Twins, called Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes modified before birth by a Chinese scientific team using the new editing tool CRISPR. The goal was to make the girls immune to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Now, new research shows that the same alteration introduced into the girls’ DNA, to a gene called CCR5, not only makes mice smarter but also improves human brain recovery after stroke, and could be linked to greater success in school.
He Jiankui poses for the cameras of the Associated Press in the days before his gene-editing experiments became known.
Mark Schiefelbein | AP
The team, led by He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, claimed it used CRISPR to delete CCR5 from human embryos, some of which were later used to create pregnancies. HIV requires the CCR5 gene to enter human blood cells.
The experiment has been widely condemned as irresponsible, and He is under investigation in China.News of the first gene-edited babies also created speculation about whether CRISPR technology could one day be used to create super-intelligent humans, perhaps as part of a biotechnology race between the US and China.
There is no evidence that He actually set out to modify the twins’ intelligence. MIT Technology Review contacted scientists studying the effects of CCR5 on cognition, and they say the Chinese scientist never reached out to them, as he did to others from whom he hoped to get scientific advice or support.
The health ministry in Guangdong, China determined that scientist He Jiankui broke national laws when he used the CRISPR gene-editing technique to engineer human embryos with resistance to HIV and then implanted the embryos into women who then birthed the babies. Based on the probe, the Southern University of Science and Technology has fired He from his position as a researcher and teacher there. According to an article in the Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, police may also explore charges against He and his colleagues
Courtesy of WVU Today WVU’s Fanny Ye has been awarded a grant that will support her research to develop AI techniques to combat the opioid epidemic.
Yanfang (Fanny) Ye, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering at West Virginia University, has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Justice in support of her work to develop novel artificial intelligence techniques to combat the opioid epidemic and trafficking. The award comes with about $1 million in funding over a three-year period.
As part of the grant, Ye, in collaboration with Xin Li, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, will design and develop new AI technologies to automate the analysis of large-scale surface net and darknet data to provide timely investigative leads to law enforcement agencies in the United States to combat opioid trafficking.
Dr. Ye and Dr. Li will use sophisticated pattern recognition research that can have a significant impact on disrupting the supply chain underlying opioid trafficking.”
Ye has extensive research and development experience in Internet security solutions. Before joining WVU, she was the principal scientist in Comodo Security Solutions, Inc., a provider of computer software and SSL digital certificates, and deputy director at Kingsoft Internet Security Corporation, the second biggest Internet security company in China. Ye proposed and developed cloud-based solutions for mining big data in the area of Internet security, especially for malware detection and adversarial machine learning. Her developed algorithms and systems have been incorporated into popular commercial products, including Comodo Internet Security and Kingsoft Antivirus that protect millions of users worldwide.
She also recently received the prestigious AICS 2019 Challenge Problem Winner, the ACM SIGKDD 2017 Best Paper and Best Student Paper awards (Applied Data Science Track), the IEEE EISIC 2017 Best Paper Award and the 2017 New Researcher of the Year Award from the Statler College. Ye has brought in nearly $2.5 million in research funding to WVU in the past two years.
The Vatican is teaming up with Microsoft on an academic prize to promote ethics in artificial intelligence.
Pope Francis met privately on Wednesday with Microsoft President Brad Smith and the head of a Vatican scientific office that promotes Catholic Church positions on human life.
The Vatican said Smith and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Academy for Life told Francis about the international prize for an individual who has successfully defended a dissertation on ethical issues involving artificial intelligence.
The winner will receive 6,000 euros ($6,900) and an invitation to Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters. The theme of the Pontifical Academy’ of Life’s s 2020 plenary assembly is AI.
New security technologies are being developed everyday to preventing further gun violence. Athena, a new security technology, uses artificial intelligence to detect a firearm before it is used.
The system touts up to 99 percent accuracy when identifying guns. It can spot these weapons, or those making threatening motions, alerting someone who could prevent them from entering a building and causing harm.
The system connects directly to the security cameras that are already in place at a business or school campus, bypassing any heavy or costly installation. In case of double, the system instantly relays information and can directly alert the police.
The technology will also send real-time footage of an incident to law enforcement agencies, allowing them to know about the current situation before they arrive on scene.
While Athena promises that its algorithms will keep prices down, the main holdup could be that the system has a hard time distinguishing between a real and fake gun, leading to unnecessary alarms.
George Mason University is easily one of the first large-scale college programs to use robots to deliver food on campus. The service was the brainchild of two companies, food service operator Sodexo and delivery robot company Starship Technologies.
Today, members of the Mason community can pull up an app on their iPhones and Android phones to order food and drinks for delivery anywhere on the campus. Delivery costs $1.99 and runs from 8:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night. Currently, food options are limited to some items on the menus of three participants: Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Second Stop and Dunkin’ Donuts. More on-campus restaurants are expected to join the list in coming weeks.