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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers February 18, 2023 to February 24, 2023 and includes articles on launching a data dashboard to track prescription drug prices and using an AI system to recreate voices in phone calls.

1. Improving Language Models
Meta has created and released a language model that researchers can use to study methods of preventing bias, toxicity, and hallucinations in language models. The company trained the model on the top 20 most-spoken languages and released versions with 7 billion, 13 billion, 33 billion, and 65 billion parameters.

2. Riding in Robotaxis
Motional, a U.S.-based autonomous vehicle company, has launched three new upgrades to its autonomous ride-hailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada. First, the company will now offer rides at night instead of only during daytime hours. Second, vehicles that encounter unknown or difficult traffic patterns can connect to a remote operator to learn how to navigate through the issue. Finally, passengers will now have more control over interior functions, such as unlocking the vehicle and controlling the air conditioning.

3. Playing Music
Spotify has launched an AI-powered DJ that uses a text-to-speech system to offer commentary on songs and artists and can pick songs according to users’ listening histories and musical tastes. Spotify’s music experts will use OpenAI’s generative AI systems to create the commentary. The DJ improves upon Spotify’s past personalization efforts as users can tap the DJ button if they do not like the selected music and receive a different song. Over time, the DJ will learn users’ preferences.

4. Fighting Fires
Researchers at Rey Juan Carlos University and the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain have created an autonomous robot that can navigate indoor environments during fire emergencies and help firefighters plan their rescue or intervention. The robot uses a camera and sensors to collect data on temperature, humidity, air quality, and the position of other objects indoors. Then, the robot uses an AI system to navigate its surroundings and map the shortest route to a target position, such as a victim’s location or a building exit.

5. Playing Video Games
Sony has launched an update to the racing video game Gran Turismo 7 that allows high achieving players to race against GT Sophy, an AI system that has beaten several professional players. Players can compete against four versions of GT Sophy, each with different specifications.

6. Simulating Climate Patterns
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have used a supercomputer to simulate climate patterns in the United States for the next 50 years. The team found that the U.S. Midwest will likely experience prolonged droughts and short, heavy bouts of precipitation that could cause extensive flooding.

7. Predicting COVID-19 Resistance After Exposure
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine have created a machine learning model that can predict which patients have a high probability of natural resistance to COVID-19 after exposure to the virus. By better identifying which individuals are naturally able to avoid infection, the researchers may be able to learn which genetic, environmental, societal and behavioral factors influence defense against the virus.

8. Tracking Prescription Drug Prices
The Minnesota Department of Health has launched a dashboard to improve prescription drug transparency. The dashboard contains data on prescription drug prices, price increases, and launch prices for nearly 700 drugs.

9. Answering Phone Calls
Samsung has updated its Bixby Text Call tool, which allows users to respond to incoming phone calls with a text message, for Korean users. Now, users who speak Korean can send a text and the tool will convert the text to audio that sounds like the user, and respond to incoming calls. The tool generates the audio from vocal recordings of users saying specific sentences.

10. Learning About Marine Life
Ikea has partnered with Meta and Warpin Reality, a Swedish mixed reality company, to launch a game that uses augmented reality to teach users about marine life. Shoppers in 21 stores across Sweden can scan QR codes with the Instagram app to view marine animals and learn about the effects of pollution on marine ecosystems.

Image credit: Flickr user Tim G. Photography

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