Author Archives: Nedilenko Oleksandra

Low frequency sounds as a training for auditory system

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It is a widely-known fact that newborn babies have problems with vision – they have only 20/800 strength of the vision. Same goes to newborn animals, like kittens who are blind for the first week of their life.

Recently, it was discovered that it regards not only to the visual system, but some other senses as well, for example, hearing. The timing is different (as newborns can hear well, so this topic was discovered on children in the womb, during the prenatal period. This time, the sound quality is degraded to low-frequency sounds only.

“Instead of thinking of the poor quality of the input as a limitation that biology is imposing on us, this work takes the standpoint that perhaps nature is being clever and giving us the right kind of impetus to develop the mechanisms that later prove to be very beneficial when we are asked to deal with challenging recognition tasks,” says Pawan Sinha, a professor of vision and computational neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, who led the research team.

The thing is that our brain is being somehow “trained” when we are still in the womb, giving it challenges like blurred vision or not-really-clear sounds. In order to deep dive into this topic, scientists created a convolutional network model for face recognition research , and computational model of human sound recognition.

It was found out, that models, which had blurred faces followed by clearly seen faces; or low-frequency sounds followed by full-frequency sounds as a train data; performed better. They exhibited the most generalized performance profile on the emotion recognition task. It led to lots of conlcusions and further research tasks, one of which are:

  • patients with hearing impairment might have missed out on some of the low-quality sensory input in the womb
  • It is beneficial to expose newborns to low-frequency sounds after birth, to mimic conditions they might have missed out
  • Which kind of degraded input might be beneficial for humans as well?
  • Does it go beyond 2 sensory modalities?
  • Can we prevent visual impairment/hearing impairment using such practices as prophylactic measures?
Whispers in the womb — Lateral Magazine

References:

https://news.mit.edu/2022/prenatal-sound-womb-auditory-system-0525

Research done by NIH

AI to process facial expressions as in autism

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According to CDC (Center for Disease control and prevention) there are more than 75000000 people in the world experiencing the autism disorder. It is worth to mention that autism is not an illness and people struggling from it are not considered to be sick or impaired.

NHS claims that autism is a spectrum, which means that it is different for everybody. However, there are some commonly spread “symptoms” of it:

  • hard to communicate and interact with other people
  • hard to understand how others think and feel
  • bright lights or loud noises might be overwhelming
  • get anxious about social events
  • take longer to understand situation
Signs and Symptoms of High Functioning Autism

It is unclear why, but autistic people are not perceiving emotions like they normally should – they can’t tell whether others are happy or sad, calm or mad. However, new research published in The Journal of Neuroscience, and Kohitij War (research scientist in MIT lab) are on the way to a solution.

There was an experiment provided, where images of different faces where shown to autistic adults and to neurotypical controls. Participants should have quickly decide whether the expression on the face is happiness or not. it turned out, that autistic adults should have seen faces with higher level of happiness to detect them properly.

Beginning Your Journey to Implementing Artificial Intelligence |  SoftwareONE Blog

There were interesting functions implied though:

  1. The scientists could dissect the network , measuring how well the network matched the results of autistic adults. the last network layer somehow mimic IT cortex (infernal temporal cortex, part of the brain, playing important role for visual recognition)
  2. Network can select images that might be more efficient in autism diagnoses. It can be used in clinics to detect autistic behavioral traits.

This is just the beginning of a long route to discover the causes of autistic disorder but MIT scientists think that they can select/generate diagnostic content , generate educational/movie content that engages autistic people.

I believe that it is an exciting project and topic to dive in, since autistic people are still not well accepted by the society, even though there is a strong culture of tolerance popular nowadays. They deserve to be understood, accepted and to get any help we can provide them with.

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/

https://news.mit.edu/2022/artificial-neural-networks-model-face-processing-in-autism-0616

Social Media updates: Tik Tok fever

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In the recent years, Tik Tok has become an undeniable leader among social media platforms. It engages all generations, starting from the youngest and way to our grandparents, thanks to its specific algorithms and features. Unsurprisingly, other platforms want to upgrade in order to become more visible and be a worthy competitor to the nowadays’ giant.

