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Transforming the energy industry with AI

For oil and gas companies, digital transformation is a priority—not only as a way to modernize the enterprise, but also to secure the entire energy ecosystem. With that lens, the urgency of applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities for optimization and cybersecurity becomes clear, especially as threat actors increasingly target connected devices and operating...

China’s surging private space industry is out to challenge the US

China’s space program might have been slowed by the pandemic in 2020, but it certainly didn’t stop. The year’s highlights included sending a rover to Mars, bringing moon rocks back to Earth, and testing out the next-generation crewed vehicle that should take taikonauts into orbit—and possibly to the moon—one day.  But there were a few achievements the rest of the world might not...


WEDNESDAY 20. JANUARY 2021


Biden’s first steps as president: Action on covid and climate

A flurry of executive orders is expected to take place over the next few days from the new US president as he takes residence in the White House. Here are the highlights of those he has signed so far. The “100 day mask challenge” Biden’s first order is part recommendation, part requirement: it requires people to wear masks on all federal property, and recommend that governors and...

Why Trump’s last-minute cyber order could have limited impact

The news: Hours before leaving the presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order that requires American cloud computing companies to do more to verify the identities of their foreign customers. The stated aim is to help prevent hacking operations against the United States, although the timing and scope of the order mean it is surrounded by uncertainty. What it says: The order instructs the...

InSight’s heat probe has failed on Mars. Is the mission a failure?

For two years now, NASA’s InSight probe has sat on the surface of Mars, attempting to dig 5 meters (16 feet) deep in order to install the lander’s heat probe. The instrument was going to effectively take the planet’s temperature and tell scientists more about the internal thermal activity and geology of Mars.  InSight never even got close to realizing that goal. On January 14, NASA...


MONDAY 18. JANUARY 2021


What the complex math of fire modeling tells us about the future of California’s forests

At the height of California’s worst wildfire season on record, Geoff Marshall looked down at his computer and realized that an enormous blaze was about to take firefighters by surprise. Marshall runs the fire prediction team at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (known as Cal Fire), headquartered in Sacramento, which gives him…


SATURDAY 16. JANUARY 2021


Will your neighbors get vaccinated?

As the coronavirus vaccines have rolled out across the US, the process has been confusing and disastrous. States, left by the federal government to fend for themselves, have struggled to get a handle on the logistics of distribution. Many, including Georgia, Virginia, and California, have fallen woefully behind schedule. But even if there were a…


FRIDAY 15. JANUARY 2021


Banks need to strike the right balance for digital transformation

Every financial institution is looking to digital transformation to meet rising customer expectations for speed and convenience, lower its operating cost, and fend off competition, including from tech companies moving into financial services. Some are spending over 10% of yearly revenue on technology investments, according to Bloomberg. “This is a huge investment and most financial institutions...

Worried about your firm’s AI ethics? These startups are here to help.

Rumman Chowdhury’s job used to involve a lot of translation. As the “responsible AI” lead at the consulting firm Accenture, she would work with clients struggling to understand their AI models. How did they know if the models were doing what they were supposed to? The confusion often came about partly because the company’s data scientists, lawyers, and executives seemed to be speaking...


THURSDAY 14. JANUARY 2021


About the Pandemic Technology Project

As covid-19 began spreading around the world, an avalanche of new digital services and data-driven approaches has emerged to aid pandemic response. From smartphone exposure notifications to vaccine allocation algorithms, these systems have been developed under the watch of politicians, public health officials, scientists and businesses. They have also faced many challenges. The Pandemic...

AIs that read sentences can also spot virus mutations

Galileo once observed that nature is written in math. Biology might be written in words. Natural-language processing (NLP) algorithms are now able to generate protein sequences and predict virus mutations, including key changes that help the coronavirus evade the immune system. The key insight making this possible is that many properties of biological systems can be interpreted in terms of...

These five AI developments will shape 2021 and beyond

The year 2020 was profoundly challenging for citizens, companies, and governments around the world. As covid-19 spread, requiring far-reaching health and safety restrictions, artificial intelligence (AI) applications played a crucial role in saving lives and fostering economic resilience. Research and development (R&D) to enhance core AI capabilities, from autonomous driving and natural...

