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Archive for the ‘health’ category: Page 2

Oct 27, 2020

The Deck Is Not Rigged: Poker and the Limits of AI

Posted by in categories: business, cybercrime/malcode, government, health, information science, mathematics, military, robotics/AI

Tuomas Sandholm, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, is not a poker player—or much of a poker fan, in fact—but he is fascinated by the game for much the same reason as the great game theorist John von Neumann before him. Von Neumann, who died in 1957, viewed poker as the perfect model for human decision making, for finding the balance between skill and chance that accompanies our every choice. He saw poker as the ultimate strategic challenge, combining as it does not just the mathematical elements of a game like chess but the uniquely human, psychological angles that are more difficult to model precisely—a view shared years later by Sandholm in his research with artificial intelligence.

“Poker is the main benchmark and challenge program for games of imperfect information,” Sandholm told me on a warm spring afternoon in 2018, when we met in his offices in Pittsburgh. The game, it turns out, has become the gold standard for developing artificial intelligence.

Tall and thin, with wire-frame glasses and neat brow hair framing a friendly face, Sandholm is behind the creation of three computer programs designed to test their mettle against human poker players: Claudico, Libratus, and most recently, Pluribus. (When we met, Libratus was still a toddler and Pluribus didn’t yet exist.) The goal isn’t to solve poker, as such, but to create algorithms whose decision making prowess in poker’s world of imperfect information and stochastic situations—situations that are randomly determined and unable to be predicted—can then be applied to other stochastic realms, like the military, business, government, cybersecurity, even health care.

Oct 26, 2020

How Indonesia is pushing medtech and insurtech as part of AI drive

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, robotics/AI

Online health care and medtech AI have risen in prominence in the country as the government seeks more equal access to medicines and treatment for its citizens, spread across a vast land mass. The urgency has been heightened by the impact from Covid-19 – with Indonesia recently overtaking the Philippines as the hardest-hit country in Southeast Asia.


Indonesia’s fast-growing manufacturing sector also presents opportunities for medtech innovation as well as research and development.

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Oct 25, 2020

Microbes of the Universe — Could our Solar System be rife with Pathogens?

Posted by in categories: alien life, biological, environmental, ethics, existential risks, habitats, health, space travel

In a recent study of the upper atmosphere of Venus, finding the chemical fingerprint of phosphine has led to speculation that it may be tied to airborne life high in the clouds of our sister planet [1]. We harbour similar suspicion of microbial life on Mars [2], Saturn’s moon Enceledus [3], and Europa, the icy Galilean of the Jovian system [4]. The dwarf planet Ceres of the asteroid belt could be added to that list also, with recent evidence of oceanic water [5], while more exotic variations of life may exist on Titan, which is known to be teeming with organic materials [6]. Should we be more wary of our Solar System as an environment to explore, and the potential of pathogens we may encounter?

If one rewinds 500 years, to when exploration of new worlds involved sailing the oceans, the discovery of the Americas introduced viruses which decimated the native population at that time [7]. That in itself was far from a unique event in history, of course. There have been many occurrences throughout history where travel between distant lands has resulted in the introduction of devastating plagues to one population or the other — not least the Black Death, which arrived in Europe from commercial travel with Asia in the 1300s [8]. Meanwhile, 2020 has reminded us how a novel virus can prove virtually unstoppable from spreading worldwide in a matter of months and reaching pandemic level, once introduced to our now interconnected world [9].

Indeed when the first astronauts returned from the Moon in the 60s, they had to undergo weeks of quarantine as a precaution against introducing a lunar pathogen to Earth [10]. We now know the Moon to be a sterile world, but this should not give us a false sense of security when visiting and returning from other worlds, which are far more likely to harbour microbial life. It is quite plausible to consider that any microbes which have evolved to survive in the harsh environments on other worlds could multiply out of control if introduced to a more fertile environment on Earth. The likelihood of any such foreign microbes being capable of becoming infectious pathogens to our species is difficult to measure, but one could still cause problems regardless, by undermining Earth’s ecosystem in competing with native microbial life as a runaway invasive species.

