Issue 161: CognitionX Data Science, AI and Machine Learning

We’ve been talking a lot in the office about AI’s impact on the social good.

Just this week, Google researchers unveiled a powerful tool called Perspective, which is an API that uses machine learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. It helps combat hate speech and toxic comments.

Tweet us @cognition_x your favourite examples of how AI is having an impact on the social good!


Tabitha UntiltheBotsTakeOver Goldstaub 


Check out Alphabet’s new tool to weed out the ‘toxic’ abuse of online comments

A research team tied to Google unveiled a new tool on Thursday that could have a profound effect on how we talk to each other online. It’s called “Perspective,” and it provides a way for news websites and blogs to moderate online discussions with the help of artificial intelligence.

The Perspective tool was hatched by artificial intelligence experts at Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Google-holding company Alphabet that is devoted to policy and ideas. The significance of the tool, pictured below, is that it can decide if an online comment is “toxic” without the aid of human moderators. This means websites—many of which have given up on hosting comments altogether—could now have an affordable way to let their readers debate contentious topics of the day in a civil and respectful forum.

Products We Love

Microsoft’s creates AI which helps you write code

Microsoft has made some impressive leaps forward in the world of AI, but this might be its biggest yet. Microsoft Research, in conjunction with Cambridge University, has developed an AI that’s able to solve programming problems by reusing lines of code cribbed from other programs.

The AI – which is called DeepCoder – takes an input and an expected output and then fills in the gaps, using pre-created code that it believes will create the desired output. This approach is called ‘program

In short, this is the digital equivalent of searching for your problem on Stack Overflow, and then copying-and-pasting some code you think might work. It’s able to scour and combine code with the speed of a computer, and is able to use machine learning in order to sort the fragments by their probable usefulness.


Sotheby’s launches VR surrealist paintings

Fans of four key surrealist works can now step inside them for the first time, as Sotheby’s launches virtual reality paintings.

The auction house has become the first to commission designers to create a 360 degree experience, translating the original paintings into a lived experience through Occulus Rift headsets.

Nigel Hilditch, director of video for Sotheby’s Europe, said the VR technology would add to the depth of understanding of each painting, capturing the atmosphere as close to the artist’s original intentions as designers could manage.

Future of Health

For hospitals that can’t afford a surgical robot, this $500 device could fit the bill

A new $500 device developed by researchers at the University of Michigan improves upon existing tools used for minimally invasive surgery and could help surgeons in small and remote hospitals do certain precise medical procedures that are currently performed by a $2 million robotic system at large medical centres.

The device, which is being commercialized by
FlexDex Surgical, is a handheld instrument for making small incisions and stitching in the body. It mounts to a surgeon’s arm and locates the device’s centre of rotation at the same point as the surgeon’s wrist, so that it operates like an extension of the arm. The device has been used for the first time for an abdominal surgery at the University of Michigan Health System, and its inventors say it could be used for a range of other procedures like hernia repairs, hysterectomies, and prostate removal surgeries.


Inside Facebook’s AI machine

Steven Levy, editor of Backchannel has written a great overview of Facebook’s AI activity, focusing on Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Director of Engineering for Applied Machine Learning.

Candela breaks down the applications of AI in four areas: vision, language, speech, and camera effects. All of those, he says, will lead to a “content understanding engine.” By figuring out how to actually know what content means, Facebook intends to detect subtle intent from comments, extract nuance from the spoken word, identify faces of your friends that fleetingly appear in videos, and interpret your expressions and map them onto avatars in virtual reality sessions.

“We are working on the generalization of AI,” says Candela. “With the explosion of content we need to understand and analyze, our ability to generate labels that tells what things can’t keep up.” The solution lies in building generalized systems where work on one project can accrue to the benefit of other teams working on related projects. Says Candela, “If I can build algorithms where I can transfer knowledge from one task to another, that’s awesome, right?”

Business Impact of AI

Irish companies preparing for AI revolution

As many as three quarters of Irish companies believe AI will have a major impact on their industry in the coming years, with 25 per cent expecting it to completely transform their sector.

That’s according to Accenture’s annual Technology Vision 2017 report, which reports on the most disruptive tech trends for businesses.

The survey of more than 5,400 business and IT executives across 16 industries and 31 countries, including Ireland, indicates that AI is moving far beyond being a back-end tool to take on a more sophisticated role within companies.

Irish companies are seen to be particularly aware of the changing role for AI with 71 per cent of those surveyed saying they believe it will revolutionise the way they gain information from and interact with customers. Almost three quarters of those surveyed also expect AI interfaces to become their primary interface for interacting with the outside world.


A probabilistic framework for location inference from social media

In this paper, the authors study the extent to which we can infer users’ geographical locations from social media. Location inference from social media can benefi€t many applications, such as disaster management, targeted advertising, and news content tailoring. In recent years, a number of algorithms have been proposed for identifying user locations on social media platforms such as TwittŠer and Facebook from message contents, friend networks, and interactions between users. In this paper, they propose a novel probabilistic model based on factor graphs for location inference that o‚ffers several unique advantages for this task.

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