Moderna believes it could update its coronavirus vaccine without a big new trial

Covid vaccines reprogrammed to aim at emerging new strains of the virus could reach the market quickly, without going through large clinical trials, according to officials at Moderna Therapeutics and the US government. As researchers identify mutated versions of the coronavirus that causes covid-19, there’s concern that the germ could evade approved vaccines and new shots could be necessary....


WEDNESDAY 13. JANUARY 2021


We may have only weeks to act before a variant coronavirus dominates the US

The US may face a rapidly closing window to bring a suspected extra-contagious variant of covid-19 under control. If the variant strain, first spotted in the United Kingdom, is as infectious as some suspect, it could dominate US case numbers by March, send covid-19 deaths to unprecedented levels, and collide with the rollout of vaccines, research suggests. British scientists fear that the...


TUESDAY 12. JANUARY 2021


Jumbled-up sentences show that AIs still don’t really understand language

Many AIs that appear to understand language and that score better than humans on a common set of comprehension tasks don’t notice when the words in a sentence are jumbled up, which shows that they don’t really understand language at all. The problem lies in the way natural-language processing (NLP) systems are trained; it also points to a way to make them better. Researchers at Auburn...


MONDAY 11. JANUARY 2021


2021 planning: New business models, big opportunity

When the pandemic threw the world into disarray in spring 2020, most organizations responded by holding on—barely, at times. Executives assessed the impact on operations and dealt with the immediate emergency. Now businesses are ready to move beyond resilience and recovery and capture growth.  Certainly, corporate execs and finance professionals have to focus on the future and...

Broken promises: How Singapore lost trust on contact tracing privacy

For Singaporeans, the covid-19 pandemic has been closely intertwined with technology: two technologies, to be specific. The first is the QR code, whose little black-and-white squares have been ubiquitous all over the country as part of the SafeEntry contact tracing system rolled out in April and May.  Under SafeEntry, anyone entering a public venue—restaurants, stores, malls—must scan...

Amazon has pulled Parler offline

What’s happening: Parler, a site that bills itself as a “free speech social network” and that was widely used to coordinate the storming of the Capitol last week, has gone offline after Amazon stopped hosting it on Sunday night, citing violations of the terms of service. Why?: BuzzFeed obtained a copy of the email from Amazon informing Parler of the decision. It said: “Recently,...


SUNDAY 10. JANUARY 2021


Big Tech’s attention economy can be reformed. Here’s how.

This week a violent mob mounted the biggest attack on the Capitol, the seat of American democracy, in more than 200 years, driven by the false belief that the presidential election had been stolen. The chief author of that claim was President Donald Trump, but the mob’s readiness to believe it was in large part a product of the attention economy that modern technology has created. News feeds...


SATURDAY 9. JANUARY 2021


Users, not tech executives, should decide what constitutes free speech online

On January 7, following the violent white supremacist riots that breached the US Capitol, Twitter and Facebook both suspended President Donald Trump from their platforms. The next day, Twitter made its suspension permanent. Many praised the decision for preventing the president from doing more harm at a time when his adherents are taking cues from his false claims that the election was rigged....

Twitter bans Trump

Less than 24 hours after President Trump was allowed back on Twitter, the social media platform announced it was permanently suspending his @realdonaltrump account on Friday afternoon “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” The decision followed several more tweets warning that his supporters would not be “disrespected” and saying he would not attend the inauguration of Joe...


FRIDAY 8. JANUARY 2021


The scramble to archive Capitol insurrection footage before it disappears

As a violent mob incited by President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6, halting the procedure in Congress to formally certify Joe Biden as president-elect, a Redditor with the username Adam Lynch began a thread on the subreddit r/DataHoarder—a forum dedicated to saving data that might be erased or deleted. “Archiving videos before potential removal from various websites …”...

Five ways to make AI a greater force for good in 2021

A year ago, none the wiser about what 2020 would bring, I reflected on the pivotal moment that the AI community was in. The previous year, 2018, had seen a series of high-profile automated failures, like self-driving-car crashes and discriminatory recruiting tools. In 2019, the field responded with more talk of AI ethics than ever before. But talk, I said, was not enough. We needed to take...