Fortunately, due to the vast distances involved in inter-planetary travel, returning astronauts would likely show symptoms of infection from any dangerous pathogen long before reaching home, as such a journey would be expected to take many months, even with more advanced propulsion technology than we use in space travel today. That is not to say they could not inadvertently return with microbial life on board — or even on the exterior of craft: Earth’s tardigrades, for example, have proven quite durable in journeys into outer space [11].

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Oct 25, 2020

French Court Asks Microsoft for Safeguards Against U.S. Surveillance of Health Data

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, law, robotics/AI, surveillance

U.S. company can keep hosting vast coronavirus-related project but must protect French citizens’ health data from American government, court rules.


A French court has ruled that Microsoft Corp. can continue hosting a government-run project aggregating citizens’ anonymous health data to use for AI-based research, but must guarantee no data will be sent to the U.S. or be shared with American intelligence authorities.

The ruling, handed down last week, contradicts the stance of France’s data protection authority, which told the court this month that any U.S. cloud provider could be forced to comply with U.S. surveillance laws and should therefore not be allowed to host sensitive health data. The regulator’s opinion could provide clues for other companies handling such data, legal experts say.

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Oct 22, 2020

Can We Trust AI Doctors? Google Health and Academics Battle It Out

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, information science, robotics/AI

So now, there are AI doctors.


Machine learning is taking medical diagnosis by storm. From eye disease, breast and other cancers, to more amorphous neurological disorders, AI is routinely matching physician performance, if not beating them outright.

Yet how much can we take those results at face value? When it comes to life and death decisions, when can we put our full trust in enigmatic algorithms—“black boxes” that even their creators cannot fully explain or understand? The problem gets more complex as medical AI crosses multiple disciplines and developers, including both academic and industry powerhouses such as Google, Amazon, or Apple, with disparate incentives.

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Oct 21, 2020

Coronavirus horror: Volunteer in Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine trial DIES

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Someone from Oxford’s vaccine trial has passed away.


BRAZIL’S health authority has confirmed a volunteer has died after participating in the clinical trials of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

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Oct 21, 2020

Samples from Ferndale’s municipal water system have lead levels exceeding state standards

Posted by in categories: health, sustainability

FERNDALE, Mich. – Samples from Ferndale’s municipal water system have lead levels in the drinking water exceeding state standards, according to officials.

Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) was notified by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) about the results from testing. Testing occurred as part of routine compliance sampling required by EGLE under Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act.

The OCHD is coordinating the distribution of free water filter kits to Ferndale residents who qualify on Oct. 28 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Gary Kulick Community Center (1201 Livernois St, Ferndale, MI 48220).

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Oct 20, 2020

Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Reveals Rare Disorder

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, health

An odd lump on Elizabeth Cowles Johnston’s breast prompted a Friday morning call to her primary care physician Rebecca Andrews at UConn Health.

Dr. Andrews quickly fit her in, and upon checking the lump sent her to Dr. Alex Merkulov, Section Head of Women’s Imaging at the Beekley Imaging Center at UConn Health for a mammogram and ultrasound. The following Monday she had a biopsy of her breast and by that Wednesday she had the diagnosis of breast cancer.

“It was all very quick,” says Johnston.

Oct 20, 2020

Exercise in the Morning May Stave Off Cancer, As Opposed to Later in the Day, New Study Says

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

So exercise in the morning is better?


A new study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, has found that exercising in the mornings especially can stave off cancer.

Oct 18, 2020

Autopsies Show Microplastics in Major Human Organs

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, chemistry, health

It looks like micro-plastics are now found inside human bodies.


Researchers found evidence of plastic contamination in tissue samples taken from the lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys of donated human cadavers.

“We have detected these chemicals of plastics in every single organ that we have investigated,” said senior researcher Rolf Halden, director of the Arizona State University (ASU) Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering.

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