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    New scan can use eye images to detect heart attack risk

    Scientists at Google have discovered a new eye test that can tell if a person is susceptible to heart disease, according to new findings published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering

    The team made this discovery by using a combination of retina scans and artificial intelligence to detect the chances a patient will suffer a heart attack or stroke. That allowed them to predict with 70 percent accuracy if a patient would experience a major cardiovascular event within five years.

    Such results show the tests were just as accurate as invasive methods — including sticking a needle into the arm — when it came to predicting cardiovascular disease.

    To get their analysis, scientists took results based on data from 284,335 patients and validated it on two independent data sets of 12,026 and 999 patients. The technique allowed researchers to build a “heatmap.” That graphical representation of the data revealed which pixels in an image were the most important for predicting a specific risk factor.

    For example, the team’s algorithm focused much more on blood vessels for making predictions about blood pressure.

    “Pattern recognition and making use of images is one of the best areas for AI right now,” explained Harlan M. Krumholz, a professor of medicine at Yale University who was not involved in the study, according to USA Today.

    However, as interesting as the new findings are, much more research needs to be done before any conclusive findings can be made. Even so, the study could help scientists better understand certain processes and diagnoses in new ways. 

    That time is a few years off, but researchers also believe the AI used in the study could have other applications as well.

    “I am very excited about what this means for discovery,” said study co-author Lily Peng, a researcher at Google, according to UPI. “We hope researchers in other places will take what we have and build on it.”

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    Fed-Ex admits to storing sensitive data on unsecured server

    To be sure, there have been numerous stories of security and data breaches lately. Uber tried to cover up their story but eventually had to answer to Congress. Equifax’s initial response to its massive data exposure  created a security issue of its own. Federal employees were found stealing data from the department of Homeland Security. And now, FedEx has been affected.  The carrier’s customer records — including passports, driver’s licenses and other security IDs — have been exposed, according to security researchers at Kromtech, the company that owns MacKeeper software security systems.

    FedEx purchased Bongo International Shipping in 2014, rebranded it as FedEx Crossborder, and then shut it down in 2017.. The exposed data was reportedly stored on an unsecured Amazon S3 virtual server that belonged to Bongo, and contained records from a period of 2009 – 20012, according to Kromtech.  While, upon discovery, the exposed server was removed from public access, the records have still been available for a significant period of time.

    In a statement to the press, FedEx said,”we can confirm that some archived Bongo International account information located on a server hosted by a third-party, public cloud provider is secure. The data was part of a service that was discontinued after our acquisition of Bongo. We have found no indication that any information has been misappropriated and will continue our investigation.”





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    Popularity of electric cars could make ocean water safe to drink

    An abundant supply of lithium batteries will be required if electric cars are ever going to take over. And, this creates a problem, since conventional mines only have so much lithium available. There may, however, be a unique solution to this problem: turning the world’s oceans into eco-friendly lithium mines.

    Scientists have, in fact, outlined a ‘desalination’ technique that would use metal-organic frameworks (sponge-like structures with very high surface areas) with sub-nanometer pores to catch lithium ions– while purifying ocean water at the same time. The approach mimics the tendency of cell membranes to selectively dehydrate and carry ions, leaving the lithium behind while producing water that is safe to drink.

    The concept of extracting lithium from ocean water is not new. However, this technique would be much more efficient and environmentally friendly. It doesn’t require pumping water of using harmful or inefficient chemicals. Instead of tearing up the landscape to find mineral deposits, battery makers would just have to deploy enough filters into the water to recover lithium from the waste water.

    Scientists say this method warrants considerably more study before it is ready for real-world use. However, its implications are already clear. If this desalination approach reaches sufficient scale, the world would have much more lithium available for electric vehicles, phones and other battery-based devices. It would also reduce the environmental impact of these devices and make lithium mining safer overall.

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    Uber and Waymo reach settlement

    A settlement has been reached in the trade secrets lawsuit, Waymo vs. Uber. The lawsuit is being dismissed with prejudice. Much to everyone’s surprise, the trial ended sooner than expected. As one of the most high profile trials in Silicon Valley, that was expected to last for three weeks, the settlement was reached on the morning of day five.

    According to Bloomberg, Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, claimed that in 2015, one of their senior engineers, Anthony Levandowski, constructed a plan with Uber for him to steal more than 14,000 proprietary files, including the designs for lidar technology that helps driverless cars see their surroundings. Right after Levandowski left Google, he founded Otto, a self-driving truck startup, which was acquired by Uber. Waymo’s lawyers argued that Uber wound up with those allegedly stolen files and merely masqueraded the process as an acquisition.