Among these, SnapChat is thinking of implementing SnapChat+ version. It is a paid subscription (around 4.84 $/month), giving you a range of the following opportunities:

  1. Pin a friend as a #1 BFF (pretty controversial one, seems to cause a lot of drama amount youth)
  2. Get access to exclusive SnapChat icons
  3. Display a badge in your profile
  4. See your orbit with BFF
  5. See your friends’ whereabouts in the last 24h
  6. See how many friends (and who exactly) rewatched your stories

Telegram: Telegram Premium is coming this month, however, the new features still remain unclear. It seems that all the existing functions will remain free, but paid subscription will allow to turn off ads, come with faster downloads and voice-to-text messages, tools to customize chats, etc…

Twitter: Introducing Twitter Blue, first launched in June in Canada. Most important feature is UNDO button, which lets you to recall the tweet before it was sent. In addition to this: reader mode, bookmark folders, ability to theme Twitter app and icon, ad-free articles, Top Articles updated every 24 hours, customization of navigation bar – all of these for 3$ monthly.

In the meantime, according to some leaked information, Facebook is trying to rebuilt its algorithm to Tik Tok – alike ones. The main tab will become a mix of stories and reels, making Facebook a more visual experience with video content. However, Tik Tok president claims that Facebook “rebranding” will not be really successful unless they change their social values.. Which will make Facebook stop being THE Facebook we know.

As a cherry on the top of a pie, here comes Tik Tok update itself. While its competitors try to change their algorithms or introduce paid subscription, Tik Tok developers feel chill, implementing an option which encourages users to take a break from endless scrolling. From now on, users will be able to set a timer for any amount of time, to remind themselves that they are scrolling for too long. The main goal of this feature, is to increase social well-being of (especially) teenagers in the digital age and decrease negative affects on mental health of younger users.

What do you think about these updates? Does at least one of them seem worthy to you?

References:

https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/11/23163704/telegram-premium-subscription-coming-later-this-month-pavel-durov

https://www.theverge.com/2021/11/9/22766286/twitter-blue-subscription-service-scroll-nuzzel-undo-tweets-ad-free-articles-us

https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/16/23171872/snapchat-plus-subscription-test-features-bff-viewer-log

https://www.theverge.com/2022/6/17/23172276/tiktok-facebook-difference-entertainment-social-connections

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/06/09/tech/tiktok-time-spent/index.html

GOOGLE IS GOING BANKRUPT?

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Not the header you expected to see, right? Who would even think that the giant of the Internet every now and then will suddenly go away in 2022?

Well, I should admit that there has been a clickbait used:) To be fair, Google stays with us for a bit more and don’t even plan to announce bankruptcy…in some countries. Recently, it has been declared that the company filed bankruptcy in russia. What was the reason for that?

As it is known, right after russia invaded Ukraine, majority of the world-leading companies stopped their activity on the territory of the terrorist country. Google, in its turn, suspended all the advertisement and selling of cloud-computing services in March 2022.

“Google told the Financial Times the seizure of its account had “made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russian-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors and meeting other financial obligations”

However, the tech giant decided to continue to provide russians with its services (those free of charge). It includes Android, Play, Google Search, YouTube, Gmail and Maps. In addition to this, Google offered to its russian employees to help getting out of the country, providing them with a job in another country’s office. Those who disagreed -> are left without job now though.

Google explained its decision to leave free service as the only opportunity for russian people to “have a window” to the civilized world and read quality information and news.

To be honest, for me, as for Ukrainian , the situation is a bit controversial. From the one side, company tries to save its human capital, remain loyal despite any obstacles, and still hopes to come back to such a big market after the war is over and everything becomes stabilized. On the other hand, such actions, especially from such influential companies like Google, put the brakes on russian’s isolation which is the only “peaceful” leverage from the world to stop the genocide of Ukraine.

What do you think? What would YOU do being on the place of Google’s decision-makers?

