Thursday, October 19, 2017

Better vaccinations for babies, artificial intelligence, kids' smartphone use

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 1:53 PM

click to enlarge What if all of a baby's vaccinations could be combined into one single shot? MIT researchers say they've done just that.
  • What if all of a baby's vaccinations could be combined into one single shot? MIT researchers say they've done just that.

One-shot wonder
Anyone who’s watched a baby receive a series of vaccinations at multiple doctor visits over the first year of their life knows it’s no fun for the little ones. What if all those vaccinations, over the course of a year or two, could be combined into a single shot? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe they’ve found a way to do just that. Here’s how: Tiny bubbles called microparticles — created from an FDA-approved polymer — can be filled with the various vaccines, sealed tight and injected. The particles then dissolve at specific times, resulting in “short bursts of medication or vaccine delivered at particular intervals, mimicking the timing of a vaccine series.”

In the developed world, that could mean fewer doctor visits, and reduce the number of kids failing to complete a multi-injection regimen. And in developing countries, it could help solve the complicated logistics of providing vaccines.


Leap forward?
Go is an abstract strategy game, invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. Last spring, researchers announced that a computer program based on data derived from 100,000 human-played Go games was able to defeat the human Go champion. That's cool, but no big deal, right?

This week, Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence researchers announced that they've created a new program, one that is able to learn, and master, the Go game — all by itself. “We’ve removed the constraints of human knowledge, and it is able to create knowledge itself,” says the project’s lead researcher. Researchers watched as the program, based on human neural networks and given only Go's rules, at first eerily mimicked human learning. “You see it rediscovering the thousands of years of human knowledge,” says one programmer. But 40 days in, it was finding plays previously unknown to humans, and easily defeating previous programs. The developers promise to use this powerful knowledge for good: “One promising area … is understanding how proteins fold, an essential tool for drug discovery.”

But Elon Musk, the brains behind Tesla and SpaceX, isn’t so sure about artificial intelligence.


Real world
Technology can be thrilling — and enthralling — for kids. As any parent knows, a day without a smartphone can be a worst-case scenario for many tweens and teens. But when are kids too tuned-in to tech? Find out how to make the best of our kids’ screen-obsessed world in the current issue of InHealth.
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