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Picking the Right College: Can Computers Crack the Code?

The Wall Street Journal

A number of data-driven advisory startups are using artificial intelligence to process information to help students choose the most suitable college. For example, CollegeVine said its algorithm-powered tools recommend schools by analyzing 110,000 data points, which include factors such as grades and tuition costs. The CollegeVine software's recommendations include schools that offer students the best return on investment post-graduation, accounting for tuition, loans, and future earnings potential. Meanwhile, CollegeAI makes recommendations based on approximately 1,000 data points about each student. National Academic Advising Association executive director Charlie Nutt cautions that a recommendation generated by one of these algorithmic start-ups should “not to be used on its own without personal advising.”

From "Picking the Right College: Can Computers Crack the Code?"
The Wall Street Journal (04/16/19) Marc Vartabedian
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Mapping the World in 3D Will Let Us Paint Streets With Augmented Reality

Technology Review

The U.K. startup Scape provides a visual positioning service that uses global positioning systems (GPS) and multiple camera images to localize users. The company has collected more than 2 billion street images that allow it to map in three dimensions more than 100 cities. Scape's algorithms extract "points of interest" from any image, compare it with the billions of images in its database, then use triangulation to infer the angle and distance from which the object was observed, returning its precise location to the end user. Scape co-founder Edward Miller hopes the company's location services will become the underlying infrastructure for driverless cars, robotics, and AR services. Said Miller, "Our end goal is a one-to-one map of the world covering everything."

From "Mapping the World in 3D Will Let Us Paint Streets With Augmented Reality"
Technology Review (04/17/19) Charlotte Jee
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Plans Launched to Boost Digital Skills for Adults

Gov.uk

The U.K. government will offer free courses to thousands of adults to improve their digital skills. According to U.K. Apprenticeship and Skills Minister Anne Milton, the courses will be based on new national standards, and will be offered to anyone older than 19 starting next year. The course will teach essential computer skills like sending emails, completing online forms, or using tablet computers, to help adults meet skills requirements established by U.K. independent exams regulator Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation). The course slate also will include Functional Skills qualifications, starting in 2021, to support advancement of adults into employment requiring digital skills or further education, as well as digital skills for everyday life. Said Milton, "The new 'essential digital skills' qualifications...will give adults the chance to develop a whole host of new skills to help get ahead in work, but also to improve their quality of life overall."

From "Plans Launched to Boost Digital Skills for Adults"
Gov.uk (04/23/19)
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Researchers Develop AI Tool Better Able to Identify Bad Data

University of Waterloo News

An international team of researchers led by Alireza Heidari and Ihab Ilyas at the University of Waterloo in Canada has developed an artificial intelligence-powered system to manage data quality. The HoloClean tool sifts out bad data and corrects errors prior to processing. The new system also can automatically generate bad examples without tainting source data, so the system can learn to identify and correct errors on its own. Once HoloClean is trained, it can independently differentiate between errors and correct data, and determine the most likely value for missing data if an error exists. Ilyas said the work “deviates from the old way of manually trying to clean the data, which was expensive, didn’t scale, and does not meet the current needs for cleaning the data.”

From "Researchers Develop AI Tool Better Able to Identify Bad Data"
University of Waterloo News (04/23/19)
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Geomagnetic Jerks Finally Reproduced, Explained

CNRS

Researchers at the French National Center for Scientific Research and the Technical University of Denmark have created a computer model to explain anomalies in the Earth's magnetic field. The scientists used supercomputers to build a simulation very close to the physical conditions of the Earth's metallic core, which required the equivalent of 4 million hours of calculation. The team successfully replicated the chain of events leading to geomagnetic jerks, which are fueled in the simulation by hydromagnetic waves emitted in the inner core; these waves become focused and amplified as they approach the core's surface, causing magnetic disturbances. The research creates a path toward better predictions of the Earth's magnetic field, and could help geophysicists investigate the physical properties of the planet’s core and inner mantle.

From "Geomagnetic Jerks Finally Reproduced, Explained"
CNRS (04/22/19)
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LGBTQ+ Panelists Examine Experiences, Challenges in Tech

Brown Daily Herald

Brown University recently hosted "Out in CS," a panel featuring speakers from large and small organizations in New York and Boston who reflected on their experiences of being LGBTQ+ in the technology industry. Panelists spoke on topics ranging from how they became interested in technology to managing their personal identities at work. The speakers also shared strategies for handling workplace microaggressions, maintaining work-life balance, and staying connected to their community. Peloton Interactive software engineer Simon Zheng suggested considering whether companies offer an inclusive workplace when interviewing for jobs by determining, for example, whether they provide a budget for creating LGBTQ+ groups or offer health insurance benefits for domestic partners. Panelists generally agreed being open with one's identity at work is essential. Hubspot's Jingo Mante said, "As soon as [there is] confidence in who you are, it really does show in your work and relationships."

