A military drone flying on a reconnaissance mission is captured behind enemy lines, setting into motion a team of engineers who need to remotely delete sensitive information carried on the drone’s chips. Because the chips are optical and not electronic, the engineers can now simply flash a beam of UV light onto the chip to instantly erase all content. Disaster averted.
This James Bond-esque chip is closer to reality because of a new development in a nanomaterial developed by Yuebing Zheng, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering. His team described its findings in the journal Nano Letters on Nov. 10.
“The molecules in this material are very sensitive to light, so we can use a UV light or specific light wavelengths to erase or create optical components,” Zheng said. “Potentially, we could incorporate this LED into the chip and erase its contents wirelessly. We could even time it to disappear after a certain period of time.”
The concept of rewritable optics, which underpins optical storage devices such as CDs and DVDs, has been pursued intensely. The drawback to CDs, DVDs and other state-of-the-art rewritable optical components is that they require bulky, stand-alone light sources, optical media and light detectors.
In contrast, the UT Austin innovation allows for writing, erasing and rewriting to all happen on the two-dimensional (2-D) nanomaterial, which paves the way for nano-scale optical chips and circuits.
This year-long exercise in scientific introspection yields a report meant to spur discussion about ‘how the fruits of an AI-dominated economy should be shared’
A panel of academic and industrial thinkers has looked ahead to 2030 to forecast how advances in artificial intelligence (AI) might affect life in a typical North American city – in areas as diverse as transportation, health care and education ¬- and to spur discussion about how to ensure the safe, fair and beneficial development of these rapidly emerging technologies.
Titled “Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030,” this year-long investigation is the first product of the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), an ongoing project hosted by Stanford to inform societal deliberation and provide guidance on the ethical development of smart software, sensors and machines.
“We believe specialized AI applications will become both increasingly common and more useful by 2030, improving our economy and quality of life,” said Peter Stone, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the 17-member panel of international experts. “But this technology will also create profound challenges, affecting jobs and incomes and other issues that we should begin addressing now to ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly shared.”
The new report traces its roots to a 2009 study that brought AI scientists together in a process of introspection that became ongoing in 2014, when Eric and Mary Horvitz created the AI100 endowment through Stanford. AI100 formed a standing committee of scientists and charged this body with commissioning periodic reports on different aspects of AI over the ensuing century.
“This process will be a marathon, not a sprint, but today we’ve made a good start,” said Russ Altman, a professor of bioengineering and the Stanford faculty director of AI100. “Stanford is excited to host this process of introspection. This work makes practical contribution to the public debate on the roles and implications of artificial intelligence.”
The AI100 standing committee first met in 2015, led by chairwoman and Harvard computer scientist Barbara Grosz. It sought to convene a panel of scientists with diverse professional and personal backgrounds and enlist their expertise to assess the technological, economic and policy implications of potential AI applications in a societally relevant setting.
“AI technologies can be reliable and broadly beneficial,” Grosz said. “Being transparent about their design and deployment challenges will build trust and avert unjustified fear and suspicion.”
The report investigates eight domains of human activity in which AI technologies are beginning to affect urban life in ways that will become increasingly pervasive and profound by 2030.
The 28,000-word report includes a glossary to help nontechnical readers understand how AI applications such as computer vision might help screen tissue samples for cancers or how natural language processing will allow computerized systems to grasp not simply the literal definitions, but the connotations and intent, behind words.
The report is broken into eight sections focusing on applications of AI. Five examine application arenas such as transportation where there is already buzz about self-driving cars. Three other sections treat technological impacts, like the section on employment and workplace trends which touches on the likelihood of rapid changes in jobs and incomes.
“It is not too soon for social debate on how the fruits of an AI-dominated economy should be shared,” the researchers write in the report, noting also the need for public discourse.
“Currently in the United States, at least sixteen separate agencies govern sectors of the economy related to AI technologies,” the researchers write, highlighting issues raised by AI applications: “Who is responsible when a self-driven car crashes or an intelligent medical device fails? How can AI applications be prevented from [being used for] racial discrimination or financial cheating?”
