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Inside AI (Jan 17th, 2019)

1. Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei developed an AI system that can recognize a person's emotional state. The system uses audio processing algorithms that rely on speech spectrograms (visual representations of sound frequencies) as well as a series of face recognition networks. The model was trained on 653 video-audio clips from the AFEW8.0 television and film database. The research is published in the arXiv online repository. — VENTUREBEAT

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2. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is turning his invite-only MARS tech event into a public conference. MARS (Machine learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space) was a private event where billionaires, astronauts, and roboticists could meet and discuss future technology. The new public event, dubbed re:MARS, will be held June 4-7 in Las Vegas. The conference will feature demonstrations, workshops, and discussions about machine learning and space exploration. — THE VERGE

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3. MIT researchers developed an AI system that can create programs to infer patterns in data. The researchers used a probabilistic approach to search expressions within domain-specific languages (DSL) and find algorithms that can analyze types of data. The work, which is published in the open access PACMPL journal, effectively automates the selection of a model that is suited to the specific data. — ZDNET

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4. The collaborative AI platform Spell raised $15 million in a Series A funding round. Spell was created by former Facebook engineer Serkan Piantino, who helped the social media company develop its AI lab. The cloud computing platform enables users to run machine learning experiments using the latest hardware hosted by Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure. Spell's software interface also allows user to instantly transform their model into an API. Individual users can access the platform for free, but enterprise users are charged for access. — TECHCRUNCH

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THROWBACK THURSDAY:

It was 2011 when the IBM Watson supercomputer defeated two human champion contestants on the game show Jeopardy. This was one of the most publicized of the company's "Grand Challenges," which include Deep Blue's defeat of chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, and more recently the Project Debater event which again pitted a supercomputer against human opponents in 2018. 

Every Thursday, we'll revisit a news story or innovation from the past. If you have a suggestion for a Throwback Thursday feature, or anything else you'd like us to cover, hit reply to this email. — Deb Dion Kees

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5. Regulators are encouraging financial institutions to use AI and machine learning to detect suspicious activity related to money laundering. Money laundering has cost banks $26 billion globally over the last 10 years. Financial institutions are using both supervised learning models that alert banks about transactions and establish risk ratings for particular customers, and unsupervised models for intelligent segmentation for monitoring behavior. — WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

6. Mastercard is initiating a new Mastercard Identity Check program that uses AI to authenticate online users. The 3D-Secure 2.0 protocol, which was created by EMVCo, uses up to 150 different data fields for its algorithmic decision-making. The authentication takes into account new information including the IP address of the computer used for the purchase, whether device owner gestures match historical patterns, and whether the buyer is shopping during normal times of day. — DATANAMI 

7. Researchers from the U.K. and Germany developed an AI system to recognize and help teach sign language. The system can currently analyze the way a student performs a sign in Swiss-German sign language and give feedback on the hand shape, motion, and timing. AI has been used to translate or interpret sign language, but this is the first use case for assessment and teaching. — TECH XPLORE

8. University of Surrey researchers have developed an AI system to identify urinary tract infections (UTI). The system was created to help clinicians monitoring dementia patients using environmental, activity, and body sensors. UTIs are one of the most common reasons for hospitalization of dementia patients, and an NHS clinical trial used machine learning to identify early signs of infection. The research is published in the PLOS ONE journal. — SCIENCE DAILY 

9. IBM and Vodafone announced a new $550 million cloud computing venture. The collaboration will help businesses in Europe link multiple cloud computing systems to facilitate the next generation of AI and machine learning applications using 5G networking. — REUTERS

10. Motley Fool contributors selected three AI stocks to watch this month. Steve Symington picked iRobot, which launched the AI Roomba i7+ vacuum model in September. Anders Bylund's pick was MongoDB, which makes database software. Chris Neiger selected Alphabet, with a host of AI services including Google Translate and Waymo, an AI ride-hailing service that launched commercially last month. — MOTLEY FOOL

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Written and curated by Deb Dion Kees, a writer, editor, and publisher based in Telluride, Colorado. Kees is a lover of science, technology, skiing, and adventure, and does her best work using a mobile hotspot to write from her Ford camper van office.

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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