confrontations and domestic political polarization top the ranking of risks expected to increase this year.

As WEF president Børge Brende writes in a preface to the 2020 risks report, “The global economy is faced with a ‘synchronized slowdown,’ the past five years have been the warmest on record, and cyberattacks are expected to increase this year, all while citizens protest the political and economic conditions in their countries and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality.”

DARPA plans 4 year open source 5G program to address US security fears

DCD, Sebastian Moss


US military research agency DARPA plans to launch an open source initiative to help secure upcoming 5G networks.

OPS-5G aims to lead to the development of a portable standards-compliant network stack for 5G mobile that is open source and secure by design. The “long-term objective is a US-friendly ecosystem” featuring a trillion networked devices, a broad agency announcement for the four-year project states.

Here’s how the UNC libraries are advocating for diversity in science

The Daily Tar Heel student newspaper, Olivia Rojas


The University Libraries invite students, faculty and community members to bring a brown bag lunch to Kenan Science Library and talk about diversity in science once a month.

The series is called the Diversity in Science Brown Bag Lunch Series, an event in which a speaker is invited to discuss their journey in science through the scope of diversity and inclusion.

Therese Triumph, one of the creators of the program and the interim head of Kenan Science Information Services, said she got the idea for the program after attending a diversity lunch series for librarians.

MIDS Project ‘FairAir’ Improves Air Pollution Monitoring

Medium, Berkeley School of Information


Air pollution cuts short 4 million lives every year. Unfortunately, the neighborhoods with the most pollution are also the neighborhoods where the air quality is monitored the least.

MIDS students Ben Arnoldy, Jake Miller, Sameed Musvee, Mark Paluta, and Angshuman Paul set out to change that by creating FairAir, a tool for identifying locations of high air pollution. It uses artificial intelligence to recommend the best places to put new sensors in order to provide air quality data to disadvantaged communities.

Army looks to block data ‘poisoning’ in facial recognition, AI

FedScoop, Jackson Barnett


The Army has many data problems. But when it comes to the data that underlies facial recognition, one sticks out: Enemies want to poison the well.

Adversaries are becoming more sophisticated at providing “poisoned,” or subtly altered, data that will mistrain artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. To try and safeguard facial recognition databases from these so-called backdoor attacks, the Army is funding research to build defensive software to mine through its databases.

More than Just a Carnival Trick: Researchers Can Guess Your Age Based on Your Microbes

University of California-San Diego, UC San Diego UC San Diego News Center


New understanding of how our microbiomes change as we age sets the stage for future research on the role microbes play in accelerating or decelerating the aging process and influencing age-related diseases



Euroconsult, Innovitech


Montreal, QC, Canada June 1, starting at 8:15 a.m. “Euroconsult and Innovitech have chosen to combine their expertise to create a unique event: AIxSPACE. For the first time, this conference will bring together key stakeholders in space and artificial intelligence industries to allow everyone to obtain concrete information on these markets and connect with potential business partners, positioning themselves at the forefront of the sector.” [$$$]

Our Machines, Ourselves – A pair of public lectures kick off the new Mellichamp Initiative in Mind & Machine Intelligence

University of California-Santa Barbara, Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Mind & Machine Intelligence


Santa Barbara, CA February 19-20. “The public lectures are part of a larger, research-focused, two-day workshop that aims to bring together some of the greatest minds on the topic of human and machine intelligence in a series of interdisciplinary interactions. Researchers from leading institutions including Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Google, University of Chicago Business School and Facebook AI will be among the participants, providing insights from a variety of fields, including computer science, engineering, psychology, neuroscience and economics.” [free, registration requested]

Healthcare Sensor Innovations USA 2020



San Jose, CA March 17-18. ”
Healthcare Sensor Innovations USA 2020 is a conference and table-top exhibition focusing on the latest developments in the use of wearables and sensors in continuous monitoring of individuals and point-of-care diagnostics.” [$$$$]


2nd Workshop on Computational Impact Detection from Text Data @LREC

Marseille, France May 16 at Palais du Pharo. “The 2nd workshop will address research questions of growing relevance and attention in linguistics, computational social science, and public policy, among other areas in this workshop. They include: How can we measure and evaluate the impact of information, such as scientific publications, user-generated content, and reports from the public administration, on individuals, groups, and society by analyzing text data? How do the outcomes compare to or supplement alternative impact assessment solutions and respective findings?” Deadline for submissions is February 20.

CCST’s Science & Technology Policy Fellowship in Sacramento

“CCST is seeking PhD scientists and engineers for a year of public service and government leadership training in the California State Legislature AND California State Executive Branch.” Deadline to apply is March 1.


“Topics will include: flux measurements at the leaf level; modeling leaf CO2 and H2O fluxes; eddy covariance measurements; synthesis using flux networks; predictions of fluxes from satellite observations; canopy flux models and assimilation of flux observations and satellite remote sensing data into ecosystem process models.” Deadline to apply is March 17.
Tools & Resources

How to turn an organism into a model organism in 10 ‘easy’ steps

Journal of Experimental Biology, Benjamin J. Matthews and Leslie B. Vosshall


Many of the major biological discoveries of the 20th century were made using just six species: Escherichia coli bacteria, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe yeast, Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes, Drosophila melanogaster flies and Mus musculus mice. Our molecular understanding of the cell division cycle, embryonic development, biological clocks and metabolism were all obtained through genetic analysis using these species. Yet the ‘big 6’ did not start out as genetic model organisms (hereafter ‘model organisms’), so how did they mature into such powerful systems? First, these model organisms are abundant human commensals: they are the bacteria in our gut, the yeast in our beer and bread, the nematodes in our compost pile, the flies in our kitchen and the mice in our walls. Because of this, they are cheaply, easily and rapidly bred in the laboratory and in addition were amenable to genetic analysis. How and why should we add additional species to this roster? We argue that specialist species will reveal new secrets in important areas of biology and that with modern technological innovations like next-generation sequencing and CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, the time is ripe to move beyond the big 6. In this review, we chart a 10-step path to this goal, using our own experience with the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which we built into a model organism for neurobiology in one decade. Insights into the biology of this deadly disease vector require that we work with the mosquito itself rather than modeling its biology in another species. [full text]

JuliaLang: The Ingredients for a Composable Programming Language

Lyndon White


One of the most remarkable things about the julia programming language, is how well the packages compose. You can almost always reuse someone else’s types or methods in your own software without issues. This is generally taken on a high level to be true of all programming languages because that is what a library is. However, experienced software engineers often note that its surprisingly difficult in practice to take something from one project and use it in another without tweaking. But in the julia ecosystem this seems to mostly work. This post explores some theories on why; and some loose recommendations to future language designers.

DataCite @datacite We often hear that PIDs mainly contribute to the F in FAIR.

Twitter, DataCite


This article explains how PID infrastructure also enables the R.

RapidAPI’s RapidQL, an Open Source Query Language for APIs and Databases

The New Stack, Mike Melanson


When working with multiple APIs, you will have many authentication methods, API types, and endpoints to deal with. With RapidAPI, there’s a single graphical interface and marketplace of more than 10,000 APIs that can be used without having to worry about individual security credentials or API types.

In recent weeks, RapidAPI added support for GraphQL APIs, which joins REST and SOAP, and now the company has released an open source project called RapidQL, a query language for both APIs and databases in a single query.

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