The eight sections discuss:
- Transportation: Autonomous cars, trucks and, possibly, aerial delivery vehicles may alter how we commute, work and shop and create new patterns of life and leisure in cities.
- Home/service robots: Like the robotic vacuum cleaners already in some homes, specialized robots will clean and provide security in live/work spaces that will be equipped with sensors and remote controls.
- Health care: Devices to monitor personal health and robot-assisted surgery are hints of things to come if AI is developed in ways that gain the trust of doctors, nurses, patients and regulators.
- Education: Interactive tutoring systems already help students learn languages, math and other skills. More is possible if technologies like natural language processing platforms develop to augment instruction by humans.
- Entertainment: The conjunction of content creation tools, social networks and AI will lead to new ways to gather, organize and deliver media in engaging, personalized and interactive ways.
- Low-resource communities: Investments in uplifting technologies like predictive models to prevent lead poisoning or improve food distributions could spread AI benefits to the underserved.
- Public safety and security: Cameras, drones and software to analyze crime patterns should use AI in ways that reduce human bias and enhance safety without loss of liberty or dignity.
- Employment and workplace: Work should start now on how to help people adapt as the economy undergoes rapid changes as many existing jobs are lost and new ones are created.
“Until now, most of what is known about AI comes from science fiction books and movies,” Stone said. “This study provides a realistic foundation to discuss how AI technologies are likely to affect society.”
Grosz said she hopes the AI 100 report “initiates a century-long conversation about ways AI-enhanced technologies might be shaped to improve life and societies.”
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a new flexible smart window material that, when incorporated into windows, sunroofs, or even curved glass surfaces, will have the ability to control both heat and light from the sun. Their article about the new material will be published in the September issue of Nature Materials.
Delia Milliron, an associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, and her team’s advancement is a new low-temperature process for coating the new smart material on plastic, which makes it easier and cheaper to apply than conventional coatings made directly on the glass itself. The team demonstrated a flexible electrochromic device, which means a small electric charge (about 4 volts) can lighten or darken the material and control the transmission of heat-producing, near-infrared radiation. Such smart windows are aimed at saving on cooling and heating bills for homes and businesses.
The research team is an international collaboration, including scientists at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and CNRS in France, and Ikerbasque in Spain. Researchers at UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences provided key theoretical work.
Milliron and her team’s low-temperature process generates a material with a unique nanostructure, which doubles the efficiency of the coloration process compared with a coating produced by a conventional high-temperature process. It can switch between clear and tinted more quickly, using less power.
The new electrochromic material, like its high-temperature processed counterpart, has an amorphous structure, meaning the atoms lack any long-range organization as would be found in a crystal. However, the new process yields a unique local arrangement of the atoms in a linear, chain-like structure. Whereas conventional amorphous materials produced at high temperature have a denser three-dimensionally bonded structure, the researchers’ new linearly structured material, made of chemically condensed niobium oxide, allows ions to flow in and out more freely. As a result, it is twice as energy efficient as the conventionally processed smart window material.
At the heart of the team’s study is their rare insight into the atomic-scale structure of the amorphous materials, whose disordered structures are difficult to characterize. Because there are few techniques for characterizing the atomic-scale structure sufficiently enough to understand properties, it has been difficult to engineer amorphous materials to enhance their performance.
“There’s relatively little insight into amorphous materials and how their properties are impacted by local structure,” Milliron said. “But, we were able to characterize with enough specificity what the local arrangement of the atoms is, so that it sheds light on the differences in properties in a rational way.”
Graeme Henkelman, a co-author on the paper and chemistry professor in UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences, explains that determining the atomic structure for amorphous materials is far more difficult than for crystalline materials, which have an ordered structure. In this case, the researchers were able to use a combination of techniques and measurements to determine an atomic structure that is consistent in both experiment and theory.
“Such collaborative efforts that combine complementary techniques are, in my view, the key to the rational design of new materials,” Henkelman said.
Milliron believes the knowledge gained here could inspire deliberate engineering of amorphous materials for other applications such as supercapacitors that store and release electrical energy rapidly and efficiently.
The Milliron lab’s next challenge is to develop a flexible material using their low-temperature process that meets or exceeds the best performance of electrochromic materials made by conventional high-temperature processing.
