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Genome Editing
This collection of articles from the Nature Research journals provides an overview of current progress in developing targeted genome editing technologies. A selection of protocols for using and adapting these tools in your own lab is also included.
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2 days ago by nhaliday
[1709.01149] Biotechnology and the lifetime of technical civilizations
The number of people able to end Earth's technical civilization has heretofore been small. Emerging dual-use technologies, such as biotechnology, may give similar power to thousands or millions of individuals. To quantitatively investigate the ramifications of such a marked shift on the survival of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial technical civilizations, this paper presents a two-parameter model for civilizational lifespans, i.e. the quantity L in Drake's equation for the number of communicating extraterrestrial civilizations. One parameter characterizes the population lethality of a civilization's biotechnology and the other characterizes the civilization's psychosociology. L is demonstrated to be less than the inverse of the product of these two parameters. Using empiric data from Pubmed to inform the biotechnology parameter, the model predicts human civilization's median survival time as decades to centuries, even with optimistic psychosociological parameter values, thereby positioning biotechnology as a proximate threat to human civilization. For an ensemble of civilizations having some median calculated survival time, the model predicts that, after 80 times that duration, only one in 1024 civilizations will survive -- a tempo and degree of winnowing compatible with Hanson's "Great Filter." Thus, assuming that civilizations universally develop advanced biotechnology, before they become vigorous interstellar colonizers, the model provides a resolution to the Fermi paradox.
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10 days ago by nhaliday
The First Men in the Moon | West Hunter
But what about the future? One generally assumes that space colonists, assuming that there ever are any, will be picked individuals, somewhat like existing astronauts – the best out of hordes of applicants. They’ll be smarter than average, healthier than average, saner than average – and not by just a little.

Since all these traits are significantly heritable, some highly so, we have to expect that their descendants will be different – different above the neck. They’d likely be, on average, smarter than any existing ethnic group. If a Lunar colony really took off, early colonists might account for a disproportionate fraction of the population (just as Puritans do in the US), and the Loonies might continue to have inordinate amounts of the right stuff indefinitely. They’d notice: we’d notice. We’d worry about the Lunar Peril. They’d sneer at deluded groundlings, and talk about the menace from Earth.
Depends on your level of technical expertise. 2 million years ago, settlement of the Eurasian temperate zone was bleeding-edge technology – but it got easier. We can certainly settle the Solar system with near-term technology, if we choose to. And you’re forgetting one of the big payoffs: gafia.
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10 days ago by nhaliday
[1709.06560] Deep Reinforcement Learning that Matters
I’ve been experimenting w/ various kinds of value function approaches to RL lately, and its striking how primitive and bad things seem to be
At first I thought it was just that my code sucks, but then I played with the OpenAI baselines and nope, it’s the children that are wrong.
And now, what comes across my desk but this fantastic paper: (link: How long until the replication crisis hits AI?
Seriously I’m not blown away by the PhDs’ records over the last 30 years. I bet you’d get better payoff funding eccentrics and amateurs.
There are essentially zero fundamentally new ideas in AI, the papers are all grotesquely hyperparameter tuned, nobody knows why it works.
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20 days ago by nhaliday
New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning | Quanta Magazine
A new idea called the “information bottleneck” is helping to explain the puzzling success of today’s artificial-intelligence algorithms — and might also explain how human brains learn.

sounds like he's just talking about autoencoders?
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27 days ago by nhaliday
Accurate Genomic Prediction Of Human Height | bioRxiv
Stephen Hsu's compressed sensing application paper

