To the Stars with Data: April 3 2022
The state of AI, human genome sequencing, highest-ever resolution of the sun, invisibility shields, and much more
This is coming to you a day late because I’m on vacation for a week and devoted the past weekend to self-care and relaxation. As I’m on vacation, I will not be posting next week (April 10), but a new issue will be coming your way on April 17!
Now, let’s go to the stars with data!
Thought-Provoking Data Viz
Quick hits. Stanford University (and numerous collaborators) recently released the fifth edition of the AI Index Report, a report that tracks, collates, distills, and visualizes data related to artificial intelligence and aims to be the world’s most credible and authoritative source for data and insights about AI. Here are the top takeaways from the report (so that you don’t need to read all 230 pages).
Private investment in AI soared while investment concentration intensified
U.S. and China dominated cross-country collaborations on AI
Language models are more capable than ever, but also more biased
AI ethics is rising, with a fivefold increase in related publications since 2014
AI becomes more affordable and higher performing, decreasing the cost to train an image classification system by 63.6% and improving training times by 94.4% since 2018
Global legislation on AI has increased rapidly, from 1 piece of legislation in 2016 to 18 in 2021
Robotic arms are becoming cheaper, decreasing in price by 46.2% in two years
Digging deeper. Do you like charts and graphics? Excellent! The report has charts and graphics galore. Let’s dive into a few of my favorites:
The Visual Commonsense Reasoning Challenge
The visual commonsense reasoning challenge asks AI systems to answer challenging questions about scenarios presented from images and requires they provide the reasoning behind their answers. AIs are still not at human performance, but there has been a 63.6% increase in performance since 2018. More information is located on page 73 of the AI Index Report.
Chess software engine performance over time
Since the 1980s, researchers have been creating AI systems to play chess. Measured by the Elo Rating System, these systems have continuously improved since then. Most notably, AI beat the world’s greatest chess player, Magnus Carlsen, in 2014. As of recent papers, top chess engine have now exceeded that level by 24.3%. More information is located on page 93 of the AI Index Report.
Global corporate investment in AI over time
Global investment in AI has skyrocketed over time, ballooning from $5.23 billion in 2013 to $176.47 billion in 2021. Notably, the funding rounds are getting larger while the number of AI companies is shrinking; since 2018, at its peak of 1200 companies, the number of newly-funded AI companies has decreased steadily year over year. More information is located on page 151 of the AI Index Report.
Quick hits. NVIDIA recently unveiled an AI that can turn 2D images into 3D scenes in mere seconds. The AI, trained only in a few minutes and only with a small number of scenes, functions on only a single GPU. This is compared to humongous AI models that run on hundreds or thousands of GPUs and required unbelievable amounts of data and months to train.
Bonus: The scene in the above promotional video is an ode to Andy Warhol’s work with a polaroid camera.
Other Earth news:
🤖 Boston Dynamics’s commercial warehousing robot, “Stretch”, just hit shelves and it’s already sold out for 2022. The robot can navigate on its own and pick up to 50 pounds thanks to its array of 50 suction cups.
👁 Mojo Vision discusses their latest augmented reality contact lens. Their contact lens sports 14,000 full-color pixels per inch, an eye-tracking accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, and even batteries built into the contact lens itself. I’m calling it: the future is officially here! 😱
🧬 Scientists officially finish sequencing the entire human genome. Previously, scientists were only able to sequence about 90-92% of the genome due to some portions of the genome being difficult to access. Here’s the research paper.
Quick hits. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter has taken the highest resolution image of the sun humans have ever been able to capture. To capture such a high-resolution image, the Orbiter first took 25 separate images over 4 hours and they were compiled together later. The image has over 83 million pixels in a 9148 x 9112 pixel grid; this is ten times better than what a 4K TV screen can display. The Solar Orbiter captured the photos at about 75 million kilometers from the Sun, or about half the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Other space news
🌋 Researchers conclude that Pluto was recently shaped by cryovolcanoes, or volcanoes that shoot elements into an extremely cold environment at or below the elements’ freezing points. This is important because it hints at Pluto being recently geological active, which is entirely unexpected. Here’s the research paper.
⌚ Hubble detects a 12.9 billion year-old star thanks to gravitational lensing, or the phenomenon of a massive object bending the light from behind it. This breaks the previous record of a star detected at a distance of about 4 billion light years. Here’s the research paper.
🔭 In a world first, a photo of the International Space Station taken from the ground captured 2 astronauts spacewalking. The astrophotographer, Dr. Sebastian Voltmer, knew one of the two astronauts. Dr. Voltmer also has an Instagram page with other awesome pictures.
Invisibility Shield Co, currently a kickstarter project, makes "invisibility shields”, which utilizes light refraction to make them appear like nothing is behind them. A low-tech solution for a high-tech problem!
Axiom Space and MIT Media Lab are partnering to create TESSERAE, or versatile, self-assembling hexagonal and pentagonal tiles that can create various forms of architecture in space. As noted on their TESSERAE website, “each tile at minimum includes a rigid outer shell, responsive sensing and control code for bonding diagnosis, electro-permanent magnets for dynamically controllable bonding actuation, and an on-board power harvesting and power management system.”