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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens
the moon

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers August 27, 2022 to September 2, 2022 and includes articles on aggregating data from government agencies to track wildfires and using an AI system to clarify images of dark regions on the Moon.

1. Playing Soccer

Researchers at DeepMind, a U.K.-based AI research company, have trained AI systems to play soccer without providing the rules of the game. The team trained the systems with videos of soccer games to teach game basics, such as running and kicking a ball, and then pitted systems against each other for further development. 

2. Riding in Robotaxis

Waymo has expanded its autonomous taxi services in Phoenix. Waymo employees and approved customers can now travel in the taxis in downtown Phoenix without a safety driver in the car. This expansion builds upon the company’s service in the greater Phoenix area, with members of the public permitted to ride in autonomous taxis without safety drivers in Phoenix’s East Valley suburb. 

3. Mapping the Moon

An international team of researchers has used an AI system to clarify images of 44 permanently dark regions in the Artemis exploration zone of the Moon. Because of their geographical features, many regions do not receive enough light for astronomers to efficiently identify areas of scientific interest. NASA and other space agencies can use the new images to choose the most valuable landing region for Artemis astronauts. 

4. Tracking Wildfires

Esri, a U.S.-based geographic information system software company, has created an app that tracks wildfires across the United States. It uses data from 22 government agencies, including NASA, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the National Weather Service, to show information on the fire, air quality, population density, and thermal hot spots. 

5. Recreating Artwork

Researchers at Oxia Palus, a U.K.-based technology company that recreates lost art, have recreated a painting of two wrestlers that Vincent Van Gogh painted over. Art historians had previously used x-ray technology to find and recreate the painting; however, their version remained in black and white. The team at Oxia Palus used an AI system to determine the original color composition of the painting and add the correct colors to it. 

6. Tracking Internet Access

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to community development, has launched an interactive dashboard tracking enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal program that helps low-income households pay for Internet access. The dashboard displays information on the number of households enrolled in the program, their location, the Internet service type, and the program’s funding. 

7. Collecting Taxes

France’s tax office, the General Directorate of Public Finance, has used an AI system to locate 20,356 undeclared pools in aerial photographs. Officials have since collected nearly 10 million euros in tax payments for the pools. 

8. Detecting Lung Cancer

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts have created an AI system that can detect signs of non-small cell lung cancer in computed tomography (CT) scans. The team trained the system with CT scans from 787 patients. In tests, radiation oncologists found that doctors who used the AI system produced higher quality image analyses than doctors who did not. 

9. Taking Food Orders

Panera Bread, a U.S.-based fast food chain, has partnered with OpenCity, a U.S.-based AI company, to install OpenCity’s voice ordering AI system at two restaurants in upstate New York. Customers can use the system to place orders in the restaurants’ drive-thru lanes. 

10. Turning Buildings into Tortilla Chips

Snapchat has partnered with Frito-Lay, a U.S.-based snack company, to create a Doritos-themed filter. The filter uses augmented reality to display tortilla chips on triangular structures, such as the Memphis Pyramid, in users’ surrounding environments. 

Image credit: Flickr user Sadaf Syed

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