Abundance Insider: February 22nd, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: OpenAI’s latest text-generation project, Qualcomm’s continued 5G momentum, and drone augmented law enforcement. 

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Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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OpenAI Built A Text Generator So Good, They're Not Releasing It

OpenAI Built A Text Generator So Good, They're Not Releasing It

What it is: OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence research firm backed by Elon Musk and other key tech-personalities, built a highly powerful AI text-generator. Coined GPT-2, OpenAI’s new AI systems showcases a broad set of capabilities, like completing passages from a short prompt written by a human, succinctly summarizing long-form, human-written passages, and answering comprehension and commonsense questions. To begin, GPT-2 had access to unstructured data from 8 million web pages, simply to predict the next word given all the previous words within some text.

Why it's important: From deepfakes to AI news anchors and high-fidelity text generation, AI systems gained major research momentum over the past 24 months, with OpenAI at the forefront of these developments. What becomes possible when we have AI systems, trained with data sets of our own writing, that can write in our voice? More yet, what unprecedented productivity do we gain when we can train AI systems to read and create with our unique lens?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Max Goldberg 

This Origami Screen Turns Your Windows Into Solar Panels

This Origami Screen Turns Your Windows Into Solar Panels

What it is: A green disruptor in intelligent design, Australian firm Prevalent is working on a prototype of origami-style blinds that both generate electricity and reflect light into residential interiors. Mimicking the geometry of a common louver, the firm’s Solgami design consists of custom origami units, each printed flat and coated with dye-sensitized solar cells and reflective ink. Once each unit is folded into its fixed geometric shape and connected to a panel, the front of the panels can rotate to reflect light at various times of day. Most importantly, however, the shape of each Solgami unit allows light to bounce off the interior of the solar cell-coated panel multiple times, maximizing light absorption, after which it is reflected directly into the room.

Why it's important: Today, even the most advanced solar cells tout an efficiency of nearly 25 percent, leaving a hefty chunk of light untapped for electricity generation. As populations grow increasingly urbanized across the globe, what if we could innovate on basic home staples (such as windows and blinds) to double as household utility providers? In the words of Prevalent’s director Ben Berwick, “We’re looking at repositioning the city as a place of production, not just a place of consumption.” By reflecting unabsorbed light into its own architecture, Prevalent's Solgami design could help achieve this goal, enabling people to participate in a global transition to renewable energy and grow more self-sufficient in the process.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Claire Adair 

CRISPR Gene Editing Makes Stem Cells ‘Invisible’ To Immune System

CRISPR Gene Editing Makes Stem Cells ‘Invisible’ To Immune System

What it is: Researchers at UC San Francisco have successfully used CRISPR-Cas9 to engineer induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that evade immune system response. Aiming for “universal” iPSCs (effective in any patient), the scientists first used CRISPR to delete two genes involved in the function of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins. Located on the surface of most cells, MHC proteins help the immune system differentiate between foreign and native cells, prompting or preventing attack by natural killer (NK) cells. The researchers additionally found that insertion of cell surface protein CD47 played a key role in further inhibiting response by immune cells. Leveraging this triple combo, UCSF’s team observed no rejection of engineered stem cells when transplanted into humanized mice.

Why it's important: Scientists have long sought to unlock the therapeutic promise of pluripotent stem cells, but the immune system has posed a major obstacle to effective stem cell therapies. Programmed to ward off alien cells and agents, the immune system often rejects stem cell transplants, rendering donor and recipient “histocompatibility mismatched.” For the first time, however, “engineered cells [can] be universally transplanted [and] survive in immunocompetent recipients without eliciting an immune response,” as lead author Tobias Deuse explains. Replacing an individualized approach, these triple-engineered iPSCs could benefit a much greater range of patients at decimated production costs, marking a major leap forward in stem cell therapy research and regenerative medicine.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Drones Are Changing The Way Police Respond To 911 Calls

Drones Are Changing The Way Police Respond To 911 Calls

What it is: Cape, a software startup enabling long-range drone operation and telepresence, has recently entered into “first responder” pilot projects with the San Diego Fire Department and the Chula Vista Police Department. By deploying drones to incidents faster and cheaper than a helicopter, the drones are scaling police efforts to incidents which might never get a helicopter, or avoid diverting resources to 911 calls where physical responses are unnecessary. Additionally, as seen last week in a domestic violence and high-speed vehicle incident, the drones are also recording video of the event, which is later offered up as evidence in trial.

Why it's important: Drones and automation are becoming mainstream in the public sector. While the immediate driver for adoption is cost savings, look for the FAA’s Integrated Pilot Program to reveal new use cases and foster broader public support for the use of drones in the public.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Delivering Shipment Zero, A Vision For Net Zero Carbon Shipments

Delivering Shipment Zero, A Vision For Net Zero Carbon Shipments

What it is: Earlier this week, Amazon announced Shipment Zero, its vision to make all of its shipments carbon neutral, with a milestone of 50 percent of all shipments by 2030. This builds on other commitments the company has made to sustainability, including investments in the Closed Loop Fund and a goal to power 100 percent of its entire global infrastructure from renewable sources. This is more than lip service: it follows a two-year project modeling Amazon's existing carbon footprint, which will now be provided as a tool for business units to identify ways to get to carbon zero.

Why it's important: Look for Amazon’s boldness to amplify recent announcements from major companies in the retail, CPG, and plastics industries around the circular economy. Longer-term, imagine the potential for Amazon to either spin out or open-source its methodology to help other companies do the same.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon X55, The World’s Fastest 5G Modem

Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon X55, The World’s Fastest 5G Modem

What it is: Before the announcement of any devices using the Qualcomm first-generation 5G modem (the Snapdragon X50), Qualcomm announced its second-generation 5G device, the Snapdragon X55. While the first-generation X50 will already enable unprecedented 5 Gbps download speeds, the second generation X55 boasts blistering fast 7 Gbps download speeds. The freshly announced modem will likely be incorporated into smartphones announced by the end of 2019.

Why it's important: We are just starting the 5G communications revolution. Next week, at the Mobile World Congress 2019, leading smartphone companies will unveil the first wave of 5G mobile devices. We'll soon see these new devices converge with freshly deployed 5G global communication networks. What new value will entrepreneurs and companies create on the incoming 5G technology wave?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

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