“We want to see if we can marry the best performance with this new low-temperature processing strategy,” she said.
TACC Stampede, Lonestar supercomputers help discover gamma ray creation from lasers
Ever play with a magnifying lens as a kid? Imagine a lens as big as the Earth. Now focus sunlight down to a pencil tip. That still wouldn’t be good enough for what some Texas scientists have in mind. They want to make light even 500 times more intense. And they say it could open the door to the most powerful radiation in the universe: gamma rays.
Comic book readers might know about gamma rays. The Incredible Hulk was transformed from mild scientist into wild superhero by gamma rays from a nuclear explosion. The real gamma rays form in nature from radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus. Besides hazardous materials, you’d have to look in exotic places like near a black hole or closer to home at lightning in the upper atmosphere to find natural forces capable of making gamma rays.
Scientists have found that gamma rays, like the Hulk, can do heroic things too — if they can be controlled. Hospitals now eradicate cancer tumors using a ‘gamma ray knife’ with surgical precision. The rays can also image brain activity. And gamma rays are used to quickly scan cargo containers for terrorist materials. But it’s near impossible to make gamma rays with non-radioactive materials. To do that today one needs a colossal atom smasher like at CERN or SLAC. No one has been able to make a gamma ray beam from lasers. But it can be done, say scientists at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin.
Supercomputers might have helped unlock a new way to make controlled beams of gamma rays from a laser that fits on a table-top, according to research physicist Alex Arefiev, who has a dual appointment at the Institute for Fusion Studies and at the Center for High Energy Density Science at UT Austin. Arefiev co-authored the study, “Enhanced multi-MeV photon emission by a laser-driven electron beam in a self-generated magnetic field,” published May 2016 in the journal Physical Review Letters.
“One of the key results that we found is that a laser pulse can be efficiently converted into a beam of very energetic photons,” Arefiev said. “They are more than one million times more energetic than the photons in the laser pulse. Until recently, there hasn’t been a method for producing a beam of such energetic photons. So the proposed regime can be groundbreaking for a number of applications and also for fundamental science studies.”
With an advance that one cryptography expert called a “masterpiece,” University of Texas at Austin computer scientists have developed a new method for producing truly random numbers, a breakthrough that could be used to encrypt data, make electronic voting more secure, conduct statistically significant polls and more accurately simulate complex systems such as Earth’s climate.
The new method creates truly random numbers with less computational effort than other methods, which could facilitate significantly higher levels of security for everything from consumer credit card transactions to military communications.
Computer science professor David Zuckerman and graduate student Eshan Chattopadhyay will present research about their method in June at the annual Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC), the Association for Computing Machinery’s premier theoretical computer science conference. An invitation to present at the conference is based on a rigorous peer review process to evaluate the work’s correctness and significance. Their paper will be one of three receiving the STOC Best Paper Award.
“This is a problem I’ve come back to over and over again for more than 20 years,” says Zuckerman. “I’m thrilled to have solved it.”
Chattopadhyay and Zuckerman publicly released a draft paper describing their method for making random numbers in an online forum last year. In a field more accustomed to small, incremental improvements, the computer science community hailed the method, suggesting that, compared with earlier methods, this one is light years ahead. Oded Goldreich, a professor of computer science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, commented that even if it had only been a moderate improvement over existing methods, it would have justified a “night-long party.”
For 3 billion years, one of the major carriers of information needed for life, RNA, has had a glitch that creates errors when making copies of genetic information. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a fix that allows RNA to accurately proofread for the first time. The new discovery, published June 23 in the journal Science, will increase precision in genetic research and could dramatically improve medicine based on a person’s genetic makeup.
Certain viruses called retroviruses can cause RNA to make copies of DNA, a process called reverse transcription. This process is notoriously prone to errors because an evolutionary ancestor of all viruses never had the ability to accurately copy genetic material.
The new innovation engineered at UT Austin is an enzyme that performs reverse transcription but can also “proofread,” or check its work while copying genetic code. The enzyme allows, for the first time, for large amounts of RNA information to be copied with near perfect accuracy.
