Estonia To Offer Free Genetic Testing, And Other Nations May Follow

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For residents of Estonia, genomic tests may soon become as commonplace as blood pressure. The country has launched the first stage of a national state-sponsored genetic testing and information service, which will seek to help residents minimize their risk of illness based on their DNA. If the experiment goes well, it’s possible that other countries with nationalized healthcare systems will follow suit.

The initiative, which launched on March 20, will start by providing 100,000 of its 1.3 million residents with information on their genetic risk for certain diseases. Genetic information from the project will first be delivered to a family doctor, so that patients will receive counseling about what their results actually mean and how they can better adapt their lifestyle to avoid illness. According to a press release from the University of Tartu’s Institute of Genomics, which is hosting the new service, the country plans to eventually offer free genetic testing to all of its residents.

Estonia isn’t the only nation to offer free or low-cost genetic testing to most of its residents — the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom also offers them, but often only to help doctors diagnose diseases, not to help patients prevent them (and patients in the NHS still have to pay a lab processing fee).

It’s not surprising that Estonia is among the first to adopt modern trends; the small nation seems to always be on the cutting edge. The country has had a biobank program since the year 2000, established with the goals of accelerating research and making healthcare more personalized. It was the first nation to ever hold elections via the Internet, the first to offer “e-residency” for anyone in the world, and among the first to propose a national cryptocurrency. Adding genetics to its state-sponsored healthcare program, it could just offer a model for a better way to use genetics for good health.

In many places, getting genetic information alongside health advice is much more difficult. In the United States, genetic testing is usually available through primary care physicians, but according to the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), insurance companies don’t have good systems in place to evaluate whether genetic tests will be covered. That means that patients may not know whether or not they can afford genetic testing until they actually get it, even if it’s recommended by their doctors.

Instead, patients might turn to the cheaper, and arguably easier, method of at-home genetic testing — no driving to an appointment, no standing on a scale; you just spit in a cup, mail it off, and get results, all for a flat fee. Yet these tests don’t include the expertise of a genetic counselor, who can help a person understand how particular mutations can affect their risk of developing a disease. There are also concerns that companies like 23andMe are using genetic data for research in ways that consumers don’t understand, and even concerns that some home-testing kits could yield results that are false or misleading.

Compare that to the Estonian system. Though some experts have cautioned that free genetic advice could cause unnecessary alarm, having results delivered through a doctor leaves patients much less prone to misinformation and unnecessary freak-outs than if they tried to interpret those results themselves.

Additionally, thanks to the 1999 Estonian Human Genes Research Act, all genetic data belongs to the donor that submitted it; Estonians can choose what studies to participate in, and will soon be able to check an easy-to-use online portal to see which research studies have actually used their data.

Genetic testing is more popular than ever, and it makes sense that people want to decode their DNA to make their lives better, not just to learn about their lineage. Other countries, from Iceland to the United Arab Emirates, have plans to sequence the DNA of large segments of the population with the goal of making citizens’ lives better. These plans likely won’t be perfect at first. But other nations looking to implement their own systems might build off those, and citizens will be the ones to benefit.

The post Estonia To Offer Free Genetic Testing, And Other Nations May Follow appeared first on Futurism.

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Cash For Apps: Make money with android app

Mozilla pulled its Facebook ads and others may follow

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Facebook is obviously in some very hot water as details regarding Cambridge Analytica's use of its users' data continue to unfold. And along with heated consumer backlash and questions from lawmakers, Facebook may now start to lose advertising money….
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15 Official Apple Twitter Accounts to Follow Today

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Are you on Twitter? Are you an Apple fanatic or just a user who wants to stay informed? Apple has various verified Twitter accounts to help you stay informed. Take a look at this list and be sure to follow your favorites.
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Sling TV users can add NBA Team Pass to follow their favorite squad

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Weeks ago, Sling TV added NBA League Pass as a $ 30 monthly additional package subscribers can purchase to follow out-of-market games. But if they only care about one team, the over-the-top provider has them covered now, too. Today, users can add on t…
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Pack a virtual bag and follow along other travelers in Trips by Lonely Planet

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Travel and destination discovery apps are a dime a hundred (not even a dozen) on the Play Store, but there are still a few names I come back to again and again. Google’s own Trips is one of them because it helps me organize everything as well as see popular places to visit, organize day trips, and get discounts on tours, but I have yet to find a nice app just for the discovery of new destinations.