Google declares itself bankrupt in Russia - Gizchina.com

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/05/18/google-russia-bankruptcy/

https://www.ft.com/content/9f4faa67-9057-4270-9e8c-f247ffc21f78

Cyberattacks as an important weapon in russian-Ukrainian war

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Let’s be honest – nowadays cyberattacks are not a surprise for any of us. We are slowly getting used to deepfakes, info leaks, disinformation used for way more critical things than creating memes with politicians or celebrities. In one of my previous articles, I already presented one of the cases of deepfake usage by russian authorities, aimed at President V.Zelenskiy.

However, unfortunately, it was not the only digital attack used by russians after invasion. On Friday, 29 April, Romanian key public institutions experienced a series of cyber attacks, including the Defense Ministry. According to Romanian authorities, the attack was not that serious and all the data is protected. They also claim that russian Killnet hacking group is responsible for that. However, Romania is not the only country suffering from russian cyber attacks recently. Czech Republic also experienced similar issues with websites of the Czech government, Czech Interior Ministry and police, firefighter departments. No data was leaked as well.

Obviously, most of russian cyberattacks were aimed at Ukraine. According to Microsoft analysis – there were more than 237 operations, majority of which were stopped by Ukrainian intelligence. What is interesting, that these attack usually come “in pack” with missile strikes and shelling of some of Ukrainian cities. It is done on purpose. For example, on March 1st it was a great attack on media companies in Kyiv, after which, in the same day, Kyiv TV Tower was hit by a missile.

It’s been a relentless cyberwar that has paralleled, and in some cases directly supported, the kinetic war,” Mr. Tom Burt ( leads the Customer Security & Trust team) said . Hackers affiliated with Russia were carrying out cyberattacks “on a daily, 24/7 basis since hours before the physical invasion began,” he added.

War in Ukraine risks scrambling the logic of cyber security | Financial  Times

As of me, the war that is happening on the ground and the missiles flying on the sky of residents of Mariupol, Melitopol, Odesa, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities – more terrifying and heart-breaking than cyber attacks. On the other hand, we should not forget that the data, especially the one from key institutions of the country, is important – it can literally influence Ukrainians lives.

What do you think about this? Are cyberattacks influential enough to change the outcome of the war? Is it a new form of war, never experienced before?

References:

https://balkaninsight.com/2022/04/29/cyber-attacks-hit-romanian-government-websites/

https://www.datacenterdynamics.com/en/news/romanian-government-sites-hit-by-russian-killnet-hacking-group/

https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2022/04/27/hybrid-war-ukraine-russia-cyberattacks/

Netflix to take down sharing accounts

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A few days ago, the Internet was hit by another unfortunate news: Netflix clearly hinted that they are planning to take down sharing passwords. I believe that plenty of people were unpleasantly shocked since sharing accounts became a way to save more money on movie-streaming services. Instead of paying 10$ for a month, you could have split up this sum with 5 other people and pay only 2$ monthly. Moreover, you could have shared your own profile with other people making it even cheaper or even for free. Netflix said that it’s about to the best option on how to “monetize sharing”. According to their calculations, Netflix is being shared with 100 million additional households.

There are 2 specific reasons for this decision. Starting 2022 the service struggles a lot.

  1. For the first 3 months of 2022 Netflix lost around 200k customers instead of gaining 2.5 million as it was predicted by their forecast. As it is known, the reason for that is occurring strong competition which was hard to face with.
  2. More obvious reason, which influences majority of the businesses as of now is russian-Ukrainian war. Thankfully, Netflix suspended its services in russia but it led to the loss of almost 700,000 users.

The first payment plans are about to be tested in Costa Rica, Chile and Peru – allowing users to create cheap sub-profiles. Users can add up to 2 profiles for 2$ each on top of the regular fee.

Majority of the people are not happy with this decision but we should all agree that the business must somehow survive and it’s one of the easiest way they could have done to leave their consumers relatively “untouched”. What do you think about it? Have you shared your Netflix profile with others and how do you look at new regulations?

Resources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/netflix-crackdown-password-sharing-losing-subscribers-rcna25151

https://www.polygon.com/23033421/netflix-account-sharing-passwords-subscriber-loss

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61153252

Deepfakes usage in Russian-Ukrainian war

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In the world of digital environment, we are used to share the most important moments via Social media: photo of your new-born in Facebook, birthday video in Instagram, new summer outfit in Tik Tok or expressing your mind about another rising American pop-star in Twitter. However, who would expect that social media will influence the outcome of the actual war out there?