“We created a new group of enzymes that can read the genetic information inside living cells with unprecedented accuracy,” says Jared Ellefson, a postdoctoral fellow in UT Austin’s Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology. “Overlooked by evolution, our enzyme can correct errors while copying RNA.”
The University of Texas at Austin (informally UT Austin, UT, University of Texas, or simply Texas ) is a state research university and the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System.
Founded in 1883, its campus is located in Austin—approximately 0.25 miles (400 m) from the Texas State Capitol. The institution has the fifth-largest single-campus enrollment in the nation, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff. The university has been labeled one of the “Public Ivies,” a publicly funded university considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.
UT Austin was inducted into the American Association of Universities in 1929, and it is a major center for academic research, with research expenditures exceeding $640 million for the 2009–2010 school year. The university houses seven museums and seventeen libraries, including the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art, and operates various auxiliary research facilities, such as the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory. Among university faculty are recipients of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the Wolf Prize, and the National Medal of Science, as well as many other awards.
The Latest Updated Research News:
University of Texas at Austin research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Fix for 3-Billion-Year-Old Genetic Error Could Dramatically Improve Genetic Sequencing – June 24, 2016
- Making Virus Sensors Cheap and Simple: New Method Detects Single Viruses – May 24, 2016
- Supercomputer Wrangler tames big data with a different more user friendly approach – March 20, 2016
- New Self-Healing Gel Makes Electronics More Flexible – November 26, 2015
- Way cheaper catalyst may lower fuel costs for hydrogen-powered cars – October 8, 2015
- Flame Retardant Breakthrough is Naturally Derived and Nontoxic – October 6, 2015
- Smarter window materials can control light and energy – July 27, 2015
- New centimeter-accurate GPS system could transform self-driving vehicles and mobile devices – May 11, 2015
- Rehab Robot HARMONY – May 4, 2015
- One-Atom-Thin Silicon Transistors Hold Promise for Super-Fast Computing – February 6, 2015
- Lighter, Cheaper Radio Wave Device Could Transform Telecommunications – November 11, 2014
- Improved Method for Isotope Enrichment Could Secure a Vital Global Commodity – July 1, 2014
- “Electronic Skin” Equipped with Memory
- Using silver nanoparticles, researchers create cream that avoids the transmition of HIV
- UT Austin Engineer Converts Yeast Cells into Sweet Crude Biofuel
- Natural Gas Saves Water and Reduces Drought Vulnerability, Even When Factoring in Water Lost to Hydraulic Fracturing
- World’s smallest semiconductor laser created by University of Texas scientists
- Researchers Design First Battery-Powered Invisibility Cloaking Device
- OHSU researchers develop new drug approach that could lead to cures for wide range of diseases
- Natural Products Discovery Group Asks for Public’s Help with Citizen Science Program
- Beyond antibiotics: “PPMOs” offer new approach to bacterial infection
- Scientists Rig Hospital-grade Lightweight Blood Flow Imager on the Cheap
- Researchers Use Machine Learning to Boil Down the Stories that Wearable Cameras Are Telling
- Cell transplants may be a novel treatment for schizophrenia
- New Screening Strategy May Catch Ovarian Cancer at Early Stages
- Humphreys Research Group Successfully Spoofs an $80 million Yacht at Sea
- Oxygen – key to most life – decelerates many cancer tumors when combined with radiation therapy
- Chemical Reaction Could Streamline Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals and Other Compounds
- Chemists Work to Desalt the Ocean for Drinking Water, One Nanoliter at a Time
- New palm-sized microarray technique grows 1,200 individual cultures of microbes
- Particle Accelerator That Can Fit on a Tabletop Opens New Chapter for Science Research
- When Will My Computer Understand Me?