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Pack a virtual bag and follow along other travelers in Trips by Lonely Planet was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Review: Alto’s Odyssey—a worthy follow up to a classic?

Today, the endless sandboarding journey from Alto’s Adventure creators launched for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV a day early. We’ve had the last few weeks to test it out and while a lot of the mechanics the same, we found it a thoroughly satisfying follow-up to a classic.

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Review: Alto’s Odyssey—a worthy follow up to a classic?” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Want to Follow Elon Musk’s Roadster Through Space? There’s a Website for That.

Mars and Beyond

It’s been barely two weeks since SpaceX successfully launched the first Falcon Heavy into orbit, and many are curious as to where it and its unconventional passenger are right now. Instead of sending something boring as the Heavy’s first payload, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk launched his own Tesla Roadster. On board is a mannequin affectionately called “Starman.”

Starman, who is dressed in a SpaceX suit, was supposedly en route towards the orbit of Mars and then towards the asteroid belt, to the tune of David Bowie’s music. In any case, Musk has said that Starman’s trajectory after launch had gone a bit off from its intended path.

It turns out, it might not have veered off that far, at least according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which released information as to the Roadster’s whereabouts. Now, you can keep track of the Roadster and Starman using NASA’s data, which engineer Ben Pearson has wonderfully put into a website called Whereisroadster.com.

A Lonely Starman

Pearson was so fascinated by the Falcon Heavy launch that he made his own calculations for Starman’s trajectory, partially because he’s always been a fan of the SpaceX CEO. “I like that he’s willing to take risks and do cool stuff that people just keep saying it’s not possible and he figures out a way to make it possible,” Pearson told The Verge

However, Pearson noticed his results were different from what Musk announced. This made Pearson unease, but NASA’s data ended up showing that he was right.

Image credit: Whereisroadster.com
Where Starman as of Feb. 18. Image credit: Whereisroadster.com

“I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t doing anything critically wrong,” Pearson said in his interview with The Verge. “Elon Musk is a visionary man, incredibly far forward, but there’s a reality distortion field when it comes to him.”

In case you’re wondering, Pearson’s website shows that Starman is now 3,609,979 km (2,243,136 miles) from Earth, moving away from Earth at a speed of 10,844 km/h (6,738 mph), as of writing. It’ll continue to move in orbit around the Sun, making a close pass to the Earth on 2091, said Pearson. That is, of course, assuming that Starman’s Roadster survives in space for that long.

At any rate, at least we know where it is, which is more than what we can say for the Falcon Heavy’s Center Core. For now, SpaceX is barreling ahead with their other projects, including their latest Falcon 9 mission that will launch two of their first internet satellites into space.

The post Want to Follow Elon Musk’s Roadster Through Space? There’s a Website for That. appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Qualcomm may follow up its 7nm modem with a 7nm chipset: the Snapdragon 855

Qualcomm unveiled its first 7nm chips yesterday. But there’s more to the story – Qualcomm contractors may be gearing up to build the Snapdragon 855 on a 7nm process as well. Qualcomm won’t say it, but their contractors do. Snapdragon 855 (SDM855) is the first 7nm SoC. (probably the one the X24 modem ends up in) pic.twitter.com/Ot1J34fQoG— Roland Quandt (@rquandt) February 15, 2018 The upcoming 845 chip is being built on a 10nm Low Power Plus process, an incremental upgrade over the 10nm Low Power Early process used in the 835. Samsung (which is fabbing the chips) claims 10% higher…

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Brains on a battery: Low-power neural net developed, phones could follow

Low-power neural network developed

Researchers at MIT have paved the way to low-power neural networks that can run on devices such as smartphones and household appliances. Andrew Hobbs explains why this could be so important for connected applications and businesses.

Many scientific breakthroughs are built on concepts found in nature – so-called bio-inspiration – such as the use of synthetic muscle in soft-robotics.

Neural networks are one example of this. They depart from standard approaches to computing by mimicking the human brain. Usually, a large network of neurons is developed, without task-specific programming. This can learn from labelled training data, and apply those lessons to future data sets, gradually improving in performance.

