Technology Tuesday: April 4

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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: World’s largest money manager announces plans for automation, artificial intelligence’s impact on medicine, brain implants allow quadriplegic man to move his arms, doctor claims to have a miracle cure for sepsis, and researchers turn a spinach leaf into functioning heart tissue.


BlackRock, Inc. Announces Plans to Become Fully Automated

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It was only a matter of time before the impact of robots and automation would start having an effect on the white-collar workforce. Case in point: BlackRock, Inc, the world’s largest money manager, just announced that it plans to transition toward automated solutions.

The decision to transition comes after news of a massive overhaul that involved a reorganization within BlackRock. The purpose of the reorganization was to place a greater emphasis on computer algorithms that can inform investments. Quite simply, investors are now questioning whether having a human manage their money is worth the fees they require, especially since successful money management is essentially anchored on recognizing and following certain market indicators — the sort of things artificial intelligences (AI) can be programmed to do.

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AI is Taking Us Into a New Age of Healthcare

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Artificial intelligence is slowly making its way into the realm of modern healthcare. Google’s DeepMind is revolutionizing eye care in the United Kingdom, and IBM’s Watson is tackling cancer diagnostics on par with human physicians. Both AI systems use deep learning, a concept loosely mirroring how our own brains work by having AI software analyze exorbitant amounts of data and uncover patterns — which is particularly applicable in diagnostics.

As medical imaging technology continues to take advantage of every new deep learning breakthrough, the challenge is that the computing technology on which it relies must evolve just as quickly. A company called Nvidia is leading that charge under the guidance of Kimberley Powell, who is confident that Nvidia’s processors are not only meeting the deep learning standards of medical imagining, but also pushing the industry forward as a whole.

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Brain Implants Help Quadriplegic Man Move

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Eight years ago, Bill Kochevar was paralyzed in a cycling accident. Since then, he hasn’t been able to move anything below his shoulders — until now.

As part of a trial at Case Western Reserve University, two tiny, 96-channel electrodes were implanted in the motor cortex of Kochevar’s brain. Essentially, the electrodes register the actions of his neurons and respond by signaling a device that stimulates his arm muscles. The system has given him the ability to grasp and lift things the same way he used to, by simply “thinking” the command to his body. He can now drink through a straw after raising a mug of water to his mouth and eat mashed potatoes with a fork.

 

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This Doctor Claims He’s Solved Sepsis

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When a doctor comes forward to claim that he or she has found an effective treatment for a leading cause of death in hospitals, heads begin to turn. A physician from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, claims that to have discovered a dramatically improved treatment for sepsis.

Sepsis, formerly known as blood poisoning, is the body’s response to infection. It causes a body-wide inflammation with the potential to cause tissue damage, organ failure, or even death. The condition is hard to predict, and even more difficult to treat. Sepsis is often associated with infections of the lungs, urinary tract, skin, or gut. It is far more likely to arise if the patient is older than the age of 65, is a newborn child, or has a chronic condition. The condition is difficult to diagnose and annually takes up to 300,000 lives.

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Researchers Turn Spinach Leaf Into Functioning Heart Tissue

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Researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have transformed a spinach leaf into functional heart tissue. The team’s goal was to recreate human organ tissue down to the fragile vascular networks of blood vessels it can’t survive without. Scientists had previously attempted to 3D print intricate vascular networks without success. This breakthrough could mean that the delicate vascular systems of plants are the key.

To create the heart tissue, the scientists at WPI revealed the leaf’s cellulose frame by stripping away the plant cells. Then, they “seeded” the frame with human cells, causing tissue growth on the frame. Finally, they were able to pump microbeads and fluids through the veins to illustrate the functioning concept.

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