Technology Tuesday: February 28

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: NASA Found a solar system with 7 Earth-like planets, SpaceX is launching tourists to the moon, computers that can code themselves, AIs are helping to save lives, and robot teachers could be commonplace by 2030.


NASA Reports Finding A Nearby Solar System with 7 Earth-like Planets

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Scientists working with telescopes at the European Southern Observatory and NASA announced a remarkable new discovery: An entire system of Earth-sized planets. If that’s not enough, the team asserts that the density measurements of the planets indicates that the six innermost are Earth-like rocky worlds.

And that’s just the beginning.

Three of the planets lie in the star’s habitable zone. If you aren’t familiar with the term, the habitable zone (also known as the “goldilocks zone”) is the region surrounding a star in which liquid water could theoretically exist. This means that all three of these alien worlds may have entire oceans of water, dramatically increasing the possibility of life. The other planets are less likely to host oceans of water, but the team states that liquid water is still a possibility on each of these worlds.

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SpaceX Announces Moon Tourism by 2018

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled an ambitious plan yesterday to fly two private space tourists around the moon in 2018. The move drew a commendation from NASA along with a clear reminder that the agency expects SpaceX to meet its other obligations while pursuing the moon.

In a teleconference with reporters Monday (Feb. 27), Musk said SpaceX will launch two paying passengers around the moon using the company’s Dragon crew capsule and massive Falcon Heavy rocket. Both vehicles are scheduled for unpiloted test flights later this year.

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Researchers Created a Computer Program That Learned to Code

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Those of you who followed the first season of HBO’s “Westworld” know that one of the things that made an artificially intelligent (AI) host in the show truly intelligent, so to speak, was the ability to write its own code. It’s a form of reasoning with itself — something that current AI technology is still far from capable of doing. One company is trying to close that gap via deep learning algorithms that use probabilistic programming, and now, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Cambridge are bringing us closer to self-coding AI with a system they call DeepCoder.

DeepCoder is a machine learning system that can write its own code. It does this using a technique called program synthesis. Essentially, it creates new programs by combining existing lines of code taken from other software, which is what human coders do. With a particular output in mind, DeepCoder was able to determine which lines or pieces of code would be particularly useful.

 

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AIs Help Doctors Save Lives

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A study from the University of Michigan Medical School and Harvard University has concluded that artificial intelligence (AI) can help doctors diagnose brain tumors more quickly and more accurately. The team of physicians and scientists used deep learning to analyze 100 different brain tissue samples and accurately classify most of them into several broad categories.

After the doctors collected tissue using a method they dubbed stimulated Raman histology (SRH), the deep learning algorithm analyzed it. Normally during surgery, surgeons must pause the surgery for 30 to 40 minutes to allow time to process, freeze, and stain the brain tissue in a lab. Using the SRH technique and deep learning algorithm, the surgeons were able to diagnose tumors without leaving the operating room at all. Most importantly, they could cut the analysis time to just 3 to 4 minutes. This almost 90 percent decrease in diagnosing time can significantly reduce a patient’s risk for complications during surgery.

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Futurist Predicts Ubiquity of Robot Teachers

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Today, those looking for a non-traditional education have limited access to online classrooms, especially ones that are for-credit and affordable. But Thomas Frey predicts that, within 14 years, learning from robots will be entirely commonplace — even for children.

Frey is a futurist who began as an engineer at IBM and went on to found the DaVinci Institute, a networking firm and think tank for technical innovation to bring about a brighter future. Frey gives lectures and interviews on strategies for progress to high-profile audiences at places like NASA, the New York Times, and various Fortune 500 companies. He told Business Insider that he sees a future where innovators will enhance and improve the current landscape of online education.

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Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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