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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens
Sea turtle hatchlings

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers June 24, 2023 to June 30, 2023 and includes articles on tracking data on sea turtles and testing cashierless stores.

1. Designing Drugs
Insilico Medicine, a biotechnology company based in Hong Kong, has started the world’s first clinical trials with human patients for a drug designed entirely with AI. The team used AI to identify the drug’s target and generate its design.

2. Building Nuclear Fusion Reactors
The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority has partnered with Intel, Dell, and Cambridge University to create a digital twin of a nuclear fusion reactor. Officials will use the twin to design a commercial nuclear fusion power plant connected to the grid.

3. Conversing with Spacecraft
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is creating an AI-powered chatbot that astronauts and mission controllers can use to exchange information with spacecraft, such as instructions for experiments or flight maneuvers. NASA could deploy the chatbot on the Lunar Gateway, a spacecraft that will orbit the Moon.

4. Conducting Orchestras
A robotic conductor has made its debut at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul. The robot used sensor and motion capture technology to lead South Korea’s national orchestra through three pieces during a performance.

5. Fighting Future Pandemics
Researchers at Oxford University, IBM, and Diamond Light Source, a U.K. national science facility, have created an AI system that can design molecules for compounds that target and stop the COVID-19 virus. The team trained the system with data on molecules, proteins, and how they bind, but excluded information about the virus that causes COVID-19. As a result of this exclusion, the system can generate molecule suggestions without significant information about new viruses, which will enable faster drug development during future pandemics.

6. Tracking Sea Turtle Nestings
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, a wildlife conservation organization, has partnered with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Florida to launch a dashboard with data on sea turtle nestings. Residents can use the dashboard to view information about new nests and hatchlings.

7. Improving Online Shopping
Microsoft is adding three AI tools to its Bing search engine and chatbot. The first will provide buying guides to enable customers to compare between similar products more efficiently while the second will summarize customers’ past reviews of products. The final tool will alert customers if prices for a past purchase drop and draft a message requesting a refund from the retailer.

8. Shopping for Goods
Dollar General, a U.S.-based chain store company, has started testing cashierless technology at one of its stores. Customers can insert their credit card at the store’s entrance and the store’s sensor technology will track their purchases and charge them accordingly.

9. Updating Human Resources Tools
Oracle, a U.S.-based software company, is developing generative AI features to add to its human resources platform. Employers can use the features to draft text for human resources documents, such as job listings and performance reviews.

10. Monitoring Marine Environments
Students at ETH Zurich have created a robotic fish that can collect environmental and biodiversity data in marine ecosystems. The fish improves upon past robots by silently moving like a live fish, thus enabling scientists to collect data without disturbing the ecosystem.

Image credit: Flickr user FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

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