Russian full-scale invasion to Ukraine started 24 Feb, at around 05 am. Since that time, for 42 days Ukrainians are fighting for their future. Soldiers are defending our borders, volunteers – host refugees, gather donations and food, doctors – save lives, and every other Ukrainian – is fighting at the informational battlefield. Thankfully, Ukraine Is being heard. Terrifying pictures of Bucha, Irpin or Mariupol genocide; videos of launched missiles and destroyed cities has reached the appropriate audience and led to a series of at least some pleasant events.

On the other hand, russian “informational army” does not stay in one place. Except disgusting lies and accusations, they tried to reach a new level – DeepFakes. In mid March, on the third week of the war, the whole world observed another video of The President of Ukraine – Volodymyr Zelenskiy, where he announced about the surrender of Kyiv. “I ask you to lay down your weapons and go back to your families. This war is not worth dying for. I suggest you to keep on living, and I am going to do the same.” This video reached almost 5m views.

Luckily, the deep fake was expected long before, with a help of counterintelligence. The first “bell” was the fact that the video was not posted on any of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s official channels (Telegram, Twitter, Instagram, etc). In addition to this, deep fake was not made qualitatively due to the shortage of time and knowledge of russian deep fake specialists. The head of Zelenskiy’s was too big, and way more “pixalated” than his entire body. Moreover, the voice did not sound natural.

The usage of deep fakes was not oftenly observed in political issues but as of now each of us should filter all the information even more carefully than even before.

Resources:

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/25/tech/deepfakes-disinformation-war/index.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/19/russia-ukraine-infowar-deepfakes

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-60780142

Re-leaf. Ukrainian start-up of recycling fallen leaves.

Reading Time: 2 minutesAre you interested in being eco-friendly and helping our planet to recover? If your answer is «yes», than that’s exactly a crucial post for you.

Not so much time ago, Ukrainian student, Valentyn Frechka found out how to recycle fallen leaves into paper. Since than he launched his own start-up «Re-leaf» and made Ukrainian government to think about it and realise an extensive production of eco-friendly paper.

The student tells: «One day you just walk and see leaves, see trees, from which paper is made of. Why couldn’t we do it from leaves? The do it just laying on the grass? There are a lot of leaves in towns, villages and they’re just burned.. I suggested to make paper from fallen leaves. That time I didn’t even realise how should I do this and will my idea be successful.»

His technology was checked through special equipment successfully and is ready to be implemented. 

Furthermore, his invention was evaluated with the highest grades during he olympiad in Tunis, where were representatives of more than 86 countries.

Scientists  say : «We proved the effectiveness of using leaves as a substitute to wood. We produced paper on special equipment, which showed that the paper is really qualitative»

On the received paper you can draw, write, print something on printer. Moreover, you can even make eco packages and bags from it. The only drawback is that this paper is easier to break.

Certain details are not discussed yet, but we will talk about the first worldwide line of recycling fallen leaves to paper very soon.

References:

https://hromadske.radio/news/2018/04/17/yunak-iz-zakarpattya-otrymav-dvi-zoloti-medali-za-vynaydenyy-papir-z-lystya

https://shotam.info/v-ukraini-pochnut-vyhotovliaty-eco-friendly-papir-z-opaloho-lystia/

https://shotam.info/ukrains-kyy-student-zdiysnyv-proryv-rozrobyvshy-tekhnolohiiu-ekopaperu-z-opaloho-lystia/

 

Threads – new standalone Instagram app?

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn October 2019, Instagram launched its new app called «Threads». It is a new application fro messaging people from «close friends» list. It is believed, that Threads was created as a new one direct competitor to Snapchat, the next step to privacy and the next point of gaining popularity among users.

Instagram announced that it has received a lot of requests to improve ways of connecting with your friends in order to keep in touch with them all over the day by sharing photos, videos or ordinary messages. Now, Threads plays a role of more private space for people to communicate with each other.

