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AI firm DeepMind puts database of the building blocks of life online

The Guardian: “Last year the artificial intelligence group DeepMind cracked a mystery that has flummoxed scientists for decades: stripping bare the structure of proteins, the building blocks of life. Now, having amassed a database of nearly all human protein structures, the company is making the resource available online free for researchers to use. The key to understanding our basic biological machinery is its architecture. The chains of amino acids that comprise proteins twist and turn to make the most confounding of 3D shapes. It is this elaborate form that explains protein function; from enzymes that are crucial to metabolism to antibodies that fight infectious attacks. Despite years of onerous and expensive lab work that began in the 1950s, scientists have only decoded the structure of a fraction of human proteins. DeepMind’s AI program, AlphaFold, has predicted the structure of nearly all 20,000 proteins expressed by humans. In an independent benchmark test that compared predictions to known structures, the system was able to predict the shape of a protein to a good standard 95% of time…”

The Institute for Rebooting Social Media

“The Institute for Rebooting Social Media is a three-year, “pop-up” research initiative to accelerate progress towards addressing social media’s most urgent problems, including misinformation, privacy breaches, harassment, and content governance. By convening participants across industry, government, civil society, and academia in focused, timebound collaboration, the Institute will build a portfolio of research, projects, programming, and… Continue Reading

Maine Makes U.S. Recycling Actually Work Again

New York Magazine – Intelligencer: “Since China stopped importing waste products like plastic, textiles, and paper at the beginning of 2018, recycling in the United States has been, in many places, a feel-good exercise for consumers, rather than a functional process to reduce the absurd tonnage of recyclable waste going into landfills each year. But… Continue Reading

Then the Birds Began to Die

The Atlantic: “I carried on for more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic, but I didn’t see the next plague coming…. David Curson, the director of bird conservation for Audubon Mid-Atlantic, told me that the earliest reports of the mysterious deaths had reached local authorities in late April, sparking investigations across the region. Researchers… Continue Reading

Facebook and YouTube spent a year fighting covid misinformation

Washington Post – “It’s still spreading. The social media giants have struggled to find and take down anti-vaccine propaganda. But medical misinformation has thrived on their platforms for years. On YouTube, the accounts of six out of 12 anti-vaccine activists identified by the Center for Countering Digital Hate as being responsible for creating more than… Continue Reading

These wildfire tracker maps show smoke, hot spots, and air quality by zip code

Fast Company: “Now that midsummer is synonymous with out-of-control wildfires, researchers and government agencies are putting out impressive online mapping systems to help people understand their peril. As California, Oregon, Washington, and other states brace for another devastating wildfire season, fire mapping has improved substantially since last year. Here’s where to bookmark…” Continue Reading

Here’s how to check your phone for Pegasus spyware using Amnesty’s tool

The Verge: “Amnesty International — part of the group that helped break the news of journalists and heads of state being targeted by NSO’s government-grade spyware, Pegasus — has released a tool to check if your phone has been affected. Alongside the tool is a great set of instructions, which should help you through the… Continue Reading

What Is Legal Innovation?

Sandberg, Haim, What Is Legal Innovation? (March 17, 2021). 2021 University of Illinois Law Review online 63, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3806704 “Technological progress, along with the economic success it brings innovators, has transformed technological innovation into an object of admiration. The law supports and regulates technological and creative innovation in other fields, but is law… Continue Reading