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Inside AI (Dec 19th, 2019)

1. Health care startup Paige - which is using deep learning networks to help detect cancer - has raised $45 million in a new funding round led by Healthcare Venture Partners. Breyer Capital, Kenan Turnacioglu, and other funds also participated. New York-based Paige, formerly Paige.AI, emerged from stealth last year from its beginnings at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where it secured access to 25 million pathology slides and intellectual property related to AI computational pathology. The company uses computer vision trained with clinical imaging data to map the pathology of cancer and better diagnose the illness. Paige says it will use the capital to seek FDA clearance for its products in areas like prognostic capabilities and biomarkers. - TECHCRUNCH

2. The first two episodes of "The Age of A.I." are now on YouTube. Robert Downey Jr. hosts the eight-part documentary series, which reportedly explores how AI is changing the world. The first episode, "How Far is Too Far?," focuses on Soul Machines CEO Mark Sagar, a special effects artists, who uses AI to create a digital avatar of the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am. The second episode covers AI in human health including Google's speech-to-text transcription service Project Euphonia, which researchers used to recreate the original voice of former NFL linebacker Tim Shaw, who is unable to speak due to ALS. New episodes (with ads) will debut weekly. YouTube Premium subscribers can watch the first four episodes without ads now, and episodes five through eight starting on January 15. - ENGADGET

3. Three years after his publicized match against Google's AlphaGo, Korean Go master Lee Sedol beat the AI program known as HanDol. Sedol won Wednesday's first round against NHN Entertainment Corp.'s HanDol and is scheduled to play in two more games on Thursday and Saturday. "I didn't imagine the game to be easy," Lee said. "HanDol has homework to do for the next two rounds." Until Lee's win, HanDol had defeated all five of Korea's top players in the Chinese board game. In 2016, Lee beat DeepMind's AlphaGo's in one out of five matches and later announced his retirement, saying the AI is "an entity that cannot be defeated." He decided to play a few more matches at the invitation of HanDol. - OBSERVER

4. MIT's Center for Advanced Virtuality is working on a digital version of its Richard Nixon deepfake, which it plans to release to the public this spring. To demonstrate the power of today's deepfakes, MIT created the "In Event of Moon Landing" video showing Nixon delivering a speech that never happened. In the fake video - which is based on a speech prepared for Nixon that he never had to give - the former president speaks about 1969's Apollo 11 moon landing and says (incorrectly) that all astronauts on board died. MIT hired a voice actor to recreate Nixon's voice and worked with the Ukrainian-based company Respeecher to put it together, while the Israeli company Canny AI used video dialogue replacement techniques to create correct movement in Nixon's mouth. In "trying to make a piece that is about interrogating whether deepfakes have the potential to rewrite history, then the moon landing seemed like a really good one to pick,” said Francesca Panetta, a co-director of the video. - POPULAR MECHANICS

5. A cybersecurity expert warns that AI targeted hacking and deepfakes will become major threats in 2020. Etay Maor, the chief security officer at cyberintelligence company IntSights, told CNBC that hackers have better access to more data as well as malicious AI and machine learning codes, which he expects will lead to a rise in targeted and automated attacks next year. With the 2020 elections on the horizon, he expects deepfakes and disinformation to spread as well, which will be difficult to combat as "attribution is becoming harder and harder and the technology, means, and infrastructure becomes more and more accessible for the attackers,” Maor said. A Forrester principal analyst estimates that costs stemming from deepfake scams will surpass $250 million in 2020. - CNBC

6. Machine learning engineers are earning the highest salaries out of all tech jobs in Silicon Valley, according to a new analysis by Indeed. The average salary for ML engineers this year was $172,792, which is an increase from $159,230 in 2018 and $149,519 in 2017. ML engineers also beat out directors of product management, which was last year's highest-paying tech job in Silicon Valley. IEEE Spectrum notes that software engineers are the highest in-demand in general, although the overall demand for tech professionals appears to be decreasing slightly, based on a recent drop in tech jobs listed on Indeed's site. - IEEE SPECTRUM

7. A website is using facial recognition technology to identify soldiers in Civil War-era photos. Civil War Photo Sleuth contains nearly 30,000 photos added by 14,000 users, including employees at the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Users can upload photos and select characteristics like the color of the uniform coat. Facial recognition tech then analyzes the photo based on 27 facial landmarks, including things like the tip of nose and the distance between the left and right pupils. The site, which won Microsoft’s $25,000 Cloud AI Research Challenge, has identified men in more than 3,00 photos so far. - TIME

8. A team led by Yale geologist Pincelli Hull built an AI that can identify individual species of plankton based on fossil images. The automated system takes the place of taxonomic experts, who don't necessarily have the time or training to identify them all. The technology is based on a database of more than 34,000 images of plankton species, which can be accessed via an online portal called Endless Forams. The best-performing computer model correctly identified more than 87 percent of the species. “This is really exciting because it both automates and standardizes an important task,” Hull said, noting that the goal is to better "understand such critical things as how species and ecosystems respond to climate change." - YALE NEWS

9. In just three years, vehicles will have full self-driving capability, says Blair LaCorte, president of AEye. According to LaCorte, 30-40 percent of Tesla’s customers opted in for the Full Self-Driving Capability, which ranges in price between $6,000-$7,000 and is not fully-autonomous. The problem with current autonomous vehicles isn’t the sensors, LaCorte said; it’s aggregating the data, understanding it and knowing what to pay attention to. LaCorte and AEye see an opportunity in autonomous technology for commercial vehicles such as busses, campus shuttles and construction vehicles. - FORBES

A version of this story first appeared in Inside IoT.

10. Researchers developed a framework that allows robots to take ideal indoor portraits of people. LeRop, developed by Purdue University and Adobe Research, guides a robot toward the best location for pictures and uses both a photo evaluation model and deep reinforcement learning to find the best views and orientation. The framework is outlined in a recent paper pre-published on arXiv. - TECH XPLORE

Written and curated by Beth Duckett, a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who wrote a book about the solar industry and frequently covers hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets about the latest news in artificial intelligence here.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, Inside Dev editor.

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