Poker AI 🃏 Cooling fabric ❄️ Shrinking economy 💸!

Technology News

Facebook develops AI algorithm that learns to play poker on the fly

Facebook researchers have developed a general AI framework called Recursive Belief-based Learning (ReBeL) that they say achieves better-than-human performance in heads-up, no-limit Texas hold’em poker while using less domain knowledge than any prior poker AI. Potential applications run the gamut from auctions, negotiations, and cybersecurity to self-driving cars and trucks. The researchers report that against Dong Kim, who’s ranked as one of the best heads-up poker players in the world, ReBeL played faster than two seconds per hand across 7,500 hands and never needed more than five seconds for a decision.

Improving assistive technology

A group of Harvard students have launched a wearable navigation aid for the visually impaired that uses cutting-edge soft robotics and computer vision technology. Foresight connects to a user’s smartphone camera, which is worn around the neck. It detects objects nearby and this information triggers soft textile units on the body that inflate to provide haptic feedback as objects approach and pass. “The software traces a bounding box around each object it ‘sees’ and by calibrating the ratios of that bounding box, the software can estimate how far an object is from the camera, and how quickly it is moving.”

Science News

New fabric could help keep you cool in the summer, even without A/C

Researchers have developed a material that cools the wearer without using any electricity. The fabric transfers heat, allows moisture to evaporate from the skin and repels water. The researchers made the new material by electrospinning a polymer, a water-repelling version of the polymer and a thermally conductive filler into nanofibrous membranes. In tests, the thermal conductivity was higher than that of many other conventional or high-tech fabrics. The membrane could be useful not only for personal cooling, but also for solar energy collection, seawater desalination and thermal management of electronic devices.

Botox injections could be used to treat depression

Researchers discovered that people who were injected with the neurotoxin – at six different sites, not just the forehead, for a variety of reasons – reported depression significantly less often than patients who received different treatments for the same conditions. The research found that depression was reported up to 88% less often by patients treated with botox for six of eight particular conditions. Scientists say more research is needed, from clinical trials to identify the best locations to administer the medication for the treatment of depression, through to identifying the mechanism by which botox acts as an antidepressant.

Business News

US economy suffers worst quarter since the second world war as GDP shrinks by 32.9%

The US economy shrank by an annual rate of 32.9% between April and June, its sharpest contraction since the second world war. The record-setting quarterly fall in economic growth compared to the same time last year came as another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. Economists expect the rate to improve sharply later this year but the outlook has been clouded by the recent rise in infections across the US. As Covid-19 cases rise in California, Florida, Texas and elsewhere, some states have moved to restrict businesses again to stop the spread, renewing pressure on the US economy.

Huawei takes top spot in global phone shipments for first time

Huawei has become the biggest vendor of smartphones in the world for the first time, according to analysts’ estimates. It took the top spot by shipping 55.8 million devices in the last quarter, overtaking Samsung’s 53.7 million. The fact that China came out of pandemic lockdown earlier than other countries is pinpointed as the reason for Huawei’s success. Its new-found dominance is mainly driven by its impressive sales back home in China. Overseas shipments are actually down for the company, by 27% – but Canalys estimates that it now sells more than 70% of all smartphones in mainland China.

Miscellaneous News

Egypt imprisons female TikTok influencers

Two years in prison, plus fines of almost €16,000 ($ 18,800) each: that was the verdict handed down to two young Egyptian influencers. The judges accused the defendants of posting “indecent” dance videos and “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family.” The women had garnered more than a million followers, which showed them posing in or next to sports cars, dancing in their kitchens and making harmless jokes. The two women are often seen in heavy makeup, for Egyptian standards, sporting bright red lipstick and tight clothing.

Perseverance robot launches to detect life on Red Planet

The US space agency’s Perseverance robot has left Earth on a mission to try to detect life on Mars. The one-tonne, six-wheeled rover was launched out of Florida by an Atlas rocket on a path to intercept the Red Planet in February next year. When it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade. Perseverance is the third mission dispatched to Mars inside 11 days, after launches by the UAE and China. Perseverance is being targeted at a more-than 40km-wide, near-equatorial bowl called Jezero Crater.

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