🏥 Healthcare and life science
Longitudinal, non-invasive, (quasi) real-time and cost-effective health monitoring is hugely important if we’re to improve public health globally. Naturally, connected devices and AI techniques will help scale up the analytical components of such endeavors. In an exciting study
published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers from Stanford, South Korea and Leiden built a proof-of-concept mountable toilet system for personalized health monitoring via the analysis of excreta. This “smart” toilet system does a few nifty things: 1) it analyses a user’s urine by monitoring the color of urinalysis strips, 2) it uses computer vision as a uroflowmeter to measure flow rate and volume of urine, 3) and it classifies stool using deep learning, all with performance that is comparable to that of trained medical personnel. The system is personalised because each toilet identifies its user through a visual fingerprint derived from distinctive features of their anoderm. To start with, this smart toilet can help us identify a baseline of human health and can be followed with biochemical assays to inform health states.
How do we protect workers in manufacturing and critical infrastructure facilities during COVID? While most large enterprises are using CCTV cameras for manual review of security and health and safety, they can now utilise computer vision software
to operationalise 24/7 health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes thermal monitoring and social distancing.
A number of Chinese clinical centers have been training and testing deep learning-based image analysis systems for COVID patients. A review
of these X-Ray and CT-based studies shows how these techniques could be useful for COVID identification, classification, and quantification.
You can track all relevant scientific literature and news emerging around COVID-19 through Primer.ai’s portal here
It was only in mid-February that the London-based AI-first drug discovery companies Benevolent.ai used its knowledge graph approach to identify baricitinib as a potential therapeutic against COVID-19. Now, Eli Lilly, which developed the drug for other indications, has launched
a randomised trial to investigate the efficacy and safety of baricitinib as a potential treatment for patients with serious COVID-19 infections. This is hugely exciting, not only for global public health, but also as real-world validation that AI-first approaches can indeed rapidly accelerate the discovery of much needed therapeutics. On the topic of knowledge graphs, you can find an open-source COVID-19 knowledge graph here
Recursion Pharmaceutics, the leading US-based AI-first drug discovery company, pointed its computer vision-based high-content phenotypic screening platform at 1,670 approved and reference drug compounds to discover which might rescue the COVID-19 phenotype in human kidney cells. The research
showed that only remdesivir had strong anti-viral phenotype efficacy. They found that neither chloroquine nor hydroxychloroquine had any beneficial effect in this human cell model. You can find the data open sourced here
🔮The politics of AI
Modern deep learning model performance is largely constrained by access to compute. A group of universities led by Stanford launched a call to action for a government-sponsored National Research Cloud
to boost American AI productivity. A few questions come to mind here: Will putting this into practice mean that the government issues an RFP in which the only likely winners are public AI hardware and cloud vendors? Or would new vendors like Graphcore and Cerebras stand to gain? At the end of the day, however, would such a facility be that different than the government handing out large cheques to research groups to spend on the same public clouds?
The US government continued its pressure
on Huawei after blacklisting the company last year. A proposed rule change would mean that foreign companies using US chip making equipment would be required to obtain a U.S. license before supplying certain chips to Huawei. In response, Huawei is shoring up
chip production away from Taiwan’s TSMC (which is directly affected by the aforementioned ruling) towards mainland China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). It’s estimated that Huawei accounts for 15% of TSMC’s revenues. Importantly, Huawei’s mobile Kirin processors that power the company’s flagship P30 and P20 smartphones can only be made by TSMC. Finally, Huawei’s revenues are turning more inward into China: the company now 41.4% of the domestic market
, up from 33.9% a year earlier.
🚗 Autonomous technology
As stay at home programmes continue around the world, the demand on logistics infrastructure continues to mount. This is perhaps the long-awaited demand-side tipping point for automated robot delivery providers including Starship, which is rapidly expanding
its contactless grocery delivery service. TuSimple and Nuro
are also expanding
their grocery fleets.
But its not just robots for delivery logistics that are seeing increased demand. Brain Corp, which supplies technology for a fleet of 10,000+ autonomous indoor surface cleaning robots, said that their robots are currently
doing 8,000+ hours of cleaning work a day. With increased attention to the hygiene of public spaces, expect this number to move up and to the right.
💪 The giants
Intel as its prime contractor for its four-year Guaranteeing AI Robustness against Deception (GARD)
Google worked with Copenhagen-based energy startup Tomorrow to develop a carbon-intelligence compute platform
that runs compute-intensive jobs at times/days when energy is most likely to come low carbon-emitting sources.
🇨🇳 AI in China
There’s no doubt that deep fake R&D is advancing rapidly. Jeff Ding shared a translation
that recounts how a Chinese web drama TV show Love of Thousand Years
went ahead and face swapped an actress out of the show in post-production. Why? The actress in question was put on the artist black list after public transport authorities said she’d been travelling with more flammable compressed gas cans than allowed. Putting her actions aside for a second, this face swapping episode should catalyse standards around IP ownership
of one’s identity for use in media.
Fermented electronic components? Zymergen announced its newest product called Hyaline
, in collaboration with Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation. The material is produced in bacteria and can be used to create thinner films that are foldable, flexible, and more durable. This has relevance in the production of full-screen touch sensors. To learn more about Zymergen, check out Aaron Kimball’s talk at RAAIS 2019 here
Google is rumored
to be shoring up its mobile device chips, e.g. those for the Pixel smartphone that are currently produced by Qualcomm. Google is said to have collaborated with Samsung on a 5-nanometer chip that will replace Qualcomm in a year’s time. This will give Google more full-stack control over its devices and help the company improve its bill of material margins.