Employing data science, new research uncovers clues behind unexplainable infant death | Microsoft on the Issues

Employing data science, new research uncovers clues behind unexplainable infant death | Microsoft on the Issues

Imagine losing your child in their first year of life and having no idea what caused it. This is the heartbreaking reality for thousands of families each year who lose a child to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Despite decades-long efforts to prevent SUID, it remains the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age in developed nations. In the U.S. alone, 3,600 children die unexpectedly of SUID each year.

For years, researchers hypothesized that infants who died due to SUID in the earliest stages of the life differed from those dying of SUID later. Now, for the first time, we know, thanks to the single largest study ever undertaken on the subject, this is statistically the case.

Working in collaboration with world-class researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Auckland, we analyzed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) data on every child born in the U.S. over a decade, including over 41 million births and 37,000 SUID deaths. We compared all possible groups by the age at the time of death to understand if these populations were different.

We hope our progress in piecing together the SUID puzzle ultimately saves lives, and gives parents and researchers hope for the future.

 

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PyDev of the Week: Sebastian Steins | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Sebastian Steins | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Sebastian Steins (@sebastiansteins) as our PyDev of the Week! Sebastian is the creator of the Pythonic News website. You can find out more about Sebastian by checking out what he’s been up to over on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know him better!

Sebastian Steins

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I am a software developer from Germany and live close to the Dutch and Belgian border. The internet emerged when I was in school. I have always been fascinated by computers and wanted to learn to program. Unfortunately, this was not so easy at the time, and I did not have teachers who could have supported me in that matter. It changed, however, when I got my first modem. The internet opened a whole new world for me, and I started to learn HTML, Perl and later, PHP. I built CGI scripts and small web apps back then, and it was really fun. Eventually, I took programming as my career path, although I sometimes struggled with that decision. Besides my degree in computer science, I also heard lectures on economics and had a few positions in the finance sector early in my career. Now, I enjoy coaching teams of great software engineers in architecture matters and try to pass my knowledge to junior devs.

When I’m not in front of a computer, I like to ride my road bike, learn new stuff from audiobooks and would never say no to a night out in a good restaurant.

Why did you start using Python?

I started using Python when I needed a replacement for PHP, so it was very early on. It was in the very early days of the Python 2.0 release. I immediately liked it, because it was basically like writing pseudocode. This is what I still love about being able to “talk to a computer”: Expressing ideas and see results very quickly. Meanwhile, other languages have kept up and are equally expressive as Python. However, Python has become a little bit of my home base ever since.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I worked in different projects with many different programming languages like Java, C#, C and JavaScript.

Thanks for doing the interview, Sebastian!

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Solving the challenge of securing AI and machine learning systems | Microsoft on the Issues

Solving the challenge of securing AI and machine learning systems | Microsoft on the Issues

Today, in collaboration with Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center, we at Microsoft are publishing a series of materials we believe will contribute to solving a major challenge to securing artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. In short, there is no common terminology today to discuss security threats to these systems and methods to mitigate them, and we hope these new materials will provide baseline language that will enable the research community to better collaborate.

Here is why this challenge is so important to address. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already having an enormous and positive impact on healthcare, the environment, and a host of other societal needs. As these systems become increasingly important to our lives, it’s critical that when they fail that we understand how and why, whether it’s inherent design of a system or the result of an adversary. There have been hundreds of research papers dedicated to this topic, but inconsistent vocabulary from paper to paper has limited the usefulness of important research to data scientists, security engineers, incident responders and policymakers.

The centerpiece of the materials we’re publishing today is called “Failure Modes in Machine Learning,” which lays out the terminology we developed jointly with the Berkman Klein Center. It includes vocabulary that can be used to describe intentional failure caused by an adversary attempting to alter results or steal an algorithm as well as vocabulary for unintentional failures like a system that produces results that might be unsafe

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World Childhood Foundation marks 20 years with focus on AI and child safety online | Microsoft on the Issues

World Childhood Foundation marks 20 years with focus on AI and child safety online | Microsoft on the Issues

World Childhood Foundation, launched in 1999 by Queen Silvia of Sweden, recently marked 20 years of child protection with a roundtable on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse online.

The day-long event, held last month at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, brought together 60 AI experts, representatives from technology companies, child safety advocates, academics and others to explore new ways to combat the proliferation of child sexual exploitation and abuse imagery (CSEAI) online.

“How can we use AI as a catalyst for child safety online,” asked King Carl XVI Gustaf, who, along with Queen Silvia and other members of Sweden’s royal family, presided over the day’s discussions. “New approaches are needed, so we are bringing together some of the sharpest minds in AI and child protection to share knowledge and experiences.”

The event consisted of a series of presentations, panels and small-group discussions about raising awareness among the broader global population about the “epidemic” that is child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the misuse of technology to share illegal imagery and enable on-demand abuse of children tens of thousands of miles away. Experts shared experiences, ideas and data, including that reports of child sexual abuse videos to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) had risen 541% in 2018 compared to the prior year. Moreover, children of all ages and backgrounds are susceptible to sexual exploitation with more than 56% of the children in Interpol’s database identified as prepubescent. “Nothing surprises us anymore,” said one law enforcement official

Learn more

To learn more about the World Childhood Foundation, visit the organization’s website. To learn what Microsoft is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse online, see this link, and to learn more about digital safety generally, go to www.microsoft.com/saferonline, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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PyDev of the Week: Bob Belderbos | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Bob Belderbos | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Bob Belderbos (@bbelderbos) as our PyDev of the Week! Bob is a co-founder of PyBites. Bob has also contributed to Real Python and he’s a Talk Python trainer. You can learn more about Bob by checking out his website or visiting his Github profile. Let’s spend some quality time getting to know Bob better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I am a software developer currently working at Oracle in the Global Construction Engineering group. But I am probably better known as co-founder of PyBites, a community that masters Python through code challenges.

