Wikidata project to tackle language barriers in scientific research

A Wikidata project to make life sciences research data available across languages is set to boost research sharing in the international scientific community and ensure greater data consistency across Wikipedia pages in different languages.

WikiProject Molecular Biology is intended to be a centralised resource for data on everything from genetics to pharmaceuticals.

“Our aim is making Wikidata the central hub of life sciences data on genes, proteins, diseases and drugs and the relationships between them,” said Andra Waagmeester, semantic data expert and member of the WikiProject.

“Our approach is that we take a lot of resources on these topics and import them into Wikidata, and not only import them, but also maintain them through regular updates. This has two effects: research data that is closed in different data silos can now be used to populate Wikipedia articles, but also since Wikidata has a single API, scientists can start reproducing and sharing the information in Wikidata themselves.

“So you can see not only provides spreading out of scientific knowledge and providing proper scrutiny for scientists’ findings, but also it provides a strong infrastructure for scientists to share their own results.”

wikidata

Language barriers can be a significant problem in scientific research, with discoveries sometimes failing to be disseminated and thus needing to be rediscovered in other countries.

An example given by Waagmeester is Arsenic trioxide, a chemical compound found in 2013 to be an effective alternative to supplemental chemotherapy in treating a certain type of leukemia.

“What’s intriguing about this story is that the paper was published in 2013 – the curative effect of the trioxide was already known about in China for decades,” he added.

“Only, it didn’t reach the English-speaking world due to two simple facts: the scientists who noticed it didn’t speak English, and the findings were published in a scientific journal that was even obscure for most Chinese readers.”

Had the research been more widely known, this alternative treatment could have been life-saving.

“It showed that having data closed can actually be bad for the treatment of other people. So now we argue that Wikipedia could solve that,” added Waagmeester.

dna-1

There are also inconsistencies across the same Wikipedia pages in different languages about particular diseases and treatments, which the project hopes to solve. However, this problem is not unique to the life sciences – the population of Aruba, for example, differs depending on the language you view it in, an issue that the wider Wikidata project is set to tackle.

“The Wikimedia Foundation came up with another project that just had its first birthday last week, which is called Wikidata. Wikidata is a linked database that provides data that it is editable by humans and machines, as it is with Wikipedia articles. It’s actually the Wikipedia model to data,” said Waagmeester.

“Now we can actually start writing Wikipedia articles where both the Chinese audience and the English-speaking audience could actually mine data that’s available in Wikidata, and potentially breaching the language barrier on science.”

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC