The World’s First Album Composed and Produced by an AI Has Been Unveiled

A music album called IAMAI, which released on August 21st, is the first that’s entirely composed by an artificial intelligence.

A New Kind of Composer

“Break Free” is the first sone released in a new album by Taryn Southern. The song, indeed, the entire album, features an artist known as Amper—but what looks like a typical collaboration between artists is actually much more than that.

Taryn is no stranger to the music and entertainment industry. She is a singer and digital storyteller who has amassed more than 500 million views on YouTube, and she has over 450 thousand subscribers. On the other hand, Amper is making his debut…except he’s (it’s?) not a person.

Amper is an artificially intelligent music composer, producer, and performer. The AI was developed by a team of professional musicians and technology experts, and it’s the the very first AI to compose and produced an entire music album. The album is called I AM AI, and the featured single is set to release on August 21, 2017.

Check out the song “Break Free” in the video below:

As film composer Drew Silverstein, one of Amper’s founders, explained to TechCrunchAmper isn’t meant to act totally on its own, but was designed specifically to work in collaboration with human musicians: “One of our core beliefs as a company is that the future of music is going to be created in the collaboration between humans and AI. We want that collaborative experience to propel the creative process forward.”

That said, the team notes that, contrary to the other songs that have been released by AI composers, the chord structures and instrumentation of “Break Free” are entirely the work of Amper’s AI.

Not Just Music Production

Ultimately, Amper breaks the model followed by today’s music-making AIs. Usually, the original work done by the AI is largely reinterpreted by humans. This means that humans are really doing most of the legwork. As the team notes in their press release, “the process of releasing AI music has involved humans making significant manual changes—including alteration to chords and melodies—to the AI notation.”

That’s not the case with Amper. As previously noted, the chord structures and instrumentation is purely Amper’s; it just works with manual inputs from the human artist when it comes to style and overall rhythm.

And most notably, Amper can make music through machine learning in just seconds. Here’s an example of a song made by Amper, and re-arranged by Taryn.

Yet, while IAMAI may be the first album that’s entirely composed and produced by an AI, it’s not the first time an AI has displayed creativity in music or in other arts.

For example, an AI called Aiva has been taught to compose classical music, like how DeepBach was designed to create music inspired by Baroque artist Johann Sebastian Bach. With this in mind, the album is likely just the first step into a new era…an era in which humans will share artistry (and perhaps even compete creatively) with AI.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify what songs were made by Amper and rearranged by Taryn. 

Source: The World’s First Album Composed and Produced by an AI Has Been Unveiled

by Dom Galeon on August 21, 2017 

 Amper Music

 

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DNA could store all of the world’s data in one room | Science | AAAS

DNA could store all of the world’s data in one room

Humanity has a data storage problem: More data were created in the past 2 years than in all of preceding history. And that torrent of information may soon outstrip the ability of hard drives to capture it. Now, researchers report that they’ve come up with a new way to encode digital data in DNA to create the highest-density large-scale data storage scheme ever invented. Capable of storing 215 petabytes (215 million gigabytes) in a single gram of DNA, the system could, in principle, store every bit of datum ever recorded by humans in a container about the size and weight of a couple of pickup trucks. But whether the technology takes off may depend on its cost.

DNA has many advantages for storing digital data. It’s ultracompact, and it can last hundreds of thousands of years if kept in a cool, dry place. And as long as human societies are reading and writing DNA, they will be able to decode it. “DNA won’t degrade over time like cassette tapes and CDs, and it won’t become obsolete,” says Yaniv Erlich, a computer scientist at Columbia University. And unlike other high-density approaches, such as manipulating individual atoms on a surface, new technologies can write and read large amounts of DNA at a time, allowing it to be scaled up.

Scientists have been storing digital data in DNA since 2012. That was when Harvard University geneticists George Church, Sri Kosuri, and colleagues encoded a 52,000-word book in thousands of snippets of DNA, using strands of DNA’s four-letter alphabet of A, G, T, and C to encode the 0s and 1s of the digitized file. Their particular encoding scheme was relatively inefficient, however, and could store only 1.28 petabytes per gram of DNA. Other approaches have done better. But none has been able to store more than half of what researchers think DNA can actually handle, about 1.8 bits of data per nucleotide of DNA. (The number isn’t 2 bits because of rare, but inevitable, DNA writing and reading errors.)

Erlich thought he could get closer to that limit. So he and Dina Zielinski, an associate scientist at the New York Genome Center, looked at the algorithms that were being used to encode and decode the data. They started with six files, including a full computer operating system, a computer virus, an 1895 French film called Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, and a 1948 study by information theorist Claude Shannon. They first converted the files into binary strings of 1s and 0s, compressed them into one master file, and then split the data into short strings of binary code. They devised an algorithm called a DNA fountain, which randomly packaged the strings into so-called droplets, to which they added extra tags to help reassemble them in the proper order later. In all, the researchers generated a digital list of 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long.

They sent these as text files to Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco, California–based startup, which then synthesized the DNA strands. Two weeks later, Erlich and Zielinski received in the mail a vial with a speck of DNA encoding their files. To decode them, the pair used modern DNA sequencing technology. The sequences were fed into a computer, which translated the genetic code back into binary and used the tags to reassemble the six original files. The approach worked so well that the new files contained no errors, they report today in Science. They were also able to make a virtually unlimited number of error-free copies of their files through polymerase chain reaction, a standard DNA copying technique. What’s more, Erlich says, they were able to encode 1.6 bits of data per nucleotide, 60% better than any group had done before and 85% the theoretical limit.

“I love the work,” says Kosuri, who is now a biochemist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think this is essentially the definitive study that shows you can [store data in DNA] at scale.”

However, Kosuri and Erlich note the new approach isn’t ready for large-scale use yet. It cost $7000 to synthesize the 2 megabytes of data in the files, and another $2000 to read it. The cost is likely to come down over time, but it still has a long ways to go, Erlich says. And compared with other forms of data storage, writing and reading to DNA is relatively slow. So the new approach isn’t likely to fly if data are needed instantly, but it would be better suited for archival applications. Then again, who knows? Perhaps those giant Facebook and Amazon data centers will one day be replaced by a couple of pickup trucks of DNA.

Posted in:

doi:10.1126/science.aal0852

Breaking the Glass Ceiling with Dame Stephanie Shirley aka “Steve”

Digital and Entrepreneurial Pioneer/Kindertransport Survivor

If you have ever wondered if you could make a difference in the lives of others, please take a few moments to listen to the story of Dame Stephanie Shirley.  The story of how she was able to build a software company almost entirely with women in the 1960’s is compelling.
http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365863409/
 
Read and learn more about the Dame Stephanie Shirley at these sites.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/secretlife/blogposts/dame-stephanie-shirley/

http://www.steveshirley.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Shirley

 

 

 

Learning From Data: An Intiguing Link between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

To understand how black Americans are impacted by fatal police shootings in each state, we defined an “over-representation ratio”: the percentage of fatal police shootings in which a black American was killed divided by percentage of black Americans in a state. The number one determinant of over-representation in fatal police shootings is the percentage of eligible black Americans registered to vote.

WIRED/MAIMUNA SHAHNAZ MAJUMDER

I found a very interesting piece in Wired Magazine, demonstrating a link between police shootings and voter registration, written by an equally interesting person.  I encourage you to read more about Maia Majumder and her article.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaahxaaaajdiwndc5yzixltyxztitndy4my05mdm2lwnlyjy3zju2ntmwzgMaimuna (Maia) Majumder is an Engineering Systems PhD candidate at MIT and computational epidemiology research fellow at HealthMap. Before coming to MIT, she earned a Bachelors of Science in Engineering Science and a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Tufts University. Her research interests involve probabilistic modeling, Bayesian statistics, and “systems epidemiology” in the context of emerging infectious diseases. She also enjoys exploring novel techniques for data procurement, writing about data for the general public, and creating meaningful data visualizations. When taking a break from work, Maia moonlights as a jazz vocalist, budding chef, and primal wellness enthusiast who loves Bikram yoga, Zumba, & lifting heavy objects with her awesome husband, Imran Malek.

An Intriguing Link Between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

Since January 1, 2016, there have been 714 fatal police shootings in the United States. That comes to 79 deaths a month, 18 a week, and three a day. For context, the US recorded 43 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus and 25 deaths from West Nile in the same time frame.

For most, if not all, public health issues, some segments of the population are more vulnerable than others. Americans who engage in unprotected sex are more likely to contract Zika virus, while older people are more likely to die from West Nile.

Read the full article here


 

 

Floating Farms of the Future


This is an excerpt from an article appearing in the August 20, 2016, Science News with the headline, “Quenching society’s thirst: Desalination may soon turn a corner, from rare to routine.” 

Coastal crops

When Khaled Moustafa looks at a beach, he doesn’t just see a place for sunning and surfing. The biologist at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris sees the future of farming.

In the April issue of Trends in Biotechnology, Moustafa proposed that desalination could supply irrigation water to colossal floating farms. Self-sufficient floating farms could bring agriculture to arid coastal regions previously inhospitable to crops. The idea, while radical, isn’t too farfetched, given recent technological advancements, Moustafa says.

Floating farms would lay anchor along coastlines and suck up seawater, he proposes. A solar panel–powered water desalination system would provide freshwater to rows of cucumbers, tomatoes or strawberries stacked like a big city high-rise inside a “blue house” (that is, a floating greenhouse).

Water desalination could allow farming to take to the sea. The idea sparked the imagination of a Spanish architecture firm, which mocked up an elaborate floating farm complex (illustration). The triple-decker structure would include solar panels on top, crops at midlevel and fish farming on the lower level.

SMART FLOATING FARMS

Each floating farm would stretch 300 meters long by 100 meters wide, providing about 3 square kilometers of cultivable surface over only three-tenths of a square kilometer of ocean, Moustafa says. The farms could even be mobile, cruising around the ocean to transport crops and escape bad weather.

Such a portable and self-contained farming solution would be most appealing in dry coastal regions that get plenty of sunshine, such as the Arabian Gulf, North Africa and Australia.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a silly idea,” Voutchkov says. “But it’s an idea that can’t get a practical implementation in the short term. In the long term, I do believe it’s a visionary idea.”

Floating farms may come with a large price tag, Moustafa admits. Still, expanding agriculture should “be more of a priority than building costly football stadiums or indoor ski parks in the desert,” he argues.

Whether or not farming will ever take to the seas, new desalination technologies will transform the way society quenches its thirst. More than 300 million people rely on desalination for at least some of their daily water, and that number will only grow as needs rise and new materials and techniques improve the process.

“Desalination can sometimes get a rap for being energy intensive,” Dave says. “But the immediate benefits of having access to water that would not otherwise be there are so large that desalination is a technology that we will be seeing for a long time into the future.”

 

Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot

Featured Image: IBM’s Watson Helped Design Karolina Kurkova’s Light-Up Dress for the Met Gala.  Karolina Kurkova attends the “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Getty Images

IBM’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) product Watson, teamed up with Georgia Institute of Technology to experiment using Watson as a TA for an online course.  “Jill” Watson was able to deftly handle most questions, stimulate weekly discussions, and fool most students, who never guessed that they weren’t communicating with a real person.

Last year, a team of Georgia Tech researchers began creating Ms. Watson by poring through nearly 40,000 postings on a discussion forum known as “Piazza” and training her to answer related questions based on prior responses. By late March, she began posting responses live.

By Melissa Korn | Wall Street Journal
Read Full Article Here

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

From The Scientist:  http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45741/title/New-Gecko-Inspired-Adhesive/

By Jef Akst | April 6, 2016

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:

 

Always practise safe text: the German traffic light for smartphone zombies

zombiA ‘mobile phone lane’ on a street in a theme park in Chongqing, China. Photograph: Imaginechina/Rex

The word “smombie” is one of the most recent additions to the German language. Last November, the term – a mashup of “smartphone” and “zombie”, referring to oblivious smartphone users staggering around cities like the undead – was voted Youth Word of the Year in Germany.

The disease is virulent. A recent study of 14,000 pedestrians in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome and Stockholm found that 17% of people used their smartphone while walking. The heaviest users were 25 to 35-year-olds: almost a quarter of them exhibited smombie-esque behaviour.

Now Augsburg, a municipality outside Munich, has braced itself for this new public peril. After several smombies caused accidents by carelessly crossing tram tracks, city officials decided to install new traffic lights – at ground level.

At Haunstetterstraße station, one of two locations for the experiment, 16 red LEDs, each about the size of a beer mat, are embedded in the pavement next to a tram crossing.

Passengers are divided on their merits. Katja Lechner commutes here daily to university. “OK, you really do see the lights blinking when the tram approaches,” she says. “But that doesn’t stop anybody from crossing, as people rush to catch their trains.” She thinks the €10,000 should have been invested in education.

Arzu Araz, a hairdresser who lives nearby with her seven-year old daughter, disagrees. “The lights are ideal for kids, who notice them immediately,” she says.

Augsburg is not the first city to react. Cologne has equipped three tram crossings with similar lights, prompting the creation of yet another portmanteau: “Bompeln”, an abbreviation of “Boden-Ampeln” (ground traffic lights).

In Munich, where a 15-year-old girl wearing headphones was recently killed by a tram, certain particularly dangerous crossings were fitted with special beacons that send warnings to smartphones enabled with a corresponding app, called Watch Out!

In the US, meanwhile, cities such as Portland, Seattle and Cleveland have experimented with talking buses that alert pedestrians during turns. Rexburg, Idaho has even imposed fines of $50 for texting while walking.

And a theme park in the Chinese city of Chongqing has experimented with a special “phone lane” for pedestrians, itself based on an earlier experiment in Washington, DC.