We construct genomic predictors for heritable and extremely complex human quantitative traits (height, heel bone density, and educational attainment) using modern methods in high dimensional statistics (i.e., machine learning). Replication tests show that these predictors capture, respectively, ~40, 20, and 9 percent of total variance for the three traits. For example, predicted heights correlate ~0.65 with actual height; actual heights of most individuals in validation samples are within a few cm of the prediction.
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4 weeks ago by nhaliday
antayy — VanEck Vectors Gold Miners UCITS ETF A USD (GDX.L)...
RT : VanEck Vectors Gold Miners UCITS ETF A USD (GDX.L) and Developments PLC (FDEV.L) Needle Moving on ... |…
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5 weeks ago by heyyouapp
Mining Supply Chain Data for Insights - by @lcecere
"So if a technology vendor in supply chain planning promises improvements in costs and inventory, be wary. Pour the coffee strong. However, do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Planning can drive results if the organization has the right DNA. Focus on defining supply chain excellence and the appropriate use of the technologies. Test and verify results and build planning into data-driven processes. Do not treat supply chain planning as a typical technology project focused on implementation. Instead, refine the data model and test outcomes."
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6 weeks ago by jonerp
Beijing’s uneasy deals with overseas car groups under strain
The new EV joint ventures are part of a Chinese effort to master the technology for electric vehicles — and rely on a tried and tested model of working with the global car industry since the 1980s. In a nutshell, joint ventures are the only way for foreign groups to access the world’s largest and most lucrative market. China gives the overseas companies the right to sell cars in exchange for their technology, management expertise and a share of their profits. 

“China’s central planners said ‘how can we basically force global automakers to participate and bring their very best electric vehicle technology to China?’” says Michael Dunne, president of Dunne Automotive, a Hong Kong-based car consultancy. 

Since 1984, starting with Jeeps, foreign carmakers have been allowed to produce cars in China — but only in concert with a local partner holding at least 50 per cent of the venture. In practice, this is almost always one of six anointed state companies. 

While widely criticised as a trade barrier, the JV law managed to survive China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001 — testament to Beijing’s bargaining power. Now China is using an updated version of the JV law to once again dangle access to its car market in exchange for technology — this time for new electric vehicles. 

The results of the three-decade-old policy have been mixed. Rather than transforming Chinese car companies into technology giants, the joint venture companies have arguably made Chinese carmakers complacent, according to Chinese policymakers. He Guangyang, a former minister of industry, controversially described the JVs as “like opium” in an interview five years ago.


This has created fears that their proprietary technology could be stolen. Over the past two decades, foreign makers of everything from high-speed trains to fighter planes have licensed the technology to local Chinese partners only to find a few years later that their partner is a major international competitor. 

In order to keep this from happening, foreign carmakers are trying to give away as little as possible — and keep sensitive items, such as software codes, outside of China. In the past, foreign companies have managed to evade similar requirements simply by bringing in outdated technology, which has angered Chinese policymakers. 


Weeks later Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, told a press conference that the notion foreign companies would have to transfer technology to Chinese companies was a “misunderstanding”. 
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6 weeks ago by nhaliday
During the Renaissance, the focus, especially in the arts, was on representing as accurately as possible the real world whether on a 2 dimensional surface or a solid such as marble or granite. This required two things. The first was new methods for drawing or painting, e.g., perspective. The second, relevant to this topic, was careful observation.

With the spread of cannon in warfare, the study of projectile motion had taken on greater importance, and now, with more careful observation and more accurate representation, came the realization that projectiles did not move the way Aristotle and his followers had said they did: the path of a projectile did not consist of two consecutive straight line components but was instead a smooth curve. [1]

Now someone needed to come up with a method to determine if there was a special curve a projectile followed. But measuring the path of a projectile was not easy.

Using an inclined plane, Galileo had performed experiments on uniformly accelerated motion, and he now used the same apparatus to study projectile motion. He placed an inclined plane on a table and provided it with a curved piece at the bottom which deflected an inked bronze ball into a horizontal direction. The ball thus accelerated rolled over the table-top with uniform motion and then fell off the edge of the table Where it hit the floor, it left a small mark. The mark allowed the horizontal and vertical distances traveled by the ball to be measured. [2]

By varying the ball's horizontal velocity and vertical drop, Galileo was able to determine that the path of a projectile is parabolic.
Galileo brought his lifetime of insight as an experimenter -- and mathematician -- to a conclusion in his greatest work, published in 1638, the Dialogues of the Two New Sciences. Here, in the second half of the book, he took up the question of projectile motion. This illustration reflects the general opinion before Galileo which followed largely Aristotelian lines but incorporating as well a later theory of "impetus" -- which maintained that an object shot from a cannon, for example, followed a straight line until it "lost its impetus," at which point it fell abruptly to the ground. Later, simply by more careful observation, as this illustration from a work by Niccolo Tartaglia clearly shows, it was realized that projectiles actually follow some sort of a curved path, but what sort of curve? No one knew until Galileo.