For example, a neural network may be fed a set of images labelled ‘cats’ and from that be able to identify cats in other images, without being told what the defining traits of a cat might be.

But there’s a problem. The neurons are linked to one another, much like synapses in our own brains. These nodes and connections typically have a weight associated with them that adjusts as the network learns, affecting the strength of the signal output and, by extension, the final sum.

As a result, constantly transmitting a signal and passing data across this huge network of nodes requires large amounts of energy, making neural nets unsuited to battery-powered devices, such as smartphones.

As a result, neural network applications such as speech- and face-recognition programs have long relied on external servers to process the data that has been relayed to them, which is itself an energy-intensive process. Even in humanoid robotics, the only route to satisfactory natural language processing has been via services such as IBM’s Watson in the cloud.

A new neural network

All that is set to change, however. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITT) have developed a chip that increases the speed of neural network computations by three to seven times, while cutting power consumption by up to 95 percent.

This opens up the potential for smart home and mobile devices to host neural networks natively.

“The general processor model is that there is a memory in some part of the chip, and there is a processor in another part of the chip, and you move the data back and forth between them when you do these computations,” MIT News reports, in an interview with Avishek Biswas, MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, who led the chip’s development.

Traditionally, neural networks consist of layers of nodes that pass data upwards, one to the next. Each node will multiply the data it receives by the weight of the relevant connection. The outcome of this process is known as a dot product.

“Since these machine-learning algorithms need so many computations, this transferring back and forth of data is the dominant portion of the energy consumption,” said MIT Biswas.

“But the computation these algorithms do can be simplified to one specific operation, the dot product. Our approach was, can we implement this dot-product functionality inside the memory, so that you don’t need to transfer this data back and forth?”

A mind for maths

This process will sometimes occur across millions of nodes. Given that each node weight is stored in memory, this amounts to enormous quantities of data to transfer.

In a human brain, synapses connect whole bundles of neurons, rather than individual nodes. The electrochemical signals that pass across these synapses are modulated to alter the information transmitted.

The MIT chip mimics this process more closely by calculating dot products for 16 nodes at a time. These combined voltages are then converted to a digital signal and stored for further processing, drastically reducing the number of data calls on the memory.

While many networks have numerous possible weights, this new system operates with just two: 1 and -1. This binary system act as a switch within the memory itself, simply closing or opening a circuit. While this seemingly reduces the accuracy of the network, the reality is just a two to three percent loss – perfectly acceptable for many workloads.

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At a time when edge computing is gaining traction, the ability to bring neural network computation out of the cloud and into everyday devices is an exciting prospect.

We’re still uncovering the vast potential of neural networks, but they’re undoubtedly relevant to mobile devices. We’ve recently seen their ability to predict health risks in fitness trackers, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch.

By allowing this kind of work to take place on mobile devices and wearables – as well as other tasks, such as image classification and language processing – there is huge scope to reduce energy usage.

MIT’s findings also open the door to more complex networks in the future, without having to worry so much about spiralling computational and energy costs.

However, the far-reaching power of abstraction inherent in neural networks comes at the cost of transparency. Their methods may be opaque – so called black box solutions – and we expose ourselves to both the prejudices and the restrictions that may come with limited machine learning models. Not to mention any training data that replicates human bias.

Of course, the same problems, lack of transparency, and bias be found in people too, and we audit companies without having to understand how any individual’s synapses are firing.

But the lesson here is that, when the outcome has significant implications, neural networks should be used alongside more transparent models, where methods can be held to account. Just as critical human decision-making processes must adhere to rules and regulations.

The post Brains on a battery: Low-power neural net developed, phones could follow appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

Project Treble compatibility unofficially ported to Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, more devices likely to follow

One of Android’s biggest criticisms over the years has been how fragmented its version distribution is at any given time. At Google I/O in May last year, Google unveiled a plan to modularize the OS and make it easier to update. Project Treble, in short, separates out the base-level Android framework from the vendor implementation so OEMs are able to release OS updates without having to wait for chipmakers to update drivers.

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Project Treble compatibility unofficially ported to Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, more devices likely to follow was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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