    Waymo will receive a financial settlement that includes 0.34% of Uber’s equity based on a $72 billion valuation, putting the reward at $245 million. Uber also agreed not to incorporate Waymo’s confidential information into hardware and software used in its self-driving cars. Waymo had been seeking $1.8 billion in damages.

    According to a statement issued by Waymo “we have reached an agreement with Uber that we believe will protect Waymo’s intellectual property now and into the future. “We are committed to working with Uber to make sure that each company develops its own technology. This includes an agreement to ensure that any Waymo confidential information is not being incorporated in Uber Advanced Technologies Group hardware and software. We have always believed competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs and on the roads and we look forward to bringing fully self-driving cars to the world.”

    New Uber CEO, issued a statement regarding the case and the future of Uber, stating that the company will focus on the future and move past its mistakes. “While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward. I’ve told Alphabet that the incredible people at Uber ATG are focused on ensuring that our development represents the very best of Uber’s innovation and experience in self-driving technology. As we change the way we operate and put integrity at the core of every decision we make, we look forward to the great race to build the future. We believe that race should be fair – and one whose ultimate winners are people, cities and our environment.”

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    Video game could help schizophrenia patients control hallucinations

    A video game may help people with schizophrenia tune out external voices by allowing them to control the part of the brain associated with verbal hallucinations, according to a study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

    The new research comes from scientists at King’s College London, who asked 12 schizophrenic patients — all of which have daily verbal hallucinations — to play a video game while in an MRI scanner. In the game, the subjects needed to move a computerized rocket that represented their own neural activity in the speech-sensitive part of the brain down to Earth.

    After playing four times, the participants managed to reduce their neural activity and tune out external voices. That in turn lowered the power of their hallucinations. Eventually, researchers managed to get the patients to learn lasting strategies that they could apply to their everyday life.

    “We want them to immediately put this aid into effect to lessen them, or stop the voices completely,” said lead author Natasza Orlov, a researcher at King’s College London, according to BBC News

    Schizophrenia affects more than 21 million people across the world. Though there are many different types, one of the most common is hearing voices. Research shows that 70 percent of people with the condition hear voices, and medication only works for roughly 30 percent of those patients.

    This new discovery could help ease such symptoms and provide those with the disease a new way to overcome their hallucinations. There is till a long way to go for this type of research, but there is no doubt the video game holds promise based on the early results. This could be especially helpful for people who do not respond well to medication, and the team hopes to continue their research in the coming months.

    “These findings suggest that patients with AVH have the ability to alter activity and connectivity in speech and language regions, and raise the possibility that rtfMRI-NF training could present a novel therapeutic intervention in SCZ,” the researchers wrote in their study, according to Tech Times.

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    New self-healing skin could lead to advanced robotics

    A team of researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder have created an electronic skin that can heal itself over time, according to new research in Science Advances

    The new technology is a thin film equipped with a series of advanced sensors that help it detect and interact with the environment. Not only can it detect pressure, but it has the ability to measure temperature, humidity, and air flow as well. In that way, it acts like human skin.

    To develop the material, researchers used a covalently bonded dynamic network polymer known as polyimine. They laced the substance with silver nanoparticles that allow it to heal itself when cut or damaged. It does that by recreating chemical bonds between the two split pieces, giving them a way to comeback together.

    Another benefit of the material is that it is easily recyclable. If it becomes damaged beyond repair, scientists can simply soak it in a special solution that breaks it down for future use.

    “To recycle the skin, the device is soaked into recycling solution, making the polymers degrade into oligomers, polymers with polymerization degree usually below 10, and monomers, small molecules that can be joined together into polymers, both of which are soluble in ethanol,” said study co-author Xiao Jianliang, assistant professor from University of Colorado Boulder, according to Perfscience. “The silver nanoparticles sink to the bottom of the solution.

    The new skin is a great advancement in electronic organs, but its biggest application could be robotics. There is still a lot of undiscovered territory in the field, and being able to create skin that is sensitive to touch could help create much more gentle and subtle machines.

    “Let’s say you wanted a robot to take care of a baby,” explained study co-author Wei Zhang, a researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “In that case you would integrate e-skin on the robot fingers that can feel the pressure of the baby. The idea is to try and mimic biological skin with e-skin that has desired functions.”

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    Clean-energy technologies get tax breaks in budget deal

    The two-year budget deal that the White House approved last week extends tax credits for several clean-energy technologies, including carbon-sequestration systems, alternative-energy vehicles, and energy-efficient grid and housing innovations. The tax credits made it into the budget plan with bipartisan support in the Senate and House.

    Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Shelley Moore Capito all pushed for the carbon-sequestration measure, which raises an existing credit per ton of carbon dioxide that the recipients’ facility sequesters or reuses. The measure also extends the tax credit for 12 years and applies to any facility that instituted a carbon-sequestration system within the past seven years. Lawmakers supporting the tax credit praised its potential to mitigate coal pollution.

