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Daily Archives: February 3, 2022

‘Preliminary research’ on COVID has been surprisingly solid

PopSci: “Before the COVID pandemic, peer-review was the beating heart of scientific publishing. In order forstudies to enter the body of scientific knowledge, the expectation was that researchers would submit them to academic journals, which would send the papers out to other experts for edits and revisions before publishing. But it’s a process that wasn’t well-suited to the urgency of the COVID pandemic, when early research could save lives. Peer-review often takes months, and it asks for huge amounts of unpaid labor on the part of the scientists who scrutinize papers. In early 2020, growing numbers of scientists began to post research on open-access databases, called preprint servers, before those preprints had been formally reviewed. New research suggests that scientific norms are still operating on preprint servers. As physician and reporter Trisha Pasricha wrote in the Washington Post over the weekend, “when a group of authors puts any study in the public domain … they are placing their reputations on the line.” Preprints, which are often referred to as “preliminary research” in the news, had already been gaining popularity in early-adopting fields like genomics and neuroscience—but the time pressures of the pandemic gave them a new primacy. Over the first year of the pandemic, preprint servers hosted 7,000 COVID papers, while journals published about 12,500 formal papers. (There was some overlap.) Unlike many journals, preprint servers are free for anyone to access, and researchers don’t have to pay to post on. Many of those early papers do end up going through peer-review: The co-founder of two key preprint servers recently wrote on Twitter that half of all 2020 COVID-preprints have now been formally published. Regardless, preprints have become central to the science of COVID and how it’s covered in the media.  That’s been a source of controversy. To critics of preprints, they’re a repository of questionable science. “The limitation is that any idiot can publish any idiotic stuff on a platform that doesn’t have pre-publication peer review,” as one former journal editor put it to a New York Times columnist last month. But according to two new analyses shared in the (peer-reviewed) journal PLOS Biology, preprints as a whole contain much of the same information and interpretations as peer-reviewed research…”

Traffic lights controlled using artificial intelligence

“Roads are chronically congested and vehicles queue endlessly at junctions. Rush hour is especially bad for long traffic jams. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB, researchers in the institute branch for industrial automation INA in Lemgo are using artificial intelligence for smart traffic light control as part of the… Continue Reading

Kaspersky: Many wearables and healthcare devices are open to attack due to vulnerable data transfer protocol

TechRepublic: “Kaspersky security researchers announced this week that a popular data transfer protocol used by healthcare devices is full of critical vulnerabilities. Researchers identified 33 weaknesses in 2021, which is an increase over problems found in 2020. Kaspersky reported that 90 vulnerabilities have been identified since 2014. That total includes critical vulnerabilities that are still… Continue Reading

This book has an awful title, but says a lot of great things

FCW: “I recently finished a new book called The Power of Flexing by University of Michigan Business School professor Susan Ashford. (For the record, this is my favorite business school in the country, filled with great professors dedicated to a humane view of organizations.)  I will confess I was turned off by the “flexing” title of the… Continue Reading

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and MIT release technological research on a central bank digital currency

“The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Digital Currency Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology today released the findings of their initial technological research into a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. The published research describes a theoretical high-performance and resilient transaction processor for a CBDC by developing open-source research software, OpenCBDC. This collaborative… Continue Reading

Schoolkids Are Falling Victim to Disinformation and Conspiracy Fantasies

Scientific American: “Although children are prime targets, educators cannot figure out how best to teach them to separate fact from fiction. When Amanda Gardner, an educator with two decades of experience, helped to start a new charter elementary and middle school outside of Seattle last year, she did not anticipate teaching students who denied that… Continue Reading