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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers October 7, 2023 to October 13, 2023 and includes articles on using an AI system to optimize stoplight timing and expanding autonomous vehicle services.

1. Studying Ancient Scrolls
Two computer science students in Nebraska and Berlin have identified a word on scrolls damaged by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. The two used an AI system to study 3D X-ray images of the scrolls and found the word “πορφύραc” or purple.

2. Launching Quantum Computers
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has partnered with IQM Quantum Computers, a quantum computing company in Finland, to launch a 20-qubit quantum computer. It is the country’s second quantum computer.

3. Drafting Emails
Microsoft is updating its Microsoft 365 Copilot AI assistant to include an AI-powered feature that can help users draft emails in Outlook and offer suggestions on how to make emails sound more professional and polished.

4. Riding in Robotaxis
Waymo, a U.S.-based autonomous vehicle company, has started offering autonomous vehicle services in Santa Monica, California. The company plans to expand to other parts of the greater Los Angeles area in November.

5. Updating Search Engines
Google has updated its AI-powered Search Generative Experience, a search tool that displays AI-generated answers to queries above standard results. The new version can generate images and written drafts, such as emails, in response to text prompts.

6. Predicting Virus Mutations
Researchers at Harvard University and the University of Oxford have created an AI system that can predict how viruses will mutate. The team trained the system on past viral sequences.

7. Editing Videos
Adobe has launched a generative AI-powered tool that can edit objects in videos. Users can submit text prompts to add or remove objects in videos or change their color.

8. Tracking Higher Education Outcomes
The Iowa Board of Regents will launch a dashboard to track data on alumni outcomes for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. Prospective students can use the dashboard to view information on alumni’s wages, debt loads, and graduate degrees by major.

9. Optimizing Stoplight Timing
Google will expand its Project Green Light, an initiative to reduce the time cars spend idling at stop lights and resultant carbon emissions. The company uses an AI system and Maps data to determine traffic congestion and the amount of time vehicles spend at a given light. They then use the results to train an AI system to optimize stoplight timing.

10. Shopping for Makeup
Walmart has partnered with Perfect Corp., a Taiwanese software company, to add a virtual try-on experience for cosmetic products to its app. The experience uses augmented reality to create makeup filters featuring the products for shoppers.

Image credit: Flickr user Thomas Hawk

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