Articles in 2019

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  • Predicting the structure of proteins from amino acid sequences is a hard problem. Convolutional neural networks can learn to predict a map of distances between amino acid residues that can be turned into a three-dimensional structure. With a combination of approaches, including an evolutionary technique to find the best neural network architecture and a tool to find the atom coordinates in the folded structure, a pipeline for rapid prediction of three-dimensional protein structures is demonstrated.

    • Wenzhi Mao
    • Wenze Ding
    • Haipeng Gong
  • Photonic computing devices are a compelling alternative to conventional computing setups for machine learning applications, as they are nonlinear, fast and easy to parallelize. Recent work demonstrates the potential of these optical systems to process and classify human motion from video.

    • Kathy Lüdge
    • André Röhm
    News & Views
  • Origami engineering has long held the promise of complex and futuristic machines. A new foldable haptics system shows that this paradigm can be functional as well.

    • Samuel Felton
    News & Views
  • The reach of artificial intelligence technologies across all parts of society is steadily growing, but so is the awareness of how they can negatively impact human rights. As 2019 draws to a close, the trajectory of technological progress defined by big technology companies is meeting resistance.

  • A new open challenge tests whether algorithmic models can explain human brain activity in cognitive tasks and encourages interaction between researchers studying natural and artificial intelligence.

    • Radoslaw Martin Cichy
    • Gemma Roig
    • Aude Oliva
    Challenge Accepted
  • Number processing is linked to bodily systems, especially finger movements. The authors apply convolutional neural network models in the context of cognitive developmental robotics. They show that proprioceptive information in the child-like robot iCub improves accuracy and recognition of spoken digits.

    • Alessandro Di Nuovo
    • James L. McClelland
  • Loss-of-function mutations in metal-binding proteins are heavily implicated with numerous diseases, and identifying such ‘cracks’ will be valuable to biologists and medical doctors in the study and treatment of disease. A deep learning approach has been developed to tackle this challenging task.

    • Yuan Liu
    • Chu Wang
    News & Views
  • Identifying abnormalities in medical images across different viewing angles and body parts is a time-consuming task. Deep learning techniques hold great promise for supporting radiologists and improving patient triage decisions. A new study tests the viability of such approaches in resource-limited settings, exploring the effect of pretraining, dataset size and choice of deep learning model in the task of abnormality detection in lower-limb radiographs.

    • Maya Varma
    • Mandy Lu
    • Bhavik N. Patel
  • Drug combinations are often an effective means of managing complex diseases, but understanding the synergies of drug combinations requires extensive resources. The authors developed an efficient machine learning model that requires only a limited set of pairwise dose–response measurements for the accurate prediction of synergistic and antagonistic drug combinations.

    • Aleksandr Ianevski
    • Anil K. Giri
    • Tero Aittokallio
  • To better extract meaning from natural language, some less informative words can be removed before a model is trained, which is usually done by using manually curated lists of stopwords. A new information theoretic approach can identify uninformative words automatically and more accurately.

    • Martin Gerlach
    • Hanyu Shi
    • Luís A. Nunes Amaral
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly seen as key technologies for building more decentralized and resilient energy grids. However, researchers must consider the ethical and social implications of these developments.

    • Valentin Robu
    • David Flynn
    • Maizura Mokhtar
  • Robots are making a transition into human environments, where they can directly interact with us, in shops, hospitals, schools and more. Transparency about robots’ capabilities and level of autonomy should be integrated into the design from the start.

  • In cooperative games, humans are biased against AI systems even when such systems behave better than our human counterparts. This raises a question: should AI systems ever be allowed to conceal their true nature and lie to us for our own benefit?

    • Michael Rovatsos
    News & Views
  • The first Smart Cities Robotics Challenge, organized by the European Robotics League, took place from 18–21 September at the Centre:MK shopping centre in Milton Keynes. The competition tested the ability of robots to interact with humans in everyday tasks as well as with the digital infrastructure of a smart city.

    • Jacob Huth
    Challenge Accepted
  • Algorithms and bots are capable of performing some behaviours at human or super-human levels. Humans, however, tend to trust algorithms less than they trust other humans. The authors find that bots do better than humans at inducing cooperation in certain human–machine interactions, but only if the bots do not disclose their true nature as artificial.

    • Fatimah Ishowo-Oloko
    • Jean-François Bonnefon
    • Talal Rahwan
  • Human face recognition is robust to changes in viewpoint, illumination, facial expression and appearance. The authors investigated face recognition in deep convolutional neural networks by manipulating the strength of identity information in a face by caricaturing. They found that networks create a highly organized face similarity structure in which identities and images coexist.

    • Matthew Q. Hill
    • Connor J. Parde
    • Alice J. O’Toole
  • Photonic computing devices have been proposed as a high-speed and energy-efficient approach to implementing neural networks. Using off-the-shelf components, Antonik et al. demonstrate a reservoir computer that recognizes different forms of human action from video streams using photonic neural networks.

    • Piotr Antonik
    • Nicolas Marsal
    • Damien Rontani