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Former Google Exec: AI Will Replace 40 Percent of Jobs in 15 Years

Posted: 10 Jan 2019 09:22 AM PST

Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist who used to develop AI for Google and Microsoft, predicts that AI will automate 40 percent of the world's jobs in 15 years.

Bad News

Artificial intelligence, whether it's an application of machine learning or some new technology altogether, is poised to shatter the global economy.

Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist who used to develop artificial intelligence for both Microsoft and Google, told CBS’ 60 Minutes that AI will displace 40 percent of the world’s workers within 15 years.

“I believe [AI] is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind,” Lee told CBS. “More than electricity.”

It’s Different This Time

New technology always renders some forms of labor obsolete. But displaced workers have historically had, in theory, the opportunity to pursue jobs the new industries technology created.

But in his most recent book, “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” Lee argues that AI displacement will be fundamentally different.

In a November interview with Futurism, Lee explained that AI will allow entire new industries to be built from the ground up with automation in mind — not only will AI prove cheaper than human employees, but many of the new jobs it creates will be automated as well.

Time to Prepare

Lee told CBS that this wave of automation and worker displacement will happen much more quickly than others, such as the invention and distribution of the steam engine.

Part of that is because AI algorithms can be shared around the world among developers and business leaders with little need for new infrastructure. No railroads or highways or power grids need to be built.

What’s left to be determined, Lee said, is whether the best moneymaking AI will come from America, which houses most of the top AI developers, or China, where smartphone apps like WeChat give businesses rich data on nearly all aspects of users’ lives.

READ MORE: Venture capitalist: AI will displace 40 percent of world’s jobs in as soon as 15 years [CBS News]

More on Kai-Fu Lee: To Bolster Cybersecurity, France Gives Google the Guillotine

The post Former Google Exec: AI Will Replace 40 Percent of Jobs in 15 Years appeared first on Futurism.

Elon Musk Says An Upcoming Tesla Roadster Will Hover. Is He Joking?

Posted: 10 Jan 2019 08:43 AM PST

Ultra Car

An upcoming Tesla Roadster will literally hover off the ground using SpaceX thrusters — at least according to a tweet from CEO Elon Musk, who is known for sometimes-erratic behavior on social media.

In a reply yesterday to a tweet that showed a hovering DeLorean — a likely nod to the film “Back to the Future” — Musk teased that “the new Roadster will actually do something like this.”

Celebrity YouTuber Marques Brownlee asked on Twitter whether Musk was joking.

“I'm not,” he replied. “Will use SpaceX cold gas thruster system with ultra high pressure air in a composite over-wrapped pressure vessel in place of the 2 rear seats.”

The SpaceX Package

We’ve actually heard about Tesla’s plans to add thrusters to the Roadster before. The idea surfaced in June of last year, when Elon Musk assured interested buyers that the idea was very real, and that Tesla was serious about adding it.

So besides purportedly hovering in mid-air, what’s the point of a sophisticated rocket-science thruster system replacing the back seats of a supercar? Rocket thrusters containing ultra high-pressure air could add a ton of forward thrust to the already peppy Roadster.

The “SpaceX package,” as Musk refers to it, could draw energy from the massive 200 kWh battery pack as well. It might add substantial weight if it were to replace the backseats. And you wouldn’t be able to lug your kids around in it.

Brain-Melting Speed

At face value, the idea of a hovering Tesla is outrageous. Fred Lambert, a close Tesla watcher at Electrek, provided a reality check.

“Well, that's just crazy,” Lambert wrote. “To be fair, he said ‘something like’ this, but anything even remotely close to this still means that we are talking about the vehicle at least lifting off the ground, which again is crazy.” At the same time, he mused, “Musk is generally not kidding when it comes to new Tesla features — unless we are talking about the timing of the release of said features.”

It’s also worth noting that Musk often makes predictions and promises about the future, and they’re not always accurate. Remember that underwhelming tunnel the Boring Company dug last year?

And that’s without getting into possibly insurmountable regulatory hurdles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would likely raise concerns, for one — though it has approved a road-legal flying car in the past. There are also lots of aircraft laws enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration. And those could certainly apply to this thruster-Tesla.

