Microsoft's Tay was a Twitter bot, similar to this chatbot a user is interacting with. By Mariscal2014 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How Tay “Machine Learned” Her Way to Become a Twitter Troll

In George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion phonetics professor Henry Higgins bets that he can teach Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, enough proper English to pass for a duchess. A little over 100 years after Pygmalion’s publication, Microsoft launched a Twitter bot named Tay with the goal of understanding how millennials communicate and in doing so created a bot that can pass for a millennial. Much … Continue reading How Tay “Machine Learned” Her Way to Become a Twitter Troll

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Sit’N Listen! Episode 5: Monsanto in Conversation

Sit’N Listen! Episode 5: Monsanto in Conversation Following up on our GMO episode we sat down with Dr. Larry Gilbertson who’s been a scientist at Monsanto for about 20 years, and Vance Crowe, Monsanto’s Director of Millennial Engagement. Can you drink genetically modified beer in England? Do Amish farmers grow GM crops? Find out right here! Stay tuned for our first episode of Sit’N Society, … Continue reading Sit’N Listen! Episode 5: Monsanto in Conversation

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Air Pollution Knows No Boundaries

presented by Yanina Barrera How do atmospheric scientists understand air pollution in a city, when the air is constantly moving from state to state, and country to country? Answering this question is crucial for developing public health and environmental policy. By directly measuring air pollutants and combining information about the winds with a computer model, atmospheric scientists can better understand transport of urban air pollution. … Continue reading Air Pollution Knows No Boundaries

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The BRAIN Initiative: Structuring Large-Scale Science Initiatives in the U.S.

by Gabriel Filsinger figures by Bradley Wierbowski Brain diseases and age-related neurological disorders are a growing strain on society, and their impact is poised to expand alongside the aging world population. Due to protracted effects and the limited availability of cures, the societal cost of these diseases is severe: for example, it has been estimated that 35% of all disease burden in Europe is attributable … Continue reading The BRAIN Initiative: Structuring Large-Scale Science Initiatives in the U.S.

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Intuition in silico: How Ideas From Computational Neuroscience Help Programmers Build Smarter Computers

by Stephen Thornquist figures by Michael Gerhardt A computer has finally beaten the Go world champion, a challenge that was considered the “holy grail” of artificial intelligence for nearly twenty years. Go’s impenetrability comes from the fact that a computer’s ability to methodically analyze every possible outcome is useless in Go. Every turn has around 300 possible moves (see Figure 1), so looking only two … Continue reading Intuition in silico: How Ideas From Computational Neuroscience Help Programmers Build Smarter Computers

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CRISPR in Neuroscience: How Precision Gene Editing May Unravel How the Brain Works (and Why it Sometimes Doesn’t)

by Angela She figures by Shannon McArdel The brain is one of the most complex entities in biology. For thousands of years, humans have wondered how the human brain works, but only in the past few years has technology evolved so that scientists can actually answer some of the many questions we have. What are the causes of brain disorders? How do our brains develop? … Continue reading CRISPR in Neuroscience: How Precision Gene Editing May Unravel How the Brain Works (and Why it Sometimes Doesn’t)

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Disease in a Dish: Using Stem Cell-Derived Neurons to Understand the Brain

by Nivanthika K. Wimalasena figures by Anna Maurer Imagine you could know everything you needed to make you into exactly who you were destined to be—which books would inspire you, which people you needed to meet, what you should study in school. Scientists are trying to understand exactly that for the life of a stem cell. They are using their understanding of stem cells and … Continue reading Disease in a Dish: Using Stem Cell-Derived Neurons to Understand the Brain

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Optogenetics: Can Chronic Pain Be Treated with Light?

by Krissy Lyon When you accidentally touch a hot stove, you pull your hand away almost immediately, thanks to a quick reflex informed by your body’s pain receptors. Pain is an essential feature of our bodies that alerts us to danger or injury. But imagine if you felt pain with no immediate source. What if this pain lasted for months or years? This condition, called … Continue reading Optogenetics: Can Chronic Pain Be Treated with Light?

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Using Genetics to Understand Schizophrenia and More

by Emily Kuehn figures by Kaitlyn Choi “My greatest fear is this brain of mine….The worst thing imaginable is to be terrified of one’s own mind, the very matter that controls all that we are and all that we do and feel.” These are the words of a patient suffering from schizophrenia, a tragic and severe psychiatric disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, … Continue reading Using Genetics to Understand Schizophrenia and More

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Can Computers Use Brain Scans to Diagnose Psychiatric Disorders?

by Kevin Sitek figures by Daniel Utter Over the years, scientists have developed many techniques to observe what’s going on in the human brain as we think or move. Unfortunately, few of the insights we have made so far have resulted in any improvements in standard clinical mental care. Recent advances in neuroimaging may be changing this. Studies from the past few years have shown … Continue reading Can Computers Use Brain Scans to Diagnose Psychiatric Disorders?