I have a business economics background. After finishing my studies in 2004 though, I migrated from Holland to Spain and started working in the IT industry. I got fired up about programming. I taught myself web design and coding and started living my biggest passion: automate the boring stuff making other people’s lives easier.

When not coding I love spending time with my family (dad of 2), working out, reading books and (if time allows one day) would love to pick up painting and Italian again 🙂

Why did you start using Python?

Back at Sun Microsystems I built a suite of support tools to diagnose server faults. I went from shell scripting to Perl but it quickly became a maintenance nightmare. Enter Python. After getting used to the required indenting, I fell in love with Python. I was amazed how much happier it made me as a developer (Eric Raymond’s Why Python? really resonated with me).

Since then I never looked back. Even if I’d like to, now with PyBites it’s even harder to seriously invest in other languages (more on this later).

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I started my software journey building websites using PHP and MySQL. I taught myself a good foundation of HTML and CSS which serves me to this day.

As a web developer, it’s important to know JavaScript, it powers most of the web! It definitely is not Python but the more I use it the more I come to appreciate the language. Lastly I learned some Java years ago but did not find a use case except writing an Android game. I am fortunate to be able to use Python for almost all my work these days and it’s by far my favorite programming language.

Thanks for doing the interview, Bob!

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PyDev of the Week: Miguel Grinberg | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Miguel Grinberg | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Miguel Grinberg (@miguelgrinberg) as our PyDev of the Week! Miguel is the author of Flask Web Development and the very popular Flask Mega-Tutorial. You can find out more about Miguel by checking out his blog or his Github profile. Let’s spend some time getting to know Miguel better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Shortly after graduating from college with a Masters degree in Computer Science I was lucky to be offered a job in the United States, so I relocated to Portland, Oregon with my wife. We raised a family there and lived happily for several years. In 2018 we relocated once again, this time to Ireland. We plan to spend a few years on this side of the pond to be closer to my wife’s family and to be able to travel through Europe, but Portland is still our home and I’m pretty sure we will eventually return to America.

In terms of hobbies I have to say that by all standards I’m a fairly boring person. Outside of coding (which I do professionally and also as a hobby), what I enjoy the most is playing the Ukulele. I have a small collection of them, and I have recently expanded it with a Mandolin, which seemed appropriate now that I’m in Ireland. Everyone here seems to be in a band of some sort, so maybe one day I’ll join one as well, who knows!

Why did you start using Python?

This was around 2008 or 2009, I think. I was working at a company in which my team maintained a large library written in C++ that was used by several products, both internal and from partners. This was a big company, with a proper Quality Assurance department, but the QA engineers complained that they did not have an easy way to test our library, since it was C++ code. We had a homegrown unit testing suite written in a combination of bash, make, C++ and diff that was painful to maintain, and that was it in terms of testing. So I came up with the idea of creating bindings for our library in a scripting language that our QA people felt comfortable using. After a survey, the two contenders were Python and Ruby. At the time I knew very little about Python, and I had some knowledge of Ruby, so funny enough my personal choice would have been Ruby. But as it happens, one of the engineers in my team was actually very experienced in Python from a previous job, so strategically we thought it would be to our advantage to go with Python because we had an expert in the team. So I have to thank my teammate for getting me into Python!

I always approach the learning of new things through personal projects, so as soon as the decision to go with Python was made I started to play with the language at home just for fun. A few years after my initial introduction to the language I was thinking in starting a software blog and was having trouble finding a blogging platform that I liked, so I’ve got the idea of writing my own blog. By then the Python bindings we created at work were a success and Python had won me over 100%. So I naturally decided to use a Python web framework to make my blog, and looking through the available options I finally selected this minimalistic framework that at the time wasn’t that popular, called Flask. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

Thanks for doing the interview, Miguel!

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KitoTech lands $1.5M for skin-healing ‘microstaple’ bandage | GeekWire

KitoTech lands $1.5M for skin-healing ‘microstaple’ bandage | GeekWire

I am not sure that there is an equivalent to GeekWire in other parts of the nation (there is absolutely not one in the SE/Carolinas), so in that respect this would be a local story. However, I do follow them, and it is tangentially related to an earlier post this week about a regional Medical School.

Being a Wound Care patient myself, any innovation to improve my interactions with the leg wound that is chronic is a plus and welcomed.

KitoTech Medical’s microMend device uses microstaples to hold wounds closed as they heal. (KitoTech Photo) via GeekWire

New funding: Seattle startup KitoTech Medical raised $1.5 million as part of a convertible note round to fund the development of its microMend wound closure device, which was made from technology originally developed at the University of Washington.

The startup says that microMend, which is currently undergoing clinical trials, can heal wounds up to three times faster than those closed with traditional sutures

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