The more likely explanation: Tesla is considering thrusters, but just to give the Roadster’s acceleration an additional edge, not to literally hover. And even if they did build a proof of concept, it’s hard to imagine the vehicle going to mass market — maybe it’ll be a limited edition, like the Boring Company’s flamethrower.

And then there are the limitations of the human body: “you can basically accelerate at the limit of human endurance,” Musk said of the plan on Twitter.

There’s good reason to be skeptical of Musk’s plans for the Roadster. But then again, he managed to send one to space.

READ MORE: Tesla Roadster is going to be able to hover over the ground, says Elon Musk [Electrek]

More on the Roadster: Elon Musk Reveals New Details About Tesla Roadster

The post Elon Musk Says An Upcoming Tesla Roadster Will Hover. Is He Joking? appeared first on Futurism.

“Drug Sponge” Sits in Veins During Chemo to Minimize Side Effects

Posted: 10 Jan 2019 07:54 AM PST

A drug sponge that fits into a patient's vein to help minimize the side effects of chemotherapy could have a short path to FDA approval.

Chemo Crutch

Most of the drugs used for chemotherapy are poisonous. That allows them to effectively kill cancer cells, but it also wreaks havoc on the rest of a patient’s body, causing side effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to hair loss and ulcers.

Now, researchers from several U.S. universities have developed a tiny sponge that sits in a patient’s vein during chemotherapy to absorb excess drugs, thereby minimizing side effects — and its path to market could be short.

Suck It Up

The researchers describe how the drug sponge works in a paper published in the journal ACS Central Science on Wednesday.

The device consists of an absorbent polymer that coats a 3D-printed cylinder. This cylinder fits in a vein exiting the target organ — for example, a vein coming out of the liver if a patient has liver cancer.

When a patient is about to undergo chemotherapy, a doctor would insert the sponge, then inject the chemo drugs upstream from the target organ. The sponge could then collect whatever drugs the organ didn’t absorb. The doctor would remove the sponge right after the treatment, taking the excess drugs along with it.

In tests on pigs, the sponge absorbed an average of 64 percent of a liver cancer drug injected upstream.

Big Potential

While researchers have only tested the drug sponge on the liver so far, they think it could have widespread applications.

“[Y]ou could use this sort of approach for any tumor or any disease that is confined to an organ, and you want to absorb the drug on the venous side before it can distribute and cause side effects elsewhere in the body,” researcher Steven Hetts said in a news release. “Ultimately we would like to use this technology in other organs to treat kidney tumors and brain tumors.”

Hett doesn’t think he’ll have to wait long to see the device used in humans, either.

“Because it is a temporary device, there is a lower bar in terms of approval by the FDA,” he said. “I think this type of chemofilter is one of the shortest pathways to patients.”

READ MORE: Drug Sponge Could Minimize Side Effects of Cancer Treatment [UC Berkeley]

More on chemotherapy: A New Cancer Treatment Could Be More Effective Than Chemotherapy

The post “Drug Sponge” Sits in Veins During Chemo to Minimize Side Effects appeared first on Futurism.

Newly Spotted Quasar Is 600 Trillion Times Brighter Than the Sun

Posted: 09 Jan 2019 02:15 PM PST

A team of astronomers say they've discovered the brightest quasar ever observed in the early universe, which shines with the power of 600 trillion Suns.

New Discovery

The galactic nuclei known as quasars are unfathomably bright celestial objects powered by supermassive black holes. Now, astronomers using some of the most advanced terrestrial and space telescopes in existence think they’ve discovered the brightest quasar ever observed in the early universe — one that shines with the power of 600 trillion Suns. 

“We don't expect to find many quasars brighter than that in the whole observable universe,” lead investigator Xiaohui Fan, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, said in a news release.

Bright Boy

The new quasar is a distant 12.8 billion light-years away, and the team spotted it using equipment including the Keck Observatory, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, and the Hubble.

Fan and his collaborators were only able to detect the quasar, they said, because a galaxy came between it and the Earth — meaning that an effect called gravitational lensing could magnify its light substantially.

Phantom Quasar

The discovery of the quasar — which has the long-winded name J043947.08+163415.7 — isn’t just notable because of its epic light projection.

It’s also a big deal because it provides a window into how huge black holes affected star formation during the early universe. Additionally, it confirms a suspicion long held by astrophysicists and could help guide future research.

