Abundance Insider: December 7th, 2018

In this week's Abundance Insider: Depression-detecting smartphone algorithms, live Skype subtitles, and the first AI colony on Earth.

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

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DeepMind’s AI Will Accelerate Drug Discovery By Predicting How Proteins Fold

What it is: Artificial intelligence is exploding onto the scene of novel drug discovery, and a slew of companies has brought new deep learning techniques to bear on the monumental “protein folding problem.” Of these, DeepMind’s recently built AlphaFold system uses tremendous amounts of genomic data to predict protein structure, now generating 3D models of folded proteins far superior to AlphaFold’s predecessors. By training deep neural networks with growing available data, DeepMind’s AlphaFold has predicted the distances between amino acid pairs and the angles between their chemical bonds with unprecedented accuracy.

Why it's important: The “protein folding problem” has posed a decades-long challenge to researchers and has even led to the rise of crowdsourced protein-folding platforms, such as Foldit. Given that the folded form of proteins dictate their function within our bodies, the ability to predict a protein’s structure on the basis of its components would have vast implications for drug discovery and design, allowing scientists to synthesize new protein-based treatments for countless diseases. More broadly, DeepMind’s success represents the rise of intelligent, bottom-up therapeutics, which increasingly enable us to perform precise target identification, novel molecule discovery, and deep learning-based drug design.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by AJ Scaramucci / Written by Claire Adair 

Amazon Gets Into Blockchain With Quantum Ledger Database & Managed Blockchain

What it is: Last week at re:Invent, Amazon announced a litany of new features including QLDB and its Managed Blockchain Service. QLDB (Quantum Ledger Database) provides an immutable, transparent, and cryptographically verifiable ledger for applications that rely on a central authority -- like an ad exchange, clearinghouse, or supply chain where data immutability is essential but a distributed authority isn’t needed. Managed Blockchain enables companies to create a blockchain network without the headache of creating the network, provisioning hardware, and configuring the software. Supporting Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric, AWS makes it possible to create a network purely through the AWS Management Console and API set.

Why it's important: These user interfaces enable anyone to create blockchain networks or quasi-blockchain networks like QLDB, which will in turn enable new, purpose-built applications of distributed ledger technologies in the enterprise. What applications and/or platforms could you build by enabling transparency in your own ecosystem?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

China Plans To Build A Deep Sea Base Run Entirely By AI

What it is: A team at Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences has just launched a presidentially endorsed plan to build China’s first deep sea base. The research-enabling ‘Atlantis’ aims to become the first AI colony on the planet. Predicted to cost about 1.1 billion RMB (or around $160 million USD), the deep sea base will reportedly be constructed at a depth of between 6,000 and 11,000 meters below the surface of the South China Sea. As a launching ground for unmanned submarine science, the AI base could yield autonomously performed seabed surveys, mineral sample collections and new records on little-known life forms.

Why it's important: While many are skeptical about the idea of a deep-sea, self-contained laboratory (and particularly its ability to withstand such high ocean pressures), an autonomous robot-operated colony could offer extraordinary benefits to humanity in success. To date, researchers have only explored roughly _1 percent_ of the ocean floor, yet oceans comprise over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Leveraging advancements in AI, sensors and submarine robotics, such a base could provide invaluable data in the fight against climate change, enable discovery of new and endangered species, and even accelerate the development of new therapeutics.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Brain Corp To Provide AI Services To Walmart

What it is: San Diego-based startup Brain Corp. has entered into a partnership with Walmart to supply autonomous floor-cleaning robots. With over 100 in operation today, Walmart expects to have a total of 360 robots in stores by the end of January 2019. The built-in BrainOS platform provides a foundational system in navigation and data collection capabilities that dramatically accelerates the time to create new systems, particularly for robotics. In the Walmart example, after just one just one supervised ride with an employee to map out the store, the system is sufficiently capable for autonomous operation.

Why it's important: Because Brain Corp can essentially add intelligence to any machine, this is an early example of the “cognification” of things. As we reported recently with the rise of DIY machine learning and AI-based applications, BrainOS is also a big step toward creating autonomous systems with far less effort and upfront costs, which should lead to new use cases for the enterprise. Finally, because indoor environments like stores and shopping centers have far more pedestrian traffic and unique structures than street cars, this should provide a feedback loop to the broader autonomous vehicle ecosystem as it identifies new corner cases that we struggle with today.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Introducing Live Captions & Subtitles In Skype

What it is: This week, Skype rolled out live captions and subtitles for one-on-one video calls. In Skype’s words, “Live captions and subtitles are optimized to be fast, continuous, and contextually updated as people speak.” The initial spark for introducing this technology is to make Skype more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Next, the company plans to release translation services in 20 different languages.

Why it's important: Exponential technologies are dramatically changing what type of work we do, how we do our work and, importantly, where we work. Technologies like Skype already delocalize workspaces; AI augmentation enables even richer, more diverse collaboration. Between telepresence robots, virtual reality, and full-scale avatars, the future of meetings, work and relationships is extraordinary.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

Your Smartphone’s AI Algorithms Could Tell If You Are Depressed

What it is: Led by former Google AI expert Fei-Fei Li, a team at Stanford University demonstrated that image and speech recognition algorithms can identify signs of depression. The Stanford team fed a set of clinically labeled data (depressed or not depressed) acquired from prior human-facilitated therapy sessions into a machine learning model. They programmed the model to learn from facial expressions, vocal tone, and spoken words. The study reports that the machine learning software achieved an 80 percent fidelity for detecting depression in a given patient.

Why it's important: From medical image recognition to big data analysis to tools like this machine learning model, artificial intelligence is profoundly impacting healthcare. Over the last decade, AI has made exponential progress in healthcare -- but an abundance of opportunities remain ahead. For example, two critical steps in this particular diagnostic process (initial data collection and data labeling) are still dependent on human practitioners. Imagine a repeat of this machine learning diagnostic study with a fully automated process. What aspects of healthcare will AI and automation transform next?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

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