    “This is a big win for our climate and the promising new carbon capture and utilization technologies looking to gain a foothold in the market,” said Whitehouse. “And it takes a key step forward in combating climate change by putting a dollar value on reducing carbon pollution.”

    Carbon sequestration is consistent with President Trump’s energy goals. He has spoken repeatedly of preserving coal-mining jobs, and in his State of the Union address he called for more development of “clean coal.”

    The deal also extends a $0.018 per-kWh credit for nuclear power plants that generate more than 6,000MW. According to energy news site Utility Dive, the tax credits may also help small modular reactors (SMRs), which Energy Secretary Rick Perry has advocated for throughout his tenure.

    Tax credits for building micro turbines and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) turbines both got five-year extensions. The deal also preserved tax credits for energy-efficient buildings, two-wheeled electric vehicles, and biodiesel and renewable-diesel engines. In addition, tax credits for fuel cell vehicles got an extension, as well as tax credits for installing biodiesel and natural-gas electricity.

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    MoviePass acquires half-a-million new users in one month

    MoviePass’ $10-per-month movie theater subscription service has acquired 500,000 more subscribers just one month after it reached 1.5 million users. It also seems the fact that MoviePass cut off members’ access to some popular AMC theaters had little—if any—effect. The advantages of MoviePass are hard to deny: for $10 a month (an ongoing promotion even cuts the price down to $7.95), customers can see one 2D film a day, every day, without paying extra.

    In 2017, members bought $110 million worth of tickets and generated an additional $146 million in ticket sales by bringing non-members to showings. MoviePass chief Mitch Lowe said in a statement: “We’re giving people a reason to go back to the movie theaters, and they’re going in droves. With awards season here, we hope we can make Hollywood and exhibitors very happy by filling seats with eager audiences.”

    However, according to Bloomberg news, some people question the viability of this subscription service. Every time a member watches a movie, the service pays for that subscriber’s ticket at full price. It loses money for members that watch two movies a month, and its accountants apparently already warned the company that its system might not be viable in the long run. AMC shares the same sentiment and once called the business model unsustainable. It’s like turning “lead into gold,” the theater chain said in a statement last year.

    So, how does MoviePass plan to make money if subscribers aren’t bringing in the cash? It’s hoping to sell ads, merchandise and data on moviegoers’ habits, as well as to get a cut of theaters’ refreshment sales as they go up from all the viewers it brings to cinemas. The company is also hoping to convince theater chains to sell it tickets for its members at a discounted rate.

    Whether the strategy will work remains to be seen, When MoviePass was dropped by several AMC locations, it said it would continue to strive for mutually-beneficial relationships with” them. AMC chief Adam Aron, who has has been a vocal critic of the service, already proclaimed that the chain has no intention of sharing its admissions or concessions revenues.

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    Police in China now using facial recognition smart glasses

    Police in China are using smart glasses to identify potential crime suspects.

    The country already has the world’s largest surveillance operation with approximately 170 CCTV cameras at work. But its view is about to get even broader thanks to new smart eyewear that is being piloted by police officers.

    The smart glasses closely resemble Google Glass, but they are used for identifying potential crime suspects. They connect to a feed which taps into China’s state database to root out potential criminals using facial recognition technology. Officers can identify suspects in a crowd by snapping their photo and matching it to the database. They are also provided with the individual’s address, the BBC reports.

    The technology has already facilitated the capture of seven individuals, while 35 others using fake IDs are said to have been found, according to Chinese state media reports.

    The glasses have been released in Zhengzhou, the capital of central province Henan, where they have been used to surveil those traveling by plane and train, according to the Wall Street Journal. With Chinese New Year, the world’s largest human migration, coming later this month, they could be used to surveil the hundreds of millions of people who travel the country, and beyond, for the holiday period.

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    Amazon ‘Prime Now’ offers free Whole Foods deliveries in four U.S.cities

    Thursday, February 8, 2018:  In an effort to corner more of the off-line retail market, Amazon today announced that it would be opening Whole Foods deliveries to Amazon prime members as part of its Prime Now two-hour delivery service, according to Reuter’s. 

    Amazon purchased Whole Foods year and had since been using the acquisition to try and change the way people shop for groceries.

    Starting immediately, Prime members in  Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach can have Whole Foods orders of more than $35 delivered directly to their door between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The company said that it plans to expand the offering across the U.S. throughout 2018.

     Amazon first introduced Prime Now to New York in 2014 and has since expanded the service across the country and even internationally. Through Prime Now, members can get free delivery on certain products within a two-hour period, or they can pay $7.99 for an expedited one-hour delivery.