Welcome to Nural's newsletter where you will find a compilation of articles, news and cool companies, all focusing on how AI is being used to tackle global grand challenges.

Our aim is to make sure that you are always up to date with the most important developments in this fast-moving field.

We now have a Jobs section, currently featuring an exciting data scientist role at startup AxionRay
Reach out to advertise your own tech roles!

Packed inside we have

  • An autonomous tractor controlled from a smartphone;
  • machine learning used to develop both cancer treatments and new materials;
  • and a video of an 80 mile, autonomous journey by a truck on public roads.

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Graham Lane & Marcel Hedman

Key Recent Developments

How John Deere created its autonomous tractor

How John Deere created its autonomous tractor
A farmer can put the tractor to work with a swipe of a smartphone app and then walk away to attend to other business.

What: U.S. tractor company John Dere demoed an autonomous tractor at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, announcing it will be available by the end of 2022. The tractor can autonomously navigate, plow, sow and avoid obstacles. It can also identify and kill unwanted weeds with a precision spray of herbicide which is claimed to reduce chemical usage by up to 80%. The tractor operates with a deep neural network and can be controlled from a smartphone.
Key Takeaways: The deployment of autonomous vehicles is progressing rapidly in farming and truck transport (reported elsewhere in this newsletter) since the operating environment is relatively simple. Some commentators are concerned that John Dere could be the “Facebook of farming” making farmers dependent on the company and exploiting data  “harvested” by the tractors

Machine Learning helps repair genetic damage

Researchers Use Machine Learning To Repair Genetic Damage
The researchers have identified a way to repair genetic damage and prevent DNA alterations using machine learning techniques.

What: Using ML, a team of researchers have discovered how to repair genetic damage to DNA. Chemotherapy works by causing DNA lesions, which cause cancer cells to die. Knowing how DNA lesions are repaired will shed light on cancer treatments. The researchers processed thousands of images of cells after genetic damage, introducing 300 different proteins to study what role they played and discovered nine new proteins that are involved in cell repair.
Key Takeaways: The large volume of data generated from images has been a limiting factor in studying DNA repair. The team mainly benefited from the use of ML to process high volumes of data more quickly. This included relatively simple, unsupervised K-means clustering that yielded new information.
Paper: Assessing kinetics and recruitment of DNA repair factors using high content screens

Machine learning used to predict synthesis of complex novel materials

Machine Learning Used to Predict Synthesis of Complex Novel Materials
Researchers at Northwestern University and the Toyota Research Institute have successfully applied machine learning to guide the synthesis of new nanomaterials, eliminating barriers associated with materials discovery.

What: A research team has applied machine learning to guide the synthesis of new nanomaterials, eliminating barriers associated with materials discovery. The team created a huge library of nano particles made of combinations of any of the 118 elements in the periodic table. This data was used to train an ML model. The model predicted entirely novel compositions of four, five and six elements that would result in a certain structural feature. It made 19 predictions, of which 18 were correct.
Key Takeaways: It is hoped this approach may drive discoveries across areas critical to the future, including plastic upcycling, solar cells, superconductors, and qubits. The team is using the approach to find green catalysts critical to fuelling processes in clean energy, automotive and chemical industries.
Paper: Machine learning–accelerated design and synthesis of polyelemental heterostructures

AI Ethics

🚀 Online public discourse on artificial intelligence and ethics in China: context, content, and implications

The article argues that the general public in China has a sense of anxiety towards AI rather than the widely held view that Chinese people are positive towards digital technologies.

🚀 China leads the world in computer vision surveillance research

The paper argues that China produces ‘a disproportionate share’ of research about core AI-related surveillance technologies.

🚀 Data Statements for Natural Language Processing: Toward mitigating system bias and enabling better science

A discussion of the idea that "data statements" (meta data and a description of datasets) will help practitioners to use data responsibly.

Other interesting reads

🚀 TuSimple becomes first to successfully operate driver out, fully autonomous semi-truck on open public roads

A truck navigated 80 miles without a human in the vehicle, traveling on surface streets and highways, interacting naturally with other motorists, and without special traffic management.
Video of the night-time trip.

🚀 Seoul Robotics launches Level 5 control tower to enable autonomous mobility

Demonstration of a 5G network of sensors and computers that guides vehicles autonomously without requiring sensors on individual vehicles. This could be used for loading and unloading at distribution centres.

🚀 New UK initiative to shape global standards for AI

The UK government has announced plans for a new AI Standard Hub with practical tools for businesses, a community platform and educational materials.

🚀 This AI software nearly predicted Omicron’s tricky structure

Free AI software rapidly predicted Omicron's structure from the sequence of amino acids encoded in Omicron’s genome. The result was not perfect but points the way to future development.

Data scientist - AxionRay

Axion are looking to hire a talented NLP DS lead as they enter hypergrowth. Axion is a stealth AI decision intelligence platform start-up working with electric vehicle engineering leaders to accelerate development, funded by top VCs.

Comp: $100k – $180k, meaningful equity!

If interested contact: marcel.hedman@axionray.com

Cool companies found this week

Building automation

PassiveLogic - creates “digital twins” of buildings and land to enable customers to design, build, operate, and manage buildings and building controls. Has raised $34 million in round B funding.

Synthetic data

Mostly.ai - generates safe, realistic, smart synthetic data which it claims is the basis for fairer, responsible AI. The company has raised $25 million in round B funding.

Drug discovery

Protai - is developing a protein-centered, AI-powered drug discovery platform. It has raised $8 million in seed funding.

And finally ... whoever thought that your home assistant would be a robotic table.

Labrador Addresses Critical Need With Deceptively Simple Home Robot
It’s not often that we see a home robot that manages to be both relatively affordable and realistically technologically achievable while also solving a clear and widespread need. But a new home robot from Labrador Systems , designed for the disabled, might just be the latest to deliver both.

AI/ML must knows

Foundation Models - any model trained on broad data at scale that can be fine-tuned to a wide range of downstream tasks. Examples include BERT and GPT-3. (See also Transfer Learning)
Few shot learning - Supervised learning using only a small dataset to master the task.
Transfer Learning - Reusing parts or all of a model designed for one task on a new task with the aim of reducing training time and improving performance.
Generative adversarial network - Generative models that create new data instances that resemble your training data. They can be used to generate fake images.
Deep Learning - Deep learning is a form of machine learning based on artificial neural networks.


Marcel Hedman
Nural Research Founder

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