After a trial period, Augsburg officials will interview tram drivers and passengers before deciding whether to roll the lights out to other stations.

“This is not just about smartphones. The crossing here is so busy and dangerous that we are used to the screeching noise of the tram’s emergency breaks,” says Sebastian Hrabak, owner of the restaurant Schwarze Kiste at Haunstetterstraße station. “But since the lights were installed last week, there hasn’t been a single dangerous incident.”

Have you been a “smombie” yourself ?

Read the full article @ Always practise safe text: the German traffic light for smartphone zombies

INFLUX Public Art Project in TEMPE, AZ

INFLUX Public Art Project in TEMPE, AZ

I’d like to announce that my ‪#‎influxaz‬ project is up -All Credits given to Casey Farina. on ‪#‎HaydenMill‬ in ‪#‎Tempe‬.‪#‎publicart‬ ‪#‎projectionmapping‬ ‪#‎raspberrypi‬ ‪#‎influxcycle6‬ ‪#‎generativeart‬‪ #‎CityofTempe‬ ‪#‎downtowntempe‬

Cascade.Erode.Construct. is a video installation that abstractly explores the history of the iconic Hayden Flour Mill. The Mill’s proximity to water (the Salt River) is an integral part of its identity as a Tempe landmark. The movement and erosive power of water form the fundamental structure of the animation from which new forms are constructed. The visual artifacts that remain on the north wall of the Mill are isolated and reinvigorated by the projected light. The animation was created by using a digital image of the wall as the input for a variety of algorithmic processes. The installation repeats every ten minutes between 8:00 PM and 1:00 AM on the north wall of the Hayden Mill. Casey’s research was facilitated by John Southard and E. Hunter Hansen in the Tempe Historic Preservation Office and Jared Smith at the Tempe History Museum.

This project was funded through the City of Tempe Municipal Arts Fund with the support of the Tempe Municipal Arts Commission.

https://vimeo.com/163623598

Thanks,

Were the Japan and Ecuador earthquakes related?

 

They may have happened within days of one another, but the devastating earthquakes in Japan had nothing to do with the strong temblor that struck Ecuador over the weekend, experts say.

Both Japan and Ecuador are located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which spans the coasts lining the Pacific Ocean. The regions along the Ring of Fire are prone to earthquakes, but it’s extremely rare for an earthquake on one side of the world to trigger earthquakes on the other, said Ross Stein, CEO and co-founder of Temblor.net, a free website and smartphone application that helps people understand locations’ seismic risk.

For one thing, the earthquakes that hit Japan are a completely different type of quake than the one that struck Ecuador, Stein said. On April 14, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake hit southern Japan, and a day later, on April 15, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the same region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

Both of these earthquakes were strike-slip earthquakes, Stein said, which occur when two parts of the Earth’s crust slide against each other. The best way to imagine this is to place your hands together, with your fingers pointing away from your body, and slide your left hand forward and your right hand backward.

Both of these strike-slip earthquakes were shallow — about 6 to 8 miles (10 to 12 kilometers) deep — and both were destructive, killing more than 40 people in total, according to news sources. But the second quake was about 20 times stronger than the first, and released about 400,000 times more energy than the amount unleashed by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, Stein and Volkan Sevilgen, the other Temblor.net co-founder, wrote in a blog post.

These two earthquakes in Japan were likely related, Stein said. However, it’s unclear whether the magnitude-6.2 earthquake was a foreshock of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake or the magnitude-7.0 earthquake was an aftershock of the magnitude-6.2 earthquake, Stein said.

“So far, the evidence suggests that both are true,” the experts wrote in the blog post. Though it’s rare for an aftershock to be larger than the main shock, it does happen, Stein told Live Science.

Regardless, the first earthquake made the faults near it more likely to rupture, which likely helped to trigger the second, larger earthquake, Stein said.

Ecuador earthquake

On Saturday (April 16), merely a day after the second Japanese earthquake, a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked Muisne, Ecuador, the USGS reported. [Image Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes]

Unlike the strike-slip earthquakes in Japan, this one was a so-called megathrust quake, which occurs when one tectonic plate jams under another. In this case, the Nazca Plate is moving under the South American continent at a rate of about 2.2 to 2.4 inches (55 to 61 millimeters) a year, Stein and Sevilgen wrote in another blog post.

More than 400 deaths have been reported from the Ecuador quake so far.

This isn’t Muisne’s first large earthquake. Another magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit almost the exact location in 1942, Stein said. In fact, given that the subduction rate is about 2.3 inches (60 mm) a year, and nearly 75 years have elapsed since the last large earthquake, it makes sense that this is a “repeat earthquake,” Stein said.

Read more at the following site… cbsnews.com