In this week's Abundance Insider: Poker-playing AI systems, graphene made from soybean oil, and a new cancer breakthrough.
Peter, Marissa, Cody, Kelley, Greg, Sydney and AJ
What it is: The AI poker bot Libratus recently beat top professional poker players at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino. Built by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the bot demonstrated a significant advancement in AI by being able to apply reason and intelligence in games of "imperfect information." Libratus ended with $1.8 million in chips, while the pros ended with a deficit. In an interview with Wired, Daniel McAuley, one of the professionals Libratus beat, said of the AI, "It splits its bets into three, four, five different sizes. No human has the ability to do that."
Why it's important: Just as AlphaGo AI's vanquished Asia's Go champs, this AI poker bot's consistent success in beating human professional players shows how capable AI systems are getting. As AIs continue to learn and apply reasoning in highly complex situations, we'll eventually adopt them throughout our everyday lives -- including in ways we initially deemed "impossible." Join the Discussion
Spotted by Khaled Salih / Written by Sydney Fulkerson
What it is: Vespa's creators Piaggio Fast Forward recently unveiled the company's first product, a personal cargo robot named Gita. The bot can carry up to 40 pounds autonomously using maps, or by following a human operating the bot's path. While they haven't revealed details on Gita's cost, range, and further performance limitations, Piaggio plans to release a version consumers can buy for individual use.
Why it's important: Robots will soon become an integral part of our everyday lives; as this happens, we'll have to rethink the interfaces, rules and behaviors we exhibit around these technologies. Thanks to the convergence of artificial intelligence, sensing, actuator technologies and the mobile phone revolution, we're rapidly heading toward a future where robots are integrated in our day-to-day lives in a truly personalized fashion. Join the Discussion
Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Sydney Fulkerson
What it is: A team of Australian scientists has discovered a method that uses soybean oil to make graphene in a lab. The process involves heating the soybean oil in a tube furnace for 30 minutes, resulting in the oil decomposing into carbon building blocks on nickel-based foil.
Why it's important: This development has the potential to significantly demonetize and dematerialize the making of graphene on a commercial scale. For more on the impressive capabilities graphene enables, check out this post from Peter. Join the Discussion
Spotted by Bjorn Russell / Written by Sydney Fulkerson
What it is: LawGeex, founded in 2014 by commercial lawyer Noory Beecher, has created AI to automate the process of reviewing contracts -- one of the more mundane yet costly tasks, whether in-house or at a private firm. In as little as an hour, LawGeex can look across about 20 different contract types, identifying clauses that don't meet normal standards, those that might be missing, and those that might need revision.
Why it's important: Machine learning can now tackle the low-hanging fruit of the legal industry such as contract analysis, document review, and even legal research. Importantly, the story here isn't so much that AI will replace lawyers (yet), but that AI makes the process and cost of legal analysis more efficient -- eliminating potentially costly mistakes while also freeing up attorneys to focus on the more creative aspects of advisory work. Join the Discussion
Spotted by Khaled Salih / Written by Jason Goodwin
What it is: In a first, two infants in London have been cured of leukemia via reengineered T-cells. Using a gene editing method called TALENs, the London team made a total of four genetic changes to donor T-cells -- one that eliminated the propensity to attack the cells of another person, and another that caused the T-cell to target cancer cells directly. Although the therapy was provided in conjunction with chemotherapy, both children are in full remission.
Why it's important: Despite the caveat that the T-cell therapy was combined with chemo, it's significant that the engineered cells do not appear to have attacked the patients' tissue, which has been a major roadblock in expanding treatments to a larger set of patients. With a potential order of magnitude cost reduction, this is a big step forward for immunotherapy, not to mention the quest for eliminating bloodborne cancers and the adoption of gene editing techniques. Join the Discussion
Spotted by Cody Rapp / Written by Jason Goodwin
What is Abundance Insider?
This email is a briefing of the week's most compelling, abundance-enabling tech developments, curated by Marissa Brassfield in preparation for Abundance 360. Read more about A360 below.
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