From "LGBTQ+ Panelists Examine Experiences, Challenges in Tech"
Brown Daily Herald (04/22/19) Janet Chang
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Microsoft Aims for Simplicity With Bosque Programming Language

InfoWorld

Microsoft has launched an open source project to develop the Bosque programming language, hoping to build it into a functional language that avoids "accidental complexity" in the development process. Bosque is set up to be an experiment in regularized design for a machine-assisted, rapid, and reliable software development lifecycle. Some relevant features and design choices made for Bosque include all values being immutable, with Bosque adopting a functional model with immutable data, and functional programming fused with block scopes and braces by allowing multiple assignments to updatable variables. Bosque documentation, examples, and a reference implementation are available on GitHub; tutorials are under development.

From "Microsoft Aims for Simplicity With Bosque Programming Language"
InfoWorld (04/18/19) Paul Krill
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Junior AI Researchers in Demand by Universities, Industry

Nature

Research by software provider Element AI in Canada has found that artificial intelligence (AI) researchers are in high demand in both academic and industry circles, but demand far exceeds supply. The company estimated that the U.S. has about 144,000 AI-related job openings, but only about 26,000 developers and specialists with the requisite skills who are looking for work. The California Institute of Technology's Anima Anandkumar said, "It's important [for universities] to have a healthy pipeline and give opportunities to a new crowd, especially from under-represented communities.” Said Mahsa Mohaghegh of New Zealand’s Auckland University of Technology, "Universities need to give faculty members more freedom to work closely with industry. …That’s the only way you can keep people in a cutting-edge field in academia.”

From "Junior AI Researchers in Demand by Universities, Industry"
Nature (04/23/18) Roberta Kwok
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Francine Berman Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Francine Berman has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berman in 2009 was the inaugural recipient of the ACM/IEEE-CS Ken Kennedy Award for "influential leadership in design, development, and deployment of national-scale cyberinfrastructure." She also is former director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and a fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS). In 2015, Berman was appointed a member of the U.S. National Council on the Humanities. Said RPI School of Science dean Curt M. Breneman, "We are all enormously proud of Dr. Berman's election to the AAAS, because it represents a peak of well-deserved recognition for her leadership of the Research Data Alliance, and for her dedication to sustainable digital preservation and public access to critical data."

From "Francine Berman Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences"
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (04/17/19) Mary L. Martialay
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Giving Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation

MIT News

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a particle interaction network that improves robots' abilities to mold materials into target shapes, and to predict interactions with solid objects and liquids. The learn-based particle simulator learns to capture how small portions of different materials, known as "particles," interact when they are poked and prodded. The model directly learns from data in cases where the underlying physics of the movements are uncertain or unknown, so a robot can use it as a guide to predict how liquids, rigid materials, and deformable materials will react to the force of its touch. As the robot handles the objects, the model helps further refine the robot's control. Said MIT’s Yunzhu Li, “Humans have an intuitive physics model in our heads, where we can imagine how an object will behave if we push or squeeze it. …We want to build this type of intuitive model for robots to enable them to do what humans can do.”

From "Giving Robots a Better Feel for Object Manipulation"
MIT News (04/16/19) Rob Matheson
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In African Villages, These Phones Become Ultrasound Scanners

The New York Times

Doctors are using a new hand-held ultrasound scanner to provide medical imaging to residents of remote African villages. The battery-powered Butterfly iQ scanner is designed to upload medical imaging scans to facilitate diagnosis in far-flung rural communities, and help personnel treat pneumonia and other afflictions for populations that otherwise would lack access to medical diagnosis and treatment. The scanner uses microchips rather than piezoelectric crystals for durability. Said Butterfly founder Jonathan Rothberg, “Two-thirds of the world’s population gets no imaging at all. When you put something on a chip, the price goes down and you democratize it.”

From "In African Villages, These Phones Become Ultrasound Scanners"
The New York Times (04/15/19) Donald C. McNeil Jr.
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Exhibition Explores Human Connection in a Virtual World

Folio

The University of Alberta (U of A) in Canada has launched a multimedia art exhibit called "Dyscorpia: Future Intersections of the Body and Technology," which examines the limits of the human body in the 21st century. Dyscorpia is arranged under four themes: Virtual Intelligences and Artificial Bodies; Electrified Anatomies; Stories in Flesh and Bytes, and Out on Our Limbs. The exhibit features the work of about 30 artists and thinkers from disciplines including virtual reality, computer science, visual art, design, contemporary dance, medical humanities, sound creation, and creative writing. All the works explore the question of what it means to not know the limits of our bodies in the face of new technologies. Said U of A's Marilene Oliver, "It's really about what technology is doing to the body, and how we can think about that with very open eyes, and find different ways of looking at it so we make informed decisions."

From "Exhibition Explores Human Connection in a Virtual World"
Folio (04/23/19) Geoff McMaster
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