Main goals of Threads are for you to control who is able to reach you, to have a quick access to people you are close with and an opportunity to stay connected with them even if you are not chatting and even if you are not online.

Threads gives you the ability to share your location, battery power of your device, amount of steps per day or your actions ( your mood, what are you doing, what are you up to, etc.)

However, you are put into some «frames». For example, you cannot use such a wide range of stickers in Threads stories as you do in Instagram. You cannot draw lines, add some text. At the same time, it doesn’t matter where did you post your story — it will be shown both in Instagram and Threads. 

To be honest, I am pretty confused about implementing such an add. It is a response to separate «Direct Inst.» app, which was not exclusively demanded and deleted. However, both Direct and Threads don’t differ a lot. The only change is that you can post status like «On my way🚗», «At the library📚», « Hate math:(», «Blue mood😅» to inform your closest friends about what’s going on in your life.

I cannot say that this application hasn’t been swimming in a glory since it was launched in October. 

What is the reason of creating an independent app if it gives you almost  the same opportunities as you had before?

I have read some feedback, comments on Threads and found out that people divided into 2 camps. Somebody says, that using of direct became more convenient and faster, somebody writes that they see no sense.

What is your opinion? Do you think this «innovation » was really so necessary and made our lives easier?

Video for you to have a more clear understanding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4KL7BJ_r7g

 

 

References:

https://ain.ua/2019/10/04/instagram-zapustil-threads/https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/introducing-threads-app/

https://spark.ru/user/32011/blog/51700/threads-novij-messendzher-ot-instagram

https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-threads/

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.instagram.threadsapp&hl=uk&showAllReviews=true

 

Amazon Braket Quantum Service

Reading Time: 2 minutesIn December, 2019, Amazon announced that it launches a new service — Braket. It has to swell the series of various popular services as Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc. However, it is not that simple as you could imagine. Amazon proclaimed that service was especially created for scientists and researches to help them exploring quantum technology. Thanks to Braket you can not only explore algorithms, but design, test and run them on various technological supplies. 

The difference between quantum and digital computing is that quantum computing uses the system of superposition and entanglement instead of ones and zeros. Nevertheless, quantum computing has an apparent advantage — you can fit much more information into 3 dimensions rather than into 2. That means that the service will work faster than ordinary once — computers will be able to cope with significantly harder tasks.

Thanks to Amazon Braket you can create your own algorithms from the very beginning or choose and continue some already started sets. It helps scientists and researches to provide a quantum computer service and to manage classical compute resources. 

The Amazon Braket provides an which provide you with various learning materials, «fully managed notebooks to build and edit quantum algorithms, a technology agnostic developer framework for defining hybrid algorithms, and a choice of classical simulators for testing your designs». 

Payment is required only for use, for the time that you spent using this service. Later on, the company will publish the public price list.

As the technology was just implemented, your quantum job will run immediately , but only in that case, if you have chosen an available quantum hardware. If not — your job is going to be automatically put into the queue until the hardware becomes available.

You can see the result after finishing your work, being sent a notification, immediately as it will be available. It is going to be stored on Amazon S3( Amazon Simple Storage Service).

Here is a video for you to have a more clear understanding of what this system is about:

https://youtu.be/JhHMJCUmq28

References:

https://www.businessinnovationbrief.com/2020/technology/?open-article-id=12647558&article-title=what-amazon-s-entrance-tells-us-about-the-new-era-of-quantum-computing&blog-domain=digitaltonto.com&blog-title=digital-tonto 

https://aws.amazon.com/braket/

https://aws.amazon.com/braket/faqs/

https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2019/12/introducing-amazon-braket/

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/aws-launches-amazon-braket-part-205935226.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHjXCYOJdU9Imr77iKWoWJDaGc8jxJRxzS2-xQ2pExKtDTxWCOU03aAG06mvDhWuK4byDgjHuyBxBtoot2jMTgxtIxocpzJQZdZs43JUinS-1uoI0E0EnvusGEG_MWAImJO8a885qW39bpP8VmMJGRQvDjRhye7cV17yXVbbrYKp