It was another essential insight that led Galileo, finally, to his most remarkable conclusion about projectile motion. First of all, he reasoned that a projectile shot from a cannon is not influenced by only one motion, but by two -- the motion that acts vertically is the force of gravity, and this pulls the projectile down by the times-squared law. But while gravity is pulling the object down, the projectile is also moving forward, horizontally at the same time. And this horizontal motion is uniform and constant according to his principle of inertia. But could he demonstrate this? In fact, by using his inclined plane again, Galileo was indeed able to demonstrate that a projectile is subject to two independent motions, and these combine to provide a precise sort of mathematical curve.
Medieval Developments:
By the 13th century, an original Medieval approach had developed.

Medieval Weight Science: Balance, steelyard, hydrostatics. Problems stimulated by commerce in the 14th c. Dynamical, Aristotelian principles explored in Archimedean, axiomatic form. Aristotle viewed the lever in terms of speed and force. The medievals analyzed it in terms of weight and vertical displacement (i.e., work).

Philosophy of Motion: universitiy commentaries on Aristotle's Physics. Aristotelian principles developed into disagreement with particular aristotelian views. Graphical representation of velocity and acceleration, instantaneous velocities, mean speed theorem, theory of impetus.

16th c. Italy:
University: Latin commentaries on Aristotle. Mathematics has low status.

Technology: practical problems required quantitative focus. Vernacular literacy in rising technical class.

Typical dissemination pattern: Archimedes' On Bodies in Water
1269: William of Moerbeke produces Latin translation.
1543: Tartaglia publishes corrupt manuscript of Moerbeke's translation in Venice.
1544: Greek text published in Basel.
1551: Tartaglia publishes Italian translation and commentary.

Niccolo Tartaglia (1500-1557):
Self-taught son of a post rider. Private geometry tutor. Published Archimedes and Euclid in Italian, solved cubic equations.

1537: Nova Scientia. Theory of projectile motion based on mixture of Aristotelian ideas. Projectile problem was posed bya professional artilleryman. He suppressed publication for moral reasons. Projectile motion composed of segments of (approximately) straight and circular motion. In the following explanation, the speed makes the canonball light, causing it to float in the air until friction slows it down.

The great speed is the true cause that holds the ball's motion to straightness, if that is possible. And similarly, the loss of speed in the air is the true ause that makes it tend and decline in its motion curvedly toward the earth, and the more it loses its speed there,thegreater becomes its declining curvature. And all this happens because for any heavy body driven violently through the air, the faster it goes, the less heavy it is in that motn, and hrefor the straighter it oes trough the air ecause the air more easily sustains a body the lighter it is. Also, in making its effect in such motion, it assumes much greater heaviness than its own, and therefore the faster a heavy body goes in violent motion, the greater effect it makes.... [Questions and Inventions, 1546, question 23].

Giovanni Battista Benedetti (1530-1590):
Upper class, studied geometry with Tartaglia, mostly taught by father. Court mathematician in Parma and Turin.

1552: Archimedian theory of free fall: two bodies of the same density will fall at the same speed irrespective of weight. Natural motion in a medium is proportional to the difference between the specific gravity of the body and that of the medium. This eliminated the Aristotelian paradox of infinite speed in vacuum. Resistance is different from natural buoyant free-fall and is proportional to surface area.

1554 Had Galileo's conceptual argument against Aristotle's proportionality of speed to weight: Take two cannonballs of the same size and material (Drake and Drabkin; p. 158).. They fall at the same rate. Now connect the two with a fine filament of negligible weight. Now we have one object of twice the weight, which should fall twice as fast. But that is absurd (imagineyourself cutting the wire).


Stillman Drake and I.E. Drabkin (1969) Mechanics in Sixteenth-Century Italy. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press.
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7 weeks ago by nhaliday

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