Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 7, 2020

in STEMGeekslast year

A new robot teaches itself to drive off-road; 3D printed models make it easier to study brain cancer and discover treatments; Rapid migration to remote-working during the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating information security risks; Brave browser update for android offers performance improvements; and a Steem essay describing a recently discovered mechanism for the collapse of neutron stars


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  1. UC Berkeley's AI-Powered Robot Teaches Itself to Drive Off-Road - Subtitle: BADGR trains its deep neural network using data it gathers from real-world environmentsToday's typical autonomous vehicles do their processing mainly in terms of geometry. As a result, a blade of grass may seem like an obstacle, and the vehicle may be unable to make many decisions correctly. BADGR offers an improvement over typical methods by implementing the following steps: (i) Autonomous data collection; (ii) Using self-supervision to label data automatically; (iii) Training a neural predictive model using an image-based neural network; and (iv) Use the predictive model to plan and complete navigational tasks and goals.

    Here is a video:

  2. A 3D-PRINTED BRAIN COULD MAKE IT EASIER TO FIND CANCER TREATMENTS - A recent publication in Science Advances describes work by a group of researchers to gain understanding into glioblastoma. This brain cancer is the deaddliest type of cancer, where only 10% of people survive for five years after diagnosis. By creating a 3D model of the brain from an amalgamation of biomaterials and human brain cells, the researchers hope they can help the medical community to speed up the discovery of drugs and improve their understanding of how the disease spreads. Corresponding author Guohao Dai is quoted as saying, "This is a very difficult brain tumor to treat", and "it’s also difficult to do research on the brain tumor, because you cannot really see what’s happening." Addressing those problems, the article includes the following description:
    To be able to study glioblastoma more directly, Dai, whose lab specializes in 3D printing live tissue, grew a three-dimensional model to act as brain tissue for tumor cells to infiltrate.

    “We use human brain blood vessel cells, and connect them with all the neurons, pericytes, astrocytes, the major cell types in the human brain,” Dai says. A water-based substance known as a hydrogel serves as a matrix to hold these cells in place. “Then we use 3D printing to stack them in three-dimensional fashion.”
    As the cancer cells invade the 3D model, scientists are able to use a laser to study its behavior without disrupting the structure of the model. -h/t Communications of the ACM

  3. Cybersecurity During COVID-19 - As the days of the covid-19 stretch into weeks, the effects of hasty migration to remote work arrangements are becoming apparent. As identified several weeks ago, when people work from home, their equipment maintenance is liable to be less diligent, and their security patches are more likely to be out of date. Now, NASA is observing an increase in cyberattacks, including a doubling of phishing attempts and an exponential increase in malware along with a doubling of website blocking by mitigation systems.

  4. New fully rebuilt Brave for Android boosts performance across the board compared to prior versions: 5% battery savings along with 3% of both data and CPU savings - The new version of the Brave browser for android is version number 1.5.120. It is now available for download/update through Google's Play web site. According to the developers, this program will deliver improvements over previous versions in battery life, CPU performance, and data usage. The article also offers performance comparisons between Brave and other browsers. According to the post, the Brave browser delivers markedly better performance than Firefox or Vivaldi, and even though DuckDuckGo is closer, Brave outperforms that, too.

  5. Steem @kralizec: Neon That Eats Electrons Starts The Collapse Of Massive Stars - The post is conveniently summarized in an opening description, so I don't have much to add. Here's what it says:
    In the cores of stars that have a mass of 8 to 10 Suns atoms of neon and magnesium catch degenerated electron. But these electrons hold the core against its own gravity. Once they are gone the core collapses and the star goes supernova.
    Click through for more details. The original reference is Evolution of ONeMg Core in Super-AGB Stars toward Electron-capture Supernovae: Effects of Updated Electron-capture Rate, from November, 2019. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @kralizec.)

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R robots gonna take the place of all who die from this pandemic? I just watched a video military/ government robot YouTube with my fiance (sorry can't link it) it was super advanced, had some AI, i.e. enough to demonstrate anger when pushed and /or kicked around WITH weapons in hand. It was kinda scary....js

Thanks for the reply!

I don't know if robots will replace people who die from COVID-19, but they are being used to help keep people alive during the pandemic. I've covered a couple examples in Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 2, 2020 and Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for February 3, 2020.

I've seen Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot that's able to recover when it's knocked off balance. I haven't seen one that demonstrates anger, though, so I'm not sure if this is the same one you saw. I agree, that would be scary. Anyway, here's Atlas:

It does gymnastics too! (as covered in Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for September 29, 2019)

Sorry my upvote is worth nothing! Yeah robots can be helpful I think some will have their AI (if they have quality AI) influenced whether purposefully by other humans or even robots and influenced for good or bad. Atlas is cool. Thanks for sharing those vids. I didn't even think about their capabilities of spreading the virus but that's a fair point. Drones could be doing that too. I have asthma, in the past have had pneumonia, bronchitis, pneumonitis, so this damn virus does concern me. Hopefully robots will be used for the good. Your Post inspired me to post as well and you can see near the end of the video the robot literally gets pissed and begins shooting near the humans for retaliation ,it was disturbing.

I saw your post earlier, and thought it was interesting, if disconcerting. I was thinking to myself that you couldn't pay me enough to be the guy jumping in front of the gun...

However, I just clicked through to view it again and now I am not sure how much to believe from it. Looks like it might be some sort of digitally altered video, because the descriptions says,

This video is a comedic parody and is not owned, endorsed, created by, or associated with the Boston Dynamics company.

Also, the top comment says, "the CGI was almost convincing".