“This detection is a surprising and major discovery; for decades we thought that these lensed quasars in the early universe should be very common, but this is the first of its kind that we have found,” said Fabio Pacucci, a postdoctoral associate at Yale University who helped discover the new quasar. “It gives us a clue on how to search for 'phantom quasars' — sources that are out there, but cannot be really detected yet.”

More on quasars: Meet One of the Most Powerful Quasars in the Known Universe

Editor's Note 1/9 at 8:50 PM ET: This article has been updated to correct an error about how far away the quasar was located.

The post Newly Spotted Quasar Is 600 Trillion Times Brighter Than the Sun appeared first on Futurism.

Mosquito “Birth Control” Could Prevent Millions of Deaths

Posted: 09 Jan 2019 01:31 PM PST

mosquito

Killer Bite

Mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on Earth — each year, nearly a million people die from a disease they caught from one of the tiny insects.

Rather than focusing on finding a cure for bug-borne diseases like malaria and Zika, a team of scientists from the University of Arizona decided to focus their research directly on mosquitoes. In the process, they found a protein seemingly essential for mosquito reproduction — and the discovery could lead to the creation of a drug that acts as “birth control” for the tiny killers.

Egg-celent Discovery

The researchers describe their discovery of the protein Eggshell Organizing Factor 1, or EOF-1, in a report published in the journal PLoS Biology on Tuesday.

First, they identified 40 genes unique to mosquitoes. Then they used a technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi, to inhibit these genes one by one.

They learned that inhibiting the EOF-1 gene affected the formation of the mosquito’s eggshell, causing mosquito embryos to die. The effect of a single RNAi injection lasted for the lifetime of the mosquito, too.

The team believes a drug designed to inhibit EOF-1 could act like birth control for mosquitoes.

“Since the days of DDT, we have known that mosquito population control works to reduce the incidence of human disease,” researcher Roger Miesfeld said in a news release. “This could be a next-generation tool that could be applied to bed nets and other areas frequented by mosquitoes.”

Less Risky Business

This isn’t the first research targeting mosquitoes to address disease. However, it might be one of the least risky.

Gene editing is proving effective at wiping out mosquito populations, but the technique has the potential to permanently alter the ecosystem in unforeseen ways. Because EOF-1 only exists in mosquitoes, drugs designed to impact that protein wouldn’t affect any other organisms if deployed in the wild.

“We think this strategy may have a much lower chance of harming other organisms than what is being used today,” Miesfeld said.

READ MORE: Fighting Human Disease With Birth Control… for Mosquitoes [University of Arizona]

More on mosquitoes: Scientists Wiped out a Mosquito Population by Hacking Their DNA With CRISPR

The post Mosquito "Birth Control" Could Prevent Millions of Deaths appeared first on Futurism.

In About 10 Billion Years, Our Sun Will Harden Into a Giant Crystal

Posted: 09 Jan 2019 12:20 PM PST

In about 10 billion years, our sun will likely harden into a giant crystal orb — a fate that will be shared with many other white dwarf stars.

Giant Crystal

In their old age, according to new research, white dwarf stars will cool into enormous and super-heavy crystal orbs — the likely fate of our Sun, in about 10 billion years.

“All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner,” lead researcher Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay, from the University of Warwick, said in a news release. “This means that billions of white dwarfs in our galaxy have already completed the process and are essentially metallic crystal spheres in the sky.”

Mega Orb

The new research, published today in the journal Nature, is based on observations from a European Space Agency spacecraft called Gaia.

The Gaia readings showed an “overabundance” of white dwarf stars with colors and brightnesses that the objects’ age or mass couldn’t explain. But models show that the readings could be explained if the insides of the stars had already started to harden into crystals.

Blast From the Past

Eventually, the paper predicts, white dwarf stars will cool into huge celestial orbs with cores made of crystallized oxygen and exteriors made of a diamond-like carbon crystal — a wintry vision of the aging universe, and one that confirms a longstanding theory among astronomers.

“This is the first direct evidence that white dwarfs crystallize, or transition from liquid to solid,” Tremblay said. “It was predicted 50 years ago that we should observe a pileup in the number of white dwarfs at certain luminosities and colors due to crystallization, and only now this has been observed.”