- Psychologist Helps to Map Countries’ Entrepreneurial Spirit
- Meet The ‘Liberator’: Test-Firing The World’s First Fully 3D-Printed Gun
- Scientists reverse memory loss in animal brain cells
- Engineering Algae to Make the ‘Wonder Material’ Nanocellulose for Biofuels and More
- Researchers Unveil Large Robotic Jellyfish That One Day Could Patrol Oceans
- ‘Metascreen’ forms ultra-thin invisibility cloak
- Beyond Google Glass: Creating next generation augmented reality
- NASA announces new CubeSat space mission candidates
- Lynx A camera generates 3D models in real time
- UT Dallas Project Pushes Boundaries of Virtual Reality
- Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities
- Robotic-Assisted Radical Bladder Surgery Potentially Benefits Bladder Cancer Patients
- Pocket Test Measures 50 Things in a Drop of Blood
- Computer Memory Could Increase Fivefold From UT Research
- Artificially intelligent game bots pass the Turing test on Turing’s centenary
- Nuclear Waste-Burning Technology Could Change the Face of Nuclear Energy
- UCSB scientists examine effects of manufactured nanoparticles on soybean crops
- Researchers Find Material for Cleaner-Running Diesel Vehicles Replacing Platinum
- Printed Photonic Crystal Mirrors Shrink On-Chip Lasers Down to Size
- Researchers use spoofing to ‘hack’ into a flying drone
- Easter Island Drug Raises Cognition Throughout Life Span in Mice
- Machine Counterpart: Nature’s New Creatures
- Laser Scalpels Get Ultrafast, Ultra-Accurate, and Ultra-Compact Makeover
- Handheld Probe Shows Great Promise for Oral Cancer Detection
- ‘Nanobubbles’ Plus Chemotherapy Equals Single-Cell Cancer Targeting
- Cloaking breakthrough makes objects magnetically undetectable
- The Intersection Of The Future Will Have No Stoplights
- Origami-Inspired Paper Sensor Could Test for Malaria and HIV for Less Than 10 Cents
- It Detects Earthquakes and Lactose Intolerance
- New Procedure Repairs Severed Nerves in Minutes, Restoring Limb Use in Days or Weeks
- Mask stuffed with micro-components could work miracles for severe facial burn patients
- Scientists Create First Free-Standing 3-D Cloak
- Graphene is starting to sound like a potential wonder material for the electronics business
- Sea Snails Help Scientists Explore a Possible Way to Enhance Memory
- Discovery of a ‘Dark State’ Could Mean a Brighter Future for Solar Energy
- Breakthrough could double solar energy output
- Parkinsonian Worms May Hold the Key to Identifying Drugs for Parkinson’s Disease
- New cloaking device is no mirage – but it’s like one
- Mexico Turns to Social Media for Information and Survival
- Robotic fish test the waters for safety risks
- New Way to Treat Common Hospital-Acquired Infection
- Breakthrough bone scaffold may replace grafts
- Super Energy Storage: Activated Graphene Makes Superior Supercapacitors for Energy Storage
- Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious
- ‘Good Cholesterol’ Nanoparticles Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells
- Spent Nuclear Fuel Is Anything but Waste
- Industrial Farming is Giving us Less Nutritious Food
- Nanotube sheets could lead to stealthier submarines
- Scientists Grow New Lungs Using ‘Skeletons’ of Old Ones
- The coming shortage of helium
- Consumer-Grade Camera Detects Cancer Cells in Real Time
- Finding a Medical “Silver Bullet” to Disable Many of the World’s Deadliest Viruses
- Laser-activated nanotube speakers could be invisibly embedded in windows and walls
- Facebook Profiles Capture True Personality, According to New Psychology Research
- Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water
- Burying Climate Change: Efforts Begin to Sequester Carbon Dioxide from Power Plant
Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new method to rapidly detect a single virus in urine, as reported this week in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Although the technique presently works on just one virus, scientists say it could be adapted to detect a range of viruses that plague humans including Ebola, Zika and HIV.
“The ultimate goal is to build a cheap, easy-to-use device to take into the field and measure the presence of a virus like Ebola in people on the spot,” says Jeffrey Dick, a chemistry graduate student and co-lead author of the study. “While we are still pretty far from this, this work is a leap in the right direction.”
The other co-lead author is Adam Hilterbrand, a microbiology graduate student.
The new method is highly specific, meaning it is only sensitive to one type of virus, filtering out possible false negatives caused by other viruses or contaminants.
There are two other commonly used methods for detecting viruses in biological samples, but they have drawbacks. One requires a much higher concentration of viruses, and the other requires samples to be purified to remove contaminants. The new method, however, can be used with urine straight from a person or animal.