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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens
An avocado

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers July 8, 2023 to July 14, 2023 and includes articles on predicting hurricane activity and using a robot, known as the Autocado, to prepare avocados for guacamole.

1. Updating Chatbots
Google has updated its generative AI chatbot, Bard. The new version can generate responses in both text and audio formats, includes functionality for over 40 languages, and enables users to pick whether the chatbot will respond in a simple, lengthy, brief, professional, or casual manner.

2. Mapping Waterways
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies, and Image Exploitation in Germany have created an autonomous robot that can survey and create 3D maps of rivers, lakes, and harbors. The robot uses data from GPS, doppler, acceleration, and angular rate sensors, cameras, laser scanners, and sonar to navigate its surrounding environment and produce the maps.

3. Predicting PTSD
A team of researchers led by the University of California, San Diego has created a machine learning model that can predict a military service member’s risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before they deploy. The team trained the system with assessment data taken from over 4,700 soldiers one to two months before they deployed to Afghanistan and three to nine months after deployment.

4. Preparing Avocados
Chipotle, a U.S.-based chain of fast casual restaurants, has partnered with Vebu Labs, a U.S.-based robotics company, to build a robot that can cut, core, and peel avocados. According to Chipotle, the robot, known as the Autocado, cuts the time necessary to prepare avocados for guacamole in half, reduces knife-related injuries, and saves on food waste.

5. Improving Generative AI Systems
Anthropic, a U.S.-based AI company, has launched Claude 2, the second version of its generative AI chatbot. Claude 2 improves upon past models with its accuracy and has scored higher than the last model on the U.S. bar exam, the Codex Human Level Python coding test, and a collection of grade school math problems.

6. Tracking Fentanyl Poisonings
The Texas Department of State Health Services has launched a dashboard to track fentanyl poisonings in the state. Officials can use the dashboard to view information on fentanyl-related deaths from 2014 to 2023 and inform public health policies.

7. Asking Medical Questions
Google has started testing its medical AI chatbot at the Mayo Clinic and other hospitals. Medical professionals can use the chatbot to ask questions, summarize documents, organize research, and more.

8. Completing Chores
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has partnered with Woodside Energy, an Australian energy production company, to test a humanoid robot that can complete chores on uncrewed and offshore energy facilities. NASA will use the test results to further develop the robot in preparation for maintenance work in space.

9. Forecasting Hurricanes
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center has launched a new forecasting model for hurricane activity. So far, the new model has predicted storm tracks with 10 to 15 percent more accuracy than existing forecasting models.

10. Swimming with Sharks
Verizon, a U.S.-based telecommunications company, has partnered with National Geographic, a U.S.-based television network, to launch an augmented reality experience for SharkFest, a month-long television program dedicated to sharks. Shark fans can use the experience to view sharks from the point of view of a shark cage.

Image credit: Flickr user Alan Sheffield

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