READ MOVE: Thousands of Stars Turning Into Crystals [The University of Warwick]

More on Gaia: Scientists Discover a "Ghost of a Galaxy" Orbiting the Milky Way

The post In About 10 Billion Years, Our Sun Will Harden Into a Giant Crystal appeared first on Futurism.

Google Assistant Can Now Translate 27 Languages in Real-Time

Posted: 09 Jan 2019 11:46 AM PST

At CES 2019, Google debuted its Assistant's new Interpreter Mode, which translates conversations in 27 language in real-time.

Speaking My Language

Google Assistant has learned a remarkable new skill.

Google debuted a new "Interpreter Mode" for its AI-powered Assistant at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week.

The feature can translate a conversation between two people speaking different languages in real-time, and while demos reveal that the tech is far from flawless, it foreshadows a future in which the global language barrier is non-existent.

Lost in Translation

Starting Interpreter Mode is no more difficult than giving Google Assistant any other command.

To translate a conversation with a French speaker, for example, a user just says, "Hey Google, be my French interpreter." After that, the Assistant will translate any English it detects into French and vice versa, speaking the translations as well as displaying them in writing when a screen is available. It currently works with 27 languages.

Several outlets, including The Verge and TechRadar, tested out the feature at CES. And while it worked as advertised most of the time, it did make a few, sometimes funny, mistakes — when translating the phrase “allergic to shrimp” from Chinese to English for Verge reporter  she was “allergic to sand.”

Getting Better

Small mistakes aside, Interpreter Mode reportedly works better than Google’s language-translating Pixel Buds. It also doesn’t require the user to open an app, like they have to if they want to use Google Translate, making for a more seamless experience.

According to a Google blog post, the company will roll out Interpreter to Google Home devices and Smart Displays over the next few weeks. No word yet on when the feature will hit smartphones, but when it does, it has the potential to forever change how the world communicates.

READ MORE: Google Assistant's New Interpreter Mode Can Translate Conversations — but It's Not Magic [The Verge]

More on language translation: Google's New Earbuds Can Translate 40 Languages Instantly in Your Ear

The post Google Assistant Can Now Translate 27 Languages in Real-Time appeared first on Futurism.

New App Detects Early Signs of an Opioid Overdose

Posted: 09 Jan 2019 11:00 AM PST

All Alone

Each day, more than 115 people die in the U.S. of an opioid overdose. Some of these people would have very likely survived had they received the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

Now, researchers from the University of Washington have unveiled a smartphone app designed to detect early signs of an opioid overdose. The idea is that a person enables the app prior to injecting illegal opioids by themselves. If the app detects signs of an overdose, it then sends an alert to a friend of the drug user or emergency services so that they can administer naloxone.

But while the app has proven fairly effective in limited trials, it’s hard to say how much use it might get in the real world.

Bad Signs

In a study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team describes how its Second Chance app uses a smartphone's speaker and microphone to analyze a user’s breathing and movement for signs of an overdose from opioids.

When enabled, the app continuously emits an acoustic signal that bounces off the user and returns to the phone. The app’s algorithm then analyzes the signal, looking for certain changes in breathing or movement, such as fewer than seven breaths per minute or a nodding head — two early warning signs of an overdose.

When the team tested the app on 94 people using injectable opioids at a supervised injection facility in Canada, they found it identified overdose-foreshadowing breathing problems with an accuracy of 90 percent.

“While this app could be used for all forms of opioid use, the team cautions that right now they have only tested it on illegal injectable opioid use because deaths from those overdoses are the most common,” reads a press release about Second Chance.

The Implication

The app might be effective, but it’s hard to say whether anyone would actually use it. We all know what we do online is far from private, so would someone injecting opioids be willing to download an app that would link them to illegal activity, even if it might save their life?

Hard to say for sure. Either way, the creators of the app seem optimistic that it could prevent opioid-related deaths and, maybe, even help users get clean.

“The goal of this project is to try to connect people who are often experiencing overdoses alone to known therapies that can save their lives,” researcher Jacob Sunshine said in a press release. “We hope that by keeping people safer, they can eventually access long-term treatment.”

READ MORE: First Smartphone App to Detect Opioid Overdose and Its Precursors [EurekAlert]

More on opioid crisis: A Great Way to Prevent Opioid Deaths: Overriding Patents on Anti-Overdose Drug

The post New App Detects Early Signs of an Opioid Overdose appeared first on Futurism.