Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 2, 2020

in STEMGeekslast year (edited)

Daniel Lemire announces the release of simdjson 0.3, the "fastest JSON parser in the world"; Systematic review finds that most comparisons between artificial intelligence systems and human clinicians are not rigorous enough for strong conclusions; Autonomous robots helping healthcare workers fight coronavirus in Texas; Description of a blood serum test for coronavirus antibodies; and a Steem post with a youtube embed discussing the uniqueness of cephalopods...


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First posted on my Steem blog: StemGeeks, SteemIt, SteemPeak*, SteemSTEM.


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  1. We released simdjson 0.3: the fastest JSON parser in the world is even better! - The latest simdjson library for C++ can parse json at a rate of 2.5 GB per second. This is markedly faster than other libraries like RapidJSON and sajson. Getting faster speeds out of json parsing is important because disks can output data at speeds exceeding 5GB per second, and network adapters can flow even faster. Given the Steem blockchain's heavy use of custom_json data, this may be a useful library for Steem's developer community.

  2. Artificial intelligence versus clinicians: systematic review of design, reporting standards, and claims of deep learning studies - News sources frequently claim that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can perform medical tasks as well or better than their human counterparts. A number of those stories have even been covered in the #rsslog series of posts. This open access study finds that most such claims are not supported by sufficient levels of rigor. In particular, only 10 records were found that performed randomized clinical trials, and of those, 8 are still in progress. Further, in non-randomized trials, the article claims that the risk of bias was high in 58 of 81 studies examined, and that adherence to reporting standards was less than 50%. I'll try to remember to be more skeptical of these types of claims in the future. -h/t Daniel Lemire

  3. How Diligent's Robots Are Making a Difference in Texas Hospitals - Last month, Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 13, 2020 reported on autonomous robots that were deployed to sterilize hospitals in China. Now we have a hospital assistant that's helping healthcare workers in Texas. Moxi, a robot from Diligent Robotics, is being evaluated as an assistant that can automate routine work and free healthcare workers to focus on activities that require more intellect. The company's CEO, Andrea Thomaz is quoted as saying,
    As our hospital customers are implementing new protocols to respond to the [COVID-19] crisis, we are working with them to identify the best ways for Moxi to be deployed as a resource
    The same kinds of delivery tasks we have been doing are still just as needed as ever, but we are also working with them to identify use cases where having Moxi do a delivery task also reduces infection risk to people in the environment.
    Overall, Diligent focuses its efforts on achieving human-robot interaction, full automation, and manipulation. The article also includes an interview transcript from early this year with Thomaz.

    Here is a 2019 video:

    More about Moxi here.

  4. The coronavirus test that might exempt you from social distancing—if you pass Subtitle: There is a lot of hype around the potential for antibody testing to help get us back outside sooner rather than later. Here’s how it works. - Because many people who get infected by the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all, there may be a substantial population who has already been infected and cleared it. According to the best available evidence so far, those people are now immune to the disease, so it should be safe for them to start returning to public spaces --- if they can be identified. A number of companies have now embarked on that mission, by attempting to make a test that can identify coronavirus antibodies in the blood stream. Typically, collection can be accomplished with just a pin prick and enable clinicians to analyze the patient's blood serum by searching for antibodies that were made in response to a large protein that sticks out of the virus' surface. This search is done by placing the virus on a plate and exposing it to the sample. If the antibody exists, it will bind itself to the virus, and that changes the color of the solution. In contrast, current tests for the COVID-19 disease consist of searching for the virus, itself, which cannot detect past exposure to the illness. Tests of this sort can range in price from $10 to $51, and they take about 5 minutes to yield results. One possible risk that arises from letting people with antibodies return to the work force is that some people may intentionally expose themselves to the disease in order to bring an early end to their time under house arrest.

  5. Steem @answerswithjoe: Cephalopods: Aliens From Earth | Random Thursday - This post contains an embedded youtube video where @answerswithjoe takes on the questions of (i) how octopuses and other cephalopods have many genes that are completely different from other species of animals; and (ii) why these animals have such different characteristics including 8 arms, large brains, and extraordinary capabilities for problem solving. Other unique characteristics include their abilities to move by propulsion, their complete absence of bones, and their abilities to change coloring to match their environment or attract a mate. Possible explanations for their extreme differences include the notions that life on Earth may have been seeded by life from comets, that life on Earth developed independently two or more times, or that it emerged from the animals' unique ability to edit their own RNA.

    Here is the video, but please click through and give @answerswithjoe an upvote:

    For more about the intelligence of cephalopods, here is a Ted Talk by Roger Hanlon, The amazing brains and morphing skin of octopuses and other cephalopods that was covered in Interesting Links: June 2, 2019

